I love the Champions League, but I really start to love it when it reaches the quarterfinals. Group play features a few too many lopsided mismatches, and while most of the weaker teams are removed from the field afterward, some can sneak through to the Round-of-16. Even when they don't, we still see a few lopsided results in that round.
That's rarely the case by the time we reach the quarterfinals. It isn't easy to get this far in the tournament without earning it, and this is when the real fun begins.
Of course, the real fun is even more fun when you have money riding on the outcomes, so let's figure out which outcomes we want to have money on.
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Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund, Tue. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
This is one of the more interesting matchups of the round. We have a Manchester City side that has always been spectacular in attack but has taken things to another level with its defense this season. City have allowed only one goal in eight Champions League matches this season, and it came during a 3-1 victory over Porto in the first match of group play. None have come since.
All that said, we can't ignore the teams City have played so far. Porto was the best team they faced, and they scored the lone goal City allowed and managed a draw in the second meeting. City's other clean sheets have come against Olympiacos (currently the top team in Greece), Marseille (6th place in France), and Borussia Mönchengladbach (9th place in Germany). Here City is facing a Dortmund team with one of the most prolific goal scorers in the world in Erling Haaland, a player City would love to have for themselves, as would plenty of other Champions League teams. It's also a Dortmund team that has scored at least one goal in 39 of the 40 matches it has played this season. The only time it didn't score was a 2-0 loss to Augsburg back on Sept. 26. It's been 37 straight matches with a goal since. The Pick: Both Teams to Score (-125)
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool, Tue. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
I have a simple rule I follow when it comes to European competition. When there are matchups of massive powers that haven't been as powerful as expected, take the one from England. I've made money getting Liverpool at a reasonable price so far in the Champions League this season because their struggles in the Premier League have impacted their worth in the market. Still, the Premier League is the most difficult domestic league in the world. Also, this season alone, we've seen Spanish teams struggle. All four Spanish qualifiers reached the knockout stage, but only Real Madrid remains. Atlético Madrid is atop the table in La Liga, but it was barely a speed bump for Chelsea in the Round of 16.
As for this match in particular, Madrid might be catching Liverpool at the wrong time. Liverpool have seen Diogo Jota return in recent weeks, and they're starting to look like Liverpool again, posting three straight clean sheets, including a 2-0 win to finish off RB Leipzig in the last round. On Tuesday, they'll face a Madrid team that we know will be missing Sergio Ramos and is likely to be missing Eden Hazard as well. The Pick: Liverpool +165
Porto vs. Chelsea, Wed. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
Porto have been one of the Champions League's biggest surprises this season, but I have a hard time envisioning them getting past Chelsea. Porto finished in second in Group C behind Man City, managing a draw against City and smothering Olympiacos and Marseille 9-0 across four matches. They then got past Juventus in the Round of 16 on the away goals tiebreaker, but Juventus outscored them 3.8-2.7 in expected goals (xG) across the two legs. Now Porto faces the most formidable team they've seen this season outside City, and we're getting a bit of a discount on Chelsea, thanks to what happened over the weekend.
Chelsea suffered a shocking 5-2 loss to a West Brom team due to be relegated from the Premier League in a couple of months. But it was somewhat of a freak occurrence, as it was the first match back from the international break, Chelsea had a much bigger game on the horizon (this one), and Chelsea were a bit unlucky (they won the xG battle 2.4-1.9), and on top of that they played with ten men for an hour thanks to a Thiago Silva red card. Before allowing five goals to West Brom, Chelsea surrendered only two goals in its first 14 matches under Thomas Tuchel. We should see something much closer to the team that beat Atlético Madrid 3-0 over two matches against Porto. The Pick: Chelsea (-130)
Bayern Munich vs. Paris St. Germain, Wed. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
How good is Bayern Munich without Robert Lewandowski? We're about to find out! Honestly, I'm not sure how to handicap the match from a results standpoint as far as who will win. Instead, I'm choosing to bank on goals being scored and a lot of them. Neither one of these teams has been impressive on the defensive end in the Champions League. Bayern have allowed seven goals in eight matches, with an average xG of 1.33 allowed per match. PSG have allowed eight goals in eight matches with an average xG allowed of 1.48.
Both are also prolific attacking teams who tend to leave their defense exposed. That's not as much of a problem when facing lesser sides, but they're each facing fellow giants this week. Even without Lewandowski available, this should prove to be the week's most entertaining match from a goals perspective. I expect it to look a lot different from the 1-0 Bayern win in last season's final. The Pick: Over 3.5 goals (+130)