Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions, Best Bets: Can Karim Benzema, Real Madrid Stun Manchester City in Semifinal Clash? (April 26)
Photos courtesy of Getty Images. Pictured: Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, left, and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.
- Global heavyweights Manchester City and Real Madrid square off Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal tie.
- The Cityzens, who share co-favoritism with Liverpool to win the title, face a foe in solid form.
- Jeremy Pond breaks down the match below and delivers his two best bets.
Man City vs. Real Madrid Odds
|Man City Odds||-225|
|Real Madrid Odds||+500|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-160 / +115)|
|Day | Time||Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||CBS | Paramount+ | fuboTV|
|Odds updated as of Tuesday afternoon via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.|
That’s how many Champions League crowns Manchester City has won in its storied history, leaving an empty, spotlighted space in the club’s decorated trophy cabinet.
Well, manager Pep Guardiola and the Premier League giants have their best chance yet to fill that void as they kick off their UCL semifinal-round clash with Spanish stalwart Real Madrid in Tuesday’s opening leg at Etihad Stadium.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 13, 2022
Oddsmakers at BetMGM have installed Man City as the co-favorite to win the title this season, sharing front-runner honors with fellow EPL juggernaut Liverpool. Both are listed at +125 odds, followed by Real Madrid and La Liga longshot Villarreal at +1800 odds.
The Cityzens had a rough go of things in their quarterfinal tie with Atlético Madrid, who was the third La Liga power to reach the final eight of the competition. Kevin De Bruyne scored the two-leg set’s lone goal in City’s opening 1-0 home win before the two battled to a chippy, feisty scoreless draw in the Spanish capital for the reverse fixture.
IT HAD TO BE HIM!
KARIM BENEZEMA, ANOTHER HEADER! 💥 pic.twitter.com/mqkhLTjCpi
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 12, 2022
On the other side, Real Madrid advanced by dethroning reigning UCL champ Chelsea via a 5-4 aggregate score line. Karim Benzema continued to do Karim Benzema things for Los Blancos, recording a hat trick in a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge in the first leg before notching the winner in extra time during the rematch at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
So, let’s see where we can find the most betting value in this intriguing match.
Can Man City Finally Capture UCL Glory?
The biggest news entering this match is that Rüben Dias is back in the Man City starting lineup. Arguably the world’s best center back, the Portuguese international came on at the start of the second half in last Wednesday’s 3-0 home win against Brighton & Hove Albion.
And coincidence or not, the Cityzens scored three goals — thanks to Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva — in the final 45 minutes to secure the win and three points. Dias went the full 90 minutes last Saturday in a 5-1 rout against Watford, which saw City win the expected-goals battle by a 3.0-0.5 margin.
So good to be back on the pitch! One more final won. Now rest and Saturday we go again💪🏼💪🏼🦈 pic.twitter.com/HYpvT2gsTR
— Rúben Dias (@rubendias) April 21, 2022
The victory allowed the club to maintain its one-point lead on Liverpool, who scratched and clawed its way to a 2-0 victory against Everton in the race for the Premier League title this past Sunday.
Despite being heavy favorites, the Cityzens have some major issues when it comes players’ health at the back. Kyle Walker hasn’t played since picking up a knock in the playback against Atlético Madrid and John Stones is dealing with hamstring issues, putting both standout defenders in doubt.
Throw in the fact right back João Cancelo is suspended due to card accumulation and you have some major questions surrounding the back four on defense. And this is all despite Dias’ return and the fact that City didn’t allow a single goal in four previous knockout-phase fixtures.
Real Madrid Hopes Run Through Benzema
It might sound awfully cliché, but when it comes to global football this really is Benzema’s world and we’re all just fortunate to live in it.
The Real Madrid talisman and France international has redefined the term “red-hot” on the pitch, recording a stunning 39 goals in 39 games across all competitions. He singlehandedly took care of almost all of the scoring against Chelsea, including some ridiculously crafty finishes in the first meeting at Stamford Bridge.
Benzema’s dagger in extra time in the reverse fixture was just icing on the cake and landed his side a spot in the semifinals.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 23, 2022
Yet, with all the talk surrounding Benzema and Brazilian wunderkind Vinícius Júnior, you simply can’t fail to mention savvy veteran playmaker Luka Modrić. Trailing 3-0 deep in the second half of the reverse fixture with Chelsea, Modrić dropped an absolute dime on the foot of Viní Jr, who ripped it past goaltender Édouard Mendy to get Los Blancos on the board and force extra time.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti does have a few, albeit very minor, concerns with Casemiro and defender David Alaba dealing with some minor knocks, but I fully expect both to lineup in Madrid’s traditional 4-3-3 formation when the teams take the Etihad pitch.
Man City vs. Real Madrid Stat Comparisons
*Information via fbref.com
|PLAYER STATS||MAN CITY||REAL MADRID|
|Most Goals (All Comps)||De Bruyne/Sterling (14)||Benzema (39)|
|Top Assists||Jesus (12)||Vinícius Júnior (18)|
|LEAGUE STATS||MAN CITY||REAL MADRID|
Betting Analysis & Picks
Look, there’s a reason Manchester City is parked at -200 odds or longer on the three-way moneyline. Guardiola has the best team on the planet and is the rightful favorite to finally lift the trophy.
And maybe the Cityzens will do just that. However, all it takes is Benzema getting one little sniff at goal to get Los Blancos on the board away from home. He’s the most in-form striker in the world, with the worst-case scenario being he gets doubled and frees up chances for Vinícius Júnior, Federico Valverde, etc. to find the back of the net.
That said, I’m backing this match clearing 2.75 goals at fair -115 odds via DraftKings on the Asian Totals as my top pick. I recommend shopping around for the best price if you’re tailing this play, but I can see the number landing anywhere between -110 and -120 before kickoff.
I’m also taking a swing on a parlay, using both semifinal matches in the wager. I’m pairing the Manchester City/Real Madrid total clearing 2.75 goals with Villarreal getting +2 goals via the alternative spread in its tussle with Liverpool at +196 odds at DraftKings.
I really like both wagers, including the latter half of the play. The Yellow Submarine, which has been doubted (by everyone except Action Network colleague Anthony Dabbundo) the entire knockout part of the campaign, can give the Reds a whole lot of problems with its style of play.
We saw Everton frustrate Liverpool for 60 minutes of Sunday’s match at Anfield. And it goes without saying, this Villarreal side is better managed and more skilled than Frank Lampard’s hapless Merseyside outfit.
Picks: Total Over 2.75 Goals (-115)
Parlay — Manchester City/Real Madrid (Total Over 2.75 Goals) & Villarreal +2 vs. Liverpool (+196)