Real Madrid vs Man City Odds, Pick: Champions League Semifinal Prediction (First Leg)
Photos courtesy of Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin De Bruyne (left) and Karim Benzema.
Real Madrid vs Man City Odds
Real Madrid Odds
Man City Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-138 / +114)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(-174 / +136)|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get the latest soccer odds here.|
The Champions League returns on Tuesday in Madrid, as we make a Real Madrid vs. Man City pick in a rematch of last season’s thrilling semifinal. Manchester City are the clear favorite to advance in the tie once again (-300), just like they were last season when Real Madrid scored three late goals in regulation and extra time of the second leg to advance 3-2 and stun the Cityzens on aggregate.
City have found their top form of the season entering this match, following comfortable victories in the last two months against Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Arsenal and RB Leipzig — who all project as top 12 teams in European football. Pep Guardiola chose to rotate much of his squad in the weekend victory against Leeds United, which marked his side’s 11th consecutive victory in the league. City are now the favorite to win the treble — a feat not achieved by any English team in the 21st century. Real Madrid are statistically the biggest hurdle left for Manchester City to clear.
Real Madrid won silverware in the Copa del Rey on Saturday against Osasuna, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side is as healthy as it has been all season entering this contest. Outside of a Ferland Mendy injury and a suspension of Eder Militão due to yellow card accumulation, Los Blancos will have everyone else available to give City a real challenge for 180 minutes.
Real Madrid Trying to Maintain Giant-Slayer Role
Real Madrid have now knocked out five English opponents in the last two years of the Champions League. The run to the title last year included wins against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. This year, Ancelotti’s men have beaten Liverpool and Chelsea comfortably to advance. Real Madrid aren’t as good as Manchester City in or out of possession, and City’s press out of possession could absolutely cause some issues here.
Madrid’s advantage in this tie has the opportunity to come in the big, high-variance moments. Karim Benzema is one of the best finishers in Europe and Thibaut Courtois’ elite shot stopping can be the great equalizer for Los Blancos. Benzema has an elite 0.97 non-penalty xG + xA per 90 in La Liga this season and while he’s played fewer minutes than years past due to injury and aging, he’s been dynamite when on the pitch for Madrid. Courtois has conceded just six non-penalty goals in the Champions League this season despite conceding 10.3 xG on target. It was his historically good display in the Champions League final against Liverpool that helped Los Blancos lift the trophy.
It’s fair to wonder whether this level of shot-stopping and over-performance is sustainable for Real in the biggest moments. Madrid’s defense has leaked a ton of chances away from home this year — 2.2 xGA at Liverpool, 1.9 at Chelsea, 1.9 at Leipzig, 1.9 at Real Sociedad and 1.6 at Barcelona. But, Ancelotti’s side has defended considerably better on home soil in Madrid. Those five opponents combined for 9.5 xG in five matches against them when Madrid was away from home.
In the five matches at home, Madrid conceded just 4.4 xGA to those five opponents.
The other potential advantage for Real comes in the form of their tactical flexibility. This was on full display in the win at Anfield against Liverpool, when Los Blancos abandoned playing from out from the back against Liverpool’s press — which led to a ton of high turnovers and a quick 2-0 deficit. They went more direct through Vinicius Junior especially and found success exploiting Liverpool on set pieces and in transition.
Man City Face Tactical Questions
We’ve seen Manchester City play a more off ball strategy in some of their biggest matches of late — Arsenal away and both legs against Bayern Munich in particular. City have the ability to excel in transition unlike ever before because of Erling Haaland’s pace and size running into space behind a defense. While City controlled the possession and territory for large parts of both legs last season, I’d expect more periods of Real Madrid possession in this match as a tactical tweak from Guardiola.
City’s press has the potential to create a ton of high turnovers and expose Real Madrid’s back line otherwise. We know that Guardiola is going to start Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish, and his final choice in the front four will give a hint as to his plan in the match. Bernardo Silva is the best presser of his remaining options, and his press against Leipzig and Bayern in Manchester caused a ton of high turnovers, mistakes and thus created chances for City to exploit.
Guardiola has also played a back three much more often in recent months, but this poses a real risk against Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior. Vinicius is the best wide forward at ball progression in Europe’s top five leagues this year. Guardiola is likely to err on the side of caution in trying to limit him, especially after the first leg of the tie last year when Vinicius exposed Man City in transition.
Real Madrid vs Man City Pick
There’s no question that Manchester City are the best team in the world and are the rightful clear favorite to advance in this tie. The question is whether Real Madrid are more defensively solid in 2023 compared to last season and whether Los Blancos should really be a +0.25 underdog at home against anyone given their successful profile as an underdog.
Manchester City’s power rating is also potentially at an all time high following 11 straight league wins and domination of every big club it has played in the last two months. It wasn’t that long ago that Manchester City closed -105 on the moneyline at RB Leipzig in a first leg. Now, the Cityzens are as low as +115 at Real Madrid – a clearly superior team to Leipzig.
If Real Madrid do have more of the ball than you’d expect, then Eduardo Camavinga becomes the key tactically for Madrid. He’s been much more reserved and essentially served as an extra central midfielder defender to help Real’s transition defense. That’s a major key against Haaland and De Bruyne trying to combine in the middle to get in behind quickly in transition.
With Militao out and Real Madrid relying on Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba, Camavinga may become Real Madrid’s most important defender.
Manchester City should be the favorite in this match, but the market is too inflated to bet them now. The Cityzens opened +140 and have been bet down solidly. Since I see no value on the full game moneyline or total, I’m targeting some props based on how the game will play out.
City’s elite shot suppression and Real Madrid’s focus on high quality moments inflates their shots per game total. I’d bet under 11.5 Real Madrid shots attempted at -110 or better (available at BetRivers at bet365). Even if Real Madrid have more of the ball than expected, it will be more conservative possession.
Pick: Real Madrid Under 11.5 Shots (-110 or better)
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