Champions League: Betting tips for first leg of semis

Champions League: Betting tips for first leg of semis

The UEFA Champions League semifinals commence with matchups Tuesday and Wednesday. The second leg will take place next week, followed by the final.

With all that in mind, let’s get to this week’s games. As always, remember that these bets are for results at the end of regulation only.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook


Real Madrid (+215) vs. Manchester City (+120), Draw (+245)

Real Madrid and Manchester City will battle it out for a spot in the June 10 final. Real Madrid will be led by the strong trio of Karim Benzema, Vinicius and Rodrygo. However, they will be facing what might be the best team in Europe in Pep Guardiola’s Man City club. Who do you like to win this leg, and what other props are you playing?

Paul Carr: City have been the best team in Europe this season, and Real Madrid have a case as second best, despite sitting third in La Liga and trailing Barcelona by 14 points. Among teams in the top five European leagues plus Champions League, only City have a better expected goal difference than Real Madrid’s +46, which is narrowly ahead of Napoli, Bayern and Barcelona. City have had more possession (64%) than any other top European team this season, and as proved time and again, Real don’t need the majority of the ball to create chances. When these two teams met in last year’s semis, Real had 43% possession and a nearly equal expected goals total (3.9 to City’s 4.1). I can’t go against Real Madrid’s Champions League devil magic yet. Ideally, I want to parlay the Real Madrid double chance with over 1.5 goals to get to +105. If your book doesn’t allow that, I’d settle for the straightforward Real Madrid win at +215.

Dalen Cuff: City has now ripped off 20 straight games unbeaten in all competitions and 10 consecutive wins in the Premier League. They look unstoppable and face a Madrid team that at times has looked uninspired in La Liga. However, the Champions League has been a different story for Madrid, as they dominated both Liverpool and Chelsea in their knockout ties. At home with everything to play for, I think we see the best from Madrid. I’m going to take them on the two-way market, Draw no Bet for Madrid +130.

Dan Thomas: What a brilliant match this should be. So many different narratives going into this tie between two heavyweights of European football. One thing that surely this tie guarantees is goals — and lots of them. Look at the attacking threat that both of these teams offer. Added to the fact there are definitely defensive frailties that either team can take advantage of, I’m taking over 3.5 total goals at +175.


AC Milan (+205) vs. Inter Milan (+145), Draw (+205)

Carr: Inter haven’t been great in the UCL knockout stage this season, doing just enough to get by Porto and Benfica. But they’ve been very good in Serie A lately, winning four straight games on the heels of a five-game winless streak when Inter nearly tripled their opponents’ expected goals. The big question here is the status of AC Milan’s Rafael Leao after he injured a right thigh muscle in Saturday’s win over Lazio. With the Portuguese winger on the field this Serie A season, Milan average 1.7 goals per 90 minutes, compared to 1.0 goals per 90 without him on the field. Without a full-strength Leao, I simply lean toward the better team here, and I’ll take Inter to win at +145.

Former ESPN senior researcher Paul Carr is director of content for TruMedia.

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