Champions League knockout-round battles are decided in an old-fashioned format of 2 “legs” each consisting of 90 minutes plus injury and stoppage time. The 2 warring clubs take turns hosting the legs. Real Madrid is terrific in the knockout format, having won the CL for 3 seasons running.
However, we haven’t gotten that far yet in 2018-19.
Group matches are still in the 4th go-around, and Group A has turned into a somewhat-expected race to the top between Atlético Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. The storied clubs will meet in a fixture on Tuesday that will be hotly contested for bragging rights in addition to 1st place standing in the group table.
The event will be held on Spanish turf at Wanda Metropolitano.
Manager Diego Simeone’s Los Rojiblancos are strong moneyline favorites (-125) to beat Dortmund. The moneyline on the underdog is (+340). Sin City’s fetish for Asian Handicaps continues with a (- ½ and -1) goal spread on the contest at several major betting boards.
An O/U total-goals line of (2 ½) indicates respect for both backlines while painting a clear picture of the host club beating the Germans 2-0 or 2-1. The moneyline draw market is (+250).
Atlético Madrid is led by several international superstars. But not all of the names are as familiar to state-side fans due to the Premier League’s media dominance in the Western Hemisphere.
The squad is built from the backline-out. Jan Oblak has been called the world’s greatest goalkeeper (though as usual that mantle is up for debate) and has posted an amazing 72 clean sheets since the 2014-15 season. The Red and Whites’ captain is veteran Uruguayan defender Diego Godín who helped lead the Sky Blues to a thrilling World Cup Q-Final run this summer despite not tallying in the gala.
Nimble midfielder Koke is another bright spot, a super-talented and versatile athlete who represented Spain in Russia. ATM’s forward lines are rich in talent, led by players like Antoine Griezmann of France and exciting Spanish left-winger Vitolo.
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki was invited to play in Russia as well, though he is not as highly regarded as Oblak. The German club doesn’t have a Ronaldo, a Messi, or even a Godín, but the club’s roster is full of size and speed and excellent cooperation on all 3 levels.
I’m a mark for attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa of Japan, who has scored 20 goals in less than 100 appearances with the Black and Yellows since 2014. But supporters will also be watching Maximilian Philipp who has tallied 11 times in just 20 matches with the club, and of course young Christian Pulisic of the United States Men’s National Team.
Handicappers will be looking for series results and trends between the 2 clubs, but according to Oddsshark there is little to go on other than the recent Group A meeting.
How did that match go? Borussia Dortmund romped the proud visitors to Westfalenstadion in a 4-0 result, utilizing a 4-2-3-1 formation with Mario Götze starting up front as a striker. Oblak, Koke, Griezmann and Costa were all in the lineup, so it wasn’t as if the Germans were beating a reserve team as they did when besting Manchester City in the International Champions Cup.
Dortmund led the match with 5 on-target shots and frustrated the Red and Whites into double-digit fouls and 5 yellow cards.
Why do Vegas house handicappers expect the Spanish club to bounce back with a win at home? I wish I could tell you.
Yes, the club from Madrid has more international star power, but that’s due to marketing as much as quality on the pitch. Dortmund is atop the Group A standings after 3 matches, and there’s no reason to assume that the placement is a fluke.
I’m liking Dortmund to win or draw the match in an upset, making the (+250) and (+340) markets the most valuable. But the safest pick is Borussia Dortmund against the goal spread.
Take the under-valued German club to win in 90+ or against the goal spread in Madrid.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.