The second leg of quarterfinal play in the UEFA Champions League will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday with Barcelona, Munich, London and Madrid the sites of the matches.
Bayern Munich and Real Madrid seem to have punched their tickets to the semifinals with impressive first leg wins, while Chelsea won 1-0 in Portugal at Benfica and Barcelona and AC Milan played to a 0-0 draw.
Here are my five favorite bets based on lines from the world’s largest and most renowned sports book, the LVH SuperBook here in Las Vegas.
Note: HOME teams in all caps.
This game on Tuesday will most certainly be the one to watch.
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg at Milan, expect Barcelona and Lionel Messi to press the flow a little bit more at home in search of an early goal.
This is a match between two of the best six teams in the world right now and AC Milan and Zlatan Ibrahimović can stage an upset if they don't have to expend too much energy and effort on defense.
But that’s the problem and the betting angle here. AC Milan (+1.5 +100) will have to use most of its focus trying to stop the Catalans and that pressure will likely get them in the end.
I see Barcelona scoring a goal in each half, and goalkeeper Víctor Valdés registering a clean sheet in a 2-0 Barcelona win, which will send them to the semifinals.
BET: BARCELONA -1.5 -130
> 90-minute three-way result odds: Barcelona -400, AC Milan +1050, Draw +500.
Bayern Munich is firing on all cylinders now and some stories in the press indicate they won’t take it easy despite their 2-0 win at Marseille in Leg 1.
I really respect the way Marseille has played, and is playing of late, but Bayern Munich is a world-class team, and guys like Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Mario Gomez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller seem to be competing with each other for goals lately.
Being in Germany in front of a rabid Munich crowd that can now almost taste the semifinals, I look for the home team to explode against the Ligue 1 side and coast into the semifinals with a 4-0 win on Tuesday, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer registering another Champions League shutout against Marseille (1.5 +120).
BET: BAYERN MUNICH -1½ -140
> 90-minute three-way result odds: Bayern Munich -425, AC Milan +1200, Draw +500.
Although I’m a massive Chelsea fan and this game is at Stamford Bridge in London, I respect Benfica’s (+1, -140) current form too much to get too cocky and make a bet with my heart here on Wednesday.
This one could be as exciting as Barcelona-AC Milan and should be as tight as a frog’s ass. I do see Chelsea advancing to the semifinals, to be played April 17-18 and April 24-25, as a tie will suit Frank Lampard and the Blues just fine.
The game could end 0-0, 1-1, or 2-2, although a 1-0 or 2-1 Chelsea win is a distinct possibility. I strongly believe there’s real value (+280) in betting the draw here.
Leg 1 in Portugal saw Chelsea win 1-0, so if Benfica is leading 1-0 at the end of 90 minutes, strap yourself in for some exciting soccer to follow.
BET: CHELSEA-BENFICA DRAW +280
> 90-minute three-way result odds: Chelsea -155, Benfica +450, Draw +280.
After rolling to an easy 3-0 win in Cypress in Leg 1, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka will be primed to show off for the home crowd at the Bernabéu on Wednesday.
Laying three goals is a dicey reality in any soccer bet, but if any team in the world can be expected to put four, five or even six goals in the net, it’s Real Madrid. And Apoel Nicosia (+3 -120) is the lowest-ranked team left in the tournament.
So just lay the lumber baby.
BET: REAL MADRID -3, EVEN
> 90-minute three-way result odds: Real Madrid -1800, Apoel Nicosia +3500, Draw +1200.
Focusing on the total in this game, I have noticed that games with a total of three or more goals usually end up flying-over. And Real Madrid could, and I think will, be up 3-0 at halftime.
Like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid’s starters seem to try and outscore each other, and with studs like Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, Kaká, Sergio Ramos, Gonzalo Higuain and Ángel di María, goals should come fast and furious on the home pitch.
In the end, I see Real Madrid winning 4-0, 5-0 or 6-1 and betting the over and laying the -140 juice is the Rx here.
BET: REAL MADRID-APOEL NICOSIA OVER 3.5, -140. (BEST BET)
I know these selections seem a little chalky but that’s my style and there is a real class difference here in the Bayern Munich-Marseille and Real Madrid-Apoel Nicosia matches.
Betting a draw, as in the Chelsea-Benfica game, is not a fun thing, but with a 1-0 road goal edge, the Blues can stomach a draw and still advance. As far as Barcelona-AC Milan, tread lightly.
I find it hard to believe the best team on the planet, Barcelona, won’t advance to the semifinal round, but AC Milan, my No. 6-ranked team in the world, should not be taken lightly.
Good luck with your wagers and enjoy these last four quarterfinal matches.
Follow me on Twitter @KevinStott11
Kevin Stott has been a sports writer for Suburban Life and Press Publications in Chicago, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s View Newspapers and Gaming Today in Sin City and should not be confused with the soccer referee of the same name.