Champions League Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our Best Wednesday Bets for Porto vs. Chelsea (April 7)

Champions League Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our Best Wednesday Bets for Porto vs. Chelsea (April 7) article feature image
Credit:

Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images. Pictured: Chelsea standout Olivier Giroud, center, celebrates his goal with Marcos Alonso, left, and Jorginho.

  • Champions League action continues Wednesday, with two more quarterfinal-round matches taking place in Europe.
  • Our soccer analysts have come up with four top picks, all of which are connected to the Chelsea vs. Porto match.

If you were expecting excitement in Tuesday’s Champions League matches, you got exactly what you were hoping for in both affairs.

Real Madrid cruised to an impressive 3-1 victory over Liverpool in their opening leg. Things were a little more dicey for tournament favorite Manchester City, who needed a late goal from Phil Foden to earn a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at Etihad Stadium.

Now, we turn our attention to a Wednesday card featuring two games that should be just as intense. Defending champion Bayern Munich hosts French juggernaut Paris Saint-Germain in a rematch of last year’s finale. The other showdown pits heavily-favored Chelsea against Portuguese surprise Porto.

Our Action Network soccer analysts have pinpointed four plays in these contests, with three of them showing some major love for the lads from Stamford Bridge.

Let’s take a look at their in-depth analysis and top picks in these contests.


MATCH ANALYST THE PICK
Porto vs. Chelsea BJ Cunningham Chelsea ML (-130)
Porto vs. Chelsea Jeremy Pond Total Under 2.25 Goals (-122)
Porto vs. Chelsea Anthony Dabbundo Chelsea ML (-130)
Porto vs. Chelsea Kieran Darcy Chelsea ML (-130)

Odds updated as of Tuesday evening via DraftKings


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BJ Cunningham: Chelsea ML (-130) vs. Porto

Even though Porto didn’t show it in its Round of 16 tie with Juventus, the club is   incredibly stout on the defensive side of things. The Dragons’ defense has been a fortress in Primeira Liga play, allowing only 0.94 xG per match. The reason for that is because they play out of a 4-4-2 formation, which is one of the most defensive setups in soccer.

Tactically, I expect Porto to play very defensive, keeping everything out of the middle and daring Chelsea to beat it by playing the ball wide. The Dragons have some experience at the back with former Real Madrid defender Pepe and ex-Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba, so they are equipped to handle the Blues’ attack.

Chelsea will be well equipped to take down Porto, due to the fact it just beat the best defensive team in the world in Atlético Madrid. Coincidentally, Atlético Madrid plays out of the same 4-4-2 formation. However, Chelsea was embarrassed over the weekend, suffering a shocking 5-2 home loss against relegation side West Bromwich Albion in Premier League action.

Before the West Brom match, Chelsea had conceded just two goals in Tuchel’s first six matches in charge. The Blues are allowing only 0.44 expected goals per match under the German as well. They’re also creating 1.61 xG per match, so the West Brom fixture was clearly an outlier in my opinion.

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 Chelsea to be more unpredictable. The main objective of the 3-4-2-1 is to completely overwhelm opposing defenses by outnumbering them on the counter attack. 

The new formation allows Chelsea some tactical flexibility, in particular the ability to adjust on the fly based on how the match is going. That has allowed Chelsea to dominate possession and keep the opposition on its toes. The Blues should be able to dominate possession since Porto is not concerned about keeping a lot of the ball.

Needless to say, the change has done wonders, as the Blues have a 1.31 xGD per 90 minutes when playing out of the 3-4-2-1 formation.

Chelsea is a heavy favorite to advance to the semifinal round, and if it plays like it did against Atlético Madrid, it should make quick work of Porto.

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Jeremy Pond: Porto vs. Chelsea: Total Under 2.25 Goals (-122)

When I started handicapping this match, I came away with two plays. The first is the same one my fellow prognosticators have targeted: Chelsea getting the straight-up victory over Porto.

The second option, which is where I’m landing to give you all something a little different, comes via the total in what looks to be an ultra-defensive affair at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in Sevilla.

This should have been a home game for Porto at Estádio do Dragão, but was moved to Spain due to travel restrictions tied to COVID-19 protocols. Both legs of this tie will occur at this venue. Obviously, this takes away any home-field advantage the Dragons might have had in the opening leg and further hurts their chances of reaching the semifinal round as heavy underdogs.

Chelsea enters this affair fresh off a stunning 5-2 loss at the hands of future Championship side West Bromwich Albion in last weekend’s Premier League action. The Blues, who actually led 1-0 through Christian Pulisic’s 27th-minute goal, went down a man two minutes later when Thiago Silva was sent off. It was all downhill from there, with the Baggies scoring five second-half goals.

Manager Thomas Tuchel and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy celebrate after Chelsea advanced in Champions League play. Photo credit: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images.

On the other side, Porto enters this contest winner of three Primeira League fixtures on the bounce. The Dragons have only lost four times in 33 matches across all competitions this season.

One of those defeats came last time out in Champions League action when Juventus earned a bittersweet 3-2 victory, en route to being eliminated from the competition. Porto was dominated in that contest, getting doubled up in the xG battle by 3.0-1.5 margin.

After looking at this game, I was draw to the belief it would most likely wind up finishing with Chelsea coming out on top via a 1-0 or 2-0 result, which has led me to backing the total to stay under the alternative number of 2.25 goals at fair -122 odds.

I fully expect both outfits to come out in defensive postures, with Chelsea hoping to find one or two chances to snatch that winning goal in a low-scoring affair. Throw in the fact the 13 of the Blues’ last 15 matches overall have ended with two goals or less, and I like my chances with this wager.

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Anthony Dabbundo: Chelsea ML (-130) vs. Porto

For Chelsea, a matchup with Porto is a welcome sight, because the Portuguese side is likely to set up very similarly to Atlético Madrid in the last round. The only difference is Porto is just worse.

The Dragons are worse at defending, plus they lack the attacking talent to truly threaten this elite Chelsea counter-press and defense. Manager Thomas Tuchel will likely start Olivier Giroud up top and try to cross through Porto. It’s how the Blues broke down Atlético Madrid in the last round, and how they’ll look to get past Porto as well.

Giroud has been running really hot in the UCL, leading the Blues with six goals in tournament play. The seemingly ageless French forward could be the key to unlocking Porto in this crucial first leg.

By FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index ranking, Porto is the worst team left in the competition. A look at expected goals from its upset victory against Juventus suggests it was lucky to advance against Juventus, benefitting from two shocking defensive errors from the Italian side.

Porto will cede possession to Chelsea, with the idea of forcing it to move the ball through the wings and deliver crosses. The defensive strategy worked against Juventus, but won’t work against Chelsea.

I like the Blues at -140 or better to win.

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Kieran Darcy: Chelsea ML (-130) vs. Porto

I am not going to overreact to Chelsea’s 5-2 loss to West Brom this past weekend.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a good performance. However, all five of West Brom’s goals came after Thiago Silva’s 29th-minute red card. And the Blues still wound up out-shooting the Baggies by an 18-14 margin, plus they finished with a 2.4-1.9 xG advantage, according to FBRef.

Chelsea had conceded just two goals in its first 14 matches under manager Thomas Tuchel prior to West Brom debacle (and hadn’t lost any of them).

The Blues are the second-best team in England’s top flight — arguably the best league in Europe — in terms of xG differential at +22.1 this season. In contrast, the Dragons are in second in a league outside the top-five European leagues.

Kudos to Porto for knocking out Juventus in the Round of 16 (although the Italian club is just fifth overall in Serie A this season), but the club trailed in the xG battle (3.8-2.7) during that tie.

In my opinion, I think Chelsea will bounce back in Portugal and get the win.

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