The Champions League returns as our football expert previews the first leg of two huge semi-final ties, sharing betting tips and trends. Get all the insights catching his eye ahead of these midweek games.
Real Madrid v Manchester City (Tuesday 20:00 UTC+01:00)
The Citizens travel away to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium for this first leg game of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Last year their dreams of reaching the final were dashed by Madrid with late goals from Rodrygo and a 95th-minute penalty from Karim Benzema. Until the 90th minute City had a 5-3 lead on aggregate, these five minutes can easily be remembered as some of the most tumultuous in modern European football. A 3-1 mirror of Real Madrid’s home win last year is 23.00.
However, emboldened with confidence with anticipated success domestically in the Premier League and FA Cup, Pe Guardiola’s side go into the game as favourites (2.15). While a Los Blancos victory is at 3.26.
The big talking point and perhaps the missing piece of City’s continental puzzle, Erling Haaland, has scored 12 goals in eight games the competition this season. He is pipped to score anytime at 1.76, while his French counterpart Karim Benzema is 2.29. Off the back of the weekend, goals could come from Ilkay Gundogan (5.00), who put two past Leeds United.
Or perhaps from Rodrygo (4.75) whose two goals against Osasuna in the Copa Del Rey final allowed Madrid to lift the trophy. Vinícius Júnior, the lone goal scorer of last year’s final has (4.33). Foreshadowing or paranoia, the last two players to put goals past the Blues in the Premier League have the names Rodrigo and Vinícius.
AC Milan v Inter Milan (Wednesday 20:00 UTC+01:00)
The San Siro in Lombardy hosts one of the quintessential derbies in world football. The clubs don’t just call the city home, but the stadium too. The last time these two sides met in this competition was back in 2005, as AC left Inter behind with a startling 5-0 aggregate victory. Both Milanese teams stand as underdogs to lift the trophy next month, with Internazionale at 7.00 and AC at 8.00. However, bragging rights for reaching the final are what’s most important for now.
Both are still looking to secure top four in Serie A, with attention domestically turning to a number of clubs battling for those prestigious positions following Napoli’s resounding title victory. Mirroring the slim gap between them league-wise, Inter are slightly favoured (2.44), while AC are 3.10 to win the match. With four different winners of the Serie A in the last four seasons, the opportunity to rise above the rest of Italy comes this Wednesday. Recent matches between the two sides over the last year are a mixed bag. If correct scores are mirrored, they’ll vary from 1-0 Inter (7.50), 3-2 to AC (41.00) and 3-0 Inter at (23.00).
Perhaps giving the Blues an edge is Lautaro Martinez, who has scored 23 goals total this season. He is the frontrunner (2.90) to score anytime, while his Belgian strike partner Romelu Lukaku is 3.15. The Reds Olivier Giroud, though having scored more Champions League goals than either, tails behind slightly (3.40). Milano is set for a whirlwind week of football, with everyone waiting to see what colour the fireworks will be following the outcome of the second leg on May 16th.
**Odds are subject to change. Odds accurate as of 13:00 UTC+01:00 Tuesday 9th May**
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