Champions League Picks & Predictions | Expert Future Bets, Including Inter Milan
Danilo di Giovanni/Getty. Pictured: Marcus Thuram and Lautaro Martinez.
We have reached the knockout stage of the three European competitions, which is good time to take a look into the futures market. Although we don't know who each team is going to face beyond the opening round, we can find some good prices on teams to make a deep run. For example, last year Roma made it all the way to the Europa League final after being 23/1 before the knockout stage.
With that in mind, here are three futures, one from each competition, that I think have some good value.
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Read on for my Champions League picks and predictions, as well as my expert future bets.
Champions League Picks & Predictions
Inter Milan to Win The Champions League (+2200 via Caesars)
Inter Milan made the Champions League final last season and who says they can’t get back there, because Inter are even better.
They are currently dominating Serie A with a +1.21 xGD per 90 minutes, which is second-best among Europe’s top five leagues. As they showed last year, Inter's style of play is perfect for the Champions League.
Inter don't need to have the ball to be successful. They play out of a 3-5-2 and are reliant on being deadly in transition and dominating in wide areas to swing in crosses. They added Marcus Thuram in the summer, which has turned out to be one of the signings of the season across Europe given how well him and Laturo Martinez have been playing up top with each other.
Thuram and Martinez are both over 0.65 xG + xA per 90 minutes in Serie A and are combining for almost seven shots per 90 minutes.
What makes Inter elite is their defense. Because they play a 3-5-2, they can very easily drop into a back five to prevent teams from overloading the last line of defense, but also make it incredibly difficult to play through the middle of the pitch. They’ve allowed only 10 goals all season in Serie A and 0.68 npxG per 90 minutes. In fact, during the group stage of the Champions League, they only allowed 5.3 expected goals in their six matches.
They do have to play Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, but that is actually a pretty decent matchup for them given Atletico’s difficulties defending teams with pace.
Inter just got a huge win over Juventus and have Roma coming up, so the gap in Serie A could be large enough where they can prioritize the Champions League and maybe rotate their squad during domestic matches.
Inter really should be priced closer to 10/1 to win the Champions League given how good this squad is and how effective their tactical set up can be in this tournament, so I like the value on them at 22/1.
Expert Future Bets
Sporting CP to Win the Europa League (+3300 via BetMGM)
Sporting are a really underrated team here with loads of talent that can make a deep run in this tournament.
Rúben Amorim has been in charge since 2020 and is on the radar of a lot of top clubs around Europe. His tactical set up has shown to be successful in Europe because last season he pulled off an upset against Tottenham in the Champions League and knocked out Arsenal in the Europa League round of 16.
The reason they are so good is because of their ability to build up through the first and second phases utilizing overload principles that Roberto De Zerbi and Xabi Alonso use for their sides, basically meaning they always have a 3 v 2 because Sporting want to play the ball into wide area.
Amorim sets his team up in a 3-4-3 and the principles in build up are to build out of the back, but once they beat the first line of pressure, they are looking for vertical passes over the top and they have some deadly attacking players that can cause anybody in this tournament a lot of problems.
Viktor Gyökeres came over from Coventry City in the summer and has been lighting the Portuguese league on fire. He’s already scored 15 goals and has a 0.86 xG + xA per 90 minute rate. He’s perfect for this system because of his pace and intelligence at making runs in behind the defense.
They are also in incredible form as we enter the knockout round. They have won 10 of their last 11 matches across all competitions and overall for the season have a +1.41 xGD per 90 minutes, which is the best mark in Portugal.
Sporting have a pretty easy knockout playoff tie with Young Boys too, so a price of 33/1 is way too high for a team this talented.
Union St. Gilloise to Win UEFA Conference League (+4000 via BetMGM)
Union St. Gilloise dropped down to the Europa Conference League, but they really only had one bad result against LASK during the group stage. Their last two matches against Liverpool and Toulouse they won on xG 4.1 to 0.7. Union didn’t sell anybody important in January and have been dominating everyone in the Belgian Pro League.
So far this season, Union St. Gilloise have a +1.1 xGD per 90 minutes and are an outstanding defensive team because of how their manager Alexander Blessin sets them up. Union St. Gilloise typically play out of a 3-4-3, but when they play some of the better teams either in the Europa League or in Belgium they switch to a 3-5-2, which makes it very easy for them to drop into a back five out of possession to not allow opponents to overload the last line of defense.
In the Belgian Pro League, Union St. Gilloise are only allowing only 0.83 npxG per 90 minutes. They have gone 16 straight matches unbeaten, which included wins over Liverpool, Club Brugge and Genk.
They have Frankfurt in the knockout playoffs, which is a favorable matchup with Frankfurt’s underlying metrics this season being pretty suspect.
There is not clear dominant team in the Europa League in my opinion because even Aston Villa has some pretty clear flaws. So, at a price of 40/1 Union are definitely worth a shot.