Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets, Including Real Madrid vs. PSG (March 8-9)
Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi.
The first legs of the Champions League Round of 16 matchups are complete, giving us some really interesting second legs this week that are going to decide which clubs will be moving onto the quarterfinal round.
Round of 16 openers ✅
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 24, 2022
On Tuesday, Bayern Munich looks to break a 1-1 aggregate deadlock against RB Salzburg. Real Madrid is hopeful it will overcome a 1-0 deficit against Paris Saint-Germain, while Inter Milan needs to deliver a stunning result against Liverpool. Finally, Manchester City takes on Sporting Lisbon in a tie that the Premier League giant holds a huge 5-0 lead after their opening meeting.
Before we jump into the projections and best bets, let’s take a look at the odds to win the competition after completion of the first leg.
Champions League Odds
*Odds via BetMGM
If you are reading this article for the first time, I will be putting out these projections every week there are Champions League matches until the end of the tournament. If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projected lines and totals using an expected-goals model, you can read about it here.
For Champions League, my projections factor in UEFA Coefficients for every country represented in the competition. The projections also factor in the talent of each squad based on their total transfer value on TransferMarkt. That way, the projections can account for the strength of the domestic league each club plays in and talent level of each club.
You can use these projections to identify betting value on current lines, plus follow me in The Action Network App to see any bets I make during the week.
Champions League Projections
Bayern Munich vs. RB Salzburg
|Bayern Munich Odds||-500|
|RB Salzburg Odds||+1150|
|Over/Under||3.5 (-135 / -105)|
|Day | Time||Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||Paramount+|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
RB Salzburg was really impressive in the first leg against Bayern Munich. Granted it was in Austria, but the hosts held the Bavarians to only 2.1 xG on 22 shots and just two big scoring chances. That was solid, considering Bayern usually averages 3.5 big scoring chances per match in the Bundesliga.
Bayern was able to hold 71% possession, but Salzburg looked fine sitting back and defending in the game. The club’s 4-4-2 formation does help keep its defensive structure and seemed to give Bayern Munich some fits.
20-YEAR-OLD CHUKWUBUIKE ADAMU. 💥
Off the bench. First time finish against Bayern. And he hit the Griddy. 🕺 pic.twitter.com/3Bre7bRPmz
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 16, 2022
Bayern for the first time this season in the German top flight, the side lost the xG battle to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend in a 1-1 draw. You can make the case the Bavarians had an eye on UCL play, plus their lead in the league is pretty safe, but it still was an eye-opening performance.
Bayern is most likely going to get through to the next round, but I’m not so sure it’s going to blow out Salzburg in the second leg. When these two met during the group stage of last year’s UCL event, Salzburg actually dominated Bayern in Munich on expected goals by a 3.23-1.37 margin, but Bayern walked away with a 3-1 win.
*(graphic via infogol.net)
Bayern is also still without goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Alphonso Davies and Leon Goretzka, which is seemingly having an effect even though it does have a ton of depth.
I only have Bayern Munich’s spread projected at -1.31, so I like the value on Salzburg getting+2 on the spread line at -103 at PointsBet and will make it my top pick.
Pick: RB Salzburg +2 (-103)
Real Madrid vs. PSG
|Real Madrid Odds||+140|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-160 / +115)|
|Day | Time||Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||CBS | Paramount+ | fuboTV|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.|
I was somewhat surprised by Real Madrid’s game plan against PSG in the first leg. Los Blancos definitely deserved to lose and honestly just tried to sit in for 90 minutes, looking to hit the Parisians on the counterattack. That in itself isn’t a horrible idea, but Real Madrid was so sloppy in offensive transition that PSG thwarted any opportunity of a counterattack.
Real Madrid ended the match with 58% of their possessions in transition, but only 4% of those wound up in PSG’s final third of the pitch and they had 0.00 xG in transition. Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Vinícius Júnior combined for 0.09 xG + xAssists. So, it was truly a pathetic offensive performance.
PSG 1, REAL MADRID 0
* RM was clearly fine with PSG having the ball, but that was some SLOPPY buildup play.
* YOU get a tactical foul! And YOU get a tactical foul! And YOU…
* Benzema, Modric and Vini Jr: 0.09 combined xG+xA. There's no attack, and there's *that*. pic.twitter.com/DnC29DMAxi
— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) February 16, 2022
On the other hand, PSG was able to create 2.6 xG, held 57% of the possession, outshot Real Madrid by a 21-3 margin, plus it had 39 touches in the penalty area compared to only nine for Real Madrid, per fbref.com. My guess is we’re going to see Real Madrid on the front foot, playing very aggressive and not allow PSG to become the possession dominant side.
However, there are a couple problems for Los Blancos. First, Casemiro and Ferland Mendy are suspended, while Tony Kroos is going to miss the match due to injury. That leaves the Real Madrid midfield that’s reliant on Casemiro stopping opposing counterattacks in a precarious position.
Lionel Messi and the Parisians didn’t have too many possessions in transition because they were holding the ball in their foe’s final third of the field for pretty much the entire match, but they should be able to rip Los Blancos to shreds on the counterattack if they choose to sit deep.
One thing to keep an eye on is the status of Kylian Mbappé, who picked up a knock in training Monday and is questionable to play.
With Real Madrid being thin in the midfield and needing to win this match, there should be plenty of high scoring chances at both ends of the pitch.
Even if Ángel Di María starts in place of Mbappé , I still have the total projected at 3.35 goals, so I like the value we are getting on the total clearing three goals on the Asian Handicap at +100 odds via DraftKings in this matchup.
Pick: Total Over 3 Goals (+100)