Previews of the two Champions League games today:
Napoli vs Barcelona (-160)
The Blaugrana welcome Napoli to the Camp Nou Saturday night for the second leg of their Champions League tie. Barcelona has had a bit longer of a break; Napoli finished up Serie A last weekend. Napoli had a turbulent year. They fired Carlo Ancelotti (now at Everton) and hired Gennaro Gattuso. They finished 7th in the table, which is pretty disappointing for them. They are playing better for Gattuso, but I’m really not buying their chances here. Since the restart, Napoli generated 1.61 xG/game. For most leagues that’s decent, but that’s pretty average relative to the top half of the table in Serie A. 0.95 xGA/game is stout defending over the last 12 games of their season.
Barcelona also had a disappointing season, finishing second in La Liga. They also made a manager change, getting rid of Ernesto Valverde and bringing in Quique Setien. The change has been underwhelming. They play with a lot of possession, but sometimes do very little with it. A lot of meaningless chances but do control the flow of the game. The club is old but experienced. I think that could do them well in this format vs a season-long format. Since the restart they have generated 1.84 xG/game, while only conceding 0.93 xGA. I actually think these numbers could be a bit low due to the heat in summertime, compared to the cooler springtime. I think that could be holding down those numbers. Because of that and the combined xG equaling 3.45/game, I like the over 2.5, 3 at anything under -130. I also really like Barca to win the game at -160. If you don’t like juice, -1 at even money is good too. I am not buying the Napoli resurgence, and I think Messi and their squad’s extensive experience sees them through.
Picks: Barca (-160) and over 2.5, 3 (-125)
Chelsea vs Bayern Munich (-255)
Bayern Munich welcome Chelsea to Allianz arena Saturday night, where they have been dominant in Bundesliga. Chelsea looked completely outclassed in the first leg at home, where Bayern beat them 3-0. On top of that, Chelsea are now missing Pulisic, Willian, Pedro, Azpilicueta and Loftus-Cheek. Frank Lampard will have to play some younger players, so this tie is pretty much finished before the game starts. My angle here is on the first half ML. Over the course of the season, Bayern Munich have generated a positive 22 xG differential within the first 30 minutes of play. That is 0.58/game, which is Man City like. They like to strike fast and get a lead early. With them being up 3-0, I feel far better about grabbing them 1H compared to full game. -120 feels very cheap to me, so that’s my first play. I do also like under 3.5 at -125. I see Bayern getting a lead and making subs, and this game could have a quiet second half. As far as Chelsea goes, their injury ridden XI will struggle to create chances.
Pick: Bayern 1H (-120) and Under 3.5 (-125)