In recent years, the UEFA Champions League has become the domain of the rich and famous: the richest European teams and the biggest stars are regularly in the finals. It’s good and bad for soccer bettors.
Barring a once-in-a-lifetime race by an outsider, only a small group of teams can realistically win or qualify for the final. But there is just enough of it to make futures betting worthwhile.
Likewise, the dominance of these top teams means that the group stage is less convincing from a future perspective. The fun is made up of match-specific group stage bets, as surprise results are always common, despite the predictability of the final standings.
MORE: Schedule of upcoming UEFA Champions League matches and TV
SN is making picks and predictions on all fronts, including for the top scorer, as the 2021-22 season kicks off:
Champions League winning team
By now, you’re probably familiar with the buzz surrounding popular picks to win it all. But how do you pick a potential winner in September when the path to the final depends on favorable draws in the round of 16? The approach is simple: avoid the hype and choose a probable group winner (group winners are drawn against runners-up from other groups in the draw).
We know that Paris Saint Germain (+360) and Manchester City (+380) spent hundreds of millions to win this trophy, but that also comes with proportional pressure that can drag a team down. Plus, they’re going to fight in the same group, and one of them will likely finish second. If a team somehow loses both group matches, their Champions League adventure could be over before they have a chance to start.
MORE: All 32 UEFA Champions League teams
Chelsea (+800) has the fourth shortest odds despite being stronger than he was when he won the Champions League last season. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has taken two different teams to the final over the past two seasons and he’s getting the benefit of the doubt with one of the best lineups in the world. Also, the Blues should comfortably finish at the top of Group H.
Manchester United (+1400) is another compelling choice. The additions of Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo will make Man U a team no one will want to face in the round of 16. He is expected to finish top of Group F and his odds should gradually decrease as the tournament progresses. Don’t get carried away Real Madrid (+1600): Under Carlo Ancelotti, he will be a contender for the round of 16, but Karim Benzema cannot always hide the lack of elite defensive quality.
Odds courtesy of FanDuel
Champions League absolute winner odds
|Paris Saint Germain||+360|
Teams to reach the Champions League final
Based on team budgets and the quality of depth, two keys to surviving the Champions League gauntlet through May 2022, it’s hard to see anyone outside of the popular seven to eight teams reach the top. final.
Eleven clubs have participated in the last 10 finals (20 finalist places in total). Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Juventus are the only ones to repeat the last trips during this period. Apart from Juventus, which are in the process of resetting after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, the others are all candidates to return to the final this season.
Moreover, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City appear well-equipped to play another final after a first appearance in the league game in 2020 and 2021, respectively. But they could just as easily get tripped up in the round of 16: PSG are a work in progress with a key star playing the final year of his contract (Kylian Mbappe), and Manchester City will continue to have question marks at the attacker after failing to land a top center forward.
The best bets to reach the final are Chelsea (+350) and Bayern Munich (+350) based on talent, consistency and background. Corn Manchester United (+500) offers better odds and his team is incredibly deep. If you are already betting on Chelsea or Bayern Munich to win it all, then bringing Manchester United here would be the most adventurous game.
Among the long shots to reach the final, Inter Milan (+ 2500) and one of Atlético Madrid (+1100) Where AC Milan (+3500) could be worth a leaflet according to which of the latter two has the better start in Group B (along with Liverpool and Porto). Inter won’t be a popular choice after losing their coach, top scorer and world-class this summer, but they have the quality to potentially win over skeptics in the coming months. His group head-to-head against Real Madrid will be a measure.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Champions League finalists odds
|Paris Saint Germain||+160|
Champions League group winners
Groups usually go according to script, but a few this year are legitimately up for grabs: Groups B and G. Here are two potential plays (courtesy of FanDuel):
Group B: Atlético Madrid (+200)
Liverpool are Group B favorites at -115, but against legendary clubs like Porto, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid even Liverpool will drop points along the way. And Atletico Madrid will be a tough game: Diego Simeone’s side are as fierce as Jurgen Klopp’s side at Liverpool. The England side are having a good start to the domestic season, but so are Atletico Madrid and they are expected to improve further as newcomers Matheus Cunha, Antoine Griezmann and Rodrigo De Paul (below) move into the team.
Group G: Seville (+130)
Another La Liga team to watch. Sevilla made smarter acquisitions for a side that were already talented enough to finish fourth in La Liga last season. Sevilla will face group opponents who, on paper, are inferior (Lille and RB Salzburg) or tied (Wolfsburg). Unless the favorite tag hangs over Sevilla during the group stage, it’s a pragmatic side that should find a way to get enough results to get the job done.
Survivors of the Champions League group
More interesting than chasing potential group winners is finding a potential surprise team to progress. There are usually a maximum of two or three in each Champions League group stage. Last year two German teams finished ahead of the favorites: RB Leipzig beat Manchester United for second in a group and Borussia Moenchengladbach won against Inter Milan.
Here are the most attractive odds for teams to qualify for direct eliminations in 2021-22 (odds courtesy of FanDuel):
Group E: Benfica (+200)
Bayern are the favorites to win the group (-700) and Barcelona (-390) are the other team that should improve. But given the current state of the decimated Blaugrana, a talented and underrated Benfica side should be more than competitive in these one-on-one clashes. Then, the second place will go to which of the two can get the maximum points against the fourth team of the group, Dynamo Kiev (+750).
Group G: RB Salzburg (+150)
The Austrian team may have lost their top two players this summer (Patson Daka, Enock Mwepu), but they have more talent coming to replace them (Karim Adeyemi, Benjamin Sesko and American Brenden Aaronson, above ). The Champions League qualifiers were proof of that. With Sevilla (-250) favorite to win Group G, second place should be a headache between Salzburg, German team VfL Wolfsburg (-135) and Lille (+100). The chaotic pressure and all-out attacking approach of Salzburg could give them the advantage against more conventional and predictable sides like Wolfsburg and Lille.
Champions League top scorer
The list is the 10 players you expect to be the favorites to top the leaderboards next May. But the final ranking of goals will be determined by more than the power of the stars. Group stage matches play a huge role, as does the team’s chances of going deep and the player’s position in the team. Does he take the penalties? Will he play all the games? Is he the focal point of the attack? Does he have a goal competition within his own team?
Erling Haaland won the award last year despite a quarter-final elimination for his side Borussia Dortmund. It helped him score six of his 10 total group stage goals against Lazio, Club Brugge and Zenit St. Petersburg, who aren’t exactly European powers. Compare that to the production of his main challenger, Kylian Mbappe, who scored two meager goals (out of eight in total) in the group stage and couldn’t make a difference in the knockouts.
With that and the draw for the group stage, Haaland (+500) is the safest bet to go wild on Ajax, Besiktas and Sporting CP, which offer a level of competition similar to last year’s opponents. It’s tempting to put money on Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo (against Villarreal, Atalanta and BSC Young Boys), but it remains to be seen how many of the six group games the 36-year-old will play as the club manages his minutes.
Next most interesting pieces after Haaland are Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku (+750) and Real Madrid Karim Benzema (+1200), who plays for teams that have weaker group opponents and are expected to advance to the round of 16. The long shot is that of Inter Milan Lautaro Martinez (+ 6500), who will feast on FC Sheriff, Shakhtar Donetsk and a Real Madrid side that have defensive problems.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Champions League top scorer odds
|Erling Haaland||Borussia Dortmund||+500|
|Robert lewandowski||Bayern Munich||+600|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||+750|
|Karim Benzema||real Madrid||+1200|
|Memphis depay||FC Barcelona||+2200|