The Champions League Quarterfinal draw is out. Join us as we preview the soccer odds board, evaluate the matchups against the odds and serve up our early predictions and picks.
UEFA Champions League's Last 8
The Champions League quarterfinal lineup is conspicuous for the absence of any Premier League side. Surprisingly (well, that's purely subjective), none survived the carnage as the round of 16 was put to bed: Chelsea were eliminated by PSG in the reverse at Stamford Bridge after the tie settled on a 3:3 draw and the French advanced on away goals; Arsenal won the second leg of their tie with Monaco 2-0 and drew level 3-3 on aggregate, but were eliminated by away goals; and Man City were dumped out of the competition by Barcelona for a second straight season in the R16, both times failing to make an impression on the Spanish giants.
In any event, there's no sense in crying over spilt tea. The show must go on. Even if it must without any representatives from England's top-flight. Besides, it's not as if their absence has blown the tournament wide open. On the contrary, the top three favorites are alive and well in the competition and remain the teams to beat: they are Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
That said, there have been several notable moves in the UEFA Champions League Odds Champions League betting markets (see Champions League Futures Odds Table 1, A and B below) since the quarterfinal draw was revealed. Mainly, defending champions Real Madrid have slipped to third overall favorites after spending an eternity in second place for the title.
Table 1: Champions League Futures Odds For the Last 8
Table 1 A: Champions League Future Odds that were trading before the quarterfinal draw was revealed.
Table 1 B: Updated Champions League Future Odds, adjusted according to the quarterfinal draw and the strength of the respective matchups contained within.
Real's fall from +250 to +400 soccer odds on the Champions League Future's Odds board is partly down to the way they advanced into the quarterfinals: by the skin of their teeth. It wasn't pretty as Schalke gave as good as they got in Madrid and stunned the defending champions by winning the second leg 4-3. Only because Real won the first leg 2-0 did they advanced into the quarterfinals (5-4 on aggregate), but it was too close for comfort. Nobody was impressed, least of all Los Blancos, who were made intimately aware of just how narrow of an escape it was.
Another reason why Real Madrid's soccer odds swelled up to +400 is the Champions League draw. Atletico Madrid are slated to be their next opponents; what is essentially a replay of last year's Champions League final. There are those soccer bettors that believe Real Madrid were lucky to emerge victorious from that match as well, as for almost the entire 90 minutes Atletico Madrid outplayed, outmuscled and outscored Real and they came very close to clinching the coveted title, only for Real to score a last-gasp equaliser and send the game into extra time. Diego Simeone wasn't a happy camper that day, not to mention Los Rojiblancos. To say they'll be relishing the chance at revenge next month, is an understatement.
Another notable movement on the Champions League Futures Odds board is Juventus' ascent in favoritism after their soccer odds were slashed from +2000 to +700. The reason for this movement is twofold: a)they've drawn competition minnows Monaco (priced at +6600 to win outright), and b) as the field shrinks it's inevitable that certain sides will benefit from re-evaluation in the context of the remaining field. So long as Juventus don't underestimate Monaco (cough*Arsenal*cough), they should come through for backers as the decided betting favorites in this tie.
Paris St. Germain's soccer odds improved from +2800 to +1000 following their upset win over Chelsea in the R16. However, when the quarterfinal line-up was set and it emerged that they drew Barcelona, their soccer odds quickly slumped to +1600. Drawing one of the competition favorites Barcelona is akin to drawing the short straw, but the French league-leaders are no strangers to this rivalry. They met Barcelona in the Champions League knockouts two years ago, with each leg settling on a draw (3-3 on aggregate). Barcelona advanced on the away goals rule. This season, the pair were drawn into the same group (Group F), with each side winning at home: PSG won 3-2 at home while Barcelona won 3-1 at home.
In more ways than one, this quarterfinal tie is in not straightforward as the odds makers would suggest. Mark these words, an upset here is quite possible so pay close attention to this tie for your soccer picks.
FC Porto's draw with Bayern Munich has seen them plummet to the bottom of the pile, from +3300 futures odds before the quarterfinal draw was released to a whopping +6600 going into the last eight. This market reaction is similar to the reaction over PSG's draw at first glance. The difference: while PSG have a reasonable shot at the upset, few soccer bettors would consider Porto's chances against Bayern Munich as anything but hallucinatory. In no uncertain terms, therefore, they are the quintessential long shot soccer pick going forward in the competition.
Soccer Betting Verdict:
The way the Champions League quarterfinals are shaping up, the closest to a sure soccer pick to advance into the semifinals right now appears to be both Juventus and Bayern Munich. The former's path into the semis appears straightforward at the expense of Monaco. No disrespect to the French league hopefuls from the richly principality intended, but, let's face it, it's unlikely they would stun soccer betting markets for a second straight round of Europe's top flight competition. The latter, by contrast, is the class of European football. In a league of their own, simply up for any task.
As far as the all-Spanish affair between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid goes, it's wide open. Last year's final between them could have gone either way, so too it follows could their renewal of hostilities in the last eight.
The same could be said of Barcelona's clash with PSG, which marks the renewal of Group F hostilities in the knockouts. There's plenty to recommend either of these teams for your soccer picks to advance into the semifinals. At this stage, the competition only gets stiffer, the games tougher.
Nevertheless, we're getting in on the action too. We've put together our bold soccer picks to advance into the semifinals as follows: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Real Madrid and PSG to advance into the semis. That's it.