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It has been a long winter for the people at the Jersey Shore, with snow drifts piling up to the first-floor windows.
But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for sports fans and bettors, especially those that follow high-level European soccer religiously: the UEFA Champions League is back!
After a two-month break, following the completion of the Group Stages and two knockout stage draws (please watch this if you have not; it is very interesting and also embarrassing), the Champions League will resume Tuesday, February 14 with the first two of eight two-legged Round-of-16 ties. Over that next month, we will get Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Europa Conference League action Tuesday through Thursday, from lunchtime until dinner.
If you like betting on soccer, this is like March Madness, except there are high-level games EVERY DAY: before and after the UEFA games, there are games spanning the four-day league weekend from Friday to Monday.
So which eight teams are going to advance from this round into the quarterfinals?
Here are the odds by bet365 to advance for all eight Champions League Round-of-16 ties.
● Sporting CP +790, Manchester City -1600
● PSG -135, Real Madrid +110
● RB Salzburg +800, Bayern Munich -1600
● Internazionale +275, Liverpool -370
● Villarreal +160, Juventus -200
● Chelsea -525, Lille +370
● Benfica +300, Ajax -400
● Atletico Madrid +110, Manchester United -145
Four of the ties (some will argue five) look to be pretty easy to call. Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea should progress with little problems: Sporting and RB Salzburg will find it tough to match up with the two tournament favorites, while Lille has struggled in Ligue 1, sitting in 11th place in the table. Liverpool and Ajax are both heavy favorites to advance, but have to face tougher opposition.
Which leaves us with the other three ties: PSG v. Real Madrid, Villarreal v. Juventus, and Atletico Madrid v. Manchester United.
“Most of the time with the Round-of-16, you get the chalk going through,” an Offers.bet spokesperson said. “I think Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Liverpool go through relatively easily. I think Ajax could have their hands full with Darwin Núñez and Benfica, but ultimately, it should be the Dutch side that goes through to the quarters.
“The other three ties are interesting. Villarreal is the defending UEFA Europa League champion, and could give Juventus some issues. But Juve strengthened in the winter market, so they might just be able to find enough goals to advance. Manchester United intrigues me, because with Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, and that new setup, they could make some noise in this cup.
“Of course, PSG Real Madrid will be the glamor tie. Kylian Mbappe is heading to Madrid in the summer, so how will he deal with this tie? To be honest, I like Real Madrid, and I could see them making a deep run with Karim Benzema and Vinicius bagging goals left, right, and center.
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