The market tips Bayern Munich and Real Madrid for a showdown in the Champions final. Does that mean there is no value to Atletico Madrid or Man City on your soccer picks for the upset?
Champions League Semi-final Draw
Champions League betting enters the penultimate round, two fixtures away from the finale at the San Siro in Milan on May 28. The excitement is palpable amongst soccer bettors, heightened more so now that competition favourites Barcelona were dumped unceremoniously by La Liga counterparts Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals and the finish line fast approaches.
Which clubs will continue in the pursuit of European grandeur, when all is said and done, is the question that intrigues pundits, experts and fans alike.
By the soccer odds, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are on course for a showdown in the final. Should soccer bettors simply take the market at face value? Or is there the potential for the upset by one or both of the competition's underdogs?
Table 1: Champions League Betting Odds
Arguably, Real Madrid are considered the draw winners getting a matchup with Man City, who are first-time semi-finalists in Europe's top-flight competition. That they're enjoying a sub-par domestic season – that is, by their lofty standards and in terms of market expectation, which tipped Manuel Pellegrini's side as pre-season favourites to win the Premier League title –, also conspires against Man City in Champions League betting.
Most recently, Man City settled on a 1-1 draw to relegation-threatened Newcastle United at St. James Park, marking yet another inexplicable result by the Citizens in a season riddled with too many eyebrow-raisers and one that must be the proverbial nail in the coffin to take them officially out of the title race. Although it's debatable whether good form would have carried them to the title anyway seeing as both Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur continue to rise to the occasion and show no sign of backing down.
Inexperience and irregular form on the season can't be brushed aside as irrelevant, particularly when the spectre of ten-time champions Real Madrid looms on the horizon, only the most successful team in the competition's history. As such, Man City are appropriately deemed the quintessential long shot soccer pick at +750 at bet365, Bovada and so on.
Despite Real Madrid's undeniable Champions League credentials they aren't the top favourites to win it all. Sports betting exchanges install Bayern Munich at the top of the outrights as the team to beat, largely down to yet another dominant domestic season and, even, Pep Guardiola's credentials in the competition and as a manager in general. Soccer bettors can find the Bundesliga giants trading anywhere from +150 or lower on the Champions League odds board.
Led by the inexperienced tactician Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid are quite rightly priced second overall favourites at +220 (William Hill), the best-soccer odds currently available. It's worth noting, however, that they've been backed in from +275 (or thereabouts depending on your choice sportsbook) ever since the draw came out, which is a significant shortening of their odds down to emerging from the draw ceremony with a tie against semi-final debutants Man City.
Finally, Diego Simeone and his dogged Atletico Madrid are matched as third overall favourites in the competition but with soccer odds that range from +333 to +400 depending on the sports betting shop.
That's quite the discrepancy in their value from bookmaker to bookmaker, symptomatic of their dangerous floater credentials. In pulling off the upset over Barcelona in the quarterfinal round, Los Rojiblancos proved they have the measure of any team.
Plus, it's not the first time Diego Simeone's lads pulled off the feat. Two terms ago, they did exactly the same, beating Barcelona in the quarterfinals en route to a runner-up finish to Real Madrid.
Experience and a proven track record of upsets are nothing to sniff at. If there is to be any upset in the Champions League semi-final round, it follows the best bet on your soccer picks might be Atletico Madrid. In fact, there is an indication of this notion in the market place where proposition bet ‘name the finalists' is concerned.
There a matchup of Real Madrid-Atletico Madrid, essentially a repeat of the 2014-2015 final, is trading on shorter soccer odds than a matchup of Bayern Munich-Man City final is. In short, between these potential upset scenarios the former is more likely than the latter.
It's worth noting that a complete and utter shakedown with both Atletico Madrid and Man City emerging into the final is the long shot scenario in the entire realm of possibilities.
Name the Finalist Market
To maximise the betting experience for soccer bettors, odds makers have rolled out a whole slew of markets to spot. Here we look at the ‘Name the Finalist' Proposition bet and below we look at the consensus betting polls currently available. Where is the public betting? What scenarios are gaining the most traction.?
Table 2: Name the Finalist Betting Odds
By the above ‘Name the Finalist' odds, it's no surprise that the odds-on favoured outcome is the clash of titans – Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Given Atletico's penchant for the upset,
it's also no surprise that a final matchup against Real Madrid is favoured over the other alternative Bayern Munich-Man City, nor is it surprising that the final scenario between both underdogs is the least expected outcome in the market.
What is surprising though is consensus betting polls stand in stark contrast to market outlook, namely with the surprise final between Atletico Madrid and Man City emerging as the second most bet scenario. (See Chart). Do soccer bettors really believe an all-out upset is on the cards?
Table 3: Consensus Betting Chart
It's impossible to gauge the impetus behind these Champions League betting trends. Whether it's just a reaction to a very tempting price of +650 or, simply, a pool of early bettors armed with optimism and distinct loyalties to either team is debatable. However, we can't dismiss this trend out of hand either.
At face value, it's obvious there are those soccer bettors that believe the potential for the upset is a reasonable expectation. Why else cough of the money on their soccer picks? Do you?
For our money, we do fancy the top billing between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich on our soccer picks, simply because it would feature two titans in the game and what is more befitting of a final than a clash between the best teams in the world.
That said we do concede that Atletico Madrid do have the potential to mastermind the upset, not only in the semi-final but, also, in the final should a matchup against city rivals Real Madrid materialise, reprising that infamous final showdown of two seasons ago.