2021 Champions League Odds, Picks & Predictions For Manchester City vs. Chelsea
Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images. Pictured: Chelsea standout Christian Pulisic, center, celebrates a goal with teammates Ceasr Azpilicueta, left, and Jorginho.
Well, we have reached the Champions League mountaintop. This is it.
Either Manchester City or Chelsea — two of the Premier League's juggernauts — will be crowned champion and secure the tournament hardware given to the victors of the world's most prestigious club tournament.
Action Network Soccer analysts BJ Cunningham, Anthony Dabbundo and Jeremy Pond have mulled over their best bets, which has led to three different picks in this showdown at Estádio do Dragão in Portugal. Obviously, this is setting up to be a stellar final featuring sides that know each other all too well.
That said, let's take a look at the picks from our crew for this intriguing finale.
|THE BET | ODDS||ANALYST||BEST BOOK|
|Chelsea to Lift The Trophy | (+175)||BJ Cunningham||DraftKings|
|Fernandinho (Man City) | To Get A Card (+150)||Anthony Dabbundo||DraftKings|
|Match To Go To Extra Time — Yes (+240)||Jeremy Pond||BetMGM|
Game time: 3 p.m. ET | How To Watch: CBS | Univision | Paramount+
BJ Cunningham: Chelsea to Lift The Trophy (+175)
The Cityzens were crowned champions in England's top flight last weekend and it was truly deserved, because they were the best in the league by a pretty clear distance.
Manchester City has been incredibly dominant defensively this season, allowing just 0.75 expected goals per match combined in the Premier League and Champions League. And it goes without saying the biggest reason for the Cityzens' run has been their defensive dominance.
Manager Pep Guardiola made a change at both center-back positions back in December, putting John Stones and Rúben Dias together. That was a move that has done wonders for the Manchester City defense, turning it into one of the best units in the world.
However, it will be interesting to see if Guadiola goes to his favored 4-3-3 setup against Chelsea, because in the previous two matches against its foe, he played 4-2-3-1 and 3-5-2 formations.
The Blues will be well-equipped to handle the Cityzens' attack, because under manager Thomas Tuchel, their defense has been outstanding. Since Tuchel assumed control on Jan. 27, Chelsea's defense has allowed just 0.58 xG per match combined in Premier League and Champions League action.
Tactically, Tuchel changed Chelsea's system to a 3-4-2-1 from the 4-3-3 used by former manager Frank Lampard, which has allowed it to become more unpredictable. Needless to say, the change has done wonders, as Chelsea has a 1.31 xGD per 90 minutes when playing out of the 3-4-2-1 formation.
Chelsea is the one team in the world that has given Manchester City the most fits this season and Tuchel's tactical success against it cannot be ignored. It's always difficult to beat a team three times, but Chelsea has shown it's equal to Manchester City.
I only have the Cityzens projected at -134 odds to lift the trophy, so I'm going to back the Blues on this wager at +175 as my top selection.
Anthony Dabbundo: Fernandinho (Manchester City) To Get A Card — Yes (+150)
The required number for me to bet an under is long gone at this point, with the total under 2.5 goals moving from an opening line of -112 odds to -162 via DraftKings as of this story's publication.
That being said, there’s one prop that sticks out. The bet is only valid if manager Pep Guardiola chooses to start him, but if Fernandinho gets the nod, I find +150 odds being a great price for him to pick up a card in this match. Bottom line, Fernandinho is the perfect defensive midfielder for the Manchester City manager.
Yes, Fernandinho's aging and not what he used to be, but he’s renowned for the kind of tactical fouling Guardiola encourages against opponents.
If Chelsea is on the break or about to get out in transition, expect Fernandinho to grab a shirt and pull on it, commit a late challenge and take one for the team.
Fernandinho’s aging makes him more likely to be caught out by the pace of speedy youngsters Timo Werner or Christian Pulisic, thus having to commit a foul and make up for his slower pace. He’s known to push the limits of the referee and see how far the officials will let him go before getting booked.
In his last 10 appearances where he’s played at least 45 minutes, he’s tallied seven yellow cards. That's good enough for me to jump on this wager.
Jeremy Pond: Match To Go To Extra Time — Yes (+240)
Initially, I was going to jump on the total staying under 2.5 goals as my top pick. And like my colleague, Anthony, I've since had to jump off that angle due to the fact the number is just way too high for me to find any value.
Sure, I'm probably going to sprinkle a little on the alternative number of 2.25 goals when all my selections are being locked in, but I need to find something spicy to close out this wild Champions League ride.
Suffice it to say, I think I've found the perfect play.
Chelsea has had the upper hand on Manchester City in their most recent meetings, picking up two wins against the champions in England's top flight. However, the Blues were anything but spectacular down the stretch and barely held on for a berth in the next season's UCL competition.
So, as much as I think Chelsea has Manchester City's number despite its lackluster efforts to close out the latter part of its campaign, I firmly believe it's going to be relying heavily on its staunch defense in this affair.
I fully expect the Blues to be on their heels right out of the gate, with the Cityzens looking to strike first and put their foes in a terrible position. Yet, as much as I foresee Chelsea being under attack early and often, I think it's more than capable of keeping Manchester City in check.
That said, I think we're going to see something along the lines a 1-1 score at the end of the regulation. Manchester City will get that goal, but Chelsea will snag one of its own via the counterattack and send this contest to overtime.
So, I will back this match going into extra time at +240 odds via BetMGM as my top pick. These outfits are so evenly matched when you really look at it, so I'm more than happy to jump on that number.