The draw for who plays in the first knock out stage of the Champions League has been made, and it poses some very interesting prospects. It also presents punters who like to place wagers of the likely outcomes with some tasty possibilities.
From an English team point of view, the toughest draw seems to have fallen on Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United side. They have been drawn against the French club side, PSG Paris Saint Germain).
Not only are PSG way out in front in Ligue 1, with 44 points from 16 games, but they have also scored more goals than any other side in their league this season (44), and have conceded less (10). They are an impressive 10 points clear of second-placed Lille OSC.
Twelve of PSG’s squad of players were called up for six different countries in this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament. This includes three who were called up for the French national side that won the tournament. They are – Alphonse Areola, Presnel Kimpembe, and Kylian Mbappe, one of the brightest new talents on display, who according to the latest rumours is being linked with a move to Real Madrid.
Given the disparity in Manchester United’s and PSG’s form in their respective home country leagues, the odds will be stacked against the Red Devils. The betting on the Les Parisiens to win the tournament has shortened to 7/1 from 15/2, while the odds-on United winning have lengthened from 40/1 to 50/1.
As far as the three other English clubs are concerned, Liverpool have landed Bayern Munich; Manchester City have been paired with FC Schalke, and Tottenham will face Borrusia Dortmund.
The team with the easiest looking draw is undoubtedly Manchester City. Their opponents, FC Schalke, who play in the Bundesliga, are lying 13th out of 18, a long way below the 2nd place finish in the league at the end of last season, 21 points behind first placed Bayern and 8 points above 3rd placed Hoffenheim.
City’s odds to lift the trophy have reduced from 4/1 to 3/1, while FC Schalke’s chances have widened further and they are now rank outsiders listed at 250/1.
Liverpool take on Bayern Munich, which promises to be quite a stern task. Bayern are not performing quite as well as they did last year in the Bundesliga. They are currently in 3rd place with 30 points (same points tally as second-placed Monchengladbach) and are 9 points behind the leaders, Borussia Dortmund.
Liverpool are of course flying high this season and are currently top of the Premiership and remain unbeaten in the league. Unsurprisingly the bookies favour Liverpool above Bayern in terms of winning the competition. Liverpool are being quoted at 10/1 while Bayern are showing at 14/2.
That just leaves Tottenham Hotspur who have drawn Borussia Dortmund for their sins. Spurs are placed third in the Premiership, with most people in the know saying they still have some way to go to catch the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool in terms of the money available to expand their squads.
It has to be said that Spurs’ progression to the knock out stages was a little fortuitous albeit hard fought for.
On the other hand, Dortmund are sitting pretty on top of the Bundesliga, 9 points clear of their rivals. However, when all is said and done the Premiership is a tougher league than the Bundesliga, and this reflects in the fact the Tottenham are 25/1 to win the trophy while Dortmund are out at 33/1.