Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM
CL Best Bets - Semifinals
Champions League | Future Odds
UEFA Champions League Semifinals - First Legs
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Ajax
Tuesday, April 30 (TNT, 3:00 p.m. ET)
A 33/1 shot faces up against a 250/1 shot in one of the most unlikely Champions League semi-finals ever as Tottenham Hotspur face Ajax. It both clubs’ biggest match in a generation.
And despite going off as one of the rank outsiders to win the competition, Ajax go into this semi-final as narrow favourites to qualify. They are 3/4 with Tottenham priced at evens.
Ajax have been truly magnificent in the competition. They stunned Real Madrid and Juventus away from home, not by being lucky or by digging in, but by playing their own game. Winger Dusan Tadic is in the form of his life while youngsters Mathijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek will surely grace the top of European football for much of the next decade.
Tottenham, meanwhile, overcame the odds to knock out Manchester City in an extraordinary second leg 4-3 defeat after a 1-0 home win.
However Tottenham had luck on their side in that tie, with City missing a penalty at 0-0 at White Hart Lane and a host of chances in the second leg. The main man for a Harry Kane-less Tottenham in that tie, Son Heung-Min, is suspended for the first leg, which is why Tottenham are as big as 6/4 to win the game. Ajax are 2/1 and the draw is 12/5.
I think Tottenham are value here, for these reasons.
First, we have seen that Tottenham are more than the sum of their parts. Their results without Harry Kane are generally very nearly as good as their results with him. That is something to reflect on when thinking about Son’s absence. There is also the factor of Tottenham’s home advantage at their new ground, whose eventual opening has sparked an incredible feelgood factor around the club. They successfully saw off Manchester City there, and won their first four games there without conceding, though West Ham did beat them 1-0 this past weekend.
This tie is very different for Ajax from their other two. First, there is much more genuine pressure on them. Second, they are away first. Although this is usually considered an advantage, for Ajax it may work the other way. Against Juventus and Real Madrid, Ajax were up against it after not winning the first leg at home. This meant they could play with total freedom away from home. Here, they have to be cautious and mature. Can this young side handle it? And might these 250/1 antepost shots not be due a bad performance?
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Ajax
Best Bet: Tottenham Hotspur to win at 6/4
Barcelona vs. Liverpool
Wednesday, May 1 (TNT, 3:00 p.m. ET)
Barcelona and Liverpool are the current 6/4 and 5/2 favourites to win the Champions League. Both would be heavy favourites to reach the final, whoever they faced. Tottenham and Ajax are not so weak that this is effectively the final, but the winner will feel they have made an enormous step towards winning their sixth Champions League title.
Barcelona are the narrow favourites for the tie at 4/5 with Liverpool 19/20. The Spanish champions breezed past Liverpool’s great rivals Manchester United to get to the semi-finals, while Liverpool were fortunate to draw Porto, whom they comfortably dispatched.
At those prices, I would favour Liverpool. Compare the two leagues, La Liga and the Premier League. At the moment, the Premier League is probably slightly stronger, though not by very much. The Premier League could easily have had three teams in these Champions League semi-finals had the draw worked out differently. Liverpool have 91 points from 36 games in the Premier League; Barcelona have 83 points from 35 in La Liga.
It works well for them that the second leg is at Anfield. They have the best defence in Europe this season, and would happily take a draw at the Nou Camp. If there is one man who has the best chance of stopping Lionel Messi, it might be Virgil van Dijk. The PFA Player of the Year has not been dribbled past once in the league all year.
As for this match, despite the reputation of both clubs, it might be worth betting on a low scorer. I certainly wouldn’t be taking Barcelona at 10/11 (Liverpool are 16/5 and the draw 14/5). There is a decent chance that both teams’ simple ability to shoot could blow this bet out of the water - Barcelona did not play particularly well at home to Manchester United but scored three long shots - but at 6/5 under 2.5 looks a good value bet.
Semi-final first legs are generally tight games Both sides have had 0-0s in the competition so far this year, Barcelona away to Lyon and Liverpool at home to Bayern Munich - both first legs. Liverpool can afford to approach this cautiously, and both sides’ recent matches have tended to be low-scoring.
Prediction: Barcelona 1-1 Liverpool
Tip: Under 2.5 goals at 6/5