Champions League quarterfinals: Best bets

By Dillon Essma  ( 


The Champions League quarterfinals are here, with one game a day.

We break down our best bets for each match below. All games at 3 p.m. ET.

Thursday’s game


Athletico Madrid ( 140) vs. RB Leipzig

This match will be a clash of styles, as Athletico Madrid likes to pack it in, keep a clean sheet and get you on the counterattack, while RB Leipzig is a much more attacking side that likes a wide-open game. It will be fun to see which teams controls the flow of the game.

Athletico Madrid beat the Premier League champion Liverpool to get to this stage, in pretty impressive fashion, have loads of big game experience and a big-game manager in Diego Simeone. RB Leipzig are the up and comer, beating Tottenham. It’s a good time for Leipzig to get here, as Tottenham were not their typical selves, and Leipzig took advantage of that. However, they will be without by far their best player Timo Werner, who has already joined Chelsea.

I think Leipzig will struggle, and Athletico are the far superior club. I have a 12-1 future on Athletico, and think they are the most likely to make it to the title game from their side of the bracket. Because they sometimes struggle to score goals, I am going to go with Athletico to advance at -150, which includes extra time and penalties. This number should be closer to -200 in my opinion without Werner.

Pick: Athletico to advance (-150)

Friday’s game

Bayern Munich ( 100) vs Barcelona

This feels more like a final than it does a quarterfinal.

Bayern Munich have been the best club in Europe since the restart, and I don’t think that’s even debatable. This is their tournament to lose. Barca comes down to Messi, and if he can create more magical moments; if he doesn’t, Barca can struggle in attack. On top of that, they have trouble controlling the middle third against good sides, and their back four can be leaky. Bayern, too, can give up some goals, but their team is far deeper than Barcelona. They have the best No. 9 in the world in Robert Lewandowski and over the course of their season, Bayern averaged 2.74 xG/game -- a ridiculously high number.

Messi can be the X factor, but Bayern are just the better side of these two clubs. Bayern at even money is a gift, and I see a minimum of three goals here (3.75 xG in Bayern games, 2.90 xG in Barca games). I like Bayern at even money and the over 3 at -110. I would make Bayern a -120 favorite in this spot and the over 3 should be closer to -125.

Picks: Bayern ML ( 100) and over 3 (-110)

Saturday’s game

Man City (-415) vs Lyon

This game is a true mismatch to me. Lyon are a solid club that will sit back and defend, and counterattack you. They did this successfully against Juventus in the group of 16, but they won’t be able to in this matchup.

Lyon are not Champions League Quarterfinal quality, and Man City are going to put it on them in this match. I’d lay -1.5 up to -130. Over the course of their season, Man City’s xG differential per game was 1.72, and this was a “down year” for them; since the restart, their xG differential was 2.0. Against Real Madrid, they won at Madrid 2-1 and at home 3-1, in convincing fashion. I expect the large difference in quality to be highlighted fairly clearly in this match.

Pick: Man City -1.5 (-125)

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