Messi is the best player left in the tournament, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne, and Paul Pogba all bidding adieu over the past 30 hours, and it’s understandable that the oddsmakers have installed Barca as the favorite to win the tournament (Odds have Barca around 13:8).
The runner-up for favorite status is very close, and we’re sure most of you have guessed it’s not young Ajax (about 5:1 on most boards).
Tottenham Hotspur is on the board at 9:2 after defeating Man City on Wednesday, but it’s Liverpool at about 3:1 who is next in line after Barcelona.
By the way, not including managers and coaching staffs, the answers to the trivia question above are both on Liverpool:
Daniel Sturridge, by the way, who did not get off the bench in 2012 when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in penalty kicks.
Xherdan Shaqiri, who was an unused sub when Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Der Klassiker UCL Final
Liverpool has played one fewer match than City, and will make up its match-in-hand when Man City faces Chelsea in the League Cup Final.
Man City holds a seven-goal advantage in goal differential, the first tiebreaker, and has scored 12 more goals than the Reds (the second).
Obviously, betting sites want people to wager and think about what’s most enticing for their customers. If Man City wins each of its remaining 12 matches, Liverpool would have to lose once or draw three times out of its final 13 matches to sink second.
The reality an away-team win could be in both clubs’ interest might be the place to start with this week’s Super Sunday matchup.
Chelsea is the +135 away favorite on the Premier League odds with host Arsenal coming back at +205, while the draw is priced at +260 on the three-way moneyline and there is a 3.0-goals total for Sunday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Chelsea, which has three consecutive one-goal wins in its last three away matches, could all but eliminate Arsenal from top-four contention (and the automatic berth in the 2019-20 Champions League), and a Gunners side thinned-out by injuries and turmoil might welcome the chance to put more of its eggs in the Europa League basket.
Eden Hazard (+400 first goal scorer, -125 anytime) will likely feature for Chelsea now that Alvaro Morata is shipping off to Atletico Madrid of Spain. Chelsea by 1 Goal (+350) and Either Team 2-1 (+350) offer good value in Winning Margin and Correct Score Group props at online sports betting sites.
Elsewhere this weekend, Wolverhampton (+130) has won or drawn against Leicester City (+245, draw +225) in nine of their last 10 home matchups and the inconsistent Foxes’ last six away matches have all finished UNDER 2.5 goals. There is a little more value with looking at Wolverhampton 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1 (+185) in Correct Score Group props, and Raul Jimenez (+500 first goal scorer, +200 anytime) should be a factor offensively.
Liverpool (-500) and Crystal Palace (+1500, draw +600), in relative terms, both have strong scoring trends with the Reds having scored at least three goals in their last three home games and the Eagles having netted twice in each of their last three away games. Liverpool win/yes (+150) and Yes/Over 2.5 (+125) are the percentage plays in Both Teams To Score props.
Newcastle United (EVEN) and Cardiff City (+335, draw +230) are both in the relegation zone and reeling of late, with Newcastle winless in five games while Cardiff has banked only one win its last seven games (all competitions). Newcastle has injuries to key cogs such as Jamaal Lascelles (hamstring) and Isaac Hayden (back). Those factors make Cardiff enticing on the double chance (+180), while tie/no (+800), that is betting on a 0-0 draw, has good value in Both Teams To Score Props.
Huddersfield Town (+2000) hosting Manchester City (-650, draw +700) for a Sunday matchup right after sacking manager David Wagner begs the question of how to divine some Man City betting values. The any other score (+175) in Correct Score Group props covers the possibility of City scoring four or more goals in a win where it also concedes; it’s the same payout as No/Over 2.5 in Both Teams To Score props.
And Fulham (+425) hosts a Tottenham (-125, draw +255) side in its first game since learning Harry Kane (ankle) will be out until March. The overall trends, though, show that Fulham’s last six home games against Tottenham have gone OVER 2.5 goals, and the visiting Spurs have won seven of their last nine away games. Kane’s absence could make Tottenham try new modes of attack and winger Dele Alli (+600 first scorer, +200 anytime) could capitalize.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.
Niko Kovac’s first season at Bayern Munich has not gone according to plan, though the Bavarians have climbed back to within six points of leaders Borussia Dortmund.
The big match between the two clubs is April 6 at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, and Bayern has taken two of three matches between the pair this season. Bayern last lost a home league match to BVB in 2014, and has won the last six titles.
On one hand, Napoli hosts Juve in their second match of the Serie A season. On the other, Juve just wins everything every darn year and would likely have to drop 10 more points than the Neapolitans the rest of the way. FiveThirtyEight says it’s a 92 percent likelihood Juve wins again.
The draw between Atleti and Sevilla on Sunday is just the latest nice moment for Barcelona’s title hopes, as the Blaugranas boast a five-point lead on the field and a 10-point advantage on traditional rivals Real Madrid.
Really, though, the title could be sorted in a one-week stretch in late February and early March. After a Champions League first leg at Lyon, Barca goes to Sevilla and Real Madrid on back-to-back league weekends. Win both, and call it a season. It’s 86 percent for Barcelona, according to FiveThirtyEight, with three teams boasting single-digit hopes.
We saved the best for last (with apologies to BVB and Bayern).
Four of the Top Six — no Manchester United is not really in the discussion — are still alive in the Champions League, and both Chelsea and Arsenal know they can qualify for the UCL via the Europa League crown (how about a UEL final together, draw fixers?).
Yes, Liverpool has lost back-to-back games, but they don’t play Man City again and didn’t use most of their best talents in Monday’s FA Cup loss at Wolves.
The idea that the Reds will drop four more points than Man City isn’t insane, but there are few really tricky stretches for Liverpool. They’ll face Bayern Munich and Manchester United in a five-day February span, but get Spurs and Chelsea at home.
Man City has Arsenal, Spurs, and Chelsea at home, with the Manchester Derby away, a favorable mix, while Spurs host Man Utd and Arsenal while traveling to City, Liverpool, and Chelsea (the last one Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).