Soccer

Champions League Betting Picks for Wednesday 2/21/24: Backing Road Favorites

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
Champions League Betting Picks for Wednesday 2/21/24: Backing Road Favorites

The last set of Round of 16 matches will take place on Wednesday

When looking at the Champions League soccer odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, which bets make the most sense for this match day?

Champions League Betting: 2/21/24

Arsenal at Porto (3PM ET)

Arsenal Moneyline (-150)

Arsenal were just one of two English teams to make it out of the group stage with both Manchester United and Newcastle finishing dead last in their group.

The Gunners played well in the group stage, winning four of their six matches and had an expected goal (xG) differential of +7.1, according to FBRef's model.

Their solid underlying metrics have carried over to the Premier League, as well. They have the best xG differential per 90 minutes by a good margin; it's 1.29 to Manchester City's 1.02 (prior to City's game on Tuesday).

Porto are a distant third in Portugal's Primeira Liga, trailing Benfica and Sporting Lisbon by seven points. They are also inferior in xG as their differential is 0.81 per 90 minutes. That's well behind Sporting (+1.46) and Benfica's (1.30).

The home side are also at another disadvantage as they will be missing Mehdi Taremi. Taremi isn't having as good of a season as he did last year when he had 28 goals across Primeira Liga and Champions League. However, he did contribute four goals during the six games in the group stage.

Arsenal should have an advantage in this game; that's pretty clear. We can play it safe with the money line or look to some other markets.

Since Arsenal have the best defensive record in the Premier League in terms of xG against and actual goals conceded, they may be able to keep a clean sheet. If that's the case we can feel good about them winning this match 1-0, 2-0, or 3-0. You can bet the Arsenal correct score combination that includes those three results at +190.

Barcelona at Napoli (3PM ET)

Barcelona Moneyline (+135)

These clubs famously saw the transfer of Diego Maradona between them in 1984 for a world record fee of 6.9 million pounds. Times have changed a lot since then, and these teams are certainly not at their high points.

This is especially true for Napoli. Last season's Serie A winners currently sit ninth in Italy's top division this season. On Monday, they made their second managerial change of the season; Walter Mazzarri was relieved of his duties after taking over for Rudi Garcia in November.

Barcelona are third in La Liga, eight points behind Real Madrid. They do have the best xG differential in the league, however, and have gone unbeaten in their last four matches.

Napoli have better underlying metrics than their league position suggests they should. They are third in their league in xG differential but it's still over 50% worse than Inter Milan's differential.

A key absence for Napoli will be Victor Osimhen, their star striker and leading scorer. He also led the team with 26 goals last season during their title win.

Barcelona will be missing a good amount of players, as well, such as Joao Felix and Gavi. However, they have a deep enough squad to overcome these missing players in both the front three and in midfield.

The Spanish side are the better team here, and it will be a tough task for Francesco Calzona in his first ever match as a club manager. I'm taking the +135 odds on Barcelona.

Player Props

Raphinha to Score or Assist (+145): We'll want to make sure Raphinha is in the starting lineup before making this bet. WhoScored.com does have him projected as a starter, which is great news for us.

Raphinha could get the chance with the missing players, and he's been good when given the opportunity this season. He's averaging one goal contribution per 90 minutes in La Liga this season.

If we expect Barcelona to do well in this game, Raphinha definitely has a chance to be involved in a goal.

Bukayo Saka to Score (+250): Bukayo Saka delivered a goal for us in the Premier League on Saturday, so we'll roll with him again here.

Saka leads Arsenal with 12 goals in the Premier League this season. We get the benefit of him being on penalty kick duties for the Gunners, and he's converted all four of his PKs in the league.

With the harsher interpretation of handballs in European competitions compared to in England, penalties are called more frequently. Getting great +250 odds on a player who can score from open play or from spot makes this an attractive wager for Wednesday.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.