Champions League Futures Betting: Bayern Munich and Chelsea Offer Good Value
We're getting to the business end of the 2021-22 Champions League campaign, and Spain and England dominate the field as six of the eight remaining teams hail from one of those two nations.
Here's the draw for the quarterfinals as well as how the rest of the bracket lines up.
While the quarterfinal matchups might be a little lacking, we could potentially get two monster semifinals between European powerhouses.
Before the first legs of the quarters get underway, let's take a look at some potential betting value in the futures market. All lines come from Soccer odd.
Bayern Munich to Win the Competition (+310)
Manchester City (+200 to win it all) and Liverpool (+210) are priced as the two clear favorites. While I do agree that those are the two best sides in Europe, Bayern Munich deserve to be a little closer to City's and Liverpool's odds than their current +310 line.
According to FBRef's expected goals (xG), Bayern Munich have an expected goal differential (xGD) of +45.7, which is second across Europe's big-five leagues, trailing only City's xGD of +45.8. Liverpool sit third with a +44.4 xGD, and no other side have an xGD better than +29.4 -- so these three are clearly in a tier of their own.
But Bayern have played two fewer games than the two sides fighting for the Premier League crown, so when you factor that in and go by xGD per 90 minutes, Bayern stands out from the pack at xGD per 90 of +1.69, compared to City's and Liverpool's marks of +1.58 and +1.53, respectively.
Of course, comparing goal differential for teams from different domestic leagues isn't ideal. Plus, the Premier League is a tougher test than the Bundesliga, especially at the top end. But the difference between the German and English leagues might not be as pronounced as you may think as both leagues have four teams in the top 20 in xGD per 90 across the big-five leagues.
In the quarterfinals, Bayern should roll past Villareal, a team that is 7th in the La Liga table and is way down in 34th in xGD per 90 across the big five. After Villareal, the German titans will likely see Liverpool, who should have no trouble with Benfica.
A Liverpool-Bayern semifinal would be a clash of superpowers, as would a potential final against -- most likely -- one of City, Chelsea, or Real Madrid. But going by the numbers, the Bayern-Liverpool semifinal should be pretty close to a toss-up, so it would make sense for the Reds and Bayern to have similar title odds instead of the odds at which they're listed.
That has me on Bayern -- a side with top-class talent at every level in Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, and Manuel Neuer. I think they're a solid bet to lift the trophy at their +310 price.
Chelsea to Reach the Final (+360)
The Blues are in the headline matchup of the quarterfinals as they drew Real Madrid. Even if they get past Real Madrid, which is far from a given, Chelsea will then probably run into Manchester City. Having to knock off those two teams gives the Blues a fairly arduous path to the final.
But Chelsea can navigate it.
Real Madrid aren't in great form right now. Playing sans star man Karim Benzema, they just got throttled by Barcelona, 4-0, in the Bernabéu, and while Real staged a memorable comeback to knock off PSG in the UCL Round of 16, Carlo Ancelotti's men got outplayed for the majority of the two legs, losing the xG tally 3.5-1.9.
Going by xG, Real have been overachieving for most of the year. Their actual goal difference is +34, but their xGD is just +20. Despite cruising to a probable La Liga title, they rank just 10th across the big-five leagues in xGD per 90 (+0.71). For comparison, Chelsea's xGD per 90 is +0.78 in a more difficult domestic league.
Benzema's return will surely help, but Chelsea are the favorite to go through, listed at +100 to win the first leg at home.
After Real Madrid, it'll likely be Manchester City in the way next. City are a better team than Chelsea by just about any metric. However, that was the case last year, too, when Chelsea knocked off City three times down the final stretch of the season -- once in EPL play, once in an FA Cup semifinal, and once in the UCL final.
Beating City over two legs will be a tall task, even for a squad with as much talent as Chelsea has, but Thomas Tuchel's Blues have shown they're capable of giving City fits.
At a price of +360 to return to the final, Chelsea offers pretty good bang for your buck.