Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Champions League Corner Picks: Why there’s value in Bayern Munich over Real Madrid, expecting goals from PSG

The Champions League semifinals are this week, and between the two matches, we have a little bit of everything. 

There’s the semifinal that could easily serve as a final in most seasons, with Spanish giants Real Madrid facing the German machine known as Bayern Munich. Between them, they have 20 Champions League trophies and eight runner-up finishes. There will be at least a ninth this season.

Then there’s the “underdog” semi featuring one of the wealthiest clubs in the world in PSG, who clinched another Ligue 1 title this week, but are still chasing the dream of Champions League glory. They face Borussia Dortmund, a team that won the Champions League (1997) but currently sit in fifth place in the Bundesliga.

We are guaranteed a title match between an established Champions League power and a club looking to upset the apple cart.

Then there are the teams who aren’t here. Defending champion Manchester City will no longer be defending anything, as Real Madrid knocked them out in the quarters. It was a common theme for the Premier League, which doesn’t have a team in the Champions League semis for the first time since the 2019-20 Champions League that was turned on its head by COVID.

Now, let’s throw some darts at the wall and figure out how to bet these matches and make money for once.

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Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid

Date: Tuesday, April 30 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: CBS/Paramount+

I wonder if Bayern Munich finally being able to move on from trying to win the Bundesliga is the best thing that could’ve happened to their Champions League hopes. For months, everybody waited for Bayern to wake up and Bayer Leverkusen to crash, but it never happened. Now, this team is playing much better without the pressure of winning a 12th consecutive league title hanging around their neck. They’ve won four straight since a 2-2 draw away at Arsenal in the first leg of the quarterfinals and have outscored teams 10-2 in those wins. The defensive xG (expected goals) numbers have all been solid as well. It feels like Munich are peaking at the right time.

And they better be. You usually get bounced if you’re playing anything but your best against Real Madrid in the Champions League. But while Real Madrid remain the greatest Champions League club in history and have been dominant back in Spain (Madrid have lost only two matches this season across all competitions), they’ve been a little leaky defensively lately. In three matches against Manchester City and Barcelona they allowed six goals on 4.9 xG. Despite the results, Real have also been weaker defensively away from home all year. Two months ago, there was no way I would’ve seen myself making this pick, but right now, there’s too much value available on Bayern. The Pick: Bayern Munich (+150)

Borussia Dortmund vs. PSG

Date: Wednesday, May 1 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

It may not be the headliner match, but it could provide the most fireworks. I don’t typically like taking overs in the first legs, as the road team can be a little too conservative, but most of those teams don’t have Kylian Mbappe. PSG can park the bus if desired and then send long balls to Mbappe, who nobody can keep up with, and steal a goal or two that way. Knowing Dortmund’s style of play, PSG are bound to get plenty of chances.

Conversely, PSG haven’t exactly been a defensive stalwart. Barcelona put four past them in the quarters, allowing eight goals in six group stage matches. Oh, and speaking of that group stage, Dortmund and PSG were in a group together. PSG won the first leg 2-0 at home and drew 1-1 at Dortmund. You’ll notice neither one of those matches finished with more than two goals, but there were 7.3 xG between them. The chances were there. The question is, can they finish them this time? At these odds, I’m willing to believe they can. The Pick: Over 3.5 (+130)

Desparation Parlay

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Corner Picks is way down in the Champions League this season, and doesn’t have many matches left to make up that ground. It’s time to throw some Hail Marys up and hope somebody on our side comes down with the ball. This parlay pays +1091.

  • Harry Kane to score 2+ goals (+550)
  • Kylian Mbappe to score (-120)
Record Units

League Play

57-58

+1.15

Champions League

7-17

-15.06

Overall 64-75 -13.91

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