Champions League Quarterfinal Best Bets For 4/19/23: Inter Milan vs. Benfica, Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City
Six games down, two to go in this year’s UCL Quarterfinals. After Wednesday’s matchups, European football’s final four will be set, so all four teams have a lot to play for, even those staring at a steep deficit. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this pair of tough Champions League matchups.
Inter Milan vs. Benfica
With neighbors AC Milan having already secured their place in the UCL Semifinal, Inter will look to make it a pair of derbies, and ensure a tie that will be played entirely at the San Siro. Like their eternal rivals, Inter are in pretty weak form domestically; they’ve lost four of their past five Serie A matches, but do have the Coppa Italia semifinal second leg coming up against Juve.
None of that matters here though; Inter were opportunistic the road in the first leg, as they defended well enough, created a bunch of big chances without dominating possession, and converted a pair of them to wrap up a 2-0 lead heading back home. League struggles aside, they have one foot in the Champions League semifinal, somewhere they haven’t been until they actually won the entire competition back in 2010.
It’s quite the opposite situation for Benfica, who have been dominant in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, but are out of their domestic cup competitions and of course got knocked around at home in the first leg. Many people, including myself, believe them to be the better team and expected a great home win in the first leg, but now they have their work cut out for them if they want to advance to the semifinal and face Milan’s other side.
The moneyline for this one is intriguing; at home and up 2-0, Inter can sit back, and accept a draw or even a narrow loss; yet they’re favorites to win in this one. For this reason, I love the Benfica Double Chance as I do still see them as the better team, but even if things go relatively according to Inter’s intended script, it could still easily be a low-scoring draw, which would cash this wager.
In a similar vein, I like the under, which is narrowly favored but not far from a pick’em. Benfica are excellent defensively, and Inter have good talent in that area as well. The hosts won’t be eager for this game to open up wide, so look for them to try and dictate the pace and precipitate a cagey, measured matchup.
Best Bets: Benfica Double Chance (-135), u2.5 goals (-120)
Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City
In a tie that was undoubtedly one of the most hyped in recent memory, especially for a (relatively) early round of knockouts, the first leg of Bayern vs. City was…a complete disappointment. The move to ditch Julian Nagelsmann in favor of Thomas Tuchel is not looking like a wise one thus far, as Bayern’s treble pursuit has ended with a DFB-Pokal loss, and their UCL hopes are on life support after a 3-0 battering in Manchester.
Things are looking up at the Etihad; after a start to the season that had many wondering out loud if Pep’s superteam might actually go trophyless, the pursuit of the ultra-rare English treble is viably on. City are now just four points behind a slumping Arsenal in the Premier League, with a game in hand to boot. They’re facing an almost-impossibly easy opponent in the FA Cup Semifinal- second-tier Sheffield. And of course, they’re positioned extremely well to advance to the UCL semifinal where they’d meet defending champs Real Madrid.
That being said, a 3-0 lead is no gimme, especially when heading into a venue like the Allianz, against a club like Bayern. Let’s not forget that a year ago at the Bernabeu, it only took City a couple of minutes to blow a two-goal lead to Madrid; who knows what could be in store across 90+ minutes in Bavaria.
There’s a connecting factor between the huge, memorable UCL comebacks of somewhat-recent years- Barcelona’s legendary Remontada against PSG, Roma’s comeback against Barça from down 4-1, and Liverpool’s “corner taken quickly” game against…Barça as well. In each instance, the comeback was perpetrated by a home club who had suffered a horrendous first-leg road defeat- so if you’re ready to write City in your semifinal, perhaps consider not using sharpie.
My bet of the week- if not the season- is Bayern on the moneyline, where they are inexplicably in plus-money. First leg aside, this should be the better team. Even with the hiccups under Tuchel, they’re incredibly talented and seasoned, and are playing at home.
Moreover, City can lose- even by two goals!- and still advance, so why would we expect them to pick up a challenging road win when they also have so much to be ready for back in England? This feels like a classic opportunity for Pep to overthink his tactics and rotations, and unduly let Bayern back into the tie. I don’t think they successfully complete the comeback, but I do think they make things more interesting than they may look right now, which implies a win in the 90 minutes of regulation.
Unshockingly, given the above, I love the over. For a line of 2.5 goals it’s -200 which is basically unplayable outside of a parlay, but between these two sides- especially with one as desperate as Bayern will be- 3.5, which you can get at +125 odds, is a strong investment. The last way I’m recommending to invest in a goal fest is also perhaps the simplest- Erling Haaland’s anytime goalscorer bet. It’s minus-money, but the kid is a machine, loves the UCL, and also loves a chance to sting Bayern- chances are he finds the net once in this one.
Best Bets: Bayern ML (+170), o3.5 goals (+125), Haaland Anytime Goalscorer (-135)