Barca and Bayern favourites as UCL knockout draw looms
With the Champions League group stage complete, we’re down to the last 32 in the race to be crowned kings of Europe. And few will be surprised to see Barcelona head the outright betting.
The Catalan giants waltzed through Group C – a 3-1 loss to Man City aside – firing in 20 goals and conceding just four to post the best goal difference of the groups.
After winning their home games by a total score of 15-0, Luis Enrique’s men are understandably 11/4 favourites.
Bayern Munich come next at 4/1, although rivals may take heart in seeing the German kings beaten into second in their group by Atletico.
A surprise 3-2 loss to Rostov may also put off those considering Bayern to repeat their 2013 success.
Reigning champions Real Madrid are 5/1, but like Bayern also failed to top their group, with a late Marco Reus goal ensuring Cristiano Ronaldo and co finished second behind Borussia Dortmund.
And it’s BvB who plenty will be fancying, after Thomas Tuchel’s side topped Group F unbeaten, scoring a tournament-high 21 goals in the process.
At 11/1 they could be one of the best bets to be had, especially considering they have little to fear from any of their five potential last-16 opponents as they cannot play Real, Bayern or Bayer Leverkusen.
It’s a similar story for 10/1 hopefuls Atletico, who cannot play Sevilla, Real Madrid or Bayern, to again leave a quintet of very beatable opponents for Diego Simeone’s two-time runners-up.
Man City lead the Premier League charge at 11/1, and despite the experience gained from last season’s semi-final run, Pep Guardiola’s men will need to rapidly improve a defence which kept just two clean sheets and conceded five to Barca and four to Celtic respectively.
Juventus, Dortmund and Atletico will be the three big names City hope to avoid on Monday.
Arsenal fans will be hoping their unexpected group-topping success won’t come back to haunt them, and their improved resilience this season could see plenty backing the Gunners at 20/1.
Should they avoid Bayern or Real in Monday’s draw, Arsene Wenger’s men could be set for a long-run in the tournament.
And as for Leicester – who breezed through their first Champions League group campaign, the bookies offer 50/1 on the Foxes causing yet more football history.
Next week’s draw could be tough for the reigning Premier League champions however, with most potential opponents appearing on paper at least to be simply too strong, aside from Group B runners-up Benfica.
Still, there are worse things in football than going out in a blaze of glory against Real Madrid.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing