Soccer Futures: Will a Premier League Team Win Champions League?

by Taylor Smith
on January 23, 2018

Over the last few years, the UEFA Champions League has been thoroughly dominated by Spanish clubs. Real Madrid (thrice) and Barcelona have won the tournament in each of the last 4 years, while we haven’t seen an English winner since Chelsea in 2012. Before that, the most recent English club to have won Europe’s most prestigious club tournament was Manchester United in 2008.

For what many consider to be the best league in the world, the fact that the Premier League has had just 2 Champions League winners in the last decade is a bit embarrassing. That said, this season’s tournament may represent England’s best chance to have a winning side in quite some time.

All 5 Premier League clubs in the tournament advanced beyond the group stages, with 4 of them winning their respective groups. Both Manchester Clubs, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool topped their groups, while Chelsea came in as runners-up behind Roma in Group C. Spurs impressively topped the group that also featured heavyweights Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

So, is this the year an English club finally breaks through again? Or will we see a Spanish side win UCL for the 5th year running?

How Many Premier League Clubs Will Advance to the Quarterfinals?

  • 0 (+10000)
  • 1 (+1200)
  • 2 (+250)
  • 3 (+125)
  • 4 (+250)
  • 5 (+1400)

The knockout stages, which get underway in mid-February, should be fascinating. Of the 5 Premier League clubs to have reached the stage, 3 of them would appear to have a great chance at advancing. Liverpool should be favored over Porto, Manchester City will be heavy favorites against Basel, and Manchester United should be able to get through Sevilla.

Things are a bit dicier for Spurs and Chelsea, however. Spurs will have to do battle with Italian giants Juventus, while Chelsea face a home-and-home clash against Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Barcelona.

Chelsea-Barcelona will without a doubt be the most interesting matchup of the knockout stage. The Blues have failed to reach the heights we saw them at least season when they cruised to the Premier League title, but they’re still among the deepest and most talented squads in Europe.

Barcelona, meanwhile, is still unbeaten in La Liga this season. Real Madrid came into the season as favorites, but Barca has overtaken them (and then some) this season. The Blaugrana lost Neymar over the summer, but they were able to replace him with Ousmane Dembele, formerly of Borussia Dortmund.

Barcelona has since lured Philippe Coutinho away from Liverpool, but the Brazilian midfield maestro is already cup-tied to the Reds this season, which means he’s ineligible to play for Barca for the duration of this season’s Champions League. Obviously, not having to deal with Coutinho is a boost to Chelsea.

Spurs, meanwhile, are currently a disappointing 5th in the Premier League. Tottenham still has a great chance at landing in the top-4 by season’s end, but many expected Mauricio Pochettino’s men to fight for a title this season. With Manchester City running away with the league already, that’s obviously not going to happen.

For all of their struggles in the league, though, Spurs looked amazing during the CL group stages. Tottenham went an unbeaten 5-1-0 during the group stages despite playing in the aforementioned “Group of Death.” Spurs routed Madrid 3-1 at Wembley, while they were able to earn a solid 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, as well. Tottenham also won both legs against Dortmund by an aggregate of 5-2.

Their knockout stage opponent, Juve, finished second in Group D behind Barca. Barcelona won 3-0 at the Camp Nou before the Italians held them to a scoreless draw in the return leg.

3 Premier League teams advancing to the quarterfinal round is understandably favored at +125 here. There’s always a chance Liverpool or the Manchester sides could slip up against lesser opponents, but for now, we think they’re close to locks. Chelsea’s fate looks like it may be sealed against Barcelona, while Spurs have a good chance at dethroning Juve.

Let’s side with the conservative bet of 3 English sides advancing. If you’re feeling frisky, there’s also great value on 4 (+250) reaching the next round.

Which Premier League Side Will Advance Furthest?

  • Manchester City (-140)
  • Manchester United +500
  • Liverpool +500
  • Tottenham +800
  • Chelsea +1000

As detailed above, Tottenham and Chelsea have the toughest roads to the quarterfinals, so they naturally have the worst odds of being the last English team standing. If we think the Blues are going to fall to Barcelona, we can scrap them here despite the value at +1000.

The other 4 are obviously more interesting. City is heavy favorite here, and for obvious reasons. The Premier League leaders have what should be a fairly easy knockout stage bout with Basel on the horizon. The issue with trying to predict which team will be the last one standing is that the Champions League matchups are random. We don’t know who City will face once they beat Basel, or who Liverpool will take on assuming they get through Porto. If one of them were to draw Barcelona, their chances at advancing would obviously take a much bigger hit than if they draw someone like Besiktas or Shakhtar Donetsk.

So, we just have to go on the quality of the teams themselves. Despite their recent loss to Liverpool, City are still easily the best team in England, and they have a viable claim to be the best team in all of Europe this season. This side would be favored in most, if not all of their head-to-head matchups, so it’s obvious that they have the best hopes of being the last English team alive in the tournament.

Liverpool and United are wild cards. Liverpool looked great in their first match in the post-Coutinho era, but is that the kind of performance we can expect from them on a weekly basis? Beating City is as impressive a win as you can get these days, but it remains to be seen whether Jurgen Klopp’s men have the defensive fortitude to contend with high-octane sides like Barcelona or Paris St. Germain.

As for United, can they score enough goals? The (likely) addition of Alexis Sanchez will help, but too often we’ve seen Jose Mourinho’s sides willfully sit back and defend rather than aggressively attack. The Red Devils have the weapons to play an attacking style, but will Mourinho let them? It’s never been his style in the past, and that could haunt them as the CL progresses.

If you’re looking for safety, bet on City here. If it’s profit potential you’re after, and if you’re a little more risk tolerant, a flier bet on Liverpool or Manchester United looks like the play.

Will a Premier League Player Lead the CL in Goals?

There’s still a long way to go in this year’s Champions League, and it’ll be fascinating to see whether anyone is capable of knocking off Real Madrid. It’ll also be fun to watch individual players thriving in Europe’s most prestigious club competition. As of now, Cristiano Ronaldo leads the tournament in goals, with 9 through the first 6 matches. That puts him well ahead of Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Harry Kane, Edinson Cavani and Wissam Ben Yedder, who are all tied for second with 6 goals thus far.

Here are the odds for who will finish the tournament with the most strikes:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo -120
  • Edinson Cavani +600
  • Neymar +800
  • Harry Kane +800
  • Lionel Messi +800
  • Robert Lewandowski +2000
  • Sergio Aguero +2800
  • Wissam Ben Yedder +3300
  • Roberto Firmino +3300
  • Gabriel Jesus +4000
  • Mohamed Salah +4000

Ronaldo is understandably the heavy favorite. He already has a 3-goal head start over the next gaggle of contenders, so he’ll be tough to catch. That said, we don’t know if Real are long for the tournament this year. Despite having won it in back-to-back years, this season’s Madrid squad has been in rather terrible form in La Liga all season long.

That hasn’t yet translated to the Champions League, but Zinedine Zidane’s squad is clearly mortal. As a result, it wouldn’t be a massive shock to see Ronaldo and co. bow out early. Obviously, it’s impossible to score goals when you aren’t playing games. If you think Madrid are likely to be bounced soon, Ronaldo may not be the slam dunk bet he first appears.

That opens the door for the rest of the group, who all come with massive upside. Teammates Neymar and Edinson Cavani would appear to be the next most likely candidates, and they’re currently tied with 6 apiece.

The Premier League player with the best odds of leading the tournament in goals is Tottenham’s Harry Kane at +800.

However, as we mentioned previously, Spurs face an uphill battle to stay alive in the tournament considering they are slated to square off with Juventus in the knockout round. Kane’s goal scoring will obviously go a long way toward ensuring his side remain alive, but we certainly aren’t confident enough at this point that Spurs will remain in the tournament long enough for Kane to take the lead in goals.

That leads us to Sergio Aguero, who is way down at +2800 to finish top of the score sheet. Unfortunately, Aguero has only scored 3 times in CL to this point, it’s going to be tough for him to make up the 6-goal discrepancy between himself and Ronaldo regardless of how deep into the tourney City are able to go. The little Argentine can bag them in bunches, but that’s probably too much to ask.

Liverpool’s Mo Salah is an excellent value at +4000. He’s scored 5 already, and he’s been the Reds’ main man all season long. Salah will have to up his production even more now that Coutinho is gone, and we think he’s up to the challenge. His teammate, Roberto Firmino, is also a solid bet at +3300. The Brazilian has been in fine form of late, and Liverpool should be able to advance past Porto in the knockout stage.

Of all the Premier League players capable of surpassing Ronaldo, the Liverpool tandem of Salah and Firmino would appear to have the best chances. Both players are worthy of a flier bet, though it’s looking doubtful that a Premier Leaguer will lead the CL in scoring this season.

How Many Premier League Sides Will Reach the Final?

  • 0 (+170)
  • 1 (-135)
  • 2 (+550)

5 of the last 16 teams in the Champions League are from England, which accounts for over 31 percent of the field. There are more Premier League teams remaining in the tourney than there are from any other league in Europe, so, naturally, England stands an excellent chance of having at least one representative playing in the final in Ukraine in May.

Obviously, City is the favorite among the English contingent, followed by United and Liverpool. Chelsea and Spurs feel like long shots.

The notion that we could have an all-English final isn’t impossible, either. City is the favorite among all teams to win at +250, followed by Bayern Munich (+500), PSG (+500), Barcelona (+550) and Real Madrid (+700). Manchester United (+1200) and Liverpool (+1600) follow.

All signs point to at least one PL team getting to the final round, so you can safely bet on that at -135. If you’re feeling frisky, 2 teams to make it at +550 is a decent gamble, too.

From Which Country Will the Winner Come?

  • England +110
  • Spain +300
  • Germany +500
  • France +500
  • Italy +1100
  • Other +6600
  • Portugal +10000

With 5 teams still in it, we know that math favors England here. It’s just a numbers game. That said, it’s easy to see why Spain is ranked so high despite only having 3 teams still alive. As mentioned previously, each of the last 4 tournament winners have been either Real Madrid or Barcelona.

France and Germany are next, but both of their hopes hinge on just one team. Bayern Munich is Germany’s only hope, while PSG is the lone French representative remaining. Both squads are deep with quality, but PSG has made a habit of routinely coming up short on Europe’s biggest stage. Bayern has the experience to their advantage, but would they be listed as favorites over either Spanish side or Manchester City? It’s tough to see.

Manchester City essentially has the Premier League title on layaway at this point, which means they can probably get away with focusing their sights on winning Champions League. City has won a pair of Premier League titles since 2012, but they have yet to advance beyond the semifinals of the Champions League.

This looks like the year they can finally win it. The rest of the field is relatively weak, and there doesn’t appear to be a titan looming over the rest of Europe. All of the other contenders are still vulnerable. City is playing with supreme confidence, and they’ll go into any match thinking they’ll be favorites to win.

England makes for the safe bet at +110, but overlooking Spain at +300 is a dangerous proposition.
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