CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Finals First Legs Predictions
Toronto FC vs Club America
The Reds finally returned to the winners' circle in the MLS with a comfortable 3-1 win over struggling Real Salt Lake at BMO field, and the same venue will be the scene of arguably the biggest match in the club's short history to date. FC have won it all domestically but no team, not even an American team, have won the CONCACAF Champions League, and history is the goal for Greg Vanney's side.
It's not going to be easy though. Once again they host the first leg against a Mexican side, which means that in order to progress to the final they will most likely need to score a goal south of the border. The two that they managed at Tigres in the quarter-finals secured their progress, and big performances from Sebastian Giovinco and company will be required once more.
Their opponents, Club America, will not be an easy proposition. They are the only team left in the competition to have won the current iteration of the tournament, a feat they achieved in both the 2015 and 2016 editions. America have had a much easier run to the semi-finals though, with big aggregate wins over Costa Rican club Saprissa (6-2) and Panama's Tauro (7-1). Will their lack of competitive football in the competition cause them to underestimate their opponents?
We don't think so. Club America will be aware of the threat that MLS teams pose having played against the Montreal Impact in the final of the 2015 tournament and also against the Seattle Sounders one year later in the quarter-finals. In all four of those matches, Club America conceded goals, so they should be under no illusion as to the attacking strength of MLS sides.
Hopefully they have done their homework, because Giovinco and Jozy Altidore have been menacing opposition defences across all leagues for a long time and will be eager to take an advantage to Mexico. While Club America have the experience in this competition, momentum is powerful force and there's plenty with the Canadians at the moment.
Toronto FC will certainly have home advantage on a night that is expected to be very cold and wet, with snow possible. Club America will enter with a defensive mindset, knowing a draw will give them the advantage heading into next week's match, although we think the Reds can take a lead to Mexico City.
Toronto FC are at generous odds to win this match, in what is a fairly even spread offered by Sports Interaction. You can get +121 for the Canadians, while a Club America win and the draw can be picked up at +207 and +209 respectively. It's close, because it's bound to be a close match, but we are confident Toronto can get the win.Go for Toronto FC @ +121 (+121)
Chivas Guadalajara vs New York Red Bulls
MLS teams have so far proven to be a thorn in the side for Mexican teams in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League. Toronto FC unceremoniously dumped two-time finalists Tigres from the competition in the last round, while the New York Red Bulls were simply too good for Tijuana.
Guadalajara, one of the most successful teams in Mexican history, were also on the cusp of elimination. After a 1-0 defeat in Seattle, Chivas found themselves frustrated and goalless at half-time of the second leg, before finally the shackles were broken, and they strode away to a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Chivas will draw on this experience as they take on a Red Bulls side who have definitely surprised in their efforts so far. Yet there will also be plenty of nerves in the home side's camp when the game kicks off on Wednesday night. Guadalajara are yet to feature in a Champions League semi-final (since the tournament was renamed in 2008), and have not won a CONCACAF title since the first Champions Cup back in 1962. This is the closest they have come for a long time.
The New York Red Bulls are coming off a loss to Orlando City in their most recent MLS fixture, although this match was more of a training exercise for what they must see as the biggest match in franchise history. Rather than returning home to New Jersey, the Red Bulls stayed in the warmth of Orlando in an attempt to condition themselves for the Mexican heat, and will also arrive early in Guadalajara to adjust to the altitude.
Chivas will start as the firm favourites after their dominant home win against Seattle in the last round. The home side are priced at -197, and will know that only another dominant win will give them the insurance required to survive the trip north to New York. The draw, offering odds of +261, is perhaps the only other likely result, and would be a huge boost for the Red Bulls who are priced at outsider rates: +518.
The New York Red Bulls did manage to complete a 2-0 victory on their last trip to Mexico, although it would take some serious nerve to back them to repeat this performance. We'd like to think they can manage a draw, but acknowledge that Chivas should win this match, and we would be putting our money on the home side.Go for Chivas (-197)
Further Betting Options
Don't forget that Sports Interaction and the other top betting sites will allow you to parlay almost any bet. We've analysed these two matches very closely and are confident in each result, so why not place a parlay wager on the pair? By placing the bets together, you will earn odds of +234, which is a fantastic return for a likely result.
If you disagree with our picks (which are both the favoured results), you will see your potential outlay rise even higher. For example, a draw in the Toronto FC vs Club America match combined with the win to Guadalajara will see odds of +367 offered. Combining head to head bets is a great way to increase your outlay, so make sure you give that a shot on your next bet!
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