Champions League Wednesday Preview: The Champions Real to edge first leg
The tie of the round takes place on Wednesday, with Real Madrid hosting PSG, while Liverpool travel to face Porto. Infogol’s Analyst previews both matches, generating the best bets using expected goals data.
Porto vs Liverpool – WED 1945
Porto were the only Portuguese side to qualify from the group stages, and the only Portuguese team to impress with some of their performances. They made it out of what looked to be a very close group, edging out Red Bull Leipzig and last season’s semi-finalists Monaco before finishing behind Besiktas.
According to expected goals, Porto were unfortunate to come second and not top the group, as their performances warranted them picking up more points. They had by far the best expected goal difference (xGD) in their group (3.9 xGD), and looked the most threatening in attack (10.8 xG) – so could pose a threat to the Reds. The Estadio de Dragao is a tough a place as any to visit in Europe, and Porto will fancy their chances in the first leg.
Despite a slow start, Liverpool did enough to win their group comfortably, overturning their bad luck earlier on in the campaign. They were unfortunate not to have beaten both Sevilla twice (LIV 2.3 – 1.2 SEV xG, LIV 2.6 – 1.8 SEV xG) and Spartak Moscow (LIV 2.7 – 0.2 SPA xG), but rallied to register two seven goal wins and secure top spot.
They were the best attacking team in the entire group stage according to expected goals, generating 19.3 xG in their six matches – more than 3 xG per game. This attacking prowess isn’t just limited to the Champions League, as they continue to generate a host of chances domestically too, and in the continuously improving Mohamed Salah they have one the best players in Europe.
Only Barcelona and Juventus had better defensive records than Liverpool, who conceded just 4.5 xG in their six matches, but their first port of call is to attack, and this mind-set is expected to contribute to a high-scoring in Portugal.
Selection: Over 2.5 goals @ 4/5
Real Madrid vs PSG – WED 1945
Real Madrid have come under increasing scrutiny over the past few months, with the defence of their league title looking over, and being knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Leganes. Zinedine Zidane, who has won eight major honours as Real Madrid manager, is under increasing pressure by a seemingly ‘poor season’, though they have been extremely unlucky in both their league and Champions League campaigns.
In the Champions League, they finished runners-up to Tottenham, but from their performances in all six matches, deserved to finish top. They picked up just one point against Tottenham, but from chances created they should have won both games (RMA 3.0 – 1.0 TOT xG, TOT 2.0 – 2.2 RMA xG). If they maintain their process at this level, they should begin to get the results that they deserve.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been the headline grabber once again, and made Champions League history by scoring in all six of the group games, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a say in this match.
PSG’s huge investment in the summer has everyone purring about their prospects in the Champions League, and they didn’t disappoint in the group stage, breaking the Champions League record for most goals scored (25). However, on expected goals data, they were hugely fortunate to score as many as they did (14.7 xG) and collect as many points as they did.
With Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani they have one of the most exciting forward-lines in world football, so will create chances, but question marks remain about their defence, which succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, a game in which they were second best (1.9 xG conceded). They will be seeking an away goal, which they may get at the Bernabeu, but it is the reigning champions that are expected to take a first leg lead.
Selection: Real Madrid @ 29/20