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Man City favored to win Champions League, with Liverpool lurking

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

January 20th, 2020

As the transfer window begins to enter the final stages, the Champions League round of 16 is just around the corner. It’s time to assess the value in the futures market. Manchester City dominated the Group C, with fourteen of a possible eighteen points, and is currently the betting favorite to win the competition at +375.

Given the turmoil around some of the top clubs at the moment, it’s possible Liverpool offers the best value.

Odds to win the Champions League

Team2020 Champions League Odds
Manchester City
+375
Liverpool
+450
Barcelona
+500
Bayern München
+700
Paris St-Germain
+700

Setien will have his hands full with Barcelona

Barcelona recently sacked manager Ernesto Valverde after a run of form in December that saw the club win just once in a five-match span across all competitions, including a draw with rival Real Madrid and a loss to Atlético Madrid. Quique Setien took over the club and won his match yesterday—a slim, 1-0 victory over a mid-table Granada side.

The manager has only had significant success at Real Betis, but even there he won only 40 of his 94 matches. It’s unlikely he will have the ability to navigate both a tight La Liga title race—with Barcelona and Real Madrid currently level on points—as well as the challenge of both the Copa del Rey and Champions League wearing down the squad.

Defense is an issue for Man City

Manchester City continues to bleed goals on defense, further evidenced by fill-in center back Fernandinho’s late own goal this weekend in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. City has kept only one clean sheet in its last nine matches across all competitions—a 2-0 win over a Sheffield United side that barely averages a goal per match.

While the Citizens are hopeful Aymeric Laporte might be healthy and ready to go in time for the knockout round, facing Real Madrid is a daunting task for a defense that is leaking goals left and right. Fortunately for Pep Guardiola’s men, their hopes of a Premier League crown appear to be all but dead. That means their primary focus will be to chase their first Champions League crown.

Midfield depth is a question mark for PSG

Paris Saint-Germain enjoys an eight-point cushion at the top of Ligue 1, and is always a danger to any club in the Champions League, because of its dynamic attack led by Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, and Mauro Icardi.

However, questions remain about PSG's central midfield depth. Now that striker Edinson Cavani has handed in a transfer request, the club's preferred 4-2-2-2 formation may take a hit in attacking depth, as well. Borussia Dortmund is more than capable of taking out PSG in the Round of 16, but even if the Parisians survive that challenge, it is unlikely they'll make it through the tournament without a stumble.

The two longshots who have the best chance to crash the party are Bayern Munich and Juventus.

With only 14 league fixtures remaining in Bundesliga, Bayern currently sit four points behind RB Leipzig, and is in a tough fight, with three teams in striking distance behind. It will be tough for Bayern to manage both competitions when they cannot prioritize one, and Chelsea will be a tough matchup in the knockout stage’s opening round.

Juventus is in a difficult three-way race for the Scudetto, with Inter Milan and Lazio close behind. While its defense is stout, Juventus is averaging fewer than two goals per match in league play, and its lack of depth in the attack will likely hurt it at some point in Champions League play.

Liverpool is trending in the right direction

That brings us to the best value in the futures market—Liverpool. With its wait of 30 years without a top-flight English title all but officially over, Liverpool is the only team that can fully prioritize the Champions League over all other matches. Even Manchester City cannot fully throw all of its eggs into this basket, as it must ensure a top-four Premier League finish to secure a spot in next year’s fight for Europe’s ultimate prize.

Jurgen Klopp’s well-oiled machine has not lost at home since April 23, 2017, and Liverpool’s last defeat at home in European competition was more than five years ago. FiveThirtyEight has Liverpool as the favorite to win the competition at 21%, with Bayern just behind at 20%, and the fact that the Reds can rest players in league play makes them an even stronger candidate to win it all.

Their Round of 16 opponent, Atlético Madrid, will test their scoring prowess, but the Reds should get through that challenge and will be best suited for the final run-up of fixtures. Take Liverpool to repeat as champions of Europe and end a dream season for their fans, with a domestic-continental double.




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