CL Best Bets - Quarterfinals
April 2, 2018
By Toby Maxtone-Smith
There are just 11 matches to go in this year’s Champions League as we reach the quarterfinal stage. Eight teams remain, and in a sign of how narrow the field of potential winners has become, they hail from just four countries: Spain, England, Germany and Italy.
The favorites at this stage are Barcelona, who have benefitted from one of the kinder draws in AS Roma, although no tie will be easy at this stage. They are 5/2. Next come Manchester City, who face an all-English tie with Liverpool. Then it is Bayern Munich, the recipient of probably the easiest tie against Sevilla.
Real Madrid are 9/2, while Juventus, finalists twice in the last three years, are 10/1. Liverpool are 12/1, while Sevilla and Roma are comfortably the big outsiders at 66/1 apiece.
Tuesday, Apr. 3
Games scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET on FS1 & FS2
Juventus vs. Real Madrid
It is easy to forget that the starting prices for last year’s final between these two teams went off almost 50/50. Real went on to show their class in a superb 4-1 victory, while the start of Juventus’s season was clouded in uncertainty and dodgy form.
Now, however, The Old Lady are on course to retain Serie A yet again, but after a slightly fortuitous last 16 win over Tottenham Hotspur this tie may be too great a task for them. They are quite lucky to have the number of league points that they do, and their form was summed up by a win against AC Milan when they were by some way the worse team.
The first leg in Turin should be closer than last year’s final, but Real Madrid’s win against PSG showed that, despite their bad league form, they remain the team to beat in Europe. They stepped it up when they needed to, and you can should back them to do the same here.
Best Bet: Real Madrid to win at 6/4
Sevilla vs. Bayern Munich
Jose Mourinho attempted to excuse Manchester United’s embarrassing last 16 defeat to Sevilla by saying that they were one of Europe’s most dangerous sides. Bayern Munich can dispel that notion in the first leg at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Sevilla are a competent team, but are very ordinary by the standards of the Champions League quarter-finals.
Bayern are 13/20 to take a lead back to Bavaria, and while that might be a bit short. That might be a bit short, so it would be better to take a look at Robert Lewandowski in the first goalscorer market.
Lewandowski has scored 26 Bundesliga goals this season - nobody else in the Bayern squad has more than seven league goals - and he has also been their most prolific goalscorer in the Champions League with five. Bayern are likely to attack from the off, and their system is geared around giving Lewandowski as many chances as possible. At 11/4 he is a good bet to score the game’s first goal.
Best Bet: Robert Lewandowski to score first at 11/4
Wednesday, Apr. 4
Games scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET on FS1 & FS2
Barcelona vs. AS Roma
Barcelona’s tie with Chelsea was strange. It was the sixth time the two had faced off in the competition in the last 15 years. Chelsea had more of the play than in any of those previous five ties, but it was the first time that Barcelona saw the Londoners off with ease. That was largely due to the stunning finishing of Lionel Messi, but also thanks to some wasteful play in front of goal from Chelsea.
Roma played Chelsea over two games in the group stages, and caused the Blues more problems than Barcelona in a 3-3 draw away and a 3-0 win at home. They are always a frustrating side, and it is understandable why Barcelona, with all their experience, are 2/9 to win the first leg at the Nou Camp.
But the prices seem to be underestimating the Italian side. They are going along at two points per game in Serie A, and you should at least expect them to score on Wednesday night. At 19/20, both teams to score is a good bet.
Best Bet: Both teams to score at 19/20
Liverpool vs. Manchester City
The first all-English tie in the Champions League since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson looks set to be a memorable one. Manchester City, Premier League champions-elect, face Liverpool - the only team to have beaten them in the league all season, a 4-3 win at Anfield.
Liverpool are looking at this match as a chance to conjure up yet another glorious night in Europe at their historic home. But there is a reason Manchester City are 18 points (with a game in hand) clear of them in the league: they are arguably the best team England has seen in modern times.
While Liverpool will rely on a blistering start to wrest control of this tie, City will be patient and look to gradually exert their superiority over proceedings.
Time and again this year, City have shown the big-game temperament they have badly lacked for many of the previous seasons. They should have enough quality to win this white-hot match.
Best Bet: Manchester City at 7/5
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