We’re only through the group stage of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League and already we’ve seen some of the biggest names in Europe clash. An imbalanced draw meant that quite a few of the favorites were forced to duke it out prior to the knockout round, battling for the automatic qualifying spots in the Round of 32. Atletico overwhelmed an inconsistent Bayern to top Group D; Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were humbled by his former club, Barcelona, in Group C; and Dortmund shocked the world by finishing above Real Madrid in Group F.
The draw for the Round of 16 is a lot more favorable to the cup favorites. Besides Arsenal vs Bayern Munich and PSG vs Barcelona, the top teams should have a relatively easy time reaching the quarterfinals.
With the group stage over and the Round of 16 a little under a month away, let’s take a look at the updated odds for this year’s favorites.
Odds to Win the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League
Barcelona are the favorites to take the Champions League despite their troubles this season. They’re currently third in La Liga, behind Real Madrid and Sevilla, and just qualified for the Copa del Rey quarterfinals by the skin of their teeth.
Still, they’re Barcelona. The slump in form is expected to be temporary; their star-studded lineup always seems to bounce back. They finished first in their group and were unlucky to draw a tough opponent in PSG for the Round of 16, but that hasn’t shaken the bookmakers’ belief in them.
Real Madrid: 4/1
Real Madrid’s record-breaking 40-match unbeaten run came to an end last week when they lost to La Liga’s second-place club, Sevilla. Under manager Zinedine Zidane, the defending champions have become one of the most consistent sides in world football.
The Madridistas have won the Champions League more times than any other club and they’re looking pretty good for another. They had a tough time in the group stage, finishing second under Dortmund despite being unbeaten (3-3-0). But they have a favorable matchup against Napoli (3-2-1), who topped an underwhelming Group B, which also featured Benfica, Besiktas JK, and Dynamo Kyiv.
Bayern Munich: 4/1
The German stars had a tough time in the group stage, finishing second under Atletico Madrid. They won’t have an easy time in the Round of 16, either, after being matched with Arsenal. But Bayern currently have a great mix of promising young talent and time-tested veterans in their lineup. On paper, they have a roster that can rival any team in Europe.
They are the favored side against Arsenal and remain one of the favorites to win the cup.
Atletico Madrid: 8/1
Last year’s finalists are back with a decent shot at the cup. They finished above Bayern Munich in the group stage and have been rewarded accordingly with a matchup against Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16.
Rumor has it that manager Diego Simeone is making a serious attempt to bring back their former striker Diego Costa, who’s fallen out of favor with Chelsea. If they manage to do so, expect their odds to improve dramatically.
Borussia Dortmund: 12/1
Dortmund are the eternal dark horses of Europe. They pulled off a shocking first-place finish in their group, besting Real Madrid, and now face Portugal’s Benfica in the Round of 16. The German underdogs have a reputation for punching above their weight and have had Champions League success in the past, winning in 1996-97 and reaching the finals in 2012-13.
But their domestic season has been a mess (currently sixth with just 27 points through 16 matches) and they risk losing their star player, Pierre Aubameyang, during the transfer window. Time will tell, but for now they remain an outside favorite for the cup.
Photo credit: “Chilena de Sergio Ramos” by Jan S0L0, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.
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