Champions League Semi-Finals Leg 1 Preview

The Champions League Logo on a blue background - Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

It’s crunch time in the UEFA Champions League, with the semi-finals coming up in a little over two weeks. Manchester City has reached this stage of the competition for only the second time in their history. They are joined by fellow Premier League club Chelsea, as well as European heavyweights PSG and Real Madrid.

Of course, the games will take place over two legs to decide who goes through to the 2021 final. Here are the Champions League betting odds for this season’s semi-final first leg:

Real Madrid vs. Chelsea

When: Tuesday, April 27

Where: Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid

Betting odds: Real Madrid: +120 Tie: +220 Chelsea: +230

Alt: Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro celebrates scoring a goal - Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
(Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Real Madrid know all about the Champions League, as they hold a record 13 titles in the competition. They had a largely underwhelming start to the campaign but managed to put a string of results together when it mattered most. Convincing wins against Atalanta and Liverpool, as well as an El Clasico win over Barcelona, have undoubtedly given Zinedine Zidane’s team confidence going into this match.

Real Madrid’s standout player is one that often flies under the radar: Casemiro. He is an integral part of Madrid’s midfield, and although he may not have the technical gifts of Toni Kroos or the artful play of Luka Modrić, he is someone that Madrid cannot afford to be without. He is a player that protects the back four with aplomb, and this was clear to see in his Player of the Match display at Anfield. Casemiro is the man most likely to control the game against Chelsea to keep the Blues attack as quiet as possible. 

Real Madrid know how to win the Champions League, and many players in this squad have already had the opportunity to win the title. They will undoubtedly do everything they can to regain soccer’s most coveted trophy.

Alt: Chelsea player Mason Mount celebrates after scoring against Porto - Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images
(Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)

Chelsea’s group stage was an almost flawless campaign; their defense was outstanding with Edouard Mendy in goal, and their attackers seem to be finding their feet. They weren’t too troubled by an exciting Atlético in the round of 16 and got past Porto as expected.

Although this Blues team is full of talent, Mason Mount is undoubtedly the player to keep an eye on. The youngster was a firm favorite of Frank Lampard, but he has hit another gear completely under the tutelage of new manager Thomas Tuchel. He scored his first UCL goal this season in the first leg against Porto, and he’ll be looking to add a lot more.

Chelsea have only lost twice under Tuchel and look to be a different outfit under his guidance. If the front players can continue to gel and kick on to score more goals, it’s going to be a devastating combination with an excellent defense. 

PSG vs. Manchester City

When: Wednesday, April 28
Where: Parc des Princes, Paris

Betting Odds: PSG: +180 Tie: +270 Manchester City: +125

Alt: PSG’s Mbappé and Neymar celebrate after scoring a goal - Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

It’s been quite a Champions League campaign for PSG. They lost two of their opening three games, had a change of manager, and still managed to win their group to advance. The French champions certainly know how to go to extremes but seem to always come right when it matters the most. The two massive wins against Barcelona and titleholder Bayern certainly put out a statement of intent.

Mauricio Pochettino took over the reins at PSG in January, and he seems to have masterminded an immediate impact. Neymar is usually the man in PSG’s spotlight, but this season has seen Kylian Mbappé take much of that shine, as he has finally harnessed his undoubted potential. Although he didn’t score until Matchday 6, the forward hasn’t stopped since. With three goals at Barcelona and two in Munich, it looks like his pace, power, and ruthless finishing will be PSG’s main threat in the game against the odds on favorites to win the competition.

Manchester City should fear a team that tore apart Barcelona and sent Bayern home. They seem to have gotten rid of the psychological issues that have hampered them in this competition previously and will prove to be the Citizen’s biggest test so far.

Alt: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City shout in celebration of scoring a goal - Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Man City are this season’s favorites to win the competition, which is largely down to their defensive strength. They smashed the UCL’s previous defensive record by conceding only one goal in the group stages. Rúben Dias looks to be the signing of the season, and his partnership with John Stones has been simply unbelievable at the back. After winning Group C, City beat both Gladbach and Dortmund home and away. They have reached the semi-finals unbeaten in the campaign so far.

City is filled to the brim with talent, and it’s difficult to settle on just one player that will make the difference in this game. As always, however, Kevin De Bruyne is the creative midfielder that shines brightest. He plays with an elegance and vision that is second to none and has an eye for passes that simply breaks through defenses. Don’t forget that he has also perfected driving runs, unbelievable finishing, and world-class free kicks. This is a player that is a joy to watch and who can tear a team apart, even when he isn’t having his best game.

Manchester City seem unstoppable this season. They have always been known for their attacking brilliance, but it’s the improvement in their defense that has taken them to the top this time around. They have conceded only three goals in ten games, and PSG will have to show absolute brilliance to breach the impervious defensive duo of Stones and Dias.

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