The four UEFA Champions League round of 16 first legs played this week are harder to figure out from a betting perspective than last week’s quartet.
I can make a strong case for three of the four underdogs to win outright. I think most of that has to do with watching a ton of the Bundesliga lately, but I do believe Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leipzig will give Napoli and Manchester City fits.
And then there’s Real Madrid-Liverpool, where I think the wrong team is favored, but I’m also a bit biased toward Los Blancos after cashing a ticket to win the Champions League last year and doubling down on them this year.
I think the only clear pick to make on the money line is Inter, but I believe there’s a better way to bet on the clash with Porto at the San Siro.
So now that I’ve done a brain dump and confused the heck out of you, let’s get to the picks.
UCL Soccer Selections
Overall Record: 81-87 (22-14 in UCL)
Liverpool vs. Real Madrid (Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET)
Vinicius Junior To Score or Give An Assist (+140)
Vinicius Junior To Score (+330)
Vinicius Junior To Have One Shot on Target (-160)
When I looked at the Liverpool-Real Madrid player props, Vinicius Junior immediately stood out.
The Brazilian led Madrid with five goals and assists in the Champions League group stage. He has 14 goals and nine assists across all competitions this season.
A year ago, the 22-year-old Brazilian had two goals and three assists in the knockout round, including a goal in the final against Liverpool.
I’m also firing on the shots on goal prop because it is so low for Vinicius to have one. He has one shot on target in 15 of his last 18 matches.
Liverpool appeared to turn a corner with two straight 2-0 wins in the English Premier League, but one was against Everton and the other against a Newcastle United side with eyes on Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.
Jurgen Klopp’s men had an expected goals against (xGA) over one in three of their last four EPL home matches, and I think they are still susceptible to giving up a few quality chances over 90 minutes against a team of Madrid’s caliber.
Vinicius Junior will be in the middle of most Madrid attacks, and I expect him to be a threat in front of goal on a few occasions at Anfield.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Napoli (Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET)
Daichi Kamada To Have One Shot on Target (-110)
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia To Score Or Give An Assist (-110)
I was tempted to take the Eintracht money line, but I can’t fully trust it because of Napoli’s incredible form.
I settled on a few player props, but not Victor Osimhen or Randal Kolo Muani. Osimhen pulled up a bit at the end of Napoli’s league match on Friday, so I’m waiting to see if he has the green light to go 90 minutes. Kolo Muani could be wrapped up by the Napoli defense since he is Eintracht’s top target man.
Daichi Kamada scored in each of Eintracht’s final three UCL group stage games. He had 11 shot creating actions over those six matches.
The Japanese midfielder had two goals, one assist and four shots on target during his club’s run to the Europa League title last season. He has a knack of showing up in big games, so I have no problem playing his SOG prop close to even money.
Kvaratskhelia has been one of Europe’s biggest breakout stars this season. He has 17 goals and 14 assists. If Napoli scores, the Georgian will likely be involved, so I’ll take advantage of the price for him to score or assist.
RB Leipzig vs. Manchester City (Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET)
RB Leipzig Double Chance (+100)
Manchester City is vulnerable on the road.
Pep Guardiola’s side has one win in its last five matches away from the Etihad Stadium. A draw to Nottingham Forest and a loss at Southampton are part of that recent collection of results.
City also drew Borussia Dortmund and FC Copenhagen on the road in the UCL group stage.
If RB Leipzig is going to upset City, it needs a positive result at home. That put me on to the double chance bet, which means Leipzig needs to win or tie on Wednesday.
Leipzig is in decent form and it will only get better with Christopher Nkunku getting back into playing shape after the injury he suffered right before the World Cup.
I’m not that ballsy to take the Leipzig money line because Erling Haaland still resides on the City side, but I do think the German side can match City’s goal-scoring output with Nkunku and Timo Werner to force a draw.
Inter vs. FC Porto (Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET)
Under 2.5 Goals (-140)
I already have a futures bet on Inter to win the whole damn thing, so I’m shying away from the Nerazzurri on the money line on Wednesday.
Inter’s defensive record is what turned me on to the club for the futures bet. Inter has held its last nine opponents to one or zero goals.
Porto happens to have a similar defensive streak, as it has not allowed multiple goals in a match since the middle of September.
I think Inter can still make it out of the two-legged tie because of its attacking trio of Lautaro Martinez, Romelu Lukaku and Edin Dzeko, but I would not be surprised if one goal makes the difference over the two legs.