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Odds and Ends

Best Total Bets for Champions League Matchday One

by Nick Hennion
Updated On: September 14, 2021, 12:13 pm ET

We’ve already outlined our best side bets across the entire UCL Matchday One slate, so now it’s time for our favorite totals. 

And if the fixtures go according to the odds, we’re in for some goals on the first two days of action. 

Over 2.5 goals is favored in 12 of 16 matches. Additionally, if you’re of the belief we’re in for another Bayern/Barca goal bonanza, you can get over 3.5 goals...for just slightly over even money. 

But rather than targeting overs in this column, I’m choosing to focus in on an under and a team total. 

So without further delay, allow me to present my two best total bets across the Champions League Matchday One card. All odds come courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook and are reflective at time of writing. 

Best Bet #1 - Dynamo Kyiv/Benfica Under 2.5 Goals (-135)

The key for me here is that Dynamo are lacking a bunch of critical attacking options for this fixture. 

Four essential offensive pieces - Eric Ramirez, Artem Besdin, Vladyslav Kulach and Ibrahim Kargbo - are all set to miss Benfica’s visit to Ukraine. 

That leaves very few goal-scoring options for a Dynamo team that prefers to play a much more defensive style in continental competitions. 

Across their last six home UCL fixtures, five of the Ukrainian champions’ matches have finished under 2.5 goals with four of those matches finishing under 1.5 expected goals. 

Plus, in the only two meetings between these sides in the Champions League, both fixtures finished under 2.5 goals. 

As for Benfica, they tended to play a more defensive style in their UCL qualifying route. In their four qualifying fixtures, three finished under 2.5 goals. 

In their two road qualifying fixtures, the Portuguese side put a mere six shots on target and saw both matches finish under in reality and on expected goals. 

Further, an experienced defensive core of Jan Vertonghen, Nicolás Otamendi and Alejandro Grimaldo bring quality UCL experience that will further limit Dynamo’s offensive chances. 

If this match is to go over the total, I think you’ll see Benfica beat it on their own. Otherwise, I’m anticipating a tight match between two sides hoping to play spoiler and advance out of the group. 

Best Bet #2 - Paris Saint-Germain Team Total Over 2.5 (-110) vs. Club Brugge

Could this finally be the time we see Mauricio Pocchetino unleash all three of Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar into the Starting XI? 

Should the assumption be correct, PSG could easily beat this number by multiple goals. 

The last time these two sides met in Belgium, it was an absolute bloodbath. The French giants put up a five-spot on their lowly hosts, generating 3.1 xGF in the process. 

Plus, if you look at PSG’s goal-scoring performance against those teams that finish in the bottom of their UCL group, it’s incredibly consistent. 

Across their last six group stage matches against the sides that would go on to finish bottom in the group, the Parisians have generated at least 2.5 xGF in five matches. 

In the lone match they didn’t hit that marker? They managed 2.4 expected goals. 

The expected goal metrics have been backed up by their conversion rate, too. In those same six fixtures, PSG surpassed 2.5 goals in four matches. 

All that said, there are two additional theories for me in terms of why I’m backing this play. 

First is that virtually all of Pocchetino’s “defensive” options - I’m thinking of Sergio Ramos, Marco Verratti and Idrissa Gueye - are unavailable for this trip. 

Therefore, one should expect an attack-minded midfield featuring the likes of Gini Wijnaldum and Ander Herrera to support MNM in attack. 

With all that firepower, I’d rather bet on the PSG attack than against them. 

The final element that I’m considering, though, is the competitiveness of this group. 

Let’s assume for a second that Leipzig have a real chance at advancing to the knockouts. If you make that assumption, the three remaining group members’ goal differential against the remaining team (Brugge) could be massively important. 

Seeing as PSG have put up four goals in three of five Ligue 1 matches this season, I imagine they’ll want to run up the score Wednesday and give themselves a nice cushion in the GD department. 

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Nick Hennion

Nick Hennion serves as a soccer betting contributor for NBC Sports EDGE. Previously, he served as a social media and television producer at the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSIN) after earning his master’s degree in sports journalism at Northwestern University. You can find him on Twitter @NickHennion.