WagerBop has the upcoming UEFA Champions League back-leg covered from back to front! Readers seeking in-depth looks at this week’s matchups can my colleague Nikola’s picks on Bayern Munich, Benfica, and other favorites by clicking around our front page for the individual matches.
Meanwhile, to get a glance at the entire Round-of-16 back end with all 8 fixtures, scroll onward for a preview of the action across Europe this week and next.
Tuesday, March 7: Chelsea F.C. vs. Borussia Dortmund
There are no English Premier League teams with advantageous hands going into the back-leg kickoffs of a pressure-packed UEFA knockout round, that is, if we only take an unbiased “scoreboard” point-of-view. Nevertheless, gamers continue wagering on the Premiership to sail proudly in international waters.
Chelsea Football Club is getting a pulse in the short term, regardless of whatever ill’s are going on with Pensioners in the Premier League. Meanwhile, the UEFA’s action in long-term wagers seems to be monopolized by Sky Blues of Manchester City. Chelsea Football Club’s futures odds to win 2 European championships in 3 years are being trampled by Man City’s 1-to-1 Champions League Final betting odds. Such a gambling line is, once again, both eye-popping and speculative for a Sky Blues organization that has never lifted the UEFA’s top hardware. But with Borussia Dortmund holding a 1-goal aggregate lead over Chelsea, late winter’s money-line odds at FanDuel remain firmly on Pensioners’ side, with “minus” odds of (-115) attached to the English club and a pessimistic (+310) next to Dortmund. Keep in mind that these odds are being offered in spite of Chelsea enduring 4 other prestigious bouts over less than a 3-week juncture wrapped around the Dortmund finale.
Additionally, don’t forget that Chelsea can out-score Dortmund in 90+ minutes at Stamford Bridge and still fail to advance in the competition, a factor that is helping Blues maintain a promising betting line-to-win even as dark clouds hover overhead. However, Chelsea’s brave (+126) underdog odds to qualify for the quarter-final round show that plenty of punters think England is about to make an EPL comeback and take Bundesliga as its first victim.
Have the sportsbooks been paying any attention to domestic soccer scores? Chelsea is attacking like a bottom-half Premier League team in 2022-23 and stands in a miserable middle-tier position on the EPL table despite a head coaching change and several other restless managerial moves. Dortmund has produced a sizzling-hot invincible streak in Bundesliga, and at last, is in contention to take a German club championship away from Bayern Munich.
Inexperienced bettors make have gotten the idea that Chelsea F.C. dominated last week’s match against Borussia Dortmund due to the latter team’s scant shot total. In reality, however, the Bundesliga side pressed and harassed Chelsea, leading to an equitable split in possession time and a contentious midfield full of collisions.
Dortmund’s (+1200) UEFA Champions League futures odds to win a championship may be rationalized by the threat of near-future fatigue. The club has now reached the quarter-final round of the DFB-Pokal tourney, Germany’s version of the English FA Cup. Combining that trek with what’s sure to be a series of intense Bundesliga matches in a tight spring race may mean that staying fresh for a Champions League Final is an impossible dream.
But even if we’re basing long term picks on the fatigue factor, it fails to explain why Dortmund is only a (-115) pick to produce a win or a draw at Stamford Bridge in early March. Dortmund’s 11 goals in 7 Champions League appearances this cycle out-paces Chelsea’s attack in UEFA thus far, a fact that only adds momentum to Chelsea’s plunge toward its worst spring in forever.
WagerBop’s Pick: Borussia Dortmund and Draw (Double Chance) (-115)
Tuesday, March 7: Benfica vs. Club Brugge
FanDuel Sportsbook views the other finale on 3/7 as far more lopsided as indicated by Benfica’s 2-0 stranglehold on the aggregate goal count headed into a back-leg on home turf. Parlay-type (-230) odds are being given on Glorious Ones to win the match alongside a prohibitive 1-to-200 betting line on Benfica advancing to the next round. The opposing Belgian side only managed 4 shot attempts despite possessing the ball for 40:00 in Benfica’s opening-leg victory, and Club Brugge’s (+3000) odds to advance indicate that a comeback will be a significant challenge.
Scott Parker’s underdogs will nonetheless be obliged to play forward numbers and try to create a high-tempo fixture, an angle helping FanDuel’s betting line for a standard market of Over/Under (2.5) total goals stay at pricey (-130) odds.
WagerBop’s Pick: 2nd Half Total Goals Scored (“Half With Most Goals” Prop Bet) (+110)
Wednesday, March 8: Tottenham Hotspur vs. AC Milan
Tottenham Hotspur’s (-105) odds to win may become even steeper, as Lilywhites are coming fresh off a 2-0 victory against Chelsea on 2/26. The clean-sheet result may in fact say more about Blues’ diminished form than Tottenham’s consistency, but that won’t discourage supporters from wagering that Harry Kane’s squad will bounce back from their previous outing with a better back-tie.
February’s opening leg dealt Lilywhites a patented Serie A blow to the chest. Milan scored just a few minutes after kickoff before going on to slow the pace with numerous edgy tackles while complicating Spurs’ path through midfield in the process.
The fact that Spurs own a perceived edge in penalty shoot-outs over AC Milan is helping the Tottenham-to-advance prop market to hover at optimistic (+122) odds. There’s no Away Goals Rule in place with which the Italian side can put the round to bed if aggregate goals are tied following extra time, but the sportsbook’s (-116) Over/Under odds on an outcome of less than (2.5) total tallies reflects an Italian back line that will be poised to defend their goal box.
WagerBop’s Pick: No Recommended Picks
Wednesday, March 8: Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Last month, the most iconic pair of Champions League knock-out opponents faced off in France, with Bayern Munich taking a 1-goal aggregate lead in spite of a regrettable, costly red card for right-back Benjamin Pavard. Interestingly, even though Bavarians are the picks who’re widely expected to beat PSG on aggregate and advance to the UEFA quarter-final round, London and Las Vegas speculators are still picking Man City’s long-term odds to win again.
PSG’s woes can help explain Bayern’s chintzy (-125) money-line odds to win the back leg more so than an overwhelming betting trend moving toward the German side. Things are not well in the home of French soccer, with Messi’s injuries prohibiting 2022’s FIFA World Cup hero from contributing offense to an already banged-up Parisians forward line. Paris is only a (+430) long-shot gamble to earn an aggregate or tiebreaker win by overcoming an 0-1 deficit.
It wouldn’t be surprising if this match ended up very different from the hype. With nothing to lose, Parisians could try to manufacture a wide-open contest and surprise a Bavarians side hoping to nurse a small advantage. This is the juncture of UEFA cycles at which 4-to-1 championship favorites can still be had, whether found succumbing to the flawed form from winter or simply to cockiness with a lead.
WagerBop’s Pick: Draw (+330)
Tuesday, March 14: Manchester City vs. RB Leipzig
Liverpool was shocked by Los Blancos of Real Madrid via a 5-2 score last week, as Vini Jr. erased an early Reds lead against a very shaky host back line. Real Madrid followed up with 3 more goals that put the EPL brand in dire circumstances going into the round’s back tie. That stunner has helped push long-term Champions League betting action in Manchester City’s direction in spite of Citizens’ own opening leg outcome, one which almost certainly worried the club and its supporters alike.
What was assumed a comfortable front-leg Champions League win for City over RB Leipzig turned into another frustrating 1-1 outcome last tie, when Croatia National Team rookie Joško Gvardiol scored midway through the 2nd half to draw level with Red Bulls.
Man City is a (-230) favorite to win the upcoming back leg on home grounds. Citizens supporters are counting on a better effort at home, or else pricey futures-bet slips could be lining cages straight away.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (3.5) (-188)
Tuesday, March 14: F.C. Porto vs. Inter Milan
Readers felt WagerBop’s skepticism when reporting Inter Milan’s thin odds to beat Porto in February’s opening tie, but the proud soccer city of Milan has more than a single team shining in form as the Champions League knockout round trudges forward. That’s a fancy way of saying that Serie A served us crow! (And olives.)
Inter Milan is expected to defend stubbornly and win the aggregate total with a carefully crafted plan of attack, a fact reflected in FanDuel’s matching money-line markets of (+165) odds on either brand to lead the scoring on 3/24.
Porto’s footballers nearly turned black and blue as Inter Milan led a physical opening-leg match that included 29 combined fouls and a red card for the drained Dragons. Romelu Lukaku’s go-ahead goal provided the exclamation mark to the match with less than 10 minutes of action remaining. Serie A’s odds may not be as bright as another league’s might be following a stellar Group Stage and playoff debut, but sportsbooks are sold on Milan’s chances in mid-March so long as an EPL face-off is not on the ledger.
It’s easy to be wary of FanDuel’s generous (-142) odds on the prop bet “Yes” for “Both Teams to Score.” If the leading, superior side puts a downtrodden Dragons team down 3-0 on aggregate, the simple emotions of another Champions League elimination could work to prevent accurate “consolation” strikes at Inter Milan keeper André Onana in the late-going. If Porto produces an unexpected rally to threaten level goals and an aggregate-draw tiebreaker, don’t anticipate an Arsenal-style reaction from the Serie A side. They’ll bear down and try to win on aggregate by shutting the door.
WagerBop’s Pick: “No” (From “Both Teams to Score” Prop Bets) (+112)
Wednesday, March 15: Napoli vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Napoli potentially made the biggest statement on behalf of Serie A in the round’s opening ties when the club punished Eintracht Frankfurt on enemy territory, in a fixture that wasn’t as close as the 2-0 tally indicated. Subsequently, Napoli’s (-190) money-line odds to win March’s rematch on Serie A grounds are some of the most lopsided to be found in this year’s Round of 16.
However, considering how few chances the favorites will be taking, bookmakers’ optimistic (-128) line on Over (2.5) total goals-scored may prove to be highly inaccurate.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (2.5) (+108)
Wednesday, March 15: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool
After Reds offered a handful of encouraging EPL results in late winter, supporters began to feel optimistic that the club could manufacture an opening-leg lead against Real Madrid in the Round of 16. However, “disastrous” is the only word to describe Liverpool’s 5-2 front-leg loss at Anfield. Liverpool was recently conquering Premier League sides like Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur while roaring through the Group Stage. Real Madrid, by contrast, is an aging team in transition within some key roles, and couldn’t be counted on to have an elite 11-up effort throughout the medal round while defending the hardware. But in February, Liverpool’s lineup made Spain’s side look like the real deal.
Liverpool’s red-hot action to prevail in the opening leg was indeed a show of sentimentality and wishful thinking. FanDuel is being much more cautious with Reds as they head into March’s back-legged ties, giving Real Madrid bright (+105) odds to out-score Liverpool (+220) again. The previous betting line may seem like a solid-enough pick for anyone who watched the front-leg romp, an outcome that probably served to eliminate the high hopes that Liverpool’s bettors still had for the team’s ability to take on international opponents.
Observe that Los Blancos’ coach Carlo Ancelotti cares not about paying off money-line wagers with a non-aggregate victory, and also knows that Madrid will still roar with joy if he “loses” the present bout 2-1 and still goes forward in the competition with an aggregate win.
WagerBop’s Pick: Draw (+290)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.