Champions League Soccer Pick: Real Madrid as Exorbitant Away Faves Over Schalke

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 6:48 PM GMT

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 6:48 PM GMT

Top European club competition is back on the soccer betting schedule this week and what is more relevant than the beginning of Real Madrid's title defence campaign in the knockout stages. 

Champions League R16 Rematch
Real Madrid and Schalke 04 collide in the R16 of Champions League action for a second straight season. And if it unfolds in similar fashion on Wednesday, it's going to be a painful experience for Bundesliga fans. If the soccer odds were any indication, the prognosis is ominous.

Last season, Real's title winning campaign began with an utter decimation of Schalke 04 by a combined score of 9-2 on aggregate. The Spanish giants put the tie beyond reach in a 6-1 win in Gelsenkirchen, highlighted by a shower of goals from its glitterati Benzema (2), Bale (2) and Ronaldo (2), and rendered the return leg a mere formality.

 

Schalke 04 Huge Underdogs
Schalke 04 have drawn the equivalent of the short end of the stick in the Champions League R16. A date with defending champions Real Madrid is as tough as it gets to try and get their bid off the mark on a successful note. Hence, they are the quintessential long shots of the competition at +40000 future odds to win outright. As far as the first leg of their R16 is concerned, they are priced as the massive home underdogs at +650 soccer odds. Even the draw is a long shot soccer pick at +400 according to the odds makers.

Schalke 04 are fourth in Bundesliga on 34 points and a 10-4-7 record, which includes a 7-3-1 record at home and a 3-1-6 record on the road. Clearly, they rely on home form for success in domestic action. Since returning from their winter break, Schalke have continued their solid home form with back-to-back wins over Hannover 96 and Borussia M'gladbach all while maintaining clean sheets. They also held Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena. Most recently, however, they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Eintracht Frankurt on Saturday.

Schalke finished the group stage with a 2-2-2 mark, splitting their home and away fixtures evenly (1-1-1). They scored nine goals and conceded 14, albeit that number is heavily skewed by a 5-0 loss at home to Chelsea. One of their best results in group play was a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on match day 1, a point that proved in hindsight the decider in Group G as it lifted Schalke ahead of Sporting Clube de Portugal.

 

Real Madrid Prohibitive Faves
It comes as no surprise Real Madrid are the prohibitive betting faves in the first leg of their R16 tie with Schalke, even on the road. At -225 soccer odds, they have the first leg cornered in their camp and by extension the tie itself. Put another way: anything less than a convincing win would be considered a momentous upset in the knockouts.

A successful domestic campaign is one of their main objectives this season and while it's a way to the finish line yet there's a lot of pressure riding on Los Blancos to come through in Spain. Real Madrid (19-0-4 and 57 points) currently lead the Primera Division table but only with a slim edge – a point separates Real from their nearest rivals Barcelona. Two weeks ago they dropped a pivotal clash with Atletico Madrid, losing 4-0 at Vicente Calderon. Immediately afterwards they bounced back to winning form in a 2-0 win over Deportivo to stay abreast of Barcelona. Looking ahead to next weekend's domestic commitments, they have a winnable game against relegation candidate Elche, which augurs well for Real's bid to hold on to top spot.

Free to focus entirely on their midweek trip to Gelsenkirchen, Real Madrid have to fancy their chances against the German outfit, who barely snuck into the knockout stages after losing two of their last three group clashes.

Although ties are neither won nor lost in the first leg (well, typically they aren't), a convincing start against Schalke will set up Real Madrid nicely for the return home leg, giving them control of the tie at the Bernabeau where they are an impressive 10-0-1 this season in Primera and undefeated in European action after going 6-0-0 in Group B play.

 

Champions League Betting Verdict: 
Real dominated Schalke 04 last season. There's no reason to assume they won't do so again, especially given their solid form this season across several competitions.  The best bit for soccer bettors looking to back Real on their soccer picks, they are priced reasonably at -225 to win outright in the first leg, shorter odds than one would expect really.  

Champions League Soccer Pick: Real Madrid -225

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