The first elimination round of the Champions League was a complete fiasco, because the favorites cruised to an easy victory. Except for Manchester United who struggled against the reigning Greek champions, all other teams advanced to the next stage easily. This won’t be the case in the quarterfinals, where the best eight teams in Europe will lock horns. Bookmakers have their clear favorites but even though the odds suggest otherwise, these four games will be as tight as they get.
Barcelona squares off with Atletico Madrid, a team that is also fighting them for the title in the domestic championship. Both of them have remarkable offensives, but the reigning champions are far more experienced and less likely to succumb under pressure. Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta are unstoppable in a good day and they have what it takes to single-handedly lead Barcelona to victory.
Atletico Madrid is not be underestimated though, as they have a couple of options up front and they will probably play overly aggressive in both legs. They know that defending against Barcelona is suicidal and will rely on Diego Costa to catch the Catalans off-guard. Punters would be better off staying away from this fixture, but if you want to make the double legged game more exciting, bet a tiny amount on Atletico Madrid to win the first leg. The odds are terrific and this is reason enough.
Real Madrid should have an easy task in defeating Borussia Dortmund, even though the last time the two teams met it was the Germans who prevailed. Dortmund lost some key players and the replacements are not even remotely as good, while the team struggles overall. They’ve lost any chance of winning the Bundesliga and they are not the best team on the road, so Real should be able to close the deal in Madrid.
Paris Saint-Germain has high expectations for 2014 Champions League, but the fact that they will be running into Chelsea twice hurts their chances. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani are top class strikers and they can overwhelm pretty much any defensive, yet Jose Mourinho is an old fox. He has both the wits and the experience to defend against remarkable strikers and under his command Chelsea can win the Champions League twice in three years. Punters can either bet on the English team to advance to the next stage for place individual wagers on Chelsea to win each leg.
Manchester United has an impressive tradition and many people will try to resurrect the ghost of the 1999 victory over Bayern Munich. Bringing back old memories won’t help Manchester advance to the next stage, because their opponents are much better on all fronts. Without Sir Alex Ferguson, United sank into near irrelevance and their chances to win the Premier League are just as low as their chances to make the semifinals in the Champions League.