The Champions League last 16 draw has been drawn (and redrawn) and now we know what we have to look forward to in the New Year as Europe’s elite clubs go head to head for glory.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Manchester City have never won the Champions League, or the European Cup for that matter, but they regularly top the betting for this tournament with the best online sportsbooks and that is once again the case. They are only a short distance away from one of the giants of European football, Bayern Munich, who can be backed at +350, while Liverpool and Chelsea also represent England. French giants PSG, who are also yet to lift the trophy, round out the top five in the betting.
Which Team will Win the Champions League?
With most of the favourites going through to the last 16, we can look forward to some fascinating clashes in the New Year, and Manchester City fans will be hoping that this is, finally, their turn.
City were relatively impressive in the Group Stage, and their final defeat came with qualification already secure. They’ve also been handed a straightforward game against Sporting Lisbon. Still, City and their manager Pep Guardiola can often be their own worst enemies in the Champions League as their desperation to win the trophy leads to mistakes and misjudgements.
At bigger odds, Bayern look a stronger bet. They have handled the transition to a new manager with typical ease, and under Julian Nagelsmann they cruised through the Group stage. They’ve also built up a handy six point lead in the Bundesliga and could be further ahead by the time they play their last 16 game against RB Salzburg of Austria. That would enable them to focus more on the Champions League than their English rivals, who are currently locked in a three-way tussle for the Premier League.
That factor also counts against Liverpool, who have been handed a tough draw against Internazionale, and Chelsea, who will be expected to progress against Lille, but who have been showing signs of weakness in recent games. PSG, with Lionel Messi in their ranks, are also prominent in the betting, but they’ve been drawn against Real Madrid, so punters should be wary.
Underdog Picks for the Champions League
There are some interesting potential options a little further down the betting. The fact that Manchester United have a new coach with a high reputation in Ralf Rangnick makes them an interesting possibility, given the depth of talent in their squad, but Rangnick has a lot of work to do and the Premier League is likely to be their priority for the rest of the season.
Real Madrid are in top form domestically but have drawn one of the tournament’s toughest opponents in PSG, so if you’re looking for an underdog, Ajax could be a strong choice.
They may not come from one of the fashionable leagues, but Ajax have impeccable European credentials, having won the European Cup four times, and reached six finals. They reached the semi-finals as recently as 2019, and they strolled through the Group stage, winning all of their games and scoring more goals than anyone else apart from Bayern. They have a potentially tricky game against Benfica, but they look dangerous and could be an interesting outside bet.
Which Nation will Win the Champions League
Between them, the nations of Spain, Germany, England and Italy have produced 25 of the last 26 winners of this competition, with the only exception being the surprise triumph of Porto from Portugal in 2004.
Spain dominated the 2010s, but in the last three editions of the tournament, it has been English clubs that have been on top. England has produced both of the finalists for the 2019 and the 2021 finals, and with three English clubs in the top five of the outright markets, it is no surprise to see England a short price in the Nation betting markets.
Still, all three of the English clubs are embroiled in a tight Premier League battle and a better option here could be Germany given that Bayern will be under less domestic pressure.
Champions League Top Goalscorer Betting
Robert Lewandowski is once again the favourite to finish as the Champions League top scorer. He is on nine goals already and is a short price to win the Golden Boot for the second time in three years.
Yet it could be worth sticking with the current top scorer, Sebastian Haller. He has already found the net 10 times, an impressive record, and has been a major factor in Ajax’s success. The Dutch giants have the credentials to go deep in this competition, and it is far from certain that Lewandowski will be able to overtake Haller, so he looks the better option at this stage.