Champions League Odds & Picks: AC Milan vs Newcastle, Real Madrid vs Union Berlin

Champions League Odds & Picks: AC Milan vs Newcastle, Real Madrid vs Union Berlin article feature image

Fran Santiago/Getty. Pictured: Jude Bellingham.

The Champions League is back!

With the group stage of the 2023-2024 campaign, our soccer experts are here to deliver their favorite two bets from the Tuesday and Wednesday slate, featuring AC Milan vs Newcastle and Real Madrid vs Union Berlin.

Read on for our Champions League odds & picks.

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Champions League Odds & Picks

Tuesday, Sept. 19
12:45 p.m. ET
AC Milan Odds+162
Newcastle Odds+162
Over / Under
-112 / -108
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

The market has taken some under money in the days leading up to kickoff, but I'd still bet the under 2.5 at -110 or better for this kickoff game in Group F, also known as the 'Group of Death.'

Milan maintain solid defensive numbers by being extremely conservative in possession and not committing a ton of numbers toward a high press out of possession. The attack can become extremely reliant on Rafael Leao's ball carrying at times and the lack of a second dimension or willingness to commit numbers forward can lead to long periods of offensive stagnation. Milan got smoked in transition against rivals Inter on Saturday in their derby, but the current version of Newcastle isn't nearly as dynamic going forward right now as that Inter side.

We've seen Newcastle be an extremely stout defensive side under Eddie Howe for the last calendar year, especially when he has the first-choice defenders available. Only Man City conceded fewer xG in the league last year and Newcastle have conceded the fourth-fewest xG in the new season despite playing by far the most difficult schedule of opponents.

The Magpies don't take many risks in possession either, as evidenced by their matchup with Brentford on Saturday in the Premier League. I expect Howe to play a front three of Anthony Gordon, Alexander Isak and Miguel Almiron, which would mean Callum Wilson is on the bench. This helps Newcastle out of possession and further improves their defensive press, but they do sacrifice in attacking output and shot quality with that lineup. Two conservative managers in a difficult group means this match may play out in a less exciting manner than most expect.

Pick: Under 2.5 (-108 via bet365)

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Tuesday, Sept. 19
12:45 p.m. ET
Real Madrid Odds-290
Union Berlin Odds+420
Over / Under
-144 / +118
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

This version of Real Madrid is a lot different than the one that went to the Champions League semifinals last season. The departure of Karim Benzema has been evident through their first few La Liga matches with Jude Bellingham having to make up for a lot of that production as a box-invading midfielder. While Joselu has scored twice, he is not the type of striker or finisher that Benzema was.

One positive through five matches is the defense has seemingly improved, as they’ve only conceded 5.1 xG and had nice control over matches against teams that want to play transitionally like Union Berlin. Real Madrid have also largely benefited from forcing high turnovers in La Liga.

The way Union Berlin play is quite remarkable considering they are in the Champions League right now. Last season in the Bundesliga they ran ridiculously well offensively, scoring 49 goals off 37.9 xG. They are a team that primarily relies on direct attacks and set pieces to score all of their goals. Close to 40% of their xG last season came off of set pieces and almost all of their attack came in wide areas because they completed the most crosses of anyone in the Bundesliga into the opponent's penalty area.

However, Union Berlin were a great defensive team last year. They only allowed 1.09 npxG per 90 minutes in the high-scoring league among Europe’s top five leagues. They will play a 5-3-2 out of possession, trying to clog up the middle of the pitch.

I only have 2.15 goals projected for this match, so I like the value on a plus-money under.

Pick: Under 2.5 (+115 via BetRivers)

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