Reverse Fixture Week in the Champions League
We’re halfway through the Champions League group stage and there’s been no shortage of surprises. Napoli have been the most dominant team in the competition and Club Brugge are leading Group B. Meanwhile, RB Salzburg currently lead Group E over both Chelsea and AC Milan. There are a lot of storylines to cover this week, important matches and chances to clinch the knockout stage. Let’s cover some of the biggest matches and preview the UCL Stage 4 betting odds.
The Main Events:
PSG vs. Benfica:
PSG’s Lionel Messi set a record in last week’s Benfica vs. PSG match by becoming the first player to score vs. 40 different clubs in the Champions League. Benfica came back to preserve a 1-1 draw and stay level with PSG in the Group H Champions League standings. After last week’s reverse fixture, this is an important match for both sides. If Juventus lose, the winner of this match will clinch a place in the knockout stage.
PSG come in as -275 favorites but they barely hung on for a draw at Reims last weekend. Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 41st minute but is available for selection on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Benfica stayed on top of the Primeira Liga table with a 4-2 win over Rio Ave.
Benfica are still unbeaten in 16 matches this season and won’t go down without a fight. The fact that the over/under goals total is listed at 3½ is interesting. Especially given there were only two goals last match and PSG have averaged just one goal per game in their last four.
AC Milan vs. Chelsea:
Chelsea smashed an injury riddled AC Milan 3-0 last week at Stamford Bridge and are looking for another win on Tuesday. The Blues have now won three matches in a row under Graham Potter, in all competitions. Even on the road, Chelsea are +135 favorites to win in a pick’em.
AC Milan responded to their midweek loss with a big 2-0 win over Juventus in Serie A. It was their first shutout since August and Matteo Gabbia slotted into center defense. It remains to be seen whether Stefano Pioli will give him the nod on Tuesday. Even with all of their injuries, the Rossoneri have demonstrated the ability to compete.
They come in as +215 home underdogs but only have one home loss since January. The UCL Stage 4 betting odds strongly favor both teams to score one goal or fewer. Milan under 1½ shows -230 odds, while Chelsea under 1½ is priced at -160. In a competitive Group E, in which first and fourth are only separated by two points, both teams need a result here.
Barcelona vs. Inter Milan:
This could very well be the match that determines whether Barcelona are playing in the Europa League come 2023. Xavi’s Barça narrowly lost the reverse fixture last week in Milan, 1-0. With losses to both Bayern Munich and Inter, this is an absolute must win for FCB. That makes this the pick of the UEFA Champions League fixtures for the week.
At -230 odds, the consensus seems to be that Barcelona will bounce back and make things interesting. Bayern currently sit on nine points in Group C, while Inter have six and Barcelona have three. Any result here for Inter would be more than welcome. The Nerazzurri are priced at just +120 to cover the one-goal spread as underdogs, though.
A draw would be a great result for Inter but nearly tragic for Barcelona and it’s priced at +365 odds. In such a contentious match, it’s no wonder that the under seems to be the more popular pick. Under three goals currently comes in at -115 odds. Still, Barcelona do have prolific scorer Robert Lewandowski on their roster.
Tottenham vs. Eintracht Frankfurt:
Group D is another very tight group, with Sporting CP currently on top. Tottenham and Eintracht Frankfurt are just two points behind Sporting and have a hugely important clash on Wednesday. Neither team managed to score in the reverse fixture last week in Frankfurt and Tottenham certainly won’t settle for a draw here at home.
It’s been difficult for Spurs to score recently despite winning last weekend. They have just two goals in their last three matches, in all competitions, both scored by Harry Kane. Meanwhile, Frankfurt got thrashed 3-0 by Bundesliga bottom dwellers VfL Bochum on Saturday.
Tottenham, coming off a narrow 1-0 win at Brighton, are -200 favorites. Frankfurt need striker Randal Kolo Muani to be at his best to have a chance and are +525 underdogs for Wednesday’s match. Frankfurt have pulled off their share of European upsets, though. Don’t forget that they knocked off Barcelona on their way to winning the Europa League last season.
Knockout Stage Watch
Real Madrid and Club Brugge can potentially clinch their groups this week with wins over Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico Madrid, respectively. If defending champions Real win as -270 favorites on Tuesday and RB Leipzig draw or lose vs. Celtic, the group is theirs.
Meanwhile, a Brugge win is looking much less likely. The UCL stage 4 betting odds price the Belgian champions as +600 underdogs vs. Real Madrid’s rivals, Atletico. Club Brugge have consistently defied the odds in this competition, though.
Napoli are on fire and destroyed Ajax 6-1 last week in Amsterdam. Another win over Ajax, in Naples this time, would at least send the Partenopei through to the knockout stage. Nobody’s going to want to face them as they’ve also beaten Liverpool thus far. Napoli have a balanced scoring attack with the likes of Giacomo Raspadori, Kvicha Kvaratshkelia and Giovanni Simeone. They’re priced at -170 odds to clinch a berth in the round of 16.
They’re priced at -170 odds to clinch a berth in the round of 16.
Manchester City’s place in the knockout stage is nearly secure and a win over FC Copenhagen will do it. At this point, it’s shocking when Erling Haaland doesn’t score. He has the best goals per game record in the competition’s history, with 28 goals in 22 appearances. Many are expecting him to wreak havoc in Copenhagen on Tuesday as City are priced at -800 to win and are 2½-goal favorites.
Borussia Dortmund can also clinch a berth in the knockout stage with a win over Sevilla and a Man City draw or win. Julen Lopetegui was fired by Sevilla after their 4-1 loss to Dortmund last week. Former Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli is now in charge and will try to guide Sevilla to their first win of the campaign. Easier said than done, as home side Dortmund show -175 odds and Sevilla are +475 underdogs.