While the world’s soccer community will soon have its eyes on Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, this is a good team to peek ahead. The UEFA Champion League’s first knockout stage round has all of its matchups set. Now is a good time to try and get some advance odds before the games are played in February.
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Based on the current draw, Manchester City is the current UCL favorite at +175. The Citzyens have never won the UCL, which is one of the only things their manager Pep Guidola hasn’t done with the club. But betting on Manchester City doesn’t provide any real value. Here’s some other teams worth taking a look at.
The Italian side stunned many observers by winning Group A with a ferocious attack that allowed them to win the group based on a goal differential tiebreaker with Liverpool. Napoli scored 20 goals in its first 20 UCL Matches. In the round of 16, Napoli will have to find a way past German side Eintracht Frankfurt.
Frankfurt finished second in Group D, finishing only one point behind Tottenham for top of the table. What makes the Blues so dangerous is how they connect passes in the final third. During group play, Napoli scored 19 of its 20 goals from inside the area.
Giovanni Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori are tied for a team-high with four goals apiece in UCL Play.
Bayern Munich +700
Losing Robert Lewandowski turned out to not be such a tough pill for the German superpower to handle. Bayern Munich has continued to pile up wins in Bundesliga and in the UCL. The Bavarians dominated Group 6, pocketing 18 goals and winning all six of their matches.
What that success set up for Bayern is a superstar first-round match with Paris St. Germain. Kylian Mbappe leads all players in UCL with seven goals for PSG. Leroy Sane has keyed Bayern’s attack, putting up four goals. This is a tough first-round matchup for the Bavarians.
However, Bayern has shown a knack for scoring and are a potential candidate to heat up as the knockout stages progress.
After the Reds opening the English Premiere League season by struggling to score, the pessimism surrounding the club started to crop up. However, Liverpool has been playing better as of late. Losing out on winning the group to Napoli ended up having a big negative impact on Liverpool’s outlook.
In the knockout round, the Reds will have to open up against defending UCL champions Real Madrid. Liverpool played Real in the finals last season, dropping a heartbreaking 1-0 decision.
Real Madrid +1400
Karim Benzema scored the game-winner in last year’s final against Liverpool, but hasn’t had the same run in the UCL this season. In four matches during the group stage, Benzema was kept off the scoresheet. Advancing to the knockout round wasn’t a cake walk for Real.
The Whites had to hold off a stiff challenge from RB Leipzig, which competes in the German Bundesliga. Vinicius Junior has helped to key Real’s attack by scoring a team-high four goals. The Whites, as previously mentioned, should face a stern test from Liverpool.
If Real can survive, they may be worth a look to repeat as champions.
How the World Cup impacts things
This is a unique spot for the Champion’s League, which will now have to hold its breath as its top players compete in the World Cup for their respective nations. The event was moved from its traditional summer spot to help accommodate host nation Qatar’s bid. The climate in Qatar makes it too hot to play in the summer.
While the World Cup likely won’t have a huge impact on the UCL, any potential injury to a star player could swing the balance of power. Keep an eye on the World Cup to see how the futures market moves.