It’s time for semi-final action in the Champions League after the last few weeks produced memorable matches rarely anyone could have predicted. Paris Saint Germain are once again out early, with German juggernauts Bayern Munich outclassed by Liverpool. Don’t let us get started on Ronaldo’s brilliant hat-trick that ousted Atletico Madrid or Ajax’s masterclass at the Bernabeu.
Here are a few things we learned from the CL Round 16:
Barcelona and City Still the Teams to Beat
Both Barcelona and City destroyed their opponents at home after lackluster performances in the first legs. City torpedoed Schalke with 7-0, while Barca, carried by Lionel Messi (who else?!), defeated Lyon with 5-1.
Both matches showed that Barca and City remain heavy favorites for the trophy. We just hope they meet in the final.
Ajax and Liverpool Are Not Kidding
Who could have guessed that Ajax would not only progress to the quarter-finals but would do so by destroying Real Madrid at the Bernabeu? The Tadic-inspired Dutch champion played a brilliant game from start to finish, defeating Real by a whopping 4-1. Frenkie De Jong was one of the better performers on the night. If he continues playing like this next year at Barcelona, Real better watch its back.
Liverpool showed that last year’s final appearance wasn’t by chance. The English team beat Bayern Munich away after drawing 0-0 in the first match at home. Klopp’s side showed that underestimating them would be a costly mistake, as Bayern learned the hard way. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain return from injury imminent, the squad will get a nice boost for the CL matches ahead.
Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent
Once again, PSG are out of the Champions League when they had destiny in their own hands. Although Neymar was injured, PSG had a 2-0 lead from the first match and were widely expected to beat Manchester United again. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had other ideas, though. Marcus Rashford scored a penalty kick in the game’s dying moments to oust the French champ.
As they say, form is temporary, class is permanent.
Simeone the Loser This Time
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone may have avoided a ban from UEFA for his inappropriate behaviour during the first match against Juventus, but he didn’t avoid Ronaldo’s wrath. The Portuguese legend bagged 3 goals to take his new club to the quarter-finals and reminded everyone why he was brought to Turin.
Tottenham Is the Real Deal
The tie between Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund was expected to be very close until Mauricio Pochettino’s side ran away with the spoils. The London outfit won both matches without conceding, showing that, like Liverpool, underestimating them would be a mistake.
Who’s the Favourite for the CL?
Nothing has changed in the favourite department when it comes to the Champions League. Manchester City is still the favourite to land their first-ever CL title with odds of 9/4 (2/1 at some bookies). Juventus is second with odds in the area of 3/1, while Barca is breathing down the neck of the Italian champion, available at 7/2. You can check the latest free bet offers here and use one to predict the outright winner. If you ask us, Barcelona has the quality to win the Champions League, and those 7/2 odds look great.
On the bottom end of the list, Ajax and Porto have the tiniest of chances of winning the CL with odds of 50/1 and 80/1 respectively. However, let’s not forget that the young Dutch team destroyed Real Madrid, and Porto defeated a former Italian champion in Roma.
Besides these markets, you can also predict the finalists – for example, the odds for Barcelona and Manchester City to meet in the final are 3/1. No one expects a final between Ajax and Porto, so that option is last on the list with odds of 250/1.
Interesting markets such as number of English teams to reach the final hide great odds. If you believe two English teams will play each other in this year’s CL final, the odds are a solid 6/4.
Some rare markets such as Nationality of the Winner have great odds as well. A Spanish team to win the competition is 10/3 just like Italy, while England is leading the list with odds of 4/6.