Bayern Munich (+150) at Atletico Madrid (+200), Draw (+199)
After eliminating the tournament’s odds-on favorite (Barcelona) in the quarterfinals, you’d think Atletico Madrid would have earned some reprieve. But there’s no respite for any of the final four Champions League squads, and Atletico now have to face the second-favorite, Bayern Munich, for a spot in the final. The first leg of the two-game series goes tomorrow (Wednesday, April 27) at Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid (2:45 PM Eastern).
Atletico put in an amazing performance against Barca, holding Lio Messi and company to just two goals in two games and advancing 3-2 on aggregate. The defensively focused squad will rely on the same style of play against the hard-charging Bayern Munich.
Madrid are perhaps one of the best defensive squads in soccer history. They’ve allowed only five goals in ten Champions League games and are surrendering an unprecedented 0.4 goals per game through 35 La Liga fixtures. They’ve moved into a tie with Barcelona at the top of the table (82 points), though they still trail by a wide margin on goal differential (+73 to +43).
Atletico’s offense can be non-existent at times, but they have averaged two goals per game in five UCL matches at Vicente Calderon Stadium. Unsurprisingly, they’ve kept four straight clean sheets at home, too.
Bayern Munich will bring a contrasting style to the semifinal. They look to attack at all times, and usually succeed, even on the road. The Bavarians have scored goals in all but one of their five away games in the UCL this season, averaging 1.8 goals per game on the road. They’re also averaging 2.4 GPG in 31 Bundesliga games.
They didn’t dominate the scoreboard in the quarterfinals, sending Benfica home 3-2 on aggregate (1-0 home; 2-2 away), but they completely dominated the flow of play, holding 68-percent of possession in the second leg.
Expect Bayern to dominate the possession again versus Atletico. The Germans are a patient bunch that will wait for openings. But finding any cracks in the Atletico armor – especially at home – is never a sure bet. Diego Simeone is the best defensive coach in the world and will have his team well prepared for anything Bayern may throw at them.
Scoring, of course, is another matter entirely for Madrid, so there’s value in the draw.
Pick: Draw (+199).
(Photo Credit: Carlos Delgado CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)