The draw for the 2023/24 Champions League knockout rounds threw up some interesting ties. Yet, that said, there was a sense that many of the favourites were kept apart. Of the 16 teams in the draw, none of the top six in the outright betting markets were drawn against each other. Of course, some of that is down to seeding from the Groups Stage, but it is a rarity to see all the top candidates kept apart.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any intriguing matchups: there are several. And there is scope for some upsets. Value may even be found in live betting during the Champions League matches, captialising on the ebb and flow of some of the tighter games.
Sociedad could sting PSG
First, let’s consider some of the ties with a potential upset, and we can think of none better than Paris Saint-Germain and Real Sociedad. Yes, the former has Kylian Mbappé and a host of other stars, but they come up against an excellent Sociedad side that looked at home in the Group Stage. PSG are odds-on to win the 1st leg at Parc des Princes, and rightly so. But they may struggle in Spain, and we wouldn’t be rushing in to back them at 8/15 to qualify over 2 legs. 13/8 for Sociedad to do so looks tempting.
Napoli can thwart Barcelona
Next up, we have Napoli vs. Barcelona. Both teams look a shadow of what they were last season, with Napoli, in particular, struggling to demonstrate why they were crowned Scudetto winners last season. Yet, just because Napoli have struggled in Serie A does not mean this is a gimme for Barcelona, who have also failed to live up to their billing as champions. The pressure is mounting on Xavi, and we think that the 13/8 offered for Napoli to win the first leg at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. As for qualification, it feels like a toss-up, so the 9/5 offered for Napoli to get through should not be overlooked.
What about a major shock then? Lazio are one of the form sides in Serie A, and they have largely shook off a sluggish start to the season to get back in the hunt for Champions League qualification next season. They come up against the second-favourites for the Champions League title in Bayern Munich. You’d fancy Munich over two legs, but they do not always look comfortable away from home. The Double chance markets for a Lazio win or draw in the 1st leg at the Stadio Olimpico can be found at 8/5, and some might even have their heads turned at the 11/2 on offer for a home win.
Back goals for PSV
Finally, we have PSV Eindhoven vs. Borussia Dortmund. The Dutch side is very much under the radar, and we think they can be the surprise packages of the tournament. PSV have hit 59 goals in just 17 Eredivisie games this season, and Dortmund concede a lot for a top team. There are plenty of chances for value in this one, including over 3.5 goals in the 1st leg in Eindhoven. But we like PSV to win and over 2.5 at 5/2. A great value bet in what promises to be one of the higher-scoring ties of the round.