Will Real Madrid repeat in Europe's top-flight club competition? The Champions League R16 is set to kick off next month. Here's an early look at the R16 matchups, with our betting analysis on the knockout stages and concluding soccer picks to advance into the next round.
Champions League Futures
As most of the top European clubs advanced into the knockout stages, it conjured many intriguing scenarios for the knockout stages. The draw last month settled those definitively, with Arsenal, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid drawing dream opponents while Chelsea, Man City and Borussia Dortmund drawing the short straw.
Despite the draw, there's been little movement in the Champions League futures odds (noted below). Preseason faves remain at the lead, expected to navigate through the R16 waters whether treacherous or mild.
Top Faves: Bayern (+250), Real (+275), Barcelona (+550), Chelsea (+700) and Man City (+1400).
Contenders: Arsenal (+2000), Atletico (+2000), Juventus (+2500), PSG (+2800) and Borussia (+2800)
Long Shots: FC Porto +5000, Bayer Leverkusen (+8000), Monaco (+10000), Basel (+20000), Schalke (+40000) and Shakhtar Donetsk (+50000).
The stage set for February, we look at the 8 ties and serve up our early soccer picks for each one.
PSG vs. Chelsea
This is one of the most compelling R16 ties on the books. Chelsea are favored at -200 future odds to qualify into the quarterfinals but it's going to be a tough ask to come through for their backers. A tie with PSG is the equivalent of drawing the short straw, make no mistake. Last season, the pair met in the quarterfinals, with Chelsea advancing by virtue of away goals in a 3-3 aggregate scoreline. PSG will be motivated to be on the winning side of the tie this time around. They have home advantage for the first leg, which they'll look to capitalise on once again (last season they won 3-1 in Paris) before descending on West London for the reverse. If they can get the job done in Paris, they could pull off the upset altogether. PSG are tempting underdogs at +163 to advance from this tie.
Soccer Pick: PSG +163 to advance
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Bayern Munich
The Ukrainians could make this an interesting tie with home advantage in the first leg. In the group stage, they went 1-1-1 at home, losing only to Atletico Madrid and respectably one might add (1-0). Nevertheless, Bayern Munich are expected to run away with this tie, if not in Donetsk then at the Allianz Arena in Munich, surely. Hence, the overwhelming -1400 soccer odds for Bayern to advance and the +700 odds on Shakhtar Donetsk to advance.
Soccer Pick: Bayern -1400 to advance
Basel vs. FC Porto
FC Porto have this tie cornered on -225 soccer odds to advance while Basel are matched on +175 underdog odds, but these two teams pose an evenly matched affair in the R16. Basel may not be a side that will blow opponents off the field, they rely on their defence mainly to win games. Case-and-point: beating Liverpool 1-0 and holding Real Madrid to just a 1-0 win in Basel in group play. Keep in mind, they also recorded two wins over Chelsea last season. Given the high stakes on the line here, they aren't a side to take lightly. They could pull off the surprise as the +175 underdogs, especially if they get off to a solid start in the home leg.
Soccer Pick: Basel +175 to advance
Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid
Schalke 04's Champions League campaign hangs on a Hail Mary. It doesn't get worse than drawing the defending champions Real Madrid in the R16; hence their ridiculous +40000 to win it all, never mind being matched at +600 to advance into the quarterfinals. Real Madrid at -1200 to advance is an almost sure bet for your soccer picks.
Soccer Pick: Real Madrid -1200 to advance
Juventus vs. Borussia Dortmund
Juventus and Borussia Dortmund are nestled on -110 soccer odds each to advance into the quarterfinals, marking the most evenly matched tie in the R16. Juventus are riding high in Serie A, looking to win their fourth straight domestic title. However, they were runners-up in Group A, squeaking into the knockouts just a point ahead of Olympiacos. Borussia Dortmund, by contrast, have hit hard times of late in Bundesliga, shockingly mired in the relegation quagmire. Fortunately, their European fortunes are much better after winning Group D (4-1-1) Indeed, it's their only hope for a positive run this season. To all intents and purposes, this is a coin toss.
Soccer Pick: Borussia Dortmund -110 to advance
Man City vs. Barcelona
Man City and Barcelona offer one of the most intriguing matchups of the R16. Man City reached the knockout stages for the first time in their club's history last season, only to succumbed to Barcelona 4-1 on aggregate scoreline. Once again, Man City draw Barcelona in the R16. Will they get their payback this time around? If the soccer odds were any indication, the answer is a resounding no. Barcelona are the firm -275 faves to advance into the quarters while Man City are matched as the +200 underdogs.
Soccer Pick: Barcelona -275 to advance
Arsenal vs. Monaco
After two seasons of drawing Bayern Munich in the R16 and exiting the tournament at that same hurdle, Arsene Wenger must be pleased to draw Monaco. The French top-flight club advanced into the knockout stages behind a 3-2-1 mark in Group C, marking the lowest winning percentage of the last 16 contenders. Crucially, Group C was one of the lightest groups of the entire competition, which says a lot about Monaco's group winning performance. The Gunners must fancy their chances as the -275 faves to advance into the knockout rounds.
Soccer Pick: Arsenal -275 to advance
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid were last season's runners-up, after a dramatic showdown with city rivals Real Madrid in the final. This season, they're off to a promising start to their campaign in Europe with a 4-1-1 mark. Drawing Bayer Leverkusen in the R16 is a favorable matchup on paper, serving up a routine path into the quarterfinals. Odds makers fancy Atletico at -300 to advance, which is a ringing endorsement of their chances on your soccer picks.
Soccer Pick: Atletico Madrid -300 to advance