Expert Champions League Semifinal Picks, Predictions & Previews

Expert Champions League Semifinal Picks, Predictions & Previews article feature image

Via Europa Press Sports/Getty Images. Pictured: Vinicius Jr of Real Madrid CF reacts after scoring goal during the La Liga Santander match between CA Osasuna and Real Madrid CF at El Sadar on February 18, 2023, in Pamplona, Spain.

With the Champions League semifinals just moments away, soccer fans are gearing up for Real Madrid vs Man City and AC Milan vs Inter Milan — and they are getting their bets in in droves. Thousands of wagers have already been tracked in the Action Network app, and our experts are eyeing props and plus-money numbers where they are seeing betting value.

On Tuesday, the reigning Champions League winners, Real Madrid, will play host to Man City. On Wednesday, AC Milan will host their intracity rival, Inter Milan, for a Milan Derby.

Read on to see how soccer betting experts Matt Ross, Johnathan Wright and Avery Zimmerman are playing the two ties.

Expert Champions League Semifinal Picks

Man City -1 (+220 via Barstool Sportsbook)

Ross: The scoreline of Madrid’s second leg against Chelsea is misleading. They won 2-0, but only produced 1.33 xG while allowing Chelsea to generate 2.01 xG. Madrid revealed a lot of their weaknesses in their two matches against the Blues, especially as a squad that struggles in defensive transition.

Fortunately for Madrid, Chelsea are not a goal-scoring squad. That was abundantly clear as their best chances often fell to center defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has averaged 0.05 goals per game over his Premier League career. Unfortunately for Madrid, City are one of the best goal-scoring squads to ever play the game.

The Cityzens continue to roll through their opponents across all competitions. They haven't lost in 20 matches and remain undefeated in their past nine away games. With City’s attacking threats, including the world's best forward Erling Haaland, they will punish Madrid on the counterattack.

A theme with City is when it rains in pours. When Pep Guardiola's men crack the game open with a goal, they don’t let up. We just saw it in the Premier League, as City took down their top EPL rival, Arsenal, in a 4-1 win. Similarly in the Champions League, they beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in the first leg.

Vinicius Júnior Over 0.5 Shots On Target (-120 via PointsBet)

Wright: Madrid are an underdog to Man City in this series. Still, their offense has been equal to Man City. Los Blancos and the Cityzens are level on UCL goals with 25 each heading into Tuesday, and are tied in shots on target with 67 apiece.

While it's been a more collective effort for Madrid to score their 25 goals, Vinicius Júnior is leading the attack for the reigning champions. The 22-year old Brazilian leads the team in goals (six) and is averaging 34 shots in nine matches started. Of those 34 shots, 18 have been on target, which is enough for the second-most in the UCL this year behind Haaland (19).

Look for the creative and decisive winger to create his own offense, either with his speed on transition or his one-on-one ability — he is about to be the first player since Neymar in 2016-17 to attempt 100 take-ons in a single Champions League season — and snag at least one shot on target at the Bernabéu on Tuesday.

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AC Milan vs Inter Milan Under 2.5 (-160 via DraftKings)

Zimmerman: I'm not typically in love with wagers in this odds range, but the numbers indicate there is a bit of value on this play. 

Strictly looking at the data, AC Milan's home xG number throughout the Champions League of 1.44/game + Inter's xG away mark of 1.57/game averages at 1.51/game. In terms of xGA, Milan are averaging 1.53 xGA/game while Inter are at 2.07 over the course of the Champions League campaign. That averages out to 1.8, and combined you have an expected number of 1.66. Of course, this isn't how sports work, nor are those numbers entirely indicative of the factors that are brought into this fixture.

Star AC Milan forward Rafael Leao is a doubt for this match, and even if he does play, it's hard to imagine he will be 100%. Add in the fact that this is a first leg, which generally produces a slightly lower average number of goals than second legs, and an implied price of 61.5% on this wager, and I'm more than happy to accept the juice.

These teams have gone over this total once in their last two meetings and twice in their last four. While that included a 3-2 contest, I'm comfortable playing the under here. Give me an old-fashioned Italian contest.

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