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Tuesday Champions League Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our Favorite Plays for Real Madrid vs. Chelsea (April 27)

Tuesday Champions League Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our Favorite Plays for Real Madrid vs. Chelsea (April 27) article feature image

Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images. Pictured: Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

We have reached the Champions League semifinal round, with two of the biggest names in soccer kicking things off Tuesday with a showdown in Spain

Powerhouse Real Madrid welcomes Premier League giant Chelsea to Santiago Bernabéu Stadium for the opening leg of their matchup. Los Blancos reached the stage after eliminating Liverpool in the quarterfinal round. On the other side, Chelsea cruised to this stage of the European showcase after knocking out Portuguese side Porto.

Our Action Network soccer analysts have targeted five plays, all of which are different. That should tell you how difficult it was to handicap a game featuring clubs of this caliber and how evenly matched they are on paper.

Let’s take a look at their detailed thoughts and top picks.

Jeremy Pond Total Under 2.25 Goals (-122)
BJ Cunningham Total Over 2.5 Goals (+138)
Michael Leboff Draw (+220)
Anthony Dabbundo Chelsea — Draw No Bet (+130)
Matthew Trebby Real Madrid ML (+128)

Odds updated as of Monday night via DraftKings.

Jeremy Pond: Real Madrid vs. Chelsea — Total Under 2.25 Goals (-122)

When I saw this match between these global powerhouses, the only thing that came to mind was the word “defense.”

Yes, folks. If you’re looking for a barnburner of a soccer match, you’re going to have to look elsewhere, because this isn’t it. Instead, what we are going to get when Chelsea and Real Madrid meet is an ultra-tight, defensive affair where one goal will likely deliver an opening-leg victory for either side.

Real Madrid enters this fixture at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on a tear, going unbeaten in its last 17 matches across all competitions. The last time Los Blancos suffered a defeat came on Jan. 30 in 2-1 setback against Levante on home soil. Since then, it’s been all roses for the side. Real Madrid has gone 12-0-5 in that stretch, which has to have it feeling confident entering this fixture.

These clubs don’t give up much and love to control the ball. More often than not you see both finishing games with a large edge in possession, usually well north of 60 percent. Simply put, Chelsea and Real Madrid don’t concede many scoring chances and the numbers back up that fact.

That said, I am backing the total staying the alternative number of 2.25 goals at -122 odds as my top pick. I honestly think this game is either going to end up either a scoreless stalemate or a 1-0 victory for one of the sides. These defenses are that good that a single is probably all it will take for someone to come out victorious.

There have been two goals or less in Chelsea’s last five UCL matches, plus three of Real Madrid’s last four games have finished in scoreless draws. Combine those key statistics together and I like my chances with this wager.

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BJ Cunningham: Real Madrid vs. Chelsea — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+138)

Real Madrid has been on a great run since the start of 2021, despite the draw with Real Betis this past weekend. Los Blancos have just one loss across all competitions, having put up a +16.67 expected-goals differential in the process.

Manager Zinedine Zidane’s 4-3-3 system has been completely overwhelming teams, with Real Madrid scoring 1.80 xG per 90 minutes and allowing just 1.00 xG/90 when playing out of that formation.

Standout Karim Benzema has been the man in form, scoring at a 0.66 xG per 90-minute rate in La Liga this season. Needless to say, he’ll be a very difficult matchup for Chelsea’s defense.

Tactically, Tuchel changed Chelsea’s system to a 3-4-2-1 from the 4-3-3 used by Lampard, which has allowed the club to become more unpredictable. The main objective of the 3-4-2-1 setup is to completely overwhelm opposing defenses by outnumbering them on the counterattack.

The new formation allows Chelsea some tactical flexibility, letting it adjust on the fly based on how the match is going. That has allowed the Blues to dominate possession and keep opponents on their toes.

Chelsea should be able to handle Real Madrid’s 4-3-3 since that’s the formation it used to play, plus it sees it on a regular basis in the Premier League. The change has done wonders, as the Blues have a 1.56 xGD/90 when playing out of the 3-4-2-1 formation.

Even though these are two of world’s best defensive outfits, both offenses still create a ton of chances. They’re both averaging more than 1.75 xG goals per match, so I think we’re going to see a higher scoring contest than expected.

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Michael Leboff: Real Madrid vs. Chelsea — Draw (+220)

The best time to bet the draw is when you’re expecting a low-scoring, cagey affair. I can’t think of a matchup that better fits that mold than this match. Despite their offensive firepower, these are terrific defensive sides that will wait as long as they need to before they spring into action.

In 14 league games under manager Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea has allowed just eight goals (0.57 per match) on a staggering 7.12 xG against (0.51 per match) this season. The Blues might not be posting the crooked numbers you’d think they would, considering their wealth of attacking talent. However, that’s because they don’t need to do so.

Real Madrid’s defensive numbers aren’t Tuchel-level dominant, but they are still terrific. Manager Zinedine Zidane’s side is allowing 0.73 goals and 1.04 xGA per match in La Liga, which tells me to not expect it to abandon that defensive prowess against a stout Chelsea side.

Los Blancos aren’t here to engage the Blues in a track meet, but rather to bet on their magical midfielders to be able to unlock the Blues and find Karim Benzema for the difference maker.

This game feels like it will turn into a lumbering chess match, which should lead to some value on the draw at +220 odds.  I don’t expect either club to get too far ahead to ruin a bet on the draw as well. I also will be betting on 0-0 as the exact scoreline at +700 odds, which means I will be wincing in pain when one of these clubs fires in a first-minute goal.

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Anthony Dabbundo: Chelsea — Draw No Bet (+130) vs. Real Madrid

This might be the UCL semifinals, but the first leg of this matchup probably won’t be the most entertaining to watch if you’re looking for goals and plenty of end-to-end action.

Real Madrid was able to exploit Liverpool’s high defensive line and ineffective press with simple long balls from Toni Kroos to Vinicius Jr. during their quarterfinal-round matchup, but its attack hasn’t exactly been firing otherwise. It’s really Karim Benzema or bust for Los Blancos, but Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is boasting one of the best defenses in Europe.

Statistically, Chelsea has been the continent’s best defense over the last two months. The Blues smothered Atlético Madrid and Porto in the previous rounds, plus it kept Liverpool and Manchester City from creating any big chances on the domestic front.

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These sides will probably want to play this game at a slower pace, with Chelsea having long periods of stale possession and  Real Madrid looking to break on the counterattack and ping balls over the top of its foe’s defense.

The teams are about even in my projection, which is why I’m taking Chelsea on the Draw No Bet line as a +130 underdog. The Premier League is a much tougher league than La Liga at the moment, plus the Blues have a better xGDiff this season.

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Matthew Trebby: Real Madrid ML (+128) vs. Chelsea

This game could be decided simply by one moment of brilliance either way.

I’m expecting Real Madrid to have more of the ball, given its all-time-great midfield trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić. Los Blancos have also put an emphasis on defending in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era as well.

The Blues’ defense is built around letting inferior teams try to break it down before catching them out on the counterattack While Chelsea did beat Manchester City two weekends ago in a FA Cup semifinal match, I’m going to back Real Madrid to break through in this opening leg.

This game has 1-0 written all over it, so I’m going to back the team loaded with players all over the pitch who have lifted the trophy before in this spot.

[Bet Real Madrid now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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