In just over two weeks time, the greatest European football spectacle will return to action.
It’s the UEFA Champions League, of course, and last Thursday’s group draw produced some great drama.
Group A is undoubtedly the strongest group – apologies in advance RB Leipzig supporters – featuring the two favorites to raise the Champions League trophy next May in St. Petersburg.
At PointsBet Sportsbook, PSG (+300) and Manchester City (+350) are favorites to win Europe’s top competition. From there, the next listed team has odds of +750, with six total teams priced at 10/1 or shorter.
So now that the group draw is complete, who should you bet in the futures market? Here are the two plays I’m most intrigued by following the draw. As always, odds are reflective at time of writing.
Best Futures Bet #1 – Bayern Munich (+750)
Does anyone else feel this is a disrespectful number on a team that won the Champions League two seasons ago?
From top to bottom, this is one of the deepest Champions League sides. The only real “weak” spot is in central defense, but assuming they hold on to talisman Robert Lewandowski, their attack is more than capable of generating enough goals to account for that flaw.
The additions of Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer help bolster this squad’s depth, and manager Julian Nagelsmann inherits a squad with very good metrics in the UCL.
Take, for example, their ability to avoid defeat. Across the last four seasons, Bayern have lost a grand total of FOUR matches in the Champions League.
Additionally, the German giants have been a semifinalist or better in seven of their last ten Champions League appearances.
Contributing to last season’s exit against PSG was an injury to Lewandowski. A 3-2 home loss against the then French champions ended a streak of eight straight wins at home in the UCL.
With fans back in the stands, I rate Bayern as the strongest home side in the entire Champions League, a trait that I believe is key to winning the Champions League.
Bayern should be able to cruise through and win Group E, which also features Barcelona, Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv. From there, I’ll have Bayern favorites in the round of 16 against any second-place finishers except Man City or PSG.
But considering their toughest matches will come when home matches are sizably more important, I believe this side is capable of another deep run.
Best Futures Bet #2 – Atlético Madrid (25/1)
If ever there was a competition designed for Atletico, the Champions League is it.
While there’s a slight risk associated with this future play – I have Group B power rated as the strongest overall group – this price is simply too good to pass up.
Considering five of the last seven Champions League winners have finished in the top two of their previous domestic league campaign, I believe Atletico should be priced closer to 15/1.
At this price, I’m hoping Atletico can manage a run to the quarterfinals before I consider hedging.
Assuming they reach the knockout rounds, Atletico have historically proved to be a very challenging out.
Since the 2013/14 Champions League campaign, Atletico have avoided defeat in every home knockout leg played in Madrid. Across all home matches in that same timeframe, Los Rojiblancos have only posted two outright losses.
Plus, in their last 13 two-leg knockout ties, the Spanish champions have won at least one leg in 11 ties.
The summer additions of Rodrigo de Paul, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Matheus Cunha give manager Diego Simeone a new flexibility in designing his preferred formation. This is now a team that can play either a back three with two wing-backs or a traditional back-four, the preferred formation for Simeone.
Lastly, what I like most about this squad is there are still players left who experienced two UCL Final appearances in 2014 and 2016.
As evidenced by Chelsea’s win over Man City last season, there’s value in having experienced a previous final, something nine Atletico squad members can claim.
Assuming Simeone can guide this group out of the group stages, Atletico will be a side that can challenge the favorites and make this number worth a play.
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Source: Yahoo Sports