Champions League Quarterfinal Best Bets For 4/11/23: Benfica vs. Inter Milan, Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich
We’re really getting down to the wire in this year’s race for club football’s greatest honor as the UCL field is now down to 8 teams. This Tuesday, the quarterfinals kick off with matchups between traditional European giants and modern day superstars. Let’s take a look at the odds and lock in some best bets for the day’s action.
Benfica vs. Inter Milan
At a glance, this seems like a pretty straightforward clash if you just look at the two club names and base your opinion off of their recent histories. But in my opinion, this is a fascinating clash, which is part of the half of the bracket that is being neglected by some, but should still be a ton of fun.
Benfica have been outright dominant in their domestic league this year- they missed a chance to place a true stranglehold on the trophy when they lost to second-place Porto last week. That being said, their lead is still 7 points with just 7 matches to go, a position no club would complain about. As well as being almost sure to win the Primeira Liga (91% odds as per 538), they’re knocked out of the domestic cup competitions, so the UCL is by far their chief priority from this point on.
By contrast, Inter are nowhere near getting back on top of Italy, and still have plenty to play for at home. They’re still in contention for the Coppa Italia, and as far as Serie A goes, they’re currently in fifth place and set for Europa League qualification, but just a point away from UCL qualification and only three above the Conference League. Suffice it to say, every single match is vital for the Nerazzuri going forward, and they cannot divert all of their resources to this tie the way Benfica can.
Even if it weren’t for the split priorities for Inter, compared to Benfica’s singular focus on the UCL, there’s an argument to be made that the Portuguese side is just straight up better. I could go into all sorts of statistics from their dominant league run, but comparing that to Inter’s performances in Italy is quite the apples-to-oranges situation.
Instead, let’s take a look at each team’s track record in this competition thus far; both had a tough group stage, but Inter were battered by Bayern and squeaked by Barca, while Benfica held steady with PSG and actually swept Juventus to top their group. Then in the Round of 16, Inter just about scraped by Porto, a club in the very league Benfica has dominated. While the name brands might suggest that Inter are a contender and Benfica a Cinderella, the end product each side has put out on the field have told perhaps an opposite story.
For this match, Benfica are favored but still in plus-odds; that’s all I need to slam their moneyline, one of my favorite bets of the week. Vegas sees the overall matchup as basically even, and I love the idea of getting in on Benfica to advance before they win this match and move to unplayable odds. Lastly, between two strong defenses, I’m a big fan of u2.5 goals in this matchup, even with slightly less friendly odds.
Best Bets: Benfica to advance (-115), Benfica ML (+120), under 2.5 goals (-145)
Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich
In a matchup viewed by many as superteam vs. superteam, the Pep Guardiola derby- played between the two top-tier sides he’s failed to manage to a UCL title- or even the João Cancelo derby, after the superstar fullback was shockingly loaned out to Bayern this winter, there’s absolutely no shortage of storylines. There’s also no shortage of possibilities for how this thing could play out, which I believe to be especially true in this first leg
Bayern are a brutal team to play in their own house in Europe, so it’ll be imperative for City to get off on the right foot at their home ground, which isn’t nearly as much of a challenging venue for visitors. That being said, City have only lost and drawn once each at the Etihad in Prem play, and they’re perfect at home in the UCL, so this will be far from a walk in the park for Bayern.
The Bavarian side themselves are once again perfect in European play this year, after demolishing a tough group and sweeping PSG in the Round of 16, but there’s a catch- all of that was under manager Julian Nagelsmann, who was inexplicably sacked in favor of Thomas Tuchel.
Now don’t get me wrong- Bayern are far from flawless this season, and the former Dortmund, PSG, and Chelsea boss is probably a better man for the job than his predecessor. But in the middle of a largely excellent European run, and unusually-tight title chase, is hardly the time for such a change.
This change will likely make both sides pretty anxious, as Bayern fans will be nervous about losing the magic they’ve held in the UCL this year, while Cityzens will be wary of a manager who has definitively owned Pep in recent years, most notably in the 2021 UCL final, in which Tuchel tactically annihilated the bald Catalan legend.
As far as betting this match, I love the value of the draw, in a situation where form, squad, management, and pretty much all of the variables have real ramifications in both directions. Even in minus-odds, the over is also good value, and I’d consider buying up to o3.5 goals to get more of a payout for this match between perhaps the two best attacking sides in Europe. And finally, for by far my favorite bet between these two ties, Bayern are in plus-money to advance, a number I can’t even fathom for the team I see as a clear favorite in this matchup, if not in the whole competition.
Best Bets: Bayern to Advance (+160), Draw (+310), o2.5 goals (-155)