Benfica (+1400) at Bayern Munich (-500), Draw (+550)
Bayern Munich’s Champions League matchup with Benfica looks like the most David-vs-Goliath of the four quarterfinals. Benfica have played over their heads – and gotten a favorable draw – up to this point. Now they’ll face one of the top-three squads in all of Europe with a spot in the semifinals on the line. The first leg of the home-and-home series will go today at Allianz Arena in Munich (2:45 PM Eastern).
Benfica advanced to the knockout stage by finishing second in Group C with ten points, three behind Atletico Madrid. They drew Zenit – arguably the weakest group winner – in the Round of 16 and advanced 3-1 on aggregate.
That continued a dream season for the Portuguese side, which also has a five-point lead over Sporting Lisbon for first in the Primeira Liga.
However, Benfica have yet to face a team the caliber of Bayern this season. Their group stage matchups with Atletico are the closest they’ve come. (They managed a 2-1 win at home, and fell 2-1 away.) But the Bavarians represent a much different challenge than the defense-first squad from the Spanish capital.
Bayern have an explosive offense that’s averaged a ridiculous 4.5 goals per game in their four home games this season in the Champions League, and they’ve won 18 of their 19 home games this year (all competitions).
Like Benfica, the Germans are dominating their domestic league, holding a five-point lead over Dortmund in the Bundesliga. They also ousted the Italian champs from Juventus in the Round of 16. Juve actually had a two-goal lead with 17 minutes remaining in the second leg, only to see the German side find another gear and pot the next four.
There isn’t a lot of value on Bayern unless you’re taking them to win by multiple goals. Given how easily they shredded a very good Juventus defense last time out, I’ll take Munich to win by three.
Pick: Bayern Munich by three goals.
(Photo Credit: JasonParis (Flickr: Allianz Arena) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)