Champions League Odds, Picks for Real Madrid vs. Union Berlin

Champions League Odds, Picks for Real Madrid vs. Union Berlin article feature image

Quality Sport Images/Getty. Pictured: Jude Bellingham.

Real Madrid vs. Union Berlin Odds

Wednesday, Sep. 20
12:45 p.m. ET
Real Madrid Odds-275
Union Berlin Odds+700
Over / Under
 -138 / +100
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Real Madrid begin their quest for an unprecedented 15th Champions League title when they host Union Berlin at the Bernabeu.

Madrid have been perfect to begin their La Liga campaign, winning five straight matches to sit a top the table. The addition of Jude Bellingham has done wonders for the Real Madrid midfield, as the Englishman already has five of their 10 goals on the season. Los Blancos are the favorites to win Group C, but likely need three points in this match to do so.

The rise of Union Berlin over the past four years has been remarkable. Three years ago they were in the second division in Germany, and two years ago they were playing in the Europa Conference League. Last year they were in the Europa League and this season they are making their first appearance in the Champions League after finishing fourth in the Bundesliga. However, they are one of the long shots to get out of this group, so can they defy the odds again?

Let's get into Real Madrid vs Union Berlin.

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Real Madrid

This version of Real Madrid is a lot different than the one that went to the Champions League semifinals last season. The departure of Karim Benzema has been evident through their first few La Liga matches with Jude Bellingham having to make up for a lot of that production as a box invading midfielder. While Joselu has scored twice, he is not the type of striker or finisher that Karim Benzema was. Then you also have the added downgrade of Vinicius Jr. being hurt, so Real Madrid’s attack is much more limited than it was last season. 

One positive through five matches is the defense has seemingly improved, as they’ve only conceded 5.1 xG and had nice control over matches against teams that want to play transitionally like Union Berlin. Real Madrid have also largely benefited from forcing high turnovers in La Liga, with 10 shots off of those forced high turnovers. They aren’t going to get those high turnovers here because Union Berlin aren't going to try and build out of the back and are going to try and send everything long up to their strikers.

Real Madrid are going to have to defend in transition, win aerial duals and defend well on set pieces. They aren't the best transition defense, but they did only allow four goals off of set pieces and were number one in aerial dual win percentage last year. Adding an elite ball stopper like Bellingham should sure up their transition defense as well.

Union Berlin

The way Union Berlin play is quite remarkable when you consider they are in the Champions League. They ran ridiculously well offensively last year, scoring 49 goals off 37.9 xG. Union are a team that primarily rely on direct attacks and set pieces to score all of their goals. Close to 40% of their xG last season came off of set pieces and almost all of their attack came in wide areas because they completed the most crosses of anyone in the Bundesliga into the opponent's penalty area.

However, Union Berlin were a great defensive team last year. They only allowed 1.09 npxG per 90 minutes in the highest-scoring league among Europe’s top five leagues. They will play a 5-3-2 out of possession trying to clog up the middle of the pitch and are fantastic at defending their penalty area, holding the best final third to box entry conversion rate in the Bundesliga last year.

They have had a couple shaky defensive performances out of the gates in the Bundesliga, but in their last match they held a good Wolfsburg offense to just 0.4 xG on the road.

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Real Madrid vs Union Berlin

Pick & Prediction

A point would be a historic achievement for Union Berlin in their first Champions League match at the Bernabeu, so I think you will see them playing an ultra-conservative defensive low block and daring Real Madrid to break them down, which I am not sure Real Madrid are as equipped to as they’ve been able to in the past without an elite striker like Benzema or an elite winger to invade the box and create chances from out wide like Vinicius Jr. can.

With this being the first match and neither team desperate, I think that will lend itself to a low scoring affair.

I only have 2.15 goals projected for this match, so I like the value on under 2.5 at +115.

Pick: Under 2.5 (+115 via DraftKings)

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