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How to bet these big quarterfinal matches
August 14, 2020
We’re halfway through the quarterfinal round of the UEFA Champions League tournament. Here’s a rundown of betting angles on the two high-profile matches that remain:
Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona, Friday: This feels more like a final than it does a quarterfinal. Bayern Munich has been the best club in Europe since the restart, and I don’t think that’s even debatable. This is their tournament to lose.
Barcelona comes down to Lionel Messi, and whether he can create more magical moments; if he doesn’t, Barca can struggle in attack. On top of that, they have trouble controlling the middle third against good sides, and their back four can be leaky. Bayern, too, can give up some goals, but this team is far deeper than Barcelona. They have the best No. 9 in the world in Robert Lewandowski and over the course of their season, Bayern averaged 2.74 expected goals per game — a ridiculously high number.
Barcelona has been a tricky side to handicap all season. Messi can be the X factor, but what happens when he has an off game? Is there a Paulo Dybala there to pick up the slack, like he does for Ronaldo? The answer has been no. Bayern is just the better side of these two clubs. The only way Barca wins this game is if Messi puts on a GOAT-level performance. If he doesn’t, I don’t think this one is close.
Bayern at even money is a gift, and I see a minimum of three goals here (3.75 expected goals in Bayern games, 2.90 in Barca games). I like Bayern at +100 and the Over 3 at -110.
Manchester City vs. Lyon, Saturday: This game is a true mismatch to me. Lyon had an expected goal average of 1.28 per game in Ligue 1, which is far below the Premier League’s quality. Lyon is a solid club that will park the bus, defend, and counterattack you. They did this successfully against Juventus in the group of 16, but won’t be able to in this matchup.
I would argue the result against Juventus was not deserved by Lyon, and frankly they got pretty lucky. I do not see them as a top-eight side in Europe. Without the penalty given to Lyon, their expected goals vs. Juventus were basically non-existent.
Manchester City is probably the most talented club left in the Champions League, if we are just talking raw talent. They can put up four goals against anyone (even Liverpool). Over the course of their season, Manchester City’s expected goal differential per game was 1.72, and this was a “down year” for them. Since the restart, their expected goal differential was 2.0. Even in Champions League, they beat Real Madrid 2-1 and 3-1. The Citizens have the best midfielder in the world in Kevin De Bruyne, who sends in constant crosses and passes that most defenders never see coming.
This game will likely come down to the finishing quality of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling in the box. De Bruyne will give them chances, and I think they are clinical in the final third. Pep Guardiola will make the right tactical calls in this match and put City in the right spots. I see a 3-1 result here, with Manchester City taking an early lead. My play is Man City -1.5 goals (-125).