Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

City still favorites; no love for Atlético, Bayern

Champions League OlyBet 07.04.2024

The last eight are roaring to go in the Champions League, with the quarter-finals starting from April 9th. We know the route all teams need to take to lift the trophy at Wembley; the coveted prize is now just five games away.

Defending champions Manchester City are still considered the front-runners by Opta, as they were most recently given a 26.6 percent probability to win it all. But that is actually down from before, as they were one-in-three (33.3) favourites after the group phase, and 31.2 just before the Round of 16 got underway.

Indeed, they are in a difficult position, having to balance between the Premier League (3rd after 29 games), the FA Cup (semi-final vs Chelsea on April 20th), and the Champions League (more on that later). If all goes to plan, they could play nine games in April, meaning there will be no time to rest and regroup. There is simply no room for error.

Arsenal (12.2% to win the CL) are in the Premier League fight too, but the others … Atlético Madrid (5.1%) and Borussia Dortmund (9.6%) are trying to secure a Champions League spot for next season, but for everyone else, all seems quite clear, unless Barcelona (9.2%) catch Real Madrid (14.6%) in La Liga.

This is what makes Bayern Munich (6.9%) and PSG (15.7%) so dangerous at this point – the latter has the Ligue 1 pretty much wrapped up while Bayern are unlikely to catch Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. Both can concentrate solely on the Champions League. So why are Manchester City still considered as the favourites, and why are Bayern and Atlético not fancied?

All games listed below will be held at 22:00 Eastern European Summer Time (GMT+3).

Source: Imago Images

Arsenal – Bayern Munich

  • 09.04 @ Emirates Stadium, London
  • 17.04 @ Allianz Arena, Munich

It had to be Bayern for Arsenal. They have lost their last three head-to-heads by the same 1-5 scoreline, and have been knocked out by the Germans on all four occasions they have met in the knockout stages. So even though Arsenal seem to be in better shape at the moment, Opta still rates this pair just 57-43 to the Londoners.

Bayern are not firing on all cylinders and it shows, as their chances of reaching the final (13.2%) are the lowest of the eight. But when they are, it is still hard to stop them. They showed composure in the Round of 16, overcoming Lazio 3-0 at home after losing the away game 0-1; the first leg at the Emirates will be crucial for the hopes of both.

Player to watch: Harry Kane has made it his mission to be hated by the Arsenal faithful, as the former Tottenham striker has put 14 goals past them in 19 appearances. This season, he has scored more than a goal per game (36/37 at the moment), and it will also be his first game in London in 2024.

Real Madrid – Manchester City

  • 09.04 @ Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
  • 17.04 @ Etihad Stadium, Manchester

In the 2021-22 semi-finals, City won 4-3 at home but lost the away game 1-3 after extra time and saw Real lift the trophy. Last season, they met again, with City running away comfortably with a 4-0 home win after drawing 1-1 at the Bernabeu (and lifting the trophy). Since Chelsea beat both in 2020-21, those two have set the tone for the rest.

Real are still the personal litmus test for City, and they have been behind for just 26 minutes during this Champions League season. City can claim to be superior, having lost just of their last six head-to-heads, but the games have been open, with an average of 4.3 per game over the last two semi-finals. This could be quite epic.

Player to watch: Erling Haaland has played Real Madrid twice, with seven total shots and five of them on target. He is yet to score. Over the last five seasons, the Norwegian has 195 goals in 199 games.

Source: Imago Images

Atlético Madrid – Borussia Dortmund

  • 10.04 @ Metropolitano, Madrid
  • 16.04 @ Westfalenstadion, Dortmund

Atlético might be the lowest-rated team to win it all at the moment (5.1%) but they have performed above expectations before. Under Diego Simeone, Atlético has never lost a Champions League home knockout game (10W 6D), conceding just four goals and keeping twelve clean sheets. They can – and probably will – be an inconvenient opponent for whoever they face.

Dortmund have done well and are second after only Man City to progress to the semi-finals (58.6%), even though German sides have been historically bad against Spanish opposition over the last ten years (from 15 two-legged ties, the Spaniards have progressed on 13 occasions). The first game will be vital for both, as Dortmund are a notoriously bad away side, having won just one of their last 10 knockout away games (and losing eight).

Player to watch: Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel has been the best goalkeeper in this season’s Champions League according to stats, as he has conceded just 4 goals from 8.9 expected). The 26-year-old Swiss has faced 29 shots on target.

Paris Saint-Germain – Barcelona

  • 10.04 @ Parc des Princes, Paris
  • 16.04 @ Estadi Olimpic, Barcelona

2016-17 will forever be remembered. PSG recorded an emphatic 4-0 home win before travelling to Camp Nou. All was well until it was not, and Barcelona scored two goals in overtime to win 6-1 and turn it around. This monumental collapse has been with PSG ever since, even after they revisited Camp Nou and left 4-1 winners four years later.

Luis Enrique masterminded the 2017 comeback, but he will now sit on the opposite side, trying to make history again. Barcelona has not been to the quarter-finals since 2020 when Bayern annihilated them 8-2. They should be better this time.

Player to watch: Kylian Mbappe would be the easy pick, but Barcelona starlet Pau Cubarsi would become the youngest defender to start a quarter-final should he remain in the starting XI. The 17-year-old shined against Napoli last time out, but could he hold down Mbappe?


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