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NY Post
New York Post
25 Mar 2023


NextImg:Champions League picks: Soccer predictions, odds, best bets

The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League is getting down to the nitty gritty and once again the draw is very unbalanced.

In the Round of 16, two matches featured tournament favorites against each other — Real Madrid versus Liverpool and Bayern Munich versus Paris Saint-Germain.

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That obviously weakened the pool of teams left in the quarterfinals.

With Liverpool, PSG and Barcelona all out of the competition by the quarterfinals, Manchester City and Bayern Munich shot to the top of the oddsboard as the two clear favorites.

But, as fate would have it, the sorting hat has a sense of humor this season and pitted Man City against Bayern in the quarterfinals.

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And to add further chaos to the matter, Real Madrid was drawn against Chelsea on April 12 in Madrid, creating another quarterfinal pitting two of the strongest teams left in the show against one another.

There are no easy matches left at this stage of the competition, but you could almost hear the sigh of relief coming from Napoli, AC Milan, Benfica and Inter Milan when the draw was revealed.

Has this unbalanced draw opened up any betting value on any of the remaining eight teams?

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Real Madrid is the master of the Champions League.

And while you can be skeptical about how past performances in this tournament impact a current team, it is worth remembering that most of the main pieces from Real Madrid’s 2022 title-winning team are still on the roster and there are still key players kicking about for a club that has won twice and been to the semifinals three times in the last five iterations of this competition.

With that said, I don’t think there’s a big enough difference between Chelsea and Real Madrid in their current forms for the Blues to be more than double the odds of La Casa Blanca in the futures market.

While Chelsea has struggled to get results domestically, there are some predictive metrics that suggest Graham Potter finally has this team heading on the right path.

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Potter is considered one of the best managers in the world, so it was only a matter of time before the Blues took off under his guidance, but some poor finishing and bad luck has kept Chelsea from putting together the string of results needed to surge up the Premier League table.

Graham Potter

Chelsea coach Graham Potter
Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Chelsea is just 4-5-4 (W-D-L) with a +1 goal difference (12 GF, 11 GA) in the Premier League since the World Cup, but its expected goals data suggests it should be about six goals and five points better than that.

Only Manchester City and Arsenal have more expected points, per Understat, than Chelsea since the league resumed on Boxing Day.

In other words, this is a decent chance to buy low on the Blues, who would be listed at a shorter number had they drawn a team like Inter or Benfica in the quarterfinals rather than Madrid, which they’re set to face for the third straight year in the knockout stages of this competition.

Everything has been pedestrian for Chelsea to this point in the season, but there are some loud signals that this is a team about to turn the corner and go on a run.

It may just come in the Champions League rather than in England.