Best bets for the semi-final second legs



Man City vs Paris St-G
Tuesday, 20:00 BST
Live on BT Sport 2

They’ve been here and blown it before. Can Manchester City get the job done at the Etihad on Tuesday night? They carry a precious 2-1 lead into their semi-final second leg but in Mauricio Pochettino the Parisians have a manager who knows how to win in this competition at this stadium (just ask Spurs fans). They also boast arguably the best attack in Europe, although Kylian Mbappe is an injury doubt.

Key Stat: In their last two away legs – against Barcelona and Bayer Munich – PSG have scored a combined total of seven goals.

James Eastham says: “Consider going high on the goals market. PSG have to score at least twice to stand any chance of going through. This will inform their tactics from the moment they take to the field. Even if the game is cautious during the opening exchanges, it will open up at some point.

“Four of PSG’s five knockout games to date in this season’s competition have had an Expected Goals (xG) over more than three goals, with an average of 3.88 across their five matches. Three of those same five games have featured three or more goals.

“Given these stats and the state of the tie, Over 3.0 in the Goal Lines market is an appealing selection at a price close to evens. With this pick, you’ll get your stakes back if the game has exactly three goals and make a profit if the game has four or more goals.”

James’ bet: Back Over 3.0 in the Goal Lines market @ 1.9520/21

Andy Brassell on the Champions League: City still have work to do

Get European football expert Andy Brassell’s take on both semi-finals as he discusses Tuesday and Wednesday’s fixtures and concludes that Pep Guardiola’s men have work to do.

Andy says: “In many situations after a 2-1 home defeat, one would assume that City are all but home and hosed (only 7% of home teams have gone through in an identical situation since 1970/71), but this shouldn’t be taken as read here.

“PSG have been better on the road in the Champions League knockouts – against high quality opposition in Barcelona and Bayern Munich – than they have at home, and they have grit to add to their counter-attacking pedigree. That they were able to rest Kylian MbappΓ© against Lens, and that Neymar did make it through unscathed, gives Pochettino and company encouragement as they attempt a steep task.”

Andy’s bet: Back Paris Saint-Germain to win at 4.84/1

Chelsea v Real Madrid: Cagey contest forecast at the Bridge

Chelsea v Real Madrid
Wednesday May 5, 20:00
BT Sport

Chelsea and Real Madrid meet in the Champions League semi-final second leg on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw in the reverse. Who’d have though, when the team were managed by Frank Lampard in the autumn, that this week they’d stand on the brink of a first final since their win in 2012?

Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten against Real Madrid in four previous fixtures (W2-D2-L0) while Madrid are winless in their last four trips to England in the Champions League (W0-D2-L2).

Mark O’Haire says: “Bar the opening half-hour in last week’s reverse, the first leg went largely to expectations with both sides reasonably happy to protect and preserve. There’s a chance Wednesday’s tie could follow the same pattern with Chelsea’s improvements from a defensive standpoint and game management leading towards total goals figures dropping significantly.

“Real Madrid too have appeared more assured defensively in 2021, at times toiling in terms of invention. Stylistically, Los Blancos aren’t suited to open, basketball-style shootouts, so whilst the Spaniards will need to open up and attack at some point, Zinedine Zidane’s troops could opt for a pragmatic approach from the off at Stamford Bridge.

“With that in mind, I’m willing to have an interest in Under 0.5 First-Half Goals at 2.707/4. The goal expectancy for the game sits below the standard 2.50 line, with spread betting firms expecting the opening strike around the 39th minute. However, the 2.707/4 available suggests just a 37% chance of a goal before half-time, giving us a decent value margin.”

Mark’s bet: Back Under 0.5 First-Half Goals at 2.707/4 in Chelsea v Real Madrid

Get the tactical view of Tuesday and Wednesday’s matches as Alex Keble takes a look at the Champions League semi-final ties and predicts there will be goals for both teams at Stamford Bridge.

Alex says: “Zinedine Zidane made a mistake playing a 3-5-2 formation in the first leg. The back three looked woefully out of sync, while Vinicius Junior struggled to get into the game and Karim Benzema lacked creative options around him. For the second leg, Real will likely return to their usual 4-3-3, with playmakers such as Eden Hazard or Marco Asensio brought into the side.

“This should have a stabilising effect, solidifying a defence that has five consecutive clean sheets surrounding the 1-1 draw with Chelsea. That may provide Real with the platform from which they can begin to build higher-quality chances down their left wing – a threat Tuchel expected more of in the first leg, judging by his decision to bench Reece James for Cesar Azpilicueta.

“With Marcelo dipping into central midfield, Chelsea could become overwhelmed on this flank should the Brazilian interact with Hazard and Benzema around Andreas Christensen. It is potentially Chelsea’s weakest area of the team, and – when in a 4-3-3 – Real’s strongest. This tie is far from over.”

Alex’s bet: Back BTTS in Chelsea v Real Madrid at 1.910/11