Champions League First Leg Picks: Bayern Munich is the Savvy Play vs. Barcelona

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 5:06 PM GMT

Bayern Munich's date with Barcelona on Wednesday in the Champions League semi-finals is the must-see match of the season. You won't want to miss out on it or our soccer picks for the game.

Bayern Munich and Pep Guardiola's Homecoming
Pep Guardiola brings his Bayern Munich to Barcelona and his old stomping grounds on Wednesday, where the pair will kick off their Champions League semi-final tie. Guardiola's legacy with Barcelona speaks volumes; it's where he made a name for himself as a player and coach. Why, it's the principal reason Bayern were gagging after him to succeed Heynckes two years ago.

All eyes will be on his homecoming, so impatient is the soccer betting world to witness how this highly anticipated tie is going to unfold. But with a spot in the Champions League final on the line, you can bet there'll be no room for sentiment at the Camp Nou. Certainly, the Kop won't break out into the Spanish equivalent of..."for he's a jolly good fella"...or the like. At best, an appropriate welcome is to be expected before the hostilities get underway. And it should be quite the showdown, worthy of the top billing in the Champions League semis.
 

 

Bayern Munich Massive Underdogs
Although Pep Guardiola spearheaded the most successful period in Barcelona's club history, his reputation is earning him no favors in soccer betting markets. Bookies are sending him and his Stern des Sudens (Stars of the South) into the first leg of their tie with Barcelona at the disadvantage. Almost absurdly so, with +450  soccer betting odds trading on the straight up win at Camp Nou.

It's not often a side with their pedigree, championship credentials and enviable talent is priced so large on the soccer odds board. Truth be told, it's actually rather surprising. If all little disconcerting, even.

Of course, odds makers don't roll out odds willy-nilly. There's good reason for having Bayern Munich at the disadvantage. Simply Bayern Munich appear to be struggling right now while Barcelona are soaring at stratospheric heights. It remains to be seen however whether the great disparity on the odds board between these two sides is warranted.

To put a finer point on it where Bayern is concerned, injuries are mounting for Guardiola. Arjen Robben is ruled out for the season and David Alba and Holger Badstuber are expected to miss the date with Barcelona. As well, Robert Lewandowski is doubtful for Wednesday (broken nose) and Frank Ribery is still a question mark.

To add insult to injury (no pun intended), Bayern Munich went out to Real Madrid in the semis last year in the most devastating way – a 5-0 defeat that put a stain on his managerial debut at the helm of Bayern Munich, even after leading the side to the domestic title in record-breaking time. There might be some residual judgment that's made its way into their soccer odds.

Another source of concern is form in recent weeks. Bayern Munich have had one or two uncharacteristic defeats. They did rout Porto 6-1 in the second leg of their tie at the Allianz Arena, but not before they lost the first leg 3-1 in Portugal in one of their worst accounts of the knockouts.

Last weekend, they were beaten by Bayer Leverkusen 2-0. But the loss comes after they clinched the domestic title for a third season in a row, not to mention the weekend before their trip to Barcelona. So whether it's really concerning form or just tactical decision-making by Guardiola, as he's mindful of the challenge coming up next, remains to be seen.
 

 

Barcelona Soaring High
Barcelona have put in a soccer clinic over this past week, scoring 14 goals and conceding none against the tandem of Getafe and Cordoba. Such form is exceedingly encouraging ahead of their pivotal date with Bayern Munich and underscores their favorable soccer odds to win the first leg.

Matched at -143 soccer odds to win outright, Barcelona have this game cornered wholeheartedly in their camp on the Champions League odds board. There's simply no doubt: they are the prohibitive favorites to win at the Camp Nou. As well, they are the clear-cut -150 faves to win this tie and advance into the final. And superseding  these markets is the overall Champions League futures market, where Barcelona are now the +180 favorites to win it all.

No pressure then.

If there is any pressure, it's hardly apparent. Lionel Messi and Neymar have combined for an eye-popping 108 goals in La Liga and Luis Suarez seems to be finally tapping into the scoring form that saw him lift Liverpool to new heights in the Premier League table. Overall, Barcelona are 28-3-4 (15-0-2 at home) on the season and currently lead the La Liga table, albeit by just two points.

In Europe's top flight competition, Barcelona have advanced through the knockouts in convincing fashion and against some top clubs. They knocked out Man  City and PSG emphatically.
 

 

Soccer Betting Verdict:
If the soccer odds were any indication, this tie is one way traffic. All going Barcelona's way, apparently. On one hand, it's easy to understand why such an assessment has been made: Barcelona look nigh infallible now while Bayern appear fallible.

Yet, things don't always go to plan or page. Guardiola is a master tactician and he knows his former team better than anybody else. If there's anybody that can wreck havoc at the Camp Nou, it has to be Pep.

So, to put into betting context then: Barcelona appear to be the smart soccer pick, but Bayern seem to be the savvy soccer pick. We're going with savvy rather than smarts? How about you?

Soccer Picks: Bayern +450

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