| Sat 17/03/2018 - 14:59 EDT

      Champions League Predictions In the Wake of Quarter Final Draw

      Champions League Predictions In the Wake of Quarter Final Draw

      UCL Quarter Final Draw 2018

      UCL Quarter Final Draw 2018

      Barcelona have surged to the top of the list of favourites to win this year's Champions League after they drew Roma in their quarter-final clash, while Manchester City have dropped back to second on the list despite being favourites to progress at the expense of fellow EPL side Liverpool.

      Bayern Munich also remain well and truely in the hunt as they will play Sevilla, perhaps the easiest opponent in the final eight. The final matchup is a replay of last year's final - Real Madrid will face a Juventus side that looked down and out against Tottenham in the last round.

      Bayern and Barca look to have reasonably straight forward passages to the semi-finals, although their opponents aren't to be underestimated in this round, particularly Sevilla who performed brilliantly to eliminate Manchester United. We can't wait for it to unfold.

      Odds To Win The Champions League

      There are eight teams left in the tournament, and each side will believe they can win it from here. Obviously, some are more likely than others, but don't be fooled by the odds, which aren't always an accurate representation of each club's chances.

      Paris Saint-Germain were favoured to overcome Real Madrid in the Round of 16 and crumbled to a heavy defeat - you just never know at this stage of the tournament. For this reason, we've outlined each team's chances from least likely to win the tournament to the team we think will lift the trophy from here. 

      #8 Sevilla - +6400


      It's actually quite remarkable that we are still talking about Sevilla. The Spanish side won just two of their group stage matches (less than any other team who progressed to the Round of 16) and conceded 12 goals in their six fixtures. They were helped out by a generous Liverpool side on two occasions, although in fairness would have progressed from a reasonably easy group even if they had lost both matches against the English club.

      Nobody predicted what would come next. A routine Jose Mourinho away performance saw a 0-0 draw in the first leg between the clubs in Seville, and it looked like Manchester United would cruise into the last eight. Yet Mourinho's men put in a performance that looked more like an away set up, and it allowed Sevilla to grow into the game and pounce late, with Wissam Ben Yedder's brace off the bench proving to be a coaching masterclass by Vincenzo Montella.

      So how far can this team can go in the tournament? Not much further it would seem. Their run will surely be abruptly halted by five-time European champions Bayern Munich, who were ruthless in dispatching Turkish club Besiktas 8-1 on aggregate. There is little chance that Sevilla will be able to possess the ball as they did against United, and even less chance that Bayern will fail to score in either match. Bayern Munich will crush Sevilla in their quarter-final, which leaves Sevilla as the lowest side in our power rankings. 

      Our Prediction - Quarter Final Exit 

      #7 AS Roma - +6400

      AS Roma

      Roma topped Group C ahead of Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, teams that most pundits had finishing ahead of the Italians. Their effort in the initial round-robin was rewarded as they drew one of the weaker teams in the final 16 (Shakhtar Donetsk), and despite losing the first leg in the Ukraine their away goal ended up proving golden in a 2-2 aggregate victory.

      Edin Dzeko has been the key man for the giallorossi - he scored the winner in the second leg against Donetsk and has contributed to over 50% of his team's goals in the Champions League this season (four goals, two assists). Roma have also been sound defensively, and are yet to concede a goal at home in the four matches they have played at the Stadio Olimpico. 

      Yet they are second last in our power rankings simply because they have drawn a Barcelona side that has been better at both ends of the pitch, and we cannot see them causing what would be a monumental upset. The Catalan club have only conceded two goals in the entire tournament, and with Messi and company leading the attack, they should be far too strong for even Roma's miserly attack.

      AS Roma's Champions League adventure will likely be over after the first leg at the Nou Camp, unless they can pull off an incredible display of resilience. The Italians have shipped eight goals in four matches away from home in the UCL this season, and we would be surprised to see anything less than another two goals conceded in Barcelona, which will be too much to come back from.

      Our Prediction - Quarter Final Exit

      #6 Juventus - +1100


      Italy's best team have not been at their absolute best in the Champions League this season. They lost their opening match of the tournament 3-0 to Barcelona, and dropped points in Lisbon to complete their group stage campaign with only seven goals scored - the lowest of any team to progress. Yet the Serie A champions have still progressed to the final eight by showing the type of tenacity and resolve that got them to the final last year.

      Their tie against Tottenham in the last round was an example of how tough it is to win the Champions League. 2-0 up at home and cruising, Juventus conceded twice in the second half of the first leg to hand momentum to Spurs, who were then 1-0 up in the return fixture after 60 minutes. Bang. Two goals in less than five minutes and Juve were back on top, and held on to secure a famous victory.

      There is usually a lot to like about Juventus defensively, although Spurs and Barcelona have both shown that they are a team that can be broken down. And if there is one opponent Juventus didn't want to face at this stage of the tournament, it's Real Madrid, who unlocked their backline in last year's final. While they will play a two-leg tie on this occasion, we don't believe Juventus can overcome the defending champions.

      At this stage of the competition, there are going to big name casualties, and the bianconeri are going to be one of them. Real Madrid are just too good at this stage of the tournament and won't lose to the Italians.

      Our Prediction - Quarter Final Exit

      #5 Manchester City - +325

      Manchester City

      Speaking of big name casualties... This selection is bound to cause a little bit of controversy. Our first move away from the leading sportsbooks sees English champions-elect Manchester City at fifth on the list despite them being up there with Barcelona as one of the favourites to win the tournament.

      City have had an incredible 2017/18 season. They put together an eighteen-match winning run in the Premier League and have only been defeated once in thirty league matches. In the Champions League, they have been defeated twice, although both matches were essentially meaningless - one came after the Citizens had already secured progression with five wins in the group stage, while the other came after a 4-0 away win in Switzerland that all but ensured their place in the final eight.

      As City have never won the Champions League and have only progressed past the Round of 16 on one prior occasion, few of the big guns like Bayern, Barcelona and Real Madrid have had an opportunity to come up against them, which in our opinion would have given City a slight advantage should they have drawn them. Instead, Guardiola is up against Jurgen Klopp, a manager that knows him very, very well.

      The pair's rivalry dates back to the Bundesliga when Guardiola managed Bayern, and Klopp led Borussia Dortmund. As it stands, Klopp has won more matches against Guardiola than any other manager, and led Liverpool to the only league win over the Manchester club in 2017/18. History will bring these teams closer together, and that can only be bad news for City.

      This is easily the tie of the round and should feature plenty of goals considering two of the highest scorers in the competition are involved. Though only one team can progress and we are sensing a famous Klopp victory.

      Our Prediction - Quarter Final Exit

      #4 Liverpool - +1200


      Liverpool are one of just two sides remaining in the tournament that are undefeated, and with 28 goals they are also the league's most potent attacking force. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have been unstoppable in the final third, and their attack will cause nightmares for the best defences in the competition.

      Liverpool certainly aren't know for their defensive resolve, yet they have improved considerably throughout the season and boast the second-best defensive record in the Champions League behind Barcelona.

      As mentioned above, Klopp holds the upper hand over Guardiola in head to head meetings, and Manchester City's free flowing style is the perfect foil for Liverpool, who would struggle to break down a more defensive minded side (as seen in their recent loss to Manchester United). We're backing the Reds to overcome the Citizens in the quarter-finals.

      From there it's going to be difficult. The likely foes in the final four will be Madrid, Bayern and Barca, and while this Liverpool side are good there is a sense that this particular squad is still short of experience at the highest level. Against City, Liverpool should thrive as it will feel like a Premier League match, but against the European giants, perhaps the pressure will show.

      Our Prediction - Semi Finalists

      #3 Bayern Munich - +378

      Bayern Munich

      The top betting sites have listed Munich as a better chance of lifting this year's trophy than Real Madrid, although that can only be because of a quarter-final draw that sees the Germans facing arguably the weakest team in the final eight, while the defending champions take on Juventus. If both teams progress to the final four as expected, you are likely to see their positions change, and we believe Madrid would beat this Bayern team.

      Munich were in cruise control in the group stage - their only test was against PSG and they split that series, although their lack of goals cost them first place. Fortunately they drew Besiktas, perhaps the weakest of the top-ranked teams in the Round of 16, and were clinical in thrashing them 8-1 on aggregate.

      It's hard to get a read on Munich. While they undoubtedly have talent, they are unchallenged in the Bundesliga and aside from PSG have not played anyone of note in the Champions League, which is set to continue when they face Sevilla. There is no doubt that they will be in the semi-finals once more, but whether or not they can beat Barcelona or Madrid is the big question.

      Their biggest chance of making the final would come if they manage to draw whichever English team progresses, although with a 2/3 chance of facing Barcelona or Real Madrid, neither of whom we think they will beat, Bayern come in at third on our list.

      Our Prediction - Semi Finalists 

      #2 Real Madrid - +455

      Real Madrid

      Madrid are going for their third-consecutive Champions League crown, and it's been a typical performance in Europe's elite club competition. The Galacticos started slowly, failing to beat Tottenham in their group and finishing in second-place, and were seemingly on the ropes when they drew PSG. The Parisians were at the time the highest scorers in the competition and Real were out of form. Madrid were outsiders in a Champions League tie for the first time in a long time.

      Yet Madrid came to the party, as they always seem to do, and in the end they managed a 5-2 aggregate win over one of the best sides in Europe at the moment. It now seems almost inevitable that they will fight their way to the final.

      We think they would beat everyone left in the final eight except for Barcelona at the moment, so if they avoid the Catalan club they could well be on their way to glory once more. At the moment though, it's looking likely that Barca too would beat all-comers, which relegates Real to second on our list.

      Our Prediction - Finalists

      #1 Barcelona - +247


      Barcelona are the team to beat in this year's tournament. Their display at home against Chelsea was far from perfect, yet they still managed a 3-0 victory and looked completely untroubled at the back. In fact, Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been a passenger throughout the tournament as Barcelona have shifted just two goals in their eight matches to date.

      When you're conceding so few and have Lionel Messi leading your attack, you're not going to lose many matches. Barcelona have also had the luxury of 'carrying' Luis Suarez, who has now not scored in over 900 minutes of Champions League football. If the Uruguayan can get amongst the action, we could see Barcelona break the shackles and hit new heights.

      Barcelona were eliminated in last year's tournament by an Italian side (Juventus) although there's no chance they will suffer the same fate against AS Roma. Barca are simply too strong in all facets of their game and should move into the semi-finals with relative ease.

      It's at this stage where things are less certain - Barcelona are almost certain to be joined by Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and the question is of course whether they can beat them to reach the final. We're sure they have the upper hand over Real Madrid, based on their results in the La Liga this season, while Bayern will certainly provide a test. The wildcard is Manchester City/Liverpool, who could cause the Catalan club problems.

      But at this stage in the competition, and with plenty of soccer still to be played, we believe the strongest side remaining is Barcelona, and would back them from here to win the final regardless of who they encounter on the way.

      Our Prediction - Champions 

      UCL Quarter Final Schedule

      Tuesday, April 3rd @ 2:45pm ET

      • Juventus vs Real Madrid
      • Sevilla vs Bayern Munich

      Wednesday, April 4th @ 2:45pm ET

      • Liverpool vs Manchester City
      • Barcelona vs AS Roma

      Tuesday, April 10th @ 2:45pm ET

      • Manchester City vs Liverpool
      • AS Roma vs Barcelona

      Wednesday, April 11th @ 2:45pm ET

      • Bayern Munich vs Sevilla
      • Real Madrid vs Juventus

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