Champions League trims down to the last eight following a thrilling first round of knockouts. Join us as we weigh in on the field and analyze the UCL odds to win the title.
Champions League Outrights
Ahead of the R16, we previewed the Outrights trading in the market. No guess to which team was favored, obviously. Defending champions and, arguably, the best team in the world, Barcelona, were the favorites to win outright at +250. However, Bayern Munich, a side many would have giving the Catalan Giants a serious run for their money as the best team in the world, were trading a smidgen above at +275. Indeed, the way the Champions League Outrights were set it was a two-horse race, after which Real Madrid came in as the third overall favorites but at double the price of their La Liga counterparts.
Now that the R16 is in the books, have the Outrights changed much? Not really where the top tandem is concerned (see Table 1), save for seeing the pairs soccer odds shorten. Where the rest of the field is concerned, there are some interesting talking points to be had, which we examine below.
Barcelona and Bayern Munich Teams To Beat
Barcelona underlined their favorable odds to win a second straight Champions League by a commanding R16 win over Arsenal, taking the tie 5-1 on aggregate. A consummate performance at the Emirates, where they won 2-0, propelled the Catalan giants into Camp Nou with a verve and swagger and gave them an advantage in the second leg few soccer bettors truly believed the Gunners could reverse. On the heels of the 3-1 win at Camp Nou, Barcelona stretch their undefeated run of form in the competition to eight fixtures (4-2-0 in group and 2-0-0 in the knockouts). During this past weekend, Barca also stretched their lead in La Liga to nine-points over Atletico Madrid, making them an almost cert bet to win a second straight La Liga title.
Obviously, with all around good form at the moment, it’s no wonder the Blaugrana improve to +160 future odds in Champions League Outrights. Not even their pairing with La Liga rivals and 2013/2014 Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals has made much of an impact. Well, not where they are concerned. Atletico Madrid are definitely feeling the impact as they are sent reeling from +1200 to +1600 on the Champions League Odds Board.
Bayern Munich, meanwhile, edged Juventus in a nerve-wracking, edge-of-your-seat-nail-biter at the Allianz Arena, coming from behind in the dying minutes of the second leg to level 4-4 on aggregate before sending the game into overtime and winning 4-2 (taking the tie 6-4 on aggregate). It was one of the most exhilarating contests of the R16, befitting Bayern Munich’s champion pedigree and Juventus’ runner-up credentials of last term. That said, one wonders where they might have been priced had they not drawn competition longshots Benfica in the quarterfinals (whose futures odds remain unchanged from the serving posted ahead of the R16 as indicated in Table 1 above). There are those that would point to Pep Guardiola’s R16 account as an indication of underlying vulnerability that could very well be exposed in the latter stages of the competition.
Real Madrid and PSG The Contenders
At the moment, Real Madrid and PSG are flying under the radar as the +500 and +700 soccer picks, respectively, in outrights. Real Madrid traipsed into the quarterfinals with nary a challenge from Roma as they took the tie 4-0 on aggregate while PSG faced a sterner test from Chelsea, but answered the challenge nonetheless in both legs, winning 2-1 home and away.
Real Madrid have drawn competition outsiders Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals, marking the easiest draw of the entire last-eight field, but their odds to win outright remain unmoved from +500 futures odds. That is frankly remarkable, if not beggars belief.
PSG, meanwhile, have drawn first-time quarterfinalists Man City, a side that was trading shorter ahead of the R16 (See Table 1) than the French side but has since slipped out of favor following a slew of fresh injuries and a spate of poor form in domestic action. Hence, Man City are the sudden large bet at +1600 to win it all. Frankly, we're of the opinion the price tag is overly optimistic for the Citizens considering their dip in form and injuries. It's also worth noting they're coming off a loss in the Manchester derby this weekend which thrusts their Premier League campaign into question.
Predicted Semi-final Line-up according to Champions League Odds
According to the way the quarterfinal field stacks up on the Champions League Odds board, soccer bettors can assume the likeliest semi-finalists to be the following: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and PSG, which would be a stellar, mouth-watering line-up any soccer betting enthusiast would take in a heartbeat.
In every single sport the temptation to flirt with the upset exists. It would be remiss not to include a few words towards that endeavor before we wrap up this Champions League Odds Update. So, if an upset were to happen – and this may surprise some soccer bettors – we’re predicting it comes from one of the top matchups in the quarterfinals. That is, the clash between familiar foes Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and/or the clash between Bayern Munich and Benfica.
Granted it’s a long shot soccer pick to back either Atletico Madrid or Benfica to advance into the semi-finals, never mind win it all. It’ not entirely an impossible proposition though. Consider both Atleti and Benfica are amongst the most disciplined defensive-minded teams, tough to breakdown as evinced by numerous accounts this season. Atleti have allowed the fewest goals in La Liga (14) and just 3 goals through eight fixtures of Champions League this season. Meanwhile Benfica have allowed just 18 goals in Primeira and although they allowed eight in Champions League group play they only conceded once in the R16 en route to a 4-1 aggregate win.
Champions League Betting Verdict
All in all, it’s a stellar field that has assembled in the Champions League last eight, poised to march forward to the coveted final. Despite the way the market stacks up in the soccer odds boards with Barcelona and Bayern Munich favored, we’d argue six teams are viable contenders for the ultimate prize, including Real Madrid, PSG, Atletico Madrid and, even Benfica, and soccer bettors could do no worse than back either on their soccer picks. Only Man City and Wolfsburg appear to be long shots in our opinion, simply because of a combination of injuries and lack of championship pedigree at this level.