After the Champions League field was whittled from 16 to eight as the Round of 16 wrapped up over the last two weeks, UEFA revealed who will face who in the quarterfinals on Friday morning.
The massive clash between Manchester City and Bayern Munich stands out as the clear marquee match-up, and one of the most intriguing Champions League quarterfinal pairings in recent memory.
The biggest takeaway following Friday’s draw is that one of oddsmakers’ top-two favorites is going home before the semifinals. On DraftKings, City were +175, Bayern were +275, and no one else had odds shorter than +550 prior to the draw.
In Gaming Today’s breakdown of Champions League futures odds of the quarterfinals, most of our attention is on City-Bayern, but the other three match-ups are also tantalizing:
Real Madrid vs. Chelsea
Benfica vs. Inter
Man City vs. Bayern
AC Milan vs. Napoli
The Champions League quarterfinal draw 😤 #UCLdraw pic.twitter.com/C6XTsTuMGb
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 17, 2023
The first legs of all four Champions League quarterfinal matches are scheduled for April 11 at 4 p.m. ET, with the second legs taking place a week later on April 18.
In addition to drawing the quarterfinal match-ups, UEFA revealed that the semifinals will pit the winners of Bayern-City and Real Madrid-Chelsea in one pairing. The other semifinal will feature the winners of Benfica-Inter Milan and AC Milan-Napoli.
Futures prices have moved significantly now that those match-ups have been confirmed. As of Thursday morning, DraftKings listed Real Madrid as the third-favorite at +550, followed by Napoli (+650), Chelsea (+1100), Inter Milan (+2200), Benfica (+2500), and AC Milan (+3500).
Champions League Futures Odds
Below are the current prices at some of the best sportsbooks:
Champions League Futures Analysis
Manchester City Remain Clear Favorites
It’s not hard to understand why Pep Guardiola’s side have the shortest odds. No team in the field is deeper, and no one else has Erling Haaland or Kevin de Bruyne. City’s performance this week against RB Leipzig in Leg 2 of the Round of 16 — a 7-0 rout in which Haaland scored five goals, including three before halftime — showcased the firepower that sets them apart from the competition.
But there are now at least two good reasons to consider backing teams besides the clear favorites.
The first one is City’s well-known struggles in this competition. This wouldn’t be the first season they lost to a team with far less talent. Just pick a year: they were eliminated in the quarterfinals in both ’19 and ’20, by Tottenham and Lyon, respectively. They also lost as favorites to Chelsea in the ’21 final and to Real Madrid in the semis a year ago.
But perhaps a better reason to doubt them is who they face next: Bayern Munich. The Germans just handled one team full of stars in the Round of 16, beating PSG 3-0 on aggregate. And they’re that much more dangerous if they have Sadio Mane healthy.
The ex-Liverpool star started last week against Augsburg, and if he’s fit, a Bayern side that have won their eight Champions League games this season by a combined score of 21-2 get that much more dangerous.
The Case for Bayern Munich
With an attack featuring Mane, Leroy Sane, Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman, and Jamal Musiala, there’s good reason fans think of containing Bayern as the biggest challenge when facing the Bundesliga juggernaut. But this year, they’ve somehow been even more impressive defensively in Champions League play.
Even without Manuel Neuer since December, Yann Sommer and the back line have been outstanding. Shutting out PSG over two legs speaks for itself, but this team also allowed just two meaningless goals in group play (both were conceded late in a blowout win over Viktoria Plzen in October). Though Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, and Neymar just provided a big challenge, Bayern will face an even more potent attack against Haaland & Co. in the quarters. If there’s one team in Europe this season that can contain City, though, it appears to be Bayern. Neither April 11 (Leg 1 of the quarterfinal match-up) nor April 18 (Leg 2) can get here soon enough.
Bayern will be the clear favorite to win the Champions League if they can get by City in the quarters, so their +360 odds on FanDuel are worth a look for anyone who expects them to upset the Premier League club.
Champions League Dark Horses: Real Madrid, Napoli
First of all, yes, it’s a little ridiculous to list Real Madrid as a dark horse given their history — Los Blancos are the reigning champs and have a record 14 titles. But they’re a clear long shot in this competition, at least compared to City and Bayern.
Real Madrid Always a Champions League Contender
Given all the teams they could have drawn, Real Madrid are one of the winners of the draw. Their quarterfinal opponents, Chelsea, have plenty of talent, but they’ve been a mess in the Premier League for most of the season — though they have won their last three matches, including Leg 2 of the UCL Round of 16 against Borussia Dortmund.
Still, no one is questioning why Real Madrid are the clear favorites at home in Leg 1 of the quarterfinals (they’re -115, while Chelsea are +310).
Real Madrid at +700 on BetRivers offers great value.
Can Napoli Give Serie A its first Champions League Trophy Since 2010?
Napoli quietly dominated Champions League group play, as the likes of Bayern once again flexed their muscles. The Serie A side followed that up with a dominant showing against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Round of 16. After blowing out the Bundesliga side 5-0 on aggregate, Napoli has drawn domestic rival AC Milan in the quarterfinals.
Given these teams’ performances against common opponents in Serie A this season (Napoli are leading the league with 68 points through 26 matches, while AC Milan are in fourth on 48 points), Napoli are clear favorites to reach the semis, where they would face the winner of Inter Milan and Benfica.
Given their path and how consistently impressive they’ve been this season — in both the Champions League and Serie A — it makes sense that both FanDuel (Napoli +340, Bayern +360) and Caesars (Napoli +320, Bayern +350) are giving Napoli better odds than Bayern, while BetRivers lists both teams at +350.
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