We’re only halfway through the Champions League round of 16, but I’ve seen more than enough to make some major changes. And Vegas has as well, as the current futures odds below have already moved substantially.*
Also read: 2019-20 Champions League Round of 16 Predictions.
* The change in each team’s futures “ranking” from a couple weeks ago, as well as each team’s futures odds as of February 17, are in parentheses.
Champions League Round of 16 Re-Seeded
- Man City: +300 (↑1; +425)
- Bayern Munich: +375 (↑1; +650)
- Liverpool: +650 (↓2; +400)
- Barcelona: +750 (previously 4th; +650)
- Paris St. Germain: +1,100 (previously 5th; +700)
- Juventus: +1,300 (previously 6th; +1,000)
- RB Leipzig: +2,000 (↑3; +3,500)
- Atletico Madrid: +2,300 (↑1; +3,500)
- Borussia Dortmund: +2,500 (↑2; +4,000)
- Atalanta: +3,000 (↑3; +6,600)
- Real Madrid: +4,000 (↓4; +1,100)
- Tottenham: +6,000 (↓4; +2,700)
- Napoli: +7,500 (↑2; +10,000)
- Lyon: +15,000 (↑2; +25,000)
- Chelsea: +35,000 (↓3; +4,500)
- Valencia: +40,000 (↓2; +8,000)
THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CONTENDERS
1. Bayern Munich
Including both group play and Leg 1, no one has been more impressive in this tournament than Bayern Munich, which is also back atop the Bundesliga after a slow start to the season.
Since hiring Hansi Flick to replace Niko Kovac in November, this club has been absolutely terrifying. They were imposing enough before Alphonso Davies’ breakout (or at least his European breakout) last week, as Robert Lewandowski scores about every 5 minutes – look it up. OK, so it’s probably not quite that frequent, but the man has 36 (!!) total goals in the Bundesliga (23 appearances) and Champions League (11 appearances) this year.
There’s also quality up and down this roster, from Lewandowki – he’ll probably miss leg 2 vs. Chelsea with a fractured tibia, but it won’t matter — and Serge Gnabry up top to Manuel Neuer in goal, to name just a few of the stellar pieces at Flick’s disposal. It also helps the Germans that they’ll be able to rest up in Leg 2 at home.
I didn’t think of Bayern as the top dog in the field prior to the round of 16, but it’s hard to make a case for anyone else after leg 1.
2. Manchester City
Based on their form in the EPL and how they looked for about 60 minutes at the Santiago Bernabéu, this team was going to be a long way from the top of this ranking. But they delivered an impressive finish vs. Los Blancos despite employing a lineup we still haven’t figured out.
The two late away goals make Pep Guardiola’s team a massive favorite (-1,115) to advance when RM travels to Manchester on March 11.
We also just got our most recent reminder that A) Kevin de Bruyne is as dangerous as anyone on the planet and B) this team’s depth is preposterous: They rested (or at least didn’t start) Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva, and still managed to score twice against one of Europe’s best defensive teams.
We should still be skeptical of these guys based on their UCL track record, but they came away from one of the most difficult tests of any team in the round of 16 with a huge leg 1 result.
The Reds are (obviously) in a much worse spot after leg 1 than Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund. But assuming Anfield is too much for an Atleti team that has been a mess for virtually the entire season – and I feel like that’s a safe assumption – Liverpool will have a strong case that they’re as deserving of favorite status as either of the two teams above them.
They haven’t been themselves the last few weeks, but it’s hard to dismiss a team that has played this well for this long. And it doesn’t hurt Liverpool that all their key pieces now have a ton of experience in massive Champions League games.
Wait a minute, am I calling Liverpool a big tournament favorite while also predicting it will have its hands full at Anfield in leg 2, but find a way?? Absolutely, even if I realize that’s completely contradictory/ridiculous.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Quiqué Setien is the coach of two different teams: one that overwhelms at Camp Nou, and another that does the opposite away from home. By Barcelona’s shoddy standards in road games this year, they fared well at Napoli, showing an all-too-rare bit of resilience to erase that 1-0 halftime deficit.
Barcelona is down in fourth here because despite the homefield advantage, they’re going to have a tough time in leg 2 with Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets definitely out due to suspension. Making matters worse is the likely absence of Sergi Roberto.
5. Borussia Dortmund
There’s plenty of work left for BVB to do in Paris on March 11 – and oddsmakers believe it’s literally a coin flip (both teams are -112 to advance) — but raise your hand if you’d feel confident in your team taking on Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Co.
Dortmund is only this far down on this list because I (probably wrongly, I admit) like PSG to pull it out despite being down 2-1. But if Dortmund reaches the quarters, they’ll be climbing up this list.
THE LONG SHOTS
6. RB Leipzig
I said before the round of 16 started that I didn’t like either Leipzig or Tottenham to do anything beyond this round, and I’m sticking to that take for now.
From one of the UCL favorites to out before the quarters? Not Paris Saint Germain! It’s hard to look at this roster and not put these guys among the favorites, but they have a discouraging track record and a tough leg 2 battle with BVB.
If we went by leg 1 of the round of 16 alone, Atalanta would be getting more love here, but that 4-1 romp had as much to do with Valencia’s woes as Atalanta’s dynamic offense.
These guys score like no one else in Europe – 70 goals in 25 Serie A games this year – and they’re as likely as anyone outside the usual suspects to make a run to the semifinals. It would be awesome to see these guys square off with a favorite in the quarters, and the “this year’s Ajax” potential is absolutely there.
CR7 will make sure they overcome the 1-0 deficit they face vs. Lyon, but I expect another quarterfinal exit for Juve.
10. Atletico Madrid
Me having them 10th here after what they did at Wanda Metrpolitano vs. Liverpool in leg 1 is admittedly super disrespectful, but they’ve earned my skepticism by going 11-11-4 in 26 La Liga games.
11. Real Madrid
I liked them a ton prior to leg 1, but it was time to once again flip-flop. Had they drawn someone other than Man City, it’d be a very different conversation, but there’s a reason they are currently +650 to even reach the quarters.
This is the one team that pulled off an even bigger home upset than Atleti. But they’re not replicating that magic in Turin.
They’ll push Barcelona to the limit on March 18, but they’d need a one- or two-goal lead for me to like their chances at Camp Nou.
“Not happening” pretty much covers it.
It’s early, but my hottest take of the month will be my prediction that Chelsea is unable to overcome the 3-0 deficit to Bayern.
Did anyone play worse in leg 1 than Valencia? Negative. How did this team win a group with Chelsea and Ajax again???
WHERE TO BET THE 2019-20 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN THE US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania.