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UEFA Champions League Futures and Outright Winner Pick

England/Italy(12 wins ea) @ Spain(18 wins)

  • Where: Various. Various
  • When: June 1, 2019 12:00 am EST
  • Moneyline: Man City (+275), Barcelona (+450), Juventus (+600), PSG (+700), Liverpool (+800), Bayern Munich (+1200), Tottenham (+2500), Manchester United (+5000)

If the FIFA World Cup is a symphony, and the English Premier League is rock & roll, then the UEFA Champions League is fine eclectic jazz by Ornette Coleman or Miles Davis. It’s not everyone’s taste, and can feel uncomfortably foreign to the newbie.

But the Champions League is more than an exciting clash of cultures and storied football clubs across Europe. It’s an opportunity for gamblers to sink their teeth into a novel, yet time-honored format, and a futures market that weighs talent against circumstances.

Who are the favorites in the upcoming Round-of-16? Liverpool, currently the hottest club in English football, is only a 10-to-1 wager. But City, a star-studded side well within striking distance in the EPL table, is an odds-on futures pick to win the CL outright. Let’s look at futures lines and prospects for the Sky Blues along with a few other favorites (and a tasty sleeper) seeded in February’s knockout phase.

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Manchester City (+275 Odds to Win 2018-19 Champions League)

Champions League elimination matches are held in the old “2-legged” format in which each club hosts the other once and aggregate goals decide the outcome. But most pundits don’t think there will be an anxious 2nd leg for Manchester City in its Round of 16 match-up with Schalke 04 of Germany’s Bundesliga.

Betting lines are heavily affected by the draw in CL competition. While Germany remains an international soccer power, it is considered fortuitous for the Sky Blues to have drawn a Bundesliga club not named Bayern Munich. The latter has sapped a lot of the competitive juice out of modern Bundesliga play, hoarding so many great players that even well-respected organizations such as Borussia Dortmund have a hard time keeping up.

There are a number of excellent footballers on the Schalke 04 squad. Algerian national midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is a leading scorer in 2018-19, and young Weston McKennie is another mid-field talent who is familiar to American fans. But it is doubtful that the roster can compete with the likes of Sergio Agüero, Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, especially with Kyle Walker and John Stones providing clearance for Ederson in front of the Sky Blues’ net. City is a (-265) moneyline favorite in the 1st leg despite playing away from home.

Barcelona (+450)

Futbol Club Barcelona is captained by Lionel Messi, considered to be one of the greatest attacking players who has ever lived. The scary part is that Messi is arguably rivaled in greatness by others on his squad. Luis Suárez is a striker who led Uruguay to a thrilling run into the quarterfinals at last summer’s World Cup in Russia. Spanish center-back Gerard Piqué help take his countrymen all the way to FIFA gold in 2010.

Then there’s the formidable support troops from Brazil – midfielders Philippe Coutinho, Arthur, and Rafinha, and exemplary young forward Malcom.

Barcelona will play Lyon (+12500) in the Round of 16, and you aren’t “Lyon” if you think the Spanish club is likely to prevail and advance.

Juventus (+600)

Juventus, or “Juve,” is an Italian club that won the Champions League in 2015 and reached the final as recently as 2017. The colorful squad has more nicknames than Apollo Creed, including The Old Lady, The Zebras, Madam, The Girlfriend of Italy and The Black and Whites. But a club by any other name would smell as sweet when you consider the talent at hand. Poland National Team goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny anchors a backline that includes captain Giorgio Chiellini, and none other than Ronaldo himself keys a powerful attack at the front of the formation.

The team of a thousand nicknames is only a pick’em goal spread bet for the 1st leg of the Round of 16 against Atletico Madrid. But a short 6-to-1 futures line for outright winner demonstrates the high regard in which the club is held around the world.

Liverpool (+800)

The Reds’ thrilling exploits in the 2018-19 English Premier League need no recap for loyal Wagerbop readers and soccer fans. Jurgen Klopp’s roster is a well-oiled machine that is currently 6 points clear of Tottenham in the EPL table after 20 matches. Mohamed Salah is a forward/striker who strikes fear in the hearts of all goalkeepers, and the fantastic ability of keeper Allison is matched by elite defenders like Virgil van Dijk and a stellar midfield.

So why the 10-to-1 futures line? Simple – the draw was unkind of Liverpool, handing the Reds a Round of 16 match-up with Bayern Munich (+1400).

Der FCB keeper Manuel Neuer is often as stubborn to solve as any GK on the planet, and forward Robert Lewandowski remains a sensation despite failing to lead Poland out of the group stage in Russia.

Paris Saint-Germain (+700) and Manchester United (+5000)

The French club “PSG” is yet another short-odds favorite from a league that may not be as deep as the EPL but is just as formidable at the top. Neymar is the superstar who drives the attack, scoring 11 goals and 5 assists in just a dozen appearances this season. Kylian Mbappé intimidates all comers at the front of the formation. The team beat Liverpool 2-1 on Matchday 5 of the Champions League group stage and is strongly favored to advance past long-shot Manchester United in 180+ minutes.

But United might just be the sleeper pick that surprises handicappers and winds up costing bookies a bundle. The club is currently in free-for-all scoring mode after sacking controversial manager Jose Mourinho, scoring 12 goals in the 3 most recent Premier League outings against Cardiff City, Huddersfield and Bournemouth. Paul Pogba is playing like a man freed from prison, but Las Vegas is skeptical that the jailbreak will continue.

Consider that clubs like Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham will be slugging it out for the Premier League title in February and March while United is likely to have lost too much ground to make a real run at it. The trio of likely contenders could suffer from the defects of their virtues, fighting on Matchday after Matchday to reach the top of the table. Meanwhile, unless the Red Devils can make a miracle charge from their current 6th place position, a Champions League crown could become the squad’s sharpest focus alongside the FA Cup. The talent is there to upset PSG, and David de Gea just needs a spark to regain his form as one of the world’s top keepers.

Betting futures (or any market) is about weighing odds against real chances. Are you prepared to say that United wouldn’t win the 2018-19 Champions League in 50 tries, having already qualified for the Round of 16? How about in 20 tries?

Ronaldo and Messi are sure to entertain, and City is all but certain to waltz through its opening 2 legs against an overwhelmed Bundesliga side. But a Manchester United squad relieved of Mourinho’s stormy reign could well advance and challenge for the UEFA crown in the clear skies of June.

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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