Corner Picks, Champions League best bets, odds: Manchester City cruise, Real Madrid top Liverpool

The Champions League round of 16 wraps up this week on Paramount+, but unlike last week, most of this week’s matches feel like foregone conclusions. Of the four second legs that played last week, all but one began tied or with a one-goal deficit. This week, that’s only the case in two of our four matches, and one of those (Manchester City vs. RVB Leipzig) feels like a foregone conclusion anyway because, well, do you expect Man City to lose to Leipzig in the Champions League round of 16?

Me neither.

In some ways, the lack of immediate jeopardy makes it more difficult to bet these matches because I can’t be sure how teams will approach things. For instance, will Real Madrid come out with their foot on the gas pedal while already holding a three-goal lead? And on the other side, will Liverpool believe they have a chance or will they begin focusing on chasing the top four in the Premier League? There’s no way to know for sure, but we’ll start with the foregone conclusion that shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Manchester City vs. RB Leipzig

Date: Tuesday, March 14 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

Featured Game | Manchester City vs. RB Leipzig

I don’t mean to disrespect Leipzig when I say I’m nearly certain Man City will win this match and move on because it’s Man City. Leipzig earned that 1-1 draw in the first leg and played well! They’re a good team that’s had some excellent Champions League runs in recent years! But it’s Man City. They haven’t failed to reach the quarterfinals since 2017. They’ve won the Premier League four times in five seasons and are still in play to make it five in six this year.

And they’re at home for the second leg. Now, the good news for Leipzig is I believe there’s a good chance they’ll score. They pose real threats to a City defense that has had a few gaps in it this season, so I don’t hate Both Teams To Score here, but the Over 2.5 feels safer. Man City could get three on their own. They dominated the ball in the first meeting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold onto it even longer this week. The Pick: Over 2.5 (-160)

Porto vs. Inter Milan

Date: Tuesday, March 14 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

Featured Game | Porto vs. Inter

I took Inter at home in the first leg because I thought they were undervalued and because Porto hadn’t been nearly as solid defensively in Champions League play as they are in Portugal. And that’s what happened, as Inter won 1-0, and the expected goals finished 1.6-1.5. But that 1.5 Inter allowed caused me to raise my eyebrow for the second leg back in Portugal.

Inter lost to Spezia 2-1 over the weekend. In their first match following the Porto win, they lost to Bologna 1-0. Both matches were on the road, and both matches saw Inter struggle defensively. In fact, Inter hasn’t won any of their last three away matches. The third was a draw to Sampdoria. For those who don’t pay attention to Serie A, Spezia, Bologna, and Sampdoria sit in 17th, 9th and 20th place, respectively. If Inter is struggling on the road against them, how can I trust them against one of the more prominent teams in Europe? I’m taking Porto to win in 90, but this match also has the feel of extra time and penalties. The Pick: Porto (+160)

Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

Date: Wednesday, March 15 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

Featured Game | Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

I mentioned that I don’t know how either team will approach this match, but my gut tells me both will give it everything they have. They’re still Real Madrid and Liverpool. The question is, what will Liverpool do if Real Madrid score early to go up four? At that point, it’s probably smarter to pack it up and get ready to go home.

Still, even if we remove all that from the equation, I like Madrid because they can overpower Liverpool’s midfield, which has been the crux of the problem for Liverpool all year long. I do not expect another seven-goal affair (Madrid scored five goals on an xG of 1.7), but I wouldn’t be shocked to see three or four, with Real scoring the lion’s share. The Pick: Real Madrid (+130)

Napoli vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Date: Wednesday, March 15 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

Featured Game | Napoli vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Napoli dominated the first match on the scoreboard and statistically. They won 2-0 and dominated xG 2.7-0.4. They had 17 shots, with nine on target, while Frankfurt finished with five total and only one on target. However, early in this match, Frankfurt was giving Napoli some trouble defensively. They were getting into good positions but couldn’t execute. Then Napoli missed a penalty, Victor Osimhen did stuff only he can do to give Napoli a 1-0 lead before halftime, and the second half began with Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani getting a red card.

A few minutes later, Napoli scored again, and Frankfurt dug a trench and focused on not allowing a third goal. My gut says we’re going to see more from Frankfurt in Naples. Not enough to win the round and move on, but they will put up a fight, and score. It’s just I don’t know that it will keep Napoli from scoring because one of the best things about this Napoli team is that, even when it has things wrapped up (like Serie A, for example), it never stops playing. It’s a team that enjoys playing with one another. So I don’t expect them to pack it in and hold onto a lead as much as I expect them to look to expand it. The Pick: Over 2.5 (-130)



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Overall 56-44 +19.72

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