Champions League Tips: Best bets for semi-final first legs

  • Max Liu
  • 4:00 min read
Neymar in action for PSG
Will Neymar strike for PSG against Man City on Wednesday?

We're down to the last four in the Champions League so get the best bets from our football experts for the semi-final first legs on Tuesday and Wednesday...

Mark O'Haire: "Chelsea's improvements from a defensive standpoint have been well documented and the Blues' goals per-game figures have dropped drastically under Thomas Tuchel with only two of 21 overall outings featuring four goals or more."

Back Chelsea Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals 1.8910/11 in Real Madrid v Chelsea

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Keep rock-solid Blues onside

Real Madrid v Chelsea
Tuesday, 20:00
BT Sport

Chelsea have undergone a remarkable transformation under Thomas Tuchel and find themselves in the last four of Europe's premier club competition. They're the longest price of the four teams left at 5.85/1 while their opponents Real Madrid are 5.04/1 to win the competition for 14th time.

Key Stat: Real Madrid come into this match on the back of four consecutive clean sheets while for Chelsea it's three shutouts in a row.

Mark O'Haire says: "Real Madrid are no longer the swashbuckling side with a wealth of free-flowing attacking superstars that waltzed their way to Champions League glory. Zinedine Zidane's team have evolved to a more attritional style as key players have departed and current squad members have aged. Stylistically, Los Blancos aren't suited to open, basketball-style shootouts.

"With that in mind, plus the magnitude of the match, it's no surprise to see Under 2.5 Goals trading at just 1.674/6. Chelsea's improvements from a defensive standpoint have been well documented and the Blues' goals per-game figures have dropped drastically under Thomas Tuchel with only two of 21 overall outings featuring four goals or more."

Mark's bet: Back Chelsea Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals 1.8910/11 in Real Madrid v Chelsea

Tactical Preview: Chelsea and Madrid to draw and plenty goals in PSG v Man City

How will the four managers approach their games? Our tactics expert Alex Keble identifies the key battles that could make all the difference in both semi-final first legs and recommends a bet for each.

Alex says: If the game is to spark into life, then it may be via long balls over the top of Chelsea's defensive line towards left winger Vinicius Junior. Zidane deliberately targeted Liverpool's high line in the previous round, with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos playing early long balls to set the Brazilian away. Chelsea's back three is notably more secure than Liverpool's, although with Reece James pushing forward it is plausible that Vinicius will beat Cesar Azpilicueta for pace.

luka-modric-madrid.jpg

"For Chelsea, their only real hope of breaking through such a well-organised and experienced side is through Mason Mount, whose understanding of space is crucial to unlocking tight defences. He will quickly work out the need to get out of a congested midfield, moving wide to avoid Casemiro, and he could be too sharp for Modric and Kroos."

Alex's bet on Tuesday: Back over 3.5 goals in PSG v Man City at 2.68/5

Andy Brassell on European Football: Madrid pose puzzle for canny Tuchel

Andy Brassell applies his European football expertise to the Champions League semi-finals and also has an early look at Thursday's Europa League fixtures with Arsenal and Manchester United both bidding to reach the final.

Andy says: "Confidence (in City) across the continent is not quite as high (as it is in England) . While Guardiola is still revered and their football is widely admired, they simply don't have the winning experience at the sharp end of the Champions League - yet. Of course, one could say the same thing for Mauricio Pochettino, though it is hard to think of a coach without a huge wealth of experience who has guided a new team through his opening European knockout ties with the authority that he has for Paris Saint-Germain's ties with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

It helps when you have Kylian Mbappé - who scored twice at the weekend versus Metz and will be fit - and Neymar, with the Brazilian and Ángel Di María both having had some useful rest time of late. So too has Marco Verratti, now back and well and key for Pochettino in a number 10 position. Pochettino knows City well and knows how they can be susceptible to a counter. With Mbappé and Neymar, who undid Bayern in a similar fashion, he has the players to do it.

Andy's bet on Wednesday: Back PSG to beat Manchester City at 3.259/4

PSG v Manchester City: Underrated hosts the smart pick for semi-final thriller

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

Wednesday's semi-final first leg involves two teams vying to win the Champions League for the first time. Punters thinks it's City's year, making them 2.447/5 favourites, even though the French side reached last year's final. PSG are 4.47/2 to go all the way.

Key Stat: Paris have won just four of their last eight outings (W4-D1-L3) at Parc des Princes in all competitions.

James Eastham says: "We've seen Guardiola outfits at various clubs fall so many times before reaching the final in previous years and there's no strong evidence the current City team is notably stronger than its predecessors.

"City face a PSG side that reached the final last season and are more mature and arguably more effective this time around. In Neymar and Mbappe PSG boast the two most decisive attackers left in the competition and it will be hard for City to contain the pair.

"There's no player in the City ranks capable of turning the game as emphatically in his side's favour as Neymar and Mbappe can for PSG.

"PSG's odds should be shorter than they are so this is an excellent opportunity to back Mauricio Pochettino's players at a big price. Remember that our selection is on PSG reaching the final rather than winning over 90 minutes on Wednesday night."

James' bet: Back PSG in the 'To Reach The Final 2020/21' market @ 2.546/4

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