Champions League Odds & Betting Picks for Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester City (Wednesday, April 28)
Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images. Pictured: Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappé.
- Paris Saint-Germain welcomes Manchester City to Parc des Princes for Wednesday's Champions League semifinal-round match.
- The Parisians are hoping star Kylian Mbappe is able to go after he picked up an injury this past weekend in Ligue 1 play.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the contest below and delivers two picks.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester City Odds
|Paris Saint-Germain Odds||+240|
|Manchester City Odds||+106|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-141 / +114)|
|Day | Time||Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||Paramount+|
|Odds updated Wednesday afternoon via DraftKings.|
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have never won the Champions League in their respective club histories. However, both powerhouses are into the semifinal round and will face-off with one another twice in the next six days for a spot in the May 29 title match in Istanbul.
The Parisians came close to lifting Europe’s top trophy last year, but suffered a 1-0 loss to reigning champion Bayern Munich in the final. On the other side, the Cityzens have frequently been in the knockout stages before suffering puzzling defeats to lesser sides. In my opinion, Manchester City is the best team in the world right now, so it’s the deserved favorite to advance.
However, PSG has Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, who one could argue are two of the three best players in the world at this moment. Their manager — Mauricio Pochettino — is also no stranger to underdog title runs. His Tottenham Hotspur team upset Manchester City en route to a trip to the 2019 championship.
No team has had a tougher route to the UCL semifinals than PSG. As much as Pohcettino’s side have struggled domestically and find itself in a tough title race in the Ligue 1 play, it knocked out two of Europe’s elite to get here.
First, the Parisians defended and countered their way past Barcelona with ease. A dominant 4-1 first leg win led to a routine second-leg draw, enabling them to advance. In the best knockout tie of the tournament thus far, PSG eliminated Bayern Munich and ended its chances of a repeat.
The Parisians earned a 3-2 win in Germany before suffering a 1-0 home defeat, which didn’t matter since it held the edge on away goals despite the tie finishing at 3-3 on aggregate.
For PSG, the method to beating European giants has been simple. Pochettino has chosen to sit deep with players behind the ball, then looking to counter with its elite attacking talent.
In the first leg against Bayern Munich, it kept just seven players behind the ball in an attempt to get out and counter more, thus looking to pile up chances and road goals.
They had plenty of chances in the first leg, but were also a defensive sieve and lucky to not concede more than two goals. In the second leg, Pochettino kept more players behind the ball, found just as much counterattacking success and wasn’t nearly as open at the back.
The PSG strategy worked against Barcelona and Bayern Munich, two teams with clear flaws that have been evidenced in their respective domestic leagues all year.
Bayern Munich and Barcelona are both likely going to win their domestic leagues, but the latter has had trouble with pace through the midfield all year. That’s how PSG exploited the Spanish side in transition.
Bayern Munich might have a world-class attack, but aging, slow center backs and an ineffective press has defined their poor defense in the Bundesliga all year. The Parisians played right through its foe regularly, but the same won’t be possible against manager Pep Guardiola’s side. Manchester City is much better than both previous opponents.
Manchester City boasts the second-best defense on the planet over the last two months, sitting only behind Chelsea. The Cityzens just don’t allow much in transition, which will make it difficult for the Parisians to break through.
The lineup decision will be interesting from Pochettino, who’s likely to play in a 4-4-1-1 formation of sorts on the defensive side. Two blocks of four, with Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria dropping in to help PSG’s weak full backs on the wings, is the Parisians’ most likely defensive formation. That leaves Neymar to link the defense to Mbappé, who will try to get in behind.
Mbappé did pick up an injury late in this past weekend’s match with Metz, with his status up in the air. Injury news can be tricky to read in soccer matches, but if he’s not 100 percent fit, that will significantly hurt PSG and its chances. He’s likely to play, but his availability is still in question.
The Cityzens’ quarterfinal tie might have gone much differently if the referee’s controversial foul call didn’t disallow Jude Bellingham’s goal for Borussia Dortmund in the first leg. Guardiola tried his best to suffocate the Dortmund counterattack in the two legs, allowing 1.8 xGA in total.
That tie, plus its matchup with Spurs in the Carabao Cup final this past Sunday were good tune-ups for PSG, who’s a better team and a better counterattacking unit as a whole than both clubs. The Parisians will test the Cityzens’ defense even more than Dortmund did.
Guardiola has lauded the attacking quality of Neymar and Mbappé. He’s likely to set up his team in a typical 4-3-3 formation to control the match as much as possible and prevent counters. This means that Oleksandr Zinchenko and Kyle Walker will pinch in as fullbacks in possession, allowing midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gündoğan ability to get wide and forward to create overloads.
Most teams defending Manchester City try to take away the middle, with Pochettino being no different. He’s had plenty of experience against the global juggernaut and will probably try to do the same in this spot. He’ll force creativity to come from the wings, where Raheem Sterling has been in poor form and they don’t have an in-form striker to get on the end of crosses.
Manchester City lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinal round, with the winners delivering the true blueprint to beating this team. You need a lot of conservative possession, defend by taking away the middle of the pitch and hope to hit them once or twice on the counter.
Betting Analysis & Picks
This game is a fascinating tactical battle between two of Europe’s elite. Manchester City is the best team, but PSG has the two best players on the pitch in Neymar and Mbappé.
My projections show some value on the Cityzens, as do other projection systems. I’ve been higher on PSG than most all year, and have a title future on the club, but I make Manchester City at -105 odds to win the first leg away from home. The folks at FiveThirtyEight make the Cityzens the favorites at -110 implied odds, while my colleague, BJ Cunningham, projects Manchester City at -143 to triumph.
Guardiola and Pochettino faced one another in the 2019 quarterfinal. Pochettino’s side sat deep in the first leg at home, playing for a low-scoring result before opening it up on the road in the second leg. I’m expecting a similar situation in this spot from the PSG manager, as that has been his way of managing UCL knockout games in his decorated career.
For that reason, I’m willing to play a first-half under total, as there will probably be a goal, but it’s much more likely to fall to zero than two or more. Needless to say, I’m expecting a slower start to this game.
I’m also taking Manchester City to win based on my projections combined with a potentially unfit Mbappé, but in a smaller fashion, as I’m not sure if Guardiola wouldn’t settle for a draw instead going for the win in the final 10-15 minutes if it’s tied, knowing the second leg is on Etihad Stadium’s home soil.
Picks: First Half Under 1 Goal (+118) | Manchester City ML (+112)
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