Football

Corner Picks, soccer odds, best bets: Chelsea to beat Dortmund, PSG get result vs. Bayern Munich

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It’s widely accepted that the Premier League is the best league in the world. Considering how well Premier League teams have performed in European competitions, it’s hard to argue with the assertion. While they don’t always win the Champions League, six of the last 10 participants in a Champions League final have been from the league.

However, as we head into the second leg of round of 16 matches this week, the Premier League is struggling in Europe. Of the four Premier League teams remaining in the competition, only Manchester City avoided defeat in the first leg, and even they managed only a 1-1 draw. There’s a chance all four could be eliminated before the quarterfinals, which would be a tremendous boost to the other leagues, who could all use any financial gains available to them when facing the wealthiest league in the world.

But will the Champions League nightmare continue for the Premier League this week? Two of its teams return to action this week in must-win spots. Let’s try and figure out how things will go for them and everybody else as the Champions League returns. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. Also, unless otherwise stated, these picks are all for 90 minutes. If I pick a team to win, I mean to win the current match, not to advance via extra time or a penalty shootout.

Chelsea vs. Borussia Dortmund

Date: Tuesday, March 7 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: CBS Paramount+

Borussia Dortmund won the first leg at home 1-0, but while Dortmund didn’t play poorly, it did get a little lucky. Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but a team managed by Graham Potter created a lot of chances and put a lot of shots on target but failed to score. I know, right? That never happens! Well, OK, it happens all the time. Chelsea had more possession in the attacking third and put seven shots on target to Dortmund’s two, but one of Dortmund’s two shots went into the net. That’s an important part of the match.

But can Dortmund afford to put themselves under fire as often on the road as it did at home? Dortmund is on fire, having won 10 straight matches. However, in the nine matches we have xG (expected goals) numbers for, Dortmund allowed seven goals on an xG of 12.3. Either Gregor Kobel is the greatest goalkeeper alive, or a reckoning is coming. You simply can’t give up as many chances as Dortmund does and not expect it to bite you in the behind at some point. Factor in that Dortmund’s been much worse defensively on the road all season, and well, this play seems obvious. The Pick: Chelsea (-118)

Benfica vs. Club Brugge

Date: Tuesday, March 7 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

Benfica had an easy time of it in the first leg, going on the road and beating Brugge 2-0. Now it returns home with the simple mission of “don’t lose by three or more, stupid,” and it’ll cruise to the next round. The game plan will be simple. Brugge managed only four shots overall in the first meeting, and only one was on target. It finished with an xG of 0.3. If Brugge could only manage that at home while Benfica was playing aggressively, what will it do on the road with Benfica playing behind the ball and dominating possession?

Benfica is not only the highest-scoring team in Portugal, it’s the best defensive team in the league as well. It’s allowed 13 goals in league play on an xG of 14.2. PSG and Juventus have been the only teams to truly test their defense all year (it has allowed 1.0 xG or more in only three of their 23 league matches), and no disrespect to Club Brugge, but it’s not PSG or Juventus. If Benfica scores a goal, it’ll probably pack it up and run clock the rest of the match. The Pick: Under 2.5 (+110)

Bayern Munich vs. PSG

Date: Wednesday, March 8 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: CBS and Paramount+

The first leg had questions about Kylian Mbappe’s health looming over it, and Mbappe didn’t start the match but came on in the second half as a sub. The second leg will see PSG playing without Neymar, as it’s been announced he is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury that requires surgery. It will come as no surprise that Neymar’s injury is impacting PSG on the market, but it may surprise you that I’m taking PSG in this spot even without Neymar.

Bayern won the first match 1-0, but it did so hanging on for dear life. Mbappe came on in the 57th minute and scored twice, but both goals were ruled offside. Bayern’s defense could not handle his speed, and while not having Neymar working the middle of the field as a distributor will hurt, as will his ability to draw fouls, as long as Mbappe is playing, and Bayern’s defending remains as vulnerable as it’s been all year, PSG is a threat. However, I’m hedging a bit by taking PSG to win or draw after 90. There’s more value there. The Pick: PSG or Draw (-107)

Tottenham Hotspur vs. AC Milan

Date: Wednesday, March 8 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

This could be an ugly affair. AC Milan are kicking themselves because it had a chance to gain ground on Napoli in Serie A this week but instead lost 2-1 to a middling Fiorentina side. I’m not reading too much into the match, though. Milan knows it isn’t going to catch Napoli, and with this match looming, I suspect the Rossoneri looked past Fiorentina. Perhaps that’s why a team that had been outstanding defensively — including in the first leg against Tottenham — lately suddenly forgot how to defend against Fiorentina.

Then there’s Tottenham, which seems to have forgotten how to score. After beating Chelsea 2-0, Spurs have lost 1-0 to Sheffield United in the FA Cup and 1-0 to Wolverhampton in the Premier League. Their defending has remained outstanding, but for whatever reason, they’re struggling to find the back of the net. I expect Milan will play deep and force Tottenham to break it down, as Tottenham is better on the counter. Meanwhile, that would allow Milan a chance to score on the counter, which is how it’s more likely to score against Tottenham. Ultimately, it should all result in a match in which few goals are scored. The Pick: Under 2.5 (-130)

Record

Units

League Play

47-37

+17.56

Champions League

5-3

+2.18

Overall 52-40 +19.74