The Champions League round of 16 continues this week with four exciting matches (which you can all watch) CBS All Access). Well, okay, there are three exciting matches. I’m not sure how much drama there will be in Wednesday’s match between Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach, but we’ll get to that later.
Like last week, I have choices for all four games. Unlike last week, I plan to get more than one dish. Although if you only get one choice correctly, it is better to have the choice to be PSG to win over Barcelona directly. It mitigates the other losses a bit.
Do you need more coverage of the Champions League? Den ¡Que Golazo! podcast has a full preview of Tuesday’s action. Listen below:
Anyway, here are my favorite games for each of this week’s four matches. As usual, all odds are via William Hill Sportsbook.
Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea, Tuesday 15.00 ET (CBS All Access/ CBS Sports Network)
Chelsea have looked good since Thomas Tuchel took over. You may remember that Tuchel led PSG to the Champions League final last season, but was fired a few months later before ending up in London with Chelsea. Since Tuchel took over, Chelsea have been magnificent defensively and have only conceded 2.5 expected goals (xG) in six Premier League matches and have never allowed more than 0.7 xG in a single match. This is mainly due to the fact that Chelsea have the ball almost the entire match as they have dominated possession under Tuchel.
Of course, it should be pointed out that Chelsea have not played the toughest competition since the switch. They dominated Tottenham, but Tottenham are a mess and they drew 1-1 with Southampton at the weekend. Atletico Madrid pose the biggest challenge that Tuchel will have faced since the takeover. Having this come in its first Champions League match with its new team is an added challenge.
As for Atletico, Diego Simeone’s men are not at their best right now. Atleti enter this match only after winning one of their last four and losing 2-0 to Levante on Saturday (only three days after a 1-1 draw with the same Levante), but the xG numbers show that Atleti is not playing too differently from what they had done while playing well enough to earn the top spot in Spain’s La Liga. And that’s one of the reasons why I see a lot of value for Madrid here, even when this match is played in Bucharest instead of Madrid (travel restrictions due to COVID). Moreover, Chelsea’s tendency to dominate the ball will not bother Atletico much. They are a counter-attacking side and are more than hpy to defend and take their chances when they come. It should be a lowly affair, but I do not see much value in taking under. Instead, the value lies in Madrid. Choice: Atletico Madrid (+170)
Lazio vs. Bayern Munich, Tuesday 15.00 ET (CBS All Access)
Speaking of fighting teams, Bayern Munich are embarking on this week’s Champions League draw, which looks more vulnerable than we are used to seeing. Whether it’s match load catching up with them or just a bad form, I’m not sure, but the results are surprising. Last weekend, Bayern drew 3-3 with Arminia Bielefeld, a team struggling to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga. On Saturday, Bayern lost to Eintracht Frankfurt, a team that may be playing the best football in Germany at the moment, but it was still a surprising result.
But you know what? Bayern won the xG match in both of these matches. This is what hpens when you have an attack as cable as Bayern. This team’s problems lie on the defensive side of the ball, where they deliver more chances than we typically see. In last season’s Bundesliga, Bayern allowed 34.3 xG over 34 games or 1.01 per game. Match. During their last nine league games, Bayern surrender 1.28 xG per. Fight, a significant increase. In this match, they face a Lazio side that is not the most productive in attack (32.5 xG in Serie A ranks only eighth in the league), but is effective with the chances it gets (38 goals in 32, 5 xG). Both teams will find the back of the net in this far more often than not. Choice: Both teams score (-180)
Atalanta vs. Real Madrid, ons. 15.00 ET (CBS All Access)
It is somewhat surprising to me that Real Madrid – of all clubs – are flying a little under the radar these days. Madrid had two shocking losses against Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage, but if we go back to the 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach to finish the stage and win Group B, Madrid have played quite well since. They have won 12 of their last 17 matches in all competitions, with two out of three losses coming in the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de España, so we do not know how motivated the team was to win any of them. Madrid enter Wednesday’s match after winning four straight. Although they will be without striker Karim Benzema, it is still a solid form.
Atalanta also play well. After a tough stretch that began in February (a loss to Lazio, and a draw with Noli and Torino), the Italian starters have won three straight, including a 4-2 win over Noli on Sunday (three of Atalanta’s last five matches have been against Noli because of Coppa Italia). However, while Atalanta have improved defensively this season, I still worry about them facing higher caliber competition. Atalanta are likely to have to win this match to advance, and although I can certainly see it hpening, I do not think it hpner almost as often as the available price says it needs. There is value for Real Madrid to manage at least a draw here. Choice: Real Madrid or Draw (-185)
Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City, Wed. 15.00 (CBS All Access)
If you’re more comfortable paying the heavy juice to get Manchester City to win, give it a try. However, I am looking for a little more excitement in my life. City are taking part in this match after winning a ridiculous 18 straight across all competitions. They have played 25 games since last losing (a 2-0 loss to Tottenham on 21 November). Pep Guardiola’s team is simply the best team in the world at the moment. It is also the favorite to win the Champions League and it drew the team that could be considered the luckiest that was still in the Champions League.
Monchengladbach qualified through Group B and finished second to Real Madrid and ahead of Shakhtar and Inter Milan. But Gladbach’s only two victories came against Shakhtar with an overall score of 10-0. In four matches against Real Madrid and Inter, they lost twice and drew twice, scoring 9-6 in goals and 8.1-4.1 in xG. They are currently in eighth place in the Bundesliga, and manager Marco Rose has already accepted the job at Borussia Dortmund for next season. Now all they have to do is play the best team in the world!
I like Manchester City to win, but the reason they have been the best team in the world this year is due to a huge improvement defensively. During their 25 unbeaten runs, City have kept clean sheets in 18 games. So not only do I take City to win, I say the defense shuts Gladbach out in the process. It’s hard to find value in the city these days, but we just did. Choice: Manchester City win against zero (+122)