Atletico Madrid is not the best team in this season’s UEFA Champions League but it is the best value bet at odds of 51.00 with Youwin to go one better than 40 seasons ago.
More often than not the best side does not win the UEFA Champions League, with the knockout nature of the event’s latter stages delivering several major upsets in recent years. For example, no-one seriously believes that Chelsea was Europe’s best team in 2012 when the Blues rode their luck to eliminate Napoli after extra time in the round of 16, knock out Barcelona in the semi-finals and ultimately beat Bayern on penalties in the Munich final. That is why one should be looking for a quality side at a big price.
Atletico Madrid fits the bill perfectly as it hails from Europe’s strongest domestic competition – at least at the top of the ladder where Barcelona, Real Madrid and the Mattressmen are very strong – boasts European experience through its UEFA Europa League exploits in recent seasons and finds itself in one of the softer UEFA Champions League sections alongside Austria Wien, Porto and Zenit, a group that should not pose problems to Atletico if it is a player.
According to the Euro Club Index, which ranks teams based on number crunching rather than subjective viewing, Atletico Madrid is Europe’s seventh strongest side behind Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munchen, Manchester United, Chelsea and Dortmund in that order. But UEFA Champions League bookmakers have ranked Atletico Madrid in 11th place, behind Arsenal, Juventus, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and the six aforementioned teams. Purely from a statistical perspective, Atletico Madrid is way too far down the pecking order.
Dortmund, too, would be worth a nibble at odds of 23.00 with 188bet to win the UEFA Champions League but BVB’s draw alongside Arsenal, Marseille and Napoli in one of the hottest groups is sufficiently off-putting. Atletico at more than double Dortmund’s odds will do very nicely.
Either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo has been the UEFA Champions League top goal scorer in each of the last half a dozen tournament and bookmakers are betting odds of 13.00 bar the Barcelona and Real Madrid. If Atletico Madrid is going to give one a run of one’s money in the main event, summer signing David Villa will have to score more than his fair share of goals. Villa is available at odds of 67.00 with a bevy of bookmakers, including BetVictor to be the UEFA Champions League Golden Boot and he seems to have a much better claim than many of the strikers ahead of him in the pre-competition market.
Villa is Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer and his ratio of goals to games is the best since the days of Alfredo Di Stefano. Villa has been a prolific marksman throughout his career, scoring goals for fun at Gijon, Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and now Atletico Madrid, for whom he has netted twice in its first four Spanish La Liga matches. At the risk of putting all one’s UEFA Champions League eggs into the Atletico Madrid basket, Diego Costa is over the odds with Ladbrokes offering 126.00 when he is as short as 34.00 elsewhere. Costa has scored four Spanish La Liga goals, including one from the penalty spot in Atletico Madrid’s comfortable 4-2 home defeat of Almeria last time out.
Chelsea has the softest UEFA Champions League group draw of the legitimate title contenders so, while it may be quite difficult to single out a Blues goal scorer, it could be worth backing Jose Mourinho’s team to be the highest scoring side at odds of 12.00 with Unibet. Schalke was lucky to get through to the group stage, while neither Basel nor Steaua is likely to hold out Chelsea for prolonged periods.
Opposing Manchester United under David Moyes is a sensible ploy until such time that Alex Ferguson’s successor proves that he can win big games and fill the shoes of his fellow Scot. The jury is out on Moyes and Manchester United makes no appeal whatsoever at odds on to win UEFA Champions League Group A from Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk and Sociedad.
One should look to bet around Manchester United and obtain odds against about Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk or Sociedad topping UEFA Champions League Group A. Manchester United is trading at 5.00 with most bookmakers, including BetVictor not to reach the last 16. That is not the worst medium-priced wager that one will see this term.
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