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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:58 PM

CL Best Bets - Semifinals

Champions League | Future Odds

UEFA Champions League Semifinals - Second Legs

Liverpool vs. Barcelona
Tuesday, May 7 (TNT, 3:00 p.m. ET)

Liverpool’s season has derailed inside a week as Manchester City continued their relentless surge towards the Premier League title after the Reds’ 3-0 defeat at Barcelona. That result means Jurgen Klopp’s side are a whopping 16/1 to qualify for the final - a match they would be heavy favourites to win against either Ajax or Tottenham.

But it was a desperately harsh scoreline. Although Barcelona did deserve to win, Liverpool matched them for most of the game and were undone by bad finishing, a slightly lucky second goal and a piece of magic for the third as Lionel Messi curled in a stunning free-kick.

Liverpool are still without Roberto Firmino, and even worse, Mohamed Salah is missing after getting injured in Liverpool’s 3-2 win away at Newcastle. Beating Barcelona by four goals was a big enough task with them. Without them, it is surely impossible, so Liverpool to qualify is easily passed over.

However Liverpool are nothing if not spirited, and they will start the game as fast as they possibly can in order to get an early goal, without which they really do have no chance. But should Barcelona take the lead, the task will become so monumental for Liverpool that their eyes may drift to their must-win game against Wolves on Sunday.

The game could also be quite similar to Liverpool’s win at Man City in this competition last year. After Liverpool won the first leg 3-0 at home, Man City scored first in the second leg and came close to making the tie exciting. But once Liverpool equalised through Salah just after half-time, City needed four, which they could never get. Liverpool were in the ascendancy and went on to win the game.

Liverpool are 7/5 to win the game with a draw at 14/5 and Barcelona 15/8. At those prices you would rather be with Barcelona, who have so much more firepower than their injury-ravaged opponents. Although they were knocked out after surrendering a three goal lead last year to Roma, do not expect a repeat of that this year. This may be one of Anfield’s less memorable European nights.

Tip: Barcelona to win at 15/8
Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Barcelona

Ajax vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Wednesday, May 8 (TNT, 3:00 p.m. ET)

It seems very strange to say this, because Tottenham are now much less likely to qualify for the Champions League final after a 1-0 home defeat than they were with both matches still to come. But in some ways, Tottenham will feel more comfortable going into this titanic second leg clash at the Johan Cruyff Arena against Ajax knowing exactly what they need to do. It is win or bust.

Ajax fully deserved their win at Tottenham’s sparkling new ground, however. They scored after a quarter of an hour after a slick passing move saw the ball end up at the feet of midfielder Donny van de Beek, who slipped it past Hugo Lloris. For the first half an hour, Ajax mesmerised their opponents.

Mauricio Pochettino played too cautiously, starting with a five-man defence, inviting Ajax onto his side. But an early concussion to Jan Vertonghen may, perversely, have helped Spurs. He was taken off for Moussa Sissoko, whose fitness had been in question before the game. Spurs switched to a 4-3-3 and instantly looked more comfortable. For the last 60 minutes of the match, Tottenham had more of the ball than Ajax and were able to stop Frenkie de Jong from dominating the game, though Ajax still had the best chance of the game when David Neres hit the post.

The huge plus for Spurs is that Son Heung-Min is back. Tottenham desperately lacked runners in the final third. They will pack the midfield with destroyers. Victor Wanyama and Sissoko will aim to physically dominate their more slender opponents.

Tottenham are 5/2 to win the match and 12/5 to qualify (the discrepancy being that 1-0 after 90 minutes takes the game to extra time). If Tottenham score first, the tie is back level. And if Spurs get another, they have the away goals advantage.

Ajax have been better away from home in the Champions League this year. And while we have seen them hold their nerve on the big stage many times over this extraordinary run, might there still be one more chance for them to freeze when it matters most?

Tip: Tottenham Hotspur to qualify at 12/5
Prediction: Ajax 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

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