The Champions League semifinals second legs feature two incredibly interesting clashes with two spots in the final on the line.
In case you missed it, Real Madrid and Chelsea ended in a 1-1 draw, with an incredible goal scored by American captain Christian Pulisic only 14 minutes into the match.
— Stu Holden (@stuholden) April 27, 2021
Karim Benzema then answered 15 minutes later with a rocket of an equalizer.
It’s what he does 💥
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 27, 2021
Both teams have everything to play for in the second leg at Stamford Bridge, with Thomas Tuchel’s side needing a 0-0 draw to get back to their first Champions League final in nine years. Zinedine Zidane and Tuechel are two of the best tactical managers in the world and their squads playing fairly cautious after the opening two goals, so it will be fascinating how they set their teams up for the second leg.
On the other side of the bracket, PSG grabbed an early lead at home on a Marquinhos header off of a corner, which was only the third goal Manchester City has allowed in the Champions League this season.
Marquinhos gives PSG the lead 💥
The central defender now has two goals in his last two UCL games 🔥
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 28, 2021
However, Manchester City took over the second half netting two goals, including a Riyad Mahrez free kick that went right through the PSG wall.
RIYAD MAHREZ. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 😳 pic.twitter.com/AB1Obwdr7p
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) April 28, 2021
Manchester City holds a 2-1 advantage going back to the Etihad and will have a fantastic opportunity to advance to their first Champions League final because PSG is most likely going to be without their star striker Kylian Mbappe (calf).
PSG have said that Kylian Mbappe has sustained an injury to his right calf making him a doubt for the Champions League second leg against Manchester City pic.twitter.com/L9p7F9BvpP
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 30, 2021
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the projections.
You can use the following projections to identify betting value on the current lines, and follow me in The Action Network App to see any bets I make throughout the week.
Note: These projections do not take injuries into account. The injury news highlighted below is for players who would regularly be in each team’s starting XI.
Manchester City vs. PSG Odds
|Over/Under||3 (-117 / -106)|
|Time||Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday afternoon via DraftKings.|
Manchester City vs. PSG Projections
I make Man City an even bigger favorite than the market here.
What was very interesting about the first leg was PSG’s approach once they went ahead. Mauricio Pochettino switched the formation to a very defensive 4-4-2 to try and hold Manchester City’s attack in check and have Neymar and Mbappe hit them on the counter. It worked in the first half as Manchester City tried to force a lot of balls through the middle, which is exactly what the 4-4-2 tries to prevent.
PSG contained Man City in the 1st half through 4-4-2 in defense. CIty struggled to progress through midfield, forcing them to go out wide. PSG were then able to overload and win the ball back. Pushing the fullbacks up the field in the 2nd half changed the game! #ChampionsLeague pic.twitter.com/VDdCeZ3lDu
— Total Tactics Football (@TotalTacticsFB) April 28, 2021
However, in the second half Manchester City was much more patient and created a lot of chances, although they weren’t high quality ones. The Cityzens only created 0.83 xG for the match and both of their goals were actually quite lucky as they only had a 0.08 xG rating combined.
What was even crazier about the match was Mbappe and Neymar were complete non factors in the match.
Today was the first time in Kylian Mbappe's career in which he didn't register a single shot in a Champions League match that he started 😅 pic.twitter.com/66nM9qOAmH
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 28, 2021
In fact, PSG registered only one shot in the second half, so while the 4-4-2 did work, it also hindered PSG’s high flying attack. This means PSG is going to have to switch back to their traditional 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, especially without Mbappe in the lineup.
Manchester City will be at full strength and don’t expect them to try and see this match out defensively. The Cityzens usually play out of a 4-3-3 formation, which could overwhelm PSG, especially if they get caught too far up the pitch since they have to be aggressive in this match.
Manchester City: None
PSG: Kylian Mbappe (ST) is questionable
Chelsea vs. Real Madrid Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (+140 / -175)|
|Time||Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday afternoon via DraftKings.|
Chelsea vs. Real Madrid Projections
I’m pretty in line with the market on this one.
Chelsea and Real Madrid have everything to play in the second leg, but it’s Real Madrid that is going to have to play aggressive. They’ll need to create a ton more chances than they did in the first leg because outside of the goal from Benzema, Los Blancos only created 0.31 xG. However, that has seemingly become the norm for Chelsea’s opponents ever since Tuchel took over.
Since Jan. 27, when Tuchel took over, the Blues’ defense is allowing only 0.56 xG per match in the Premier League and Champions League combined. The reason for their fantastic defensive record is because Tuchel switched the formation to a 3-4-2-1 from the 4-3-3 used by Lampard, which has allowed Chelsea to become more unpredictable. The main objective of the 3-4-2-1 is to completely overwhelm opposing defenses by outnumbering them on the counter attack.
The new formation allows Chelsea some tactical flexibility, to adjust on the fly based on how the match is going. That’s allowed Chelsea to dominate possession and keep opponents on their toes. One of the reasons Chelsea was so good in the first leg is because they outplayed Real Madrid’s midfield, which is not something Los Blancos are used to.
Real Madrid is also dealing with a whole host of injuries to their defense, so it’ll be interesting to see if Chelsea can expose Los Blancos defense on the counter if they get caught too far up the pitch.
Zidane and Tuchel are both regarded as some of the best tactical managers in the world, so this is going to be a fascinating encounter.
Chelsea: Antonio Rüdiger (CB) and Mateo Kovacic (CM) are out.
Real Madrid: Dani Carvajal (RB) and Lucas Vazquez (RW) are out. Sergio Ramos (CB), Raphael Varane (CB), Ferland Mendy (LB), and Federico Valverde (CM) are questionable.