The draw has been made for the knockout phase of the Champions League throwing up some interesting betting opportunities. Our tipster has looked through all the odds to find his favourite free picks.
All the hard work in the group stages of the Champions League should earn you a reward in the knockout phase, but Europe’s elite are left at the hands of legends picking balls out of a bag (as Chelsea found out!). Let’s look at the English clubs, the betting on the competition winner and the top goal scorer soccer odds.
Chelsea topped their group and have been rewarded with a match against big spending French champions PSG. Manchester City face another two legged tie against Barcelona, so have another chance to see how much they have progressed from last season. Arsenal usually gets punished at this stage for throwing away top spot in their group, but this time the Gods were smiling on them as Monaco were pulled out.
Straight after the draw Arsenal were priced at 7/2 to be the team to go furthest of the English trio, which seemed a good price given Monaco’s poor scoring form in the group stages. They only managed four goals in six games, but also only conceded once too. I think Arsenal could go back to Arsene Wenger’s old stomping ground and grab an away goal, then Monaco have it all on to win at the Emirates.
As I said Manchester City’s naivety cost them against Barca last season, losing 2-0 at home with a red card thrown in too. They must play more sensibly this time, like they did at Roma, then they have a chance of beating Messi, Neymar, Suarez and Co over two legs.
Chelsea beat the French champions over two legs last season, thanks to an away goal and it could be equally as tight this time too. A lot depends on Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s fitness of course, but I see Jose Mourinho knowing a little too much, with a better team this season than last.
On the prices, I would have to favour Manchester City to go furthest, seeing as Chelsea could come a cropper vs PSG and Arsenal are hard to rely on.
Soccer pick: Manchester City to progress furthest 11/2
The Champions League winner
Before the start of the competition I picked Bayern Munich in my initial Champions League article on Sportsbook Review and I see no reason to desert that after the draw for the knockout phase. They should have no problems getting past Shakhtar Donetsk, who will be fresh from their winter break. Real Madrid are joint favourites with the Germans to win the trophy and have a very winnable tie against Schalke, who they beat 9-2 on aggregate last season.
My reason to go for Bayern over Madrid for my soccer picks is simply the pressure on the Spanish to do what no-one else has done and win back-to-back Champions Leagues.
Soccer pick: Bayern Munich to win the Champions League 5/2
There is an interesting bet in the top scorer market and his name is Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s not often you can back CR7 at 7/2 to score most goals in the Champions League this season. He is three goals behind Lionel Messi (8) and four behind Luis Adriano (9) at the moment, but I see Real Madrid going further than Barcelona and potentially all the way to the final.
He is obviously a player who can score a hat-trick in a single game and thrives on pressure in big games too. As I’ve already said they have Schalke in the next round and he scored four across two legs in that tie last season.
If Manchester City knock Barcelona out, the bet looks even better of course!
Soccer pick: Top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo 7/2