2018 Champions League: Picks & Predictions for Final 8

  • The 2017-18 Champions League quarter-final draw has been announced!
  • It started so well for the Premier League clubs, but only two remain in the Champions League.
  • Liverpool faces Man City, while Real Madrid and Juventus settle old scores.

Wait, wasn’t this meant to be a breakout season for English football?

With a record five English teams in the final 16 of the Champions League, it certainly seemed that way. After the first leg of the Round of 16, things were looking pretty good for the Premier League clubs. Spurs held Juventus to a draw, Chelsea did the same against Barcelona, and Man United had a goalless night in Seville. Man City trounced FC Basel 4-0 and Liverpool demolished Porto 5-0. So far, so good.

But it all went wrong in the second leg. Spurs broke under the pressure, losing 2-1 to Juve at Wembley. The same goes for Man United, who lost 2-1 to Sevilla at Old Trafford. And Chelsea sank 3-0 to Barcelona. That leaves only Man City and Liverpool fighting for Queen and Country, and even they under-performed. City lost 2-1 at home, but advanced on aggregate. Liverpool drew 0-0 against Porto, and also advanced on aggregate.

Now, the quarter-final draw pitches the Citizens against the Reds, leaving the Premier League with an even slimmer chance of taking home the trophy.

2018 Quarter-Final Draw

  • Juventus vs Real Madrid (April 3rd & 11th)
  • Sevilla vs Bayern Munich (April 3rd & 11th)
  • Barcelona vs Roma (April 4th & 10th)
  • Liverpool vs Manchester City (April 4th & 10th)

This changes everything. Let’s get to the odds and find the best value bets among the remaining octet. 

Messi and Pique celebrate.
Messi (L), Pique (R), and their Barcelona teammates are the outright favorites to win the Champions League entering the quarterfinals.(Photo credit: Shai Pal (Wikimedia) CC License.)

Barcelona: 5/2

Drawing a relatively easy quarter-final opponent in Roma has made Barcelona the clear favorites to win the Champions League. On top of their easy path to the final four, Barcelona have been tearing through La Liga with ease. They’ve yet to lose a single league match and are eight points clear of second.

Ousmane Dembele, Barca’s €105 million forward, has been sidelined with injury after injury since signing in August of last year. Now he’s finally ready to make his mark on the club. It’s scary to think that Barca have done this well so far without even playing their best eleven. Add Philippe Coutinho into the mix and you’ve got a squad worthy of the treble.

Manchester City: 3/1

Expectations are high for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and so far they’ve mostly met those lofty standards. They’re 16 points clear of the Premier League and on the cusp of guaranteeing themselves the title, but the Champions League is their true proving ground. Experience tends to matter for a lot when it comes to UEFA competitions and Man City do not have a great Champions League record, but this is the year to change all that.

In order to advance to the semi-final, they’ll have to overcome a domestic brethren. Liverpool handed City their first and only league loss of the season, ending all hope of an “Invincibles” run, and they’re capable of flicking the switch on their Champions League campaign as well.

Bayern Munich: 4/1

Bayern Munich advance to the quarter-finals for the seventh straight year. If Bayern are anything, it’s consistent. They’re always among the favorites to win the Champions League, and this season is no different. They should advance past Sevilla without much trouble, judging from the way they’ve been playing recently.

The German super-club are on their regular roll. They’re a whopping 20 points clear in the Bundesliga and just one win away from securing their sixth consecutive domestic title. They had an easy time reaching the Champions League quarter-final as well, beating Besiktas 8-1 on aggregate.

Real Madrid: 9/2

We’ve seen two very different Real Madrids this season. There’s La Liga Real, who are third in the league and recently choked against Espanyol. And then there’s UEFA Real, who steamrolled through Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16 and made the wealthy French club look like a beer league side.

There’s something about the Champions League that elevates Los Blancos, and no one embodies that shift like Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar has had some inconsistent and lackluster moments this season, but he’s netted a goal in his last nine Champions League appearances.

Their quarter-final will be against Juventus, a replay of last year’s final. That makes for two extremely difficult opponents in two knockout stages.

Juventus: 10/1

Juve have clawed their way back to the top of Serie A, and so the natural order of Italian football has been restored. Now they have the chance to avenge their 4-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last year. Once again, they’re the underdog. Juventus have a great squad, but they sit just below the very best of Europe in terms of talent.

They struggled against Spurs in both legs of the Round of 16, conceding first in both fixtures before rallying to close the deficit. Unlike Tottenham, Real Madrid will not capitulate under the pressure of the Champions League, so Juve definitely can’t afford as many mishaps.

Liverpool: 12/1

Drawing Manchester City for the quarter-final isn’t such a bad outcome for Liverpool. The Reds already know they are capable of beating Guardiola’s Man City because they did just that back in January. Their exhilarating 4-3 win at Anfield still definitely looms large in the collective memory of both clubs.

Liverpool have lost to Man City at Anfield just once in the last 37 years, so while they’re the underdog, they still have a fighting chance. Their high pressure, high intensity style of play is exactly what’s needed to break down Guardiola Ball.

Sevilla: 66/1

Sevilla advanced past to the knockout rounds of the Champions League after just winning two of their six group games. The fact that they are now through to the quarter-final is baffling. They’re fifth in La Liga, with a negative goal differential and a horrendous defensive record.

This should be as far as they go in the Champions League. Bayern Munich will put the leaky Sevilla defense to the test, and it probably won’t hold up well.

Roma: 66/1

Of the eight clubs remaining in the Champions League, the Giallorossi are the only side without a European trophy in their cabinet. Now that they’ve drawn Barcelona for the quarter-final, it seems the drought will last at least another season.

They eked past the lowly Shakhtar Donetsk in the Round of 16, drawing 2-2 on aggregate and advancing on goal difference. If they put on a similar display against Barca, it’ll be a dark and gruesome affair.

Best Bets: Real Madrid (9/2) and Liverpool (12/1)

At these odds, two clubs stand out to me. The first is Real Madrid (9/2 odds), the defending champs. Their poor showing in La Liga this season is probably the reason why their odds are long compared to favorites like Barca, Man City, and Bayern. But Zidane’s Real Madrid have won three of the last four Champions Leagues, so they at least deserve to be on par with the other European mega-clubs.

The second pick is Liverpool (12/1). At their best, the Reds can beat any team in Europe. They boast one of the most effective attacks in Europe, and have mostly taken care of the defensive woes that plagued them early in the season. At 12/1 odds, there’s the potential for a pretty handsome payout.