Champions League Update
It’s the biggest prize in European club football, and 16 teams are still dreaming of Champions League glory. Four are Premier League sides, including last season’s runners-up Liverpool.
The Champions League knockout stages begin on Tuesday 12th February 2019, all aiming to reach the final at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
So far this year, we’ve already seen new rules (a fourth sub allowed in extra time), and surprise hopefuls, with Ajax reaching this stage for the first time since 2006.
Ahead of the eight ties, we’re taking a close look in our update – and delivering the latest Champions League winner odds…
Champions League Knockout Stage
Half of the 32 sides involved in the Group Stage have reached the knockouts, with the top-placed side in Groups A-H facing a side who finished in second place.
Nobody could match the total of FC Porto across the six group games, with the 2004 Champions League winners chalking up five wins and a draw to notch 16 points.
The round of 16 ties – all two-legged affairs – include eight different clubs who’ve won the Champions League, including holders Real Madrid. Los Blancos are eyeing up a fourth CL title on the trot.
Most of this year’s contenders have plenty of European experience. All have reached the last 16 at one time or another. However, there are new match-ups in the Champions League knockout stage.
Manchester United meet Paris Saint-Germain for the first time ever, while Liverpool faces Bayern Munich for the first time since August 2001.
Man United v PSG (First Leg: 12th February / Second Leg: 6th March)
It’s been all change at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived. The ‘Baby-faced Assassin’ has totally transformed the Red Devils, winning his first eight games in charge.
Three-time winners of Europe’s biggest prize, they face a PSG side who are unstoppable in France but have fallen just short on the continent.
Both sides are impressing domestically, and there’ll be a ton of attacking talent on show when they meet. United have lightning-quick local lad Marcus Rashford and the French flair of Antony Martial.
As for PSG, we reckon Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani aren’t bad options, but they will surely miss their talisman, Neymar, who will miss both ties due to injury!
Liverpool v Bayern Munich (First Leg: 19th February / Second Leg: 13th March)
No English side can compare to Liverpool’s five European Cups – a feat they’re rightly proud of on Merseyside.
They only just made the last 16 on this occasion, with a 1-0 win over Napoli on Matchday Six confirming it. But they boast one of Europe’s most feared strikers in Mohamed Salah.
Bayern have a pretty sensational midfield, including Franck Ribery, Thiago Alcantara and Colombian ace James Rodriguez, so expect plenty of thrilling football at Anfield and the Allianz.
The pair’s last meeting came 18 years ago in the UEFA Super Cup, with Reds legend John Arne Riise making his club debut in a 3-2 win.
Schalke 04 v Manchester City (First Leg: 20th February / Second Leg: 12th March)
If Schalke’s defenders have been watching City lately, chances are they’ve had some sleepless nights.
January alone has seen Pep Guardiola’s men beat Burton Albion (9-0), Burnley (5-0) and Rotherham United (7-0).
This is a tougher test for the Sky Blues, but Schalke could still be put to the sword by South American stars like Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.
It’s the best of times for City, but the wurst of times for the German side. They’re currently 12th in the Bundesliga.
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund (First Leg: 13th February / Second Leg: 5th March)
These teams have drawn each other three seasons in a row. BVB knocked Spurs out of the Europa League before Harry Kane magic secured two wins in last term’s CL group stage.
Whether King Kane is back to silence the Yellow Wall remains to be seen. Spurs’ star man is fighting to recover from injury. His rehab could be the difference between delight and despair.
As for Dortmund, they’re top of the pack…thanks to Paco Alcacer. The former Barcelona man has fired them to the Bundesliga summit with 12 goals in 13 games. BVB also boast England international Jadon Sancho in their ranks.
Atletico Madrid v Juventus (First Leg: 20th February / Second Leg: 12th March)
Juve have been the near men of this competition for more than 20 years. They’ve lost five CL finals since 1997, most recently in 2017. We make it 13/2 they end their long wait for the trophy this season.
However, they have a proven CL giant in their ranks in the shape of CR7. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in three different Champions League Finals. He’s on 17 goals already this season, though just one has come in this competition.
It’s all about that tight defence for Diego Simeone’s Atleti side. With the likes of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez at the back, they’ve shipped a Scrooge-like 13 goals in 21 La Liga games.
We make them 13/8 to win the first leg in Turin.
Ajax v Real Madrid (First Leg: 13th February / Second Leg: 5th March)
Goals, goals, goals. They’re virtually guaranteed where Ajax are involved.
Since mid-December, they’ve been involved in a 4-4 draw, a 6-2 loss (at Feyenoord) and an 8-0 win (over De Graafschap).
They’ve got a nice mix of young prodigies like Frenkie de Jong and Kasper Dolberg, alongside experienced stars like Dusan Tadic and former Real man Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Real have dominated Europe in recent years. But this season has seen Los Blancos firing blanks. They’ve failed to score eight times already in 2018-19.
AS Roma v Porto (First Leg: 12th February / Second Leg: 6th March)
As the surprise winners of this tournament in 1987 and 2004, a third CL title in June 2019 would be an astonishing feat for FC Porto – who are currently a whopping 125/1 to do the business.
However, 16 points in the Group Stages show they’re no slouches, especially when they have European heavyweights like Iker Casillas and Maxi Pereira in their ranks.
Roma are having a rollercoaster campaign. They went five games without a win just before Christmas, then won four on the spin. Stephan El Shaarawy is their star man, but it’s anyone’s guess which Lupi side will turn up for these clashes.
Lyon v Barcelona (First Leg: 19th February / Second Leg: 13th March)
Barca have won this tournament four times since 2006, but they have failed to reach any of the last three finals.
But with the likes of Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and a fella by the name of Lionel Messi in their ranks, this should be winnable for them.
Lyon are third in Ligue 1 and have a few cracking players in Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele. What they don’t have? A decent defence. They made it through the group despite conceding 11 times.
Champions League Favourites
Many people’s fancy this year are Man City. The Premier League’s first ever ‘Centurions’ (reaching 100 points) last season, they’ve been superb under Pep Guardiola. But they’re yet to reach the CL final.
Juventus have won this competition, but not since May 1996 – when Gianluca Vialli was still captain. However, with five-time CL winner Ronaldo and World Cup finalist Mario Mandzukic in their ranks, they’re a strong side.
CR7 has spent the last decade sharing virtually every Ballon d’Or going with Lionel Messi, who is still spearheading Barcelona, who are well-backed as always.
As for the other English interest – last season’s finalists Liverpool are still in the mix. So too are three-time winners Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur (aiming for a first trophy under Mauricio Pochettino).
Champions League Final 2019
Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium hosts the 2019 Champions League Final. The club’s home since September 2017, the original ground (opened in 1994) has recently seen a revamp of more than £200m.
The action will take place at 8:00 pm on Saturday 1st June 2019, live on BT Sport.
This is the fourth time the Spanish capital has held the final of the Champions League – including its former European Cup guide. However, all of those were at Real’s Santiago Bernabeu (including the tournament’s record crowd of 124,000 in the 1957 showpiece).
With a chance to reach the first ever CL Final at their own ground, it’s fair to say Atletico will have even more impetus to battle through the knockouts. And they have a history in the final, losing to city rivals Real in 2014 and 2016.
Champions League Odds
In the tournament outright odds, Man City are 11/4 favourites to end their wait for the trophy under former winner Guardiola.
Next up is Barca at 9/2, with Ronaldo-inspired Juve next up at 13/2.
PSG are also looking for a first-ever triumph in this competition, and they’re 7/1 shots. That puts them just ahead of Liverpool at 9s.
Bayern Munich and Real have won a ton of European honours between them, but both have to settle for 12/1 odds this year.
As for the remaining English interest, a resurgent Man United are 28/1 with Tottenham at 25/1.
How about the Golden Boot race? That’s currently led by Der FCB’s Polish hitman Robert Lewandowski, who bagged eight Group Stage goals. Next, best is Lionel Messi with six (though he missed both meetings with Inter Milan due to injury).
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing