Champions League soccer is so very BACK! After an international break, club football, and cup games, I am absolutely jacked for the return of UCL. Our quest to crown a European Champion continues this week with four matches. Benfica will host Inter Milan and Manchester City will host Bayern on 4/11/23. Followed by AC Milan hosting Napoli and Madrid hosting Chelsea on 4/12/23.
BurrOaks' UCL Picks: Real Madrid vs Chelsea & Benfica vs Inter - 4/11
Real Madrid v Chelsea (Tuesday, 3pm)
I am a massive Madrid fan, but I will attempt to give you the most objective and unbiased look at the match possible.
Chelsea squeaked by Dortmund last round and got the unfortunate draw of reigning UCL champions Madrid. Chelsea looked to have broken through their offensive miscues, and put together a performance to build on when shutting out Dortmund 2-0 last round. Unfortunately, Chelsea just can not put it all together on a consistent basis. The club sacked manager Graham Potter and rehired Frank Lampard. Lampard did not impress in his debut game over the weekend with a 1-0 road loss to Wolves. Chelsea now has to travel to the Santiago Bernabeu and play the most decorated team in all of Europe. An intimidating task even when the team is performing well. Lampard had Chelsea lined up in a 4-3-3 formation vs Wolves and eventually subbed out his entire attacking line. It’s no secret that Chelsea has a ton of talent on the roster, but getting the players organized and scoring consistently has been a major issue. It will be tough to target bets for Chelsea with all these moving parts. I feel it will be best to wait on an official lineup.
Madrid just suffered a tough loss at home to Villarreal, but ran a rotated squad looking ahead to this match. Madrid had a heavy schedule leading into this UCL fixture. Taking on Barca in Copa del Rey on 4/4/23 in addition to the weekend fixture with Villarreal. Karim Benzema has been red hot lately scoring back to back hat tricks against Valladolid and Barca. He started the weekend fixture against Villarreal, but was subbed off shortly after halftime. Benzema has been a thorn in Chelsea’s side for the last two seasons in UCL. Benzema has five goals vs Chelsea in the last four head to head fixtures including the game winner to advance Madrid in extra time last season. I expect big Karim Mostafa Benzema to continue being a nightmare for Chelsea. Vini Jr is not only the fastest man on the planet, but he is one of the best goal and assist threats in UCL. Vini scored the only goal in the championship game last season and is never afraid to let the ball fly. More importantly, his vision is impeccable. Vini knows that his pace and strength force him to be double teamed frequently, leaving other guys open. Vini unselfishly gives up the rock leading to tons of potential assists especially to Benzema. I love this duo and will be taking Benzema goal and Vini assist as straight bets.
I’d like to say something nice, or complement Chelsea here, but I just don’t have anything. It’s Madrid by 1,000,000.
- Madrid ML -137 @ Barstool
- Benzema AGS +110 @ FanDuel
- Vini Assist +375 @ PointsBet
- Vini 2SOT +225 @ PointsBet
Benfica v Inter (Tuesday, 3PM ET)
Since their last UCL match with Club Brugge, Benfica has gone 3-0-1 in league play. Their only loss came at home to FC Porto. Benfica currently sits atop the Portuguese table and Porto is firmly in second place. Benfica allowed Porto to score twice. I find this is noteworthy because Benfica have only allowed 16 goals against in 27 league matches. Benfica’s defense is among some of the toughest in all of Europe.
Inter has been in significantly worse form since their previous UCL match knocking Porto from the competition. Inter is 0-2-2 in that time span with 0-1 losses to Juve and Fiorentina. Inter is another strong defensive club, and advanced past Porto scoring only one goal over two matches. Goals will be at a premium in this fixture.
Romelu Lukaku looked to have a slump breaking international break with Belgium. Lukaku scored four times in two games for Belgium, but that form has not carried over to league play. Lukaku is still struggling with getting his shot away in space and his timing is not great. I am unsure who Inter will start up top between Lukaku, Dzeko, and Martinez. Inter has been getting excellent play from Denzel Dumfries lately. The Dutch international started the match vs Fiorentina and put in two beautiful crosses to Lukaku that went unfinished. He has also been pressing forward and shooting while handling the midfield and defensive responsibilities. I want to see Dumfries in Tuesday's lineup. If I do, his shots, SOT, and assist props are all things I will be targeting. Andre Onana, Inter’s keeper, has been doing an outstanding job as well. Inter’s record may not reflect how good his play has been. Onana has not allowed more than one goal in a match since the Porto game. He has kept Inter in the fight despite facing a lot of shots from opponents. Inter will once again need Onana to be on his A game vs this Benfica attack.
Benfica’s Joao Mario and Goncalo Ramos share the lead in Portuguese League for goals scored, with 17 each. Joao Mario has not scored or assisted in his last two matches for Benfica. I expect him to come out firing on all cylinders in front of this home crowd. I believe that Benfica will control the possession and press the scoring issue here and that Mario will have a goal or assist after the 90 minutes plus. Rafa Silva on the left wing is always a threat and someone to keep an eye on as well. Defensively, Argentine international Nicolas Otamendi will be missing due to a yellow card suspension. This is going to be a big hole for Benfica to fill. Otamendi is a 35 year old veteran and has a ton of big game experience. If I am Inter, I make sure to test his replacement early and often. Could be a nice spot to bet a booking.
I think this will be a cagy low scoring game. Inter’s lack of recent goal scoring is concerning, but they would be perfectly fine coming home to the San Siro with a 0-0 draw or a 1-0 defeat. As long as the agg score is within a goal, I believe Inter will chalk that up as a win. I believe Benfica will responsibly press the issue here. They know how difficult it is to play in Italy at the San Siro.
A 2-0 home victory would be an ideal start to the campaign with Otamendi returning for the road trip. I believe a two goal lead would allow them to park the bus on the road and grind out an advancement on agg scoring.
- Benfica ML +120 @ DraftKings
- Joao Mario AGS +325 @ Barstool
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