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Champions League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets for Round of 16 Matches (Feb. 15-16)

Champions League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets for Round of 16 Matches (Feb. 15-16) article feature image
Credit:

Antonio Villalba/Real Madrid via Getty Images. Pictured: Real Madrid star Karim Benzema.

The Champions League is finally back after a two-month break for the Round of 16 matches in Europe’s premier club competition.

There are a number of intriguing matchups in the knockout stage, starting off with Paris Saint-Germain taking on Real Madrid in Tuesday’s action.

Round of 16 draw ✔️

Which tie are you most excited for?#UCLdraw | #UCL pic.twitter.com/QvZoT0yxqi

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 13, 2021

Before we jump into the projections and best bets, let’s take a look at the odds to win the Champions League for the remaining 16 clubs.

2021 Champions League Odds

*Odds via DraftKings

Team Odds
Manchester City +250
Bayern Munich +350
Liverpool +550
Chelsea +700
PSG +1000
Ajax +1200
Real Madrid +1400
Manchester United +1800
Juventus +2500
Atlético Madrid +3500
Inter +5000
Villarreal +10000
Benfica +15000
Lille +20000
RB Salzburg +25000
Sporting Lisbon +25000

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

Best Bets

PSG vs. Real Madrid

PSG Odds +100
Real Madrid Odds +265
Draw +275
Over/Under 2.5 (-155 / +130)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch CBS | Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

This is a fascinating match on so many levels. Lionel Messi coming to torment Real Madrid once again, plus Kylian Mbappé facing a Real Madrid side he’s likely to move to with this summer.

I do think there is some value on Los Blancos to get a result in this first leg, especially since it was announced this past Friday that Karim Benzema would play in this contest.

Real Madrid, which has been on cruise control in La Liga play, has over-performed their xG numbers, but the level of competition they’re facing in the Spanish top flight is leaps and bounds better than what PSG has been cruising through in Ligue 1 action.

Based on UEFA Coefficients, Spain boasts the second-most difficult league in Europe, while France comes in the fifth-most difficult league overall.

It’s been a while, but we can’t forget how underwhelming the Parisians’ performance was in the Champions League group stage. In their six matches, PSG only had a +1.1 xGDiff, and if you remove the two matches against Club Brugge, the French side had a -1.3 NPxGD, per fbref.com.

What tends to happen with PSG — since they’re used to being possession dominant in the French first division — is when it has to face a team like Manchester City, Bayern Munich and other, it tens to sit deeper and look to destroy teams on the counterattack.

That’s obviously because they have Messi, Mbappé and Neymar. That clearly didn’t work against Manchester City the past two seasons, though. They got lucky to get past Bayern Munich, plus even RB Leipzig gave them a ton of problems in transition. 

THE CROSS. THE FINISH. 😍

LEIPZIG TAKE THE LEAD OVER PSG 🚨 pic.twitter.com/3Yf1w9WSVD

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 19, 2021

Well, now enters the Real Madrid offense averaging 1.83 xG per match in the difficult, most defensive league in Europe.

Now, the worry for Real Madrid is space in the midfield and Casamiro is going to be the make-or-break player for Los Blancos in both matches. What tends to happen a lot with Real Madrid — and it’s why they’re in the bottom half of La Liga in xGA–  is that Tony Kross and Luka Modrić love to push forward to supply the attack. And that’s how Real Madrid overwhelms opposing defenses, which is the whole point of a 4-3-3 formation.

Well, what’s been occurring is when teams are able to win the ball off of Real Madrid, there is acres of space in the middle of the field, which leaves Casemiro on an island trying to protect the back line. Yes, Casemiro is world class and Real Madrid have experienced defenders like David Alaba, who can thwart opposing attacks from lower sides, but PSG is a different story.

This season, Real Madrid is at a much higher level it was last year in terms of talent because of Alaba and the progression of Vinícius Júnior.

VINICIUS JR. IS RIDICULOUS 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ev7rRrlVVk

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 19, 2021

If we go back to last year’s UCL quarterfinal round, Real Madrid knocked out Liverpool over the two legs without controlling a large share of the possession. That said,  it wouldn’t shock me if Madrid turns the table on PSG and lets it be the possession-dominant side, while looking to hit them on the counter. 

I have this match projected very close to a Pick’em, so I like Real Madrid getting +0.5 on the spread line at -120 odds to get a result in the opening leg.

Pick: Real Madrid +0.5 (-115)


Sporting vs. Man City

Sporting Odds +1000
Manchester City Odds -340
Draw +475
Over/Under 2.5 (-165 / +140)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

The performances from Manchester City since the start of the new year haven’t been the dominant ones we’re used to this season.

The Premier League leader defeated Arsenal on the road, but were gifted a penalty and a red card. Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0, but only created 0.7 xG in the win. The Cityzens drew with Southampton on the road, then slept through a match against Brentford, where they were gifted a penalty and a goalkeeping mistake.

Finally, they defeated Norwich City, which is the EPL’s worst team.

Sporting had a huge match against Porto on Friday, in which they settled for a 2-2 draw. However, they’ve been dominating the Portuguese Primeira Liga, amassing a +1.23 xGDiff per 90 minutes in Europe’s sixth-most difficult league by UEFA Coefficients.

The big thing with Sporting in the group stage is it really struggled against Dutch powerhouse Ajax, losing both matches by a combined score of 9-3 in the process. Now, you could make the case that it’s indicative of what’s going to happen against Manchester City, but I’m not so sure.

Ajax and Manchester City play two totally different styles. Ajax enjoys fast, one-touch football and gets the ball moving quickly to overwhelm opponents before they can get into their defensive shape.

In contrast, Manchester City utilizes a slow, possession based attack that forces opponents to defend in their own half for a majority of the match, as they’re holding over 67% on average in the EPL and have the slowest direct speed, per Opta. This will also be Manchester City’s third match in six days. 

Sporting usually plays out of a 4-4-2 setup, so they will be used to not having a large share of the possession and instead defending for a majority of the match. They have consistently allowed bigger sides to control most of the possession.

I only have Manchester City projected as a -178 favorite, so I like Sporting Lisbon’s spread of +1.5 at +105 odds and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Sporting +1.5 (+105)


Salzburg vs. Bayern Munich

Salzburg Odds +700
Bayern Munich Odds -275
Draw +450
Over/Under 3.5 (+105 / -125)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

For those who are unaware, RB Salzburg is the Austrian sister club of German side RB Leipzig. That said, they play a very similar high-pressing, high-intensity style of football.

And a match against a side like Bayern Munich is going to lend itself to a very open style of play. That’s pretty much what we saw when these two played in the UCL group stage last season. The Bavarians won both games by a combined score of 9-3 and more than four xG were created in each match. 

*(graphics via infogol.net)

Bayern’s offensive numbers in the Bundesliga and UCL play have been out of this world. In the German top flight, the Bavarians are averaging 2.78 xG per match; in  UCL play, they’ve averaged 2.32 xG per contest. So, they should have no trouble obliterating Salzburg’s defense again. 

On the flip side, the Salzburg offense is pretty potent. In the Austrian Bundesliga, the club is averaging 2.05 xG per game and have created 10.8 xG in Champions League play. However, the team did have five penalties, so its numbers are a tad skewed.

We’ve seen it time and time again from Bayern that when they go ahead they do not take their foot off the gas. When playing with a lead in the Bundesliga this season, Bayern is averaging 3.5 xG per 90 minutes (per understat.com), so this one could get ugly.

I have 3.59 goals projected for this match, so I love total clearing 3.5 goals at +105 odds and would play anything plus money.

Pick: Total Over 3.5 Goals (+105)

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