June 21, 2024
Corner Picks, soccer best bets, odds: Lots of goals in Madrid Derby, AC Milan over Atalanta, more

It’s that time of year again. The time when the new MLS season begins, and I tell myself, “you know what, I think I’m going to get into MLS this year.” It hasn’t quite worked, no matter how hard I try. Part of it’s likely due to the Chicago Fire, my local club, being so terrible. While they’re great at selling their young players to Premier League teams for gobs of money, they aren’t great at, you know, winning games. Roughly 80{b037f4174007d005f1ab9cb8d1aafc050eb5d7e8c07298e478acc145e540df6a} of the league makes the playoffs every season, and the Fire haven’t been since 2017, and that was their first time making it since 2012.

It’s not great!

All that aside, while the officiating still leaves much to be desired, the league has improved quite a bit in recent years. The standard of play is getting better, which is one reason I continue to give it a shot. I will try again this season. I make no promises about sticking around through the entire season, but I will try. Unfortunately, based on what most of the MLS experts think about Chicago’s chances this season, I’ve got another uphill battle on my hands.

All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Bayern Munich vs. Union Berlin

Date: Sunday, Feb. 26 | Time: 11:30 a.m. ET | Watch: ESPN+

Bayern Munich has won Germany’s Bundesliga 10 straight times and enter the weekend once again in first place. What’s different this year is that Bayern haven’t run away with the league. Not yet, anyway. In fact, Bayern’s currently tied with Borussia Dortmund and the Union Berlin team they’re facing this weekend atop the league and are only in first due to their superior goal differential. Many Bundesliga fans hope this is the year there’s finally a legitimate title race. Sadly, I don’t see it, and after this match, I expect it’ll be far less likely.

Union Berlin are not your typical German club. While the league is the highest-scoring of Europe’s top leagues, Union takee a much more pragmatic approach, and it’s hard to blame them, seeing how effective it’s been. The problem is, I don’t believe it’s effective enough against teams of Bayern’s caliber. Union haven’t been as strong defensively away from home as they are at home, and Bayern are averaging 3.1 goals per match at home in the league. The Pick: Bayern Munich Over 2.5 (+120)

Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid

Date: Saturday, Feb. 25 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET | Watch: ESPN+

Real Madrid pulled off a stunning comeback against Liverpool in the Champions League earlier this week. They fell behind 2-0 and not only dug themselves out of the hole but proceeded to bury Liverpool in an even deeper one, winning 5-2. It was a stunning performance, but one that came with a cost. Both David Alaba and Rodrygo were hurt in the match and won’t be available this weekend. I took the over in the match against Liverpool partially because Real Madrid have played so many matches over the last two months while traveling all over that it has to be wearing them down. Now they’re missing two more players, including a key defender.

That makes the over attractive again this weekend, even if Atletico Madrid are not the team we often associate with high-scoring affairs. Atleti come in with more rest, but when these teams met in the Copa del Rey a month ago, Real Madrid won 3-1 and didn’t seem to have much trouble breaking down Atleti’s defense. I don’t think Real struggle this weekend, either, but there’s a higher likelihood Atleti score multiple goals too. The Pick: Over 2.5 (-105)

AC Milan vs. Atalanta

Date: Sunday, Feb. 26 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

AC Milan won their first match following the World Cup 2-1 over Salernitana. After that, disaster struck repeatedly. Milan managed only two points from seven matches and fell out of the Serie A race. The team was being outclassed by everybody it played and couldn’t defend to save its life. Things have begun to turn around. Milan have won three straight (including a 1-0 Champions League win over Tottenham) and haven’t allowed a goal in those three matches.

Sure, they’ve only scored three goals, but that’s been more design than a flaw. Milan have gotten back to the basics, and it’s working. I expect they’ll continue doing so against an Atalanta team going through their own rough patch. Atalanta have won only one of their last four and is coming off a 2-1 loss at home to Lecce last weekend. Defensively, they’ve been better at home (0.94 xG per match) than on the road (1.13 xG), but my bigger concern is whether or not they can score. Considering the recent form of both teams, I’m not willing to bet on it. The Pick: AC Milan (+116)

Weekend Parlay

This weekend’s parlay is only three legs, but it pays +200.

  • Arsenal (-150)
  • Manchester City (-360)
  • Lazio (-245)

Record

Units

League Play

41-35

+10.80

Champions League

5-3

+2.18

Overall 46-38 +12.98