Bayern, Barca and the Bookies: The Great Champions League Debate

Following a storming performance in the second leg of the quarter-finals against Porto, Bayern Munich are now the hot favorites to claim the European Champions League title. Despite entering the second match against Portugal’s leading side needing to score at least two goals to progress to the club’s fourth consecutive semi-final, Bayern maintained composure throughout the match to walk away 6-1 victors. On top of finding the net six times in one of the toughest club competitions in the world, Bayern’s performance won the club the favor of bookmakers across Europe.

Six of the Best from Bayern

After stunning Porto fans with six goals, those in control of the odds sat up and took notice by instantly slashing the betting line down from a 4/1 starting price. Across many of the major online sports books, Bayern now command a price of 8/5 which puts the club on an equal footing with the mighty Barcelona.

Now ahead of Madrid’s two sides, as well as Juventus and Monaco, all eyes will be on Bayern in the semi-finals. Fortunately, the German club showed a resilience that few teams have managed in the Champions League this season and that should pay dividends in the next round. As ever, Robert Lewandowski was on target for Bayern not once but twice and his confidence in attack was matched by Mr. Consistent himself, Thomas Muller.

In fact, Bayern’s overall attacking prowess was the difference between the two sides on the night and it could be the style that wins the team another Champions League title. What’s the reason for this new found love for attacking? Bayern’s league performances. Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, Bayern have barely lost a game in the Bundesliga for two years and this confidence on the domestic scene seems to be translating into success on the European stage.

Punishing Porto’s Mistakes

However, despite the 6-1 scoreline prompting the bookmakers to price Bayern as the odds on favorite for this year’s title, the result belies a disappointing performance by Porto. Bayern were undoubtedly the better side and worthy of all six goals, but a second-half sending off for Porto was the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Portuguese outfit.

Ivan Marcano brought down Thiago to earn a second yellow in the final stakes of the game and that allowed Xabi Alonso to curl home the free-kick and take Bayern’s tally to six. This gift, and it was a gift, provided the icing on the cake for the German club and created the perfect headline ahead of the semi-finals.

Of course, before Bayern can lift the Champions League trophy, the players will need to perform in the semi-finals and even then it doesn’t mean success in the finale is guaranteed. Despite being highly ranked by 32Red and the virtual sports betting world’s odds makers, Barcelona are held in equally high regard. A 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain proved once again that Spain’s top side will be a threat in the final stages of the competition.

Bookies Also Backing Barcelona

Leading the quarter-final charge with two first-half goals was Neymar. That brace took his Champions League total to six goals this season and was enough to help Barcelona cruise past their French rivals. Although that result wasn’t as stunning as Bayern’s romp, it was another confident performance from a side that has looked unshakable throughout the season. Clinical finishing, commanding midfield performances and tireless defending ultimately led to a comfortable win and the bookies pricing Barcelona as 8/5 favorites for the trophy.

Despite two contrasting quarter-final performances, the odds of success are now the same and picking an eventual winner is now a battle between consistency and flair. Despite Barcelona traditionally being the flashy side, recent performances have shown a consistency usually associated with German clubs. Conversely, Bayern appear to have adopted the attacking style leading Spanish clubs usually employ which has created an interesting dynamic heading into the final stages of the competition.

An Intriguing End to the Champions League

This apparent reversal of roles has forced fans and potential punters to rethink their predictions. The smart money would suggest that Barcelona will continue to shine as the side has done all season. However, a renewed sense of confidence against Porto proved that Bayern can turn up the heat when necessary and that makes the team a threat to everyone left in the competition. On paper and on the pitch there is very little to choose between Barcelona and Bayern and that’s why the betting lines are so tight.

When it comes down to it, the betting rule book goes out of the window on occasions like this and matters of the heart begin ruling the head. Either club could win this year’s Champions League just as easily as neither could. Threats from left field could easily shake up the odds before the semi-final but one thing is clear, this year’s run towards the trophy looks set to be one of the most intriguing for a long time.

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