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Champions League 2018 – Outright Winner Betting
Next Season Champions League Odds; Each-Way Place Terms: 1/2 odds 1,2.
Barcelona head Champions League odds going into knockout stages
Real Madrid are aiming to become the first team since the switch to the current format in 1992 to successfully defend the Champions League trophy, but the bookies’ odds suggest that they are just one of four or five realistic winners of this year’s competition, writes Nick.
There were few shocks during the group stage, with the large majority of the fancied teams progressing without trouble. Indeed, 15 of the 16 qualifiers came from the first two pots of seeds, with only Monaco progressing from the 16 teams located in pots three and four. Tottenham Hotspur’s elimination was probably the biggest surprise.
The teams who have made it through therefore more or less represent the European elite. Among their number are four Spanish teams, three English teams, three German teams and two Italian teams – representatives from the four countries who have dominated the competition in modern times, providing the last 24 finalists and 20 of the last 21 winners.
Real Madrid are, alongside Bayern Munich, one of two sides to have reached the last four in each of the last five seasons. Rookie coach Zinedine Zidane presided over their victory over city rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in last year’s final. In the new season he has steered his team to an unbeaten run in all competitions that stretched through to the end of 2016.
Despite that, Real Madrid have not always convinced during the campaign to date and actually finished second in their group. It will be interesting to see just how much damage Napoli and their well-structured, attacking approach can do to them in the round of 16. While it is always hard to bet against Real Madrid given their pedigree in this competition, history suggests that holding onto their trophy will be a task that even they are unlikely to be capable of.
As I write this, at the turn of the year, the best of the online bookies have Barcelona installed as favourites in the Champions League odds, but they struggled at times during the first half of the season. Their summer signings have added numbers to the squad without necessarily providing replacements for key performers – as was evident in Andres Iniesta’s absence – and opponents are starting to realise that pressing them high can isolate their excellent forwards.
The draw has not been particularly kind to Barcelona, with Paris Saint-Germain awaiting them in the last 16. The French side have had some problems of their own in adapting to new coach Unai Emery (pictured), and him to them, and are perhaps not quite as formidable an opponent as they would have been a year ago. Whichever side can find some form in time for the tie and progress, will, however, automatically have to be considered a viable winner.
Bayern Munich have a strong recent record in the Champions League and now have Carlo Ancelotti, a three-time previous winner of the competition, as their head coach. They finished second in their group and have also been a bit slacker than usual in domestic competition this season but can still be fancied to begin another deep run by overcoming Arsenal in the first knockout round.
Arsenal, currently 25/1 in the Champions League outright winner betting odds table above, have fallen at the last 16 stage in each of the last six seasons. There has been little in their European or domestic displays to suggest they are significantly improved this year.
Outside the big three, Atletico Madrid are, by the bookies’ reckoning, considered the next most likely winners. They have reached the final in two of the last three seasons and have a well-organised setup that is ideal for knockout football. Attempts to add a bit more fluidity to their attacking play this season have produced mixed end results but the underlying statistics suggest that they are still a formidable side who can again be expected to go far.
Borussia Dortmund are a highly competent and attractive attacking side who went toe-to-toe with Real Madrid in two pulsating 2-2 draws during the group stage. But a degree of defensive naivety is likely to prevent them from going all the way this time around.
Juventus and Manchester City will also hope to enjoy strong runs. Juventus were losing finalists two years ago and while they are yet to find a convincing balance so far this season, still have sufficient quality at both ends of the pitch to be dangerous opponents. City, however, have had a few teething problems under new coach Pep Guardiola and will first have to defeat tricky opponents in the form of free-scoring Monaco if they are to go far.
Of the remaining outsiders, three-time Europa League winners Sevilla are the most fancied, although they will have to overcome Leicester City in an intriguing clash of styles in the last 16 if they are to continue their run.
Portuguese sides Benfica and Porto could be capable of causing an upset in the first knockout round but are unlikely to go further, while Roger Schmidt’s hyperactive Bayer Leverkusen side will most probably be eliminated by Atletico.
- Come back and check our Champions League odds comparison tables above as the knockout stage progresses.