The Tuesday slate of Champions League fixtures to kick off the Round of 16 saw two exciting matchups with less than exciting score lines. Milan has now strung together back-to-back wins seven straight games of dropping points or being eliminated from cup ties, defeating Spurs 1-0 at the San Siro. Bayern and PSG faced off in a rematch of the 2020 Final with the boys from Munich winning 1-0, edging out a PSG side with Mbappe coming off the bench due to a knock. Spurs get to return to North London for the next leg in March, while Messi, Neymar, and the crew have to travel to the Allianz where Bayern already hold the edge, which is concerning for a club who just can’t seem to get over the hump in Europe.
With the Round of 16 kicked off, it’s time to look into who plays next on Wednesday, and what the lines look like for next week as well. Dortmund and Chelsea face off for the first time in their club’s histories, and Club Brugge hosts a red hot Benfica side that is looking to do some damage in Europe like last season. There’s plenty to bet on in both of these matchup’s, and I have got a few leans I am looking at for next week already. Let’s jump right into it:
Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea FC
Dortmund have been on a heater since returning from their long winter break, stringing together five league wins and a victory in the Pokal to boot. The boys in yellow and black have asserted themselves right into the league winner conversation, sitting only two points back from Union Berlin and three points back from Bayern. The Dortmund squad as a whole has shared the wealth of goals in the Bundesliga, while Jude Bellingham leads the way from the midfield for Dortmund with four Champions League goals in the group stage.
Chelsea cannot say they’ve shared similar luck as Dortmund, with only two wins in their last nine contests since the World Cup, and only five of them coming with a goal on the scoreboard. Chelsea have not been able to do much on the road in the Premier League, only winning three matches to their four draws and five losses. They also lost to Zagreb on the road (shoutout to my boys in Croatia), but were able to snag three points against Milan and Salzburg which is not as impressive as in seasons past. Maybe Tommy Tuchel wasn’t the issue after all, Chelsea fans?
I am surprised Dortmund moneyline is plus money here, but there is the added risk of Chelsea continuing to play their boring brand of football and holding out on the aggressiveness for this road fixture. I’d rather back Dortmund on the spread here, with some security that you get half of your bet back if they do draw. It would be one of the biggest surprises in the Champions League this season if Chelsea pulls off this upset, and I am surprised the odds aren’t taller considering Chelsea to score under 1.5 goals is very expensive at -205. I’ll take Dortmund to secure the lead here heading into their second-leg in March.
The Play: Dortmund -0.25 (+105) – 1 Unit
Club Brugge vs Benfica
Club Brugge rolled up their sleeves and beat the hell out of their opponents in the fall, rattling off three straight wins in the group stage to gather nine points and the top of the table. From there, the Belgium’s champions got smoked by Porto 4-0 and drew with Atletico and Leverkusen in two goal-less games. The form for Brugge has continued to spiral out of hand, with the club only winning two matches since October ended, and one of them was a win over a second division side in the Croky Cup.
Now we flip the script, and look at a Benfica squad who offloaded Darwin Nunez this summer and Enzo Fernandez this winter, yet still are top of Liga Portugal with over $200 million extra in their pockets. The Portuguese league leaders have lost one game THE ENTIRE SEASON, and it was their first game back from the winter break. Benfica’s undefeated form in the UCL group stage was good enough to edge out PSG, for the top of the group, and there is really no end in sight to this spectacular run of form.
It’s hard to see a route here for Brugge to get a result, even if fishing for said result is trying to piece together a draw. Benfica’s defense is stout, allowing only 12 goals in the league, and features a healthy mix of experience and youth between Otamendi, Grimaldo, and Silva. The attack may be missing Ramos tomorrow, but guys like Joao Mario, Rafa Silva, and David Neres will fill the void alongside Goncalo Guedes who has come in on loan. There are really not a ton of weak spots in this Benfica side, and we surely will not see them at an affordable moneyline when the second-leg heads back to Portugal. I hate playing both favorites in the Champions League, but I am most confident in the Eagles to impress us Wednesday afternoon against a not-so-impressive Brugge side.
The Play: Benfica Moneyline (-118) – 1.5 Units
Looking ahead to next week…
It is quite weird that I like three teams on the road next week, but Napoli and Manchester City have been two of the most impressive teams in Europe, and Real Madrid could be stumbling into Merseyside at the right time.
Frankfurt is no joke for Napoli on the road, and as wild as the fans are at Deutsche Bank Park, they are equally as wild when you go out for some drinks in the city. Napoli sits at +120 on the moneyline which is something to monitor over the next few days as the lines continue to settle in and the weekend fixtures wrap up.
Liverpool may have finally had a good performance against their rivals in the Merseyside Derby, but Real Madrid are an entirely different animal. Right now you can get Real Madrid on the double chance at -150, which is not a cheap bet, but may not be affordable by the time we look at these lines next week. I can’t will myself to bet for our against my boys in Red, but it is my duty to let you all know what I see…
Finally, City travel to RB Leipzig in what should be an easy win on paper. But before last weekend, Leipzig’s last loss came all the way back in September at Gladbach. Leipzig are about to enter an insane stretch over the next 30 days, facing Wolfsburg, City, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Gladbach, and City again. I don’t trust them in the away fixture, but is there value on an upset for Leipzig next week?