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Odds and Ends

Champions League - Wednesday Prop Bets

by Sean Sullivan
Updated On: April 14, 2021, 2:26 pm ET

Wednesday's Champions League slate features a pair of heavyweight bouts. Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool must overcome a 3-1 deficit to Real Madrid to set up a semifinal clash with Premier League rivals Chelsea.  Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are within a stone's throw of the final four thanks to a 2-1 over Borussia Dortmund in the first leg.  

With sparks set to fly, it's time to turn research into money. This article provides a selection of my favorite prop bets PointsBet Sportsbook has to offer for Wednesday's two-match slate.

Liverpool (+100) vs. Real Madrid (+240) | Wednesday 3:00 p.m. ET

Prop Tip - Mohamed Salah Anytime Goalscorer (-120)

Salah has the shortest anytime goalscorer odds for the clash with Real Madrid. Although I usually avoid backing players that top the anytime goalscorer charts, this time I am making an exception. Salah has scored in successive Premier League matches, for the first time since early February, and four straight Champions League outings. It's safe to say he enters the return leg at Anfield with form in his favor.  

There are also some "outside of the box" figures to supplement why Salah is a smart bet. The 28-year-old has scored 25 goals in 42 career Champions League matches since joining Liverpool. What stands out is his prolific scoring record in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Ten of his 25 goals have come across 18 knockout stage matches, including four goals in five quarterfinal ties. The combination of form and prior performance data in crucial matches puts Salah in a tier above the other likely Liverpool goalscorers.  

Prop Tip - Toni Kroos to Assist a Goal (+400)

Liverpool's defense is not what it was last season. The problem stems from Virgil Van Dijk's absence and reliance on Trent Alexander-Arnold's ability to get forward and create chances from the wing. Without Van Dijk providing cover, Alexander-Arnold is caught upfield and out of position on a routinely problematic basis.  

Toni Kroos did an exceptional job of exploiting the gap created by Alexander-Arnold drifting too far wide from center-back Nathaniel Phillips throughout the first leg. The central midfielder's first contribution was an assist to Vinicius Junior in the 27th minute. Kroos pinged a defense-splitting ball over the top of Liverpool's backline, which Vinicius Junior did well to control before firing past Allison. Kroos was once again the catalyst when Real Madrid doubled their lead nine minutes later. While he didn't tally a direct assist, it was his pass that forced Alexander-Arnold to head an attempted clearance into the path of Marco Asensio for the second goal. Kroos finished the match with all-around impressive numbers. He led all players in key passes (4), accurate passes (68), and possession percentage (6.9).  

The 31-year-old strikes me as the standout option in the assists market for a few reasons. The first is tied to the fact Liverpool must chase the match to have any chance at overcoming a two-goal deficit. With Real Madrid happy to sit back and absorb the offensive pressure, Kroos will have ample opportunities to use his superb range of distribution to hit Liverpool on the counter-attack. The second reason has to do with his current price. Kroos has averaged 3.2 key passes across his last five Champions League appearances. While the price has much to do with the fact that Kroos has just two assists in 709 minutes of Champions League play this season, I don't think it accurately reflects his chance creation numbers.  Assists in back-to-back matches will surely see his price adjusted should Real Madrid advance.  

Borussia Dortmund (+400) vs. Manchester City (-165) | Wednesday 3:00 p.m. ET

Prop Tip - Manchester City Half-Time/Full-Time (+145)

Manchester City resume their Champions League campaign following a 2-1 defeat by Leeds United at the weekend. The loss was a massive surprise.  However, the shock defeat might not actually be a bad thing.  Pep Guardiola's side has a tradition of rebounding excellently after defeats this season. Following a loss to Tottenham in November, they won 1-0 at Olympiacos and 5-0 at home against Burnley. They also followed a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in early March with a 5-2 victory over Southampton. The tendency to respond with positive results after a failure isn't something unique to this season.  

During the 2019-20 Premier League season, Manchester City scored 33 goals and conceded just once in eight wins following losses. Over the last three seasons, City have also won four of five Champions League matches following a league defeat. You have to go back to the 2017-18 season to find the last time Pep's side suffered back-to-back losses across both competitions.  The lone defeat came in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals against Liverpool.  

Stumbling upon this information has boosted my confidence in Manchester City.  City are unbeaten in their last eight away fixtures in the Champions League, but the odds are steep for an away win at Signal Iduna Park.  Instead, I will be backing Manchester City to be winning at half-time and full-time. City have accomplished the feat in seven of their nine Champions League matches this season.

Prop Tip - Borussia Dortmund First Corner (+130)

Borussia Dortmund have the firepower to make the second leg a nervy affair for Manchester City.  Dortmund has scored in all nine of their Champions League matches this season.  The home side will need to put their foot on the gas early to avoid the pace of the match being dictated by Manchester City's possession-focused approach.  On the flip side, I don't expect Manchester City to get too advantageous early on with just a one-goal advantage.  

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Sean Sullivan

Sean Sullivan is a Soccer Betting Analyst for NBC Sports Edge.  He is also a diehard Manchester United supporter.  You can find Sean on Twitter @Sean_Sullivan_1.