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2017 UEFA Champions League Winner Futures Predictions

TBD() @ TBD()

  • Where: Principality Stadium. Cardiff, United Kingdom
  • When: June 3, 2017 12:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Barcelona (+300) Bayern Munich (+400) Real Madrid (+450) & Atletico Madrid (+800)

Groundhog Day is a late-winter tradition in the United States. But for Arsenal football, the Bill Murray film – where the protagonist must live the same experience again and again – is a more accurate reference.

The legendary North London squad has drawn a first-round Champions League pairing with stalwart Bayern Munich yet again. “The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, and death and taxes…and Arsenal drew Bayern in the Round of 16,” wrote Arsenal-friendly webpage The Short Fuse in December.

Bayern Munich is only one of three heavy favourites in the 2016-17 Champions League knock-out stage. Barcelona is the most popular futures pick at (+300) odds, but defending champ Real Madrid remains a threat with neighbouring club Atletico given fourth-best chances at Bovada.

Are Los Blancos a value bet to repeat, or is Barca destined to renew the glory of 2015? Let’s take a look.

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The two-legged format

Bettors new to FC competition should know that the UEFA Champions League knockout round differs from World Cup elimination matches in one crucial respect. UEFA matches are played in two home-and-home 90-minute “legs,” or “ties” spaced three weeks apart, with a winner determined by aggregate goals.

The format is common in Euro club tournaments, but there is debate about the advantage enjoyed by the side hosting the second leg. Traditionally, teams have played a straight-ahead style when visiting in the first leg, hoping for at least a low-scoring draw which can then be turned into a win at home.

Because kick-and-chase can be imprudent as any other tactic, the strategy’s effect on wager values is subtle. A recent survey of 12,000 matches showed that around 53% of teams playing at home in the second leg have prevailed.

However, there are other pitfalls for the betting novice to avoid. When competing over 180 minutes of football, it is harder for talented teams to lose. Since 2013 the final round has been contested by somewhat predictable pairings, following an unlikely trophy for Chelsea in 2012.

The favourites – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich

2017 Barcelona Champions League FuturesBarcelona enjoys top odds, but may not be headed into Champions League play in the best of form. Sunday’s 1-1 result with Real Betis was marred by an unfortunate non-goal in which the ball clearly crossed the line, but no replay-overturn process could save the day. The result helped put Real Madrid four points ahead in the La Liga standings, and ESPN analyst Steve Nicol complained that although Lionel Messi played for 80+ minutes, casual fans wouldn’t have known he was on the field for much of the match.

Still, Messi has a way of bringing his greatness to bear in crucial circumstances. Furthermore, Barca has a relatively easy opening-round draw against PSG (+3300).

If Real Madrid is on pace to win the Spanish league, why are the defending champions only given third-best odds to win in 2017? 31 year-old Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 13 goals, and keeper Keylor Navas has allowed less than one tally per match. Perhaps it is because of the side’s recent unceremonious exit from Copa del Rey, losing to Celta Vigo 4-3 despite home-pitch advantage in the second leg.

Finally, Bayern Munich looked shaky in last weekend’s 2-1 result at Werder Bremen. But talented Robert Lewendowski has scored 14 goals, and the side has won seven straight in Bundesliga. Another “Groundhog Day” win over Arsenal would place them in the Quarterfinals with a solid opportunity to go the distance.

Long-shot wagers – Arsenal a big payoff?

Arsenal remains a fan favourite, and in addition to generous-payout odds at (+2200) the squad has chances to finally bite the butcher in the Round of 16. Gooners are taking heart in Thiago Alcantara’s injury woes, which may continue to sideline the star Bayern midfielder as the opening leg approaches. Plus, as group winners, Arsenal will have the advantage of home pitch in the all-important second tie.

But for a squad capable of making a pukka upset run at a title, look at Juventus FC. The Italian side was Champions League runner-up in 2015, offers fine strikers like Gonzalo Higuain, and employs a devilish four-two-three-one formation that confuses many an opposing defence early in games.

Juventus VP Pavel Nedved was quoted “we must not underestimate anyone” when asked about the squad’s opening-round pairing with FC Porto (+10000). Translated from management-speak, that means Nedved believes Vecchia Signora must only execute smoothly to advance to a Quarterfinal pairing.

Real value in Los Blancos

Bet on Real Madrid (+450) or Juventus (+1200) to win the 2017 Champions League at Bovada.

Serena Williams was questioned by many touts (including MSB) after losing a match in New Zealand to begin 2017, but won yet another Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. A similar “shock” effect could be driving Real Madrid’s modest odds at (+450), despite Ronaldo’s brilliance and the side’s league-leading pace over current Champions League favourite Barcelona.

The Copa del Rey loss was disappointing and gave book-makers pause, but is more akin to an Olympic champion winning bronze in a warm-up tournament than indicative of serious flaws. The odds make the Madrid Football Club a value bet to win the 2016-17 Champions League.

For the best long-shot wager, skip a sentimental Arsenal pick and venture a unit or two on Juventus FC, who are sure to advance out of the Round of 16 after a beneficial draw.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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