How did we get so lucky?
These matchups would make a soccer fan drool if they were being played in the middle of the summer during the “friendly” window. But these aren’t friendlies, as we all know. When it comes to this stage, UEFA Champions League odds ramp up.
Take a look at the UEFA Champions League matchups for February, the first leg, and March, the determining leg:
FEB 16 (2nd Leg - March 10)
LEIPZIG VS. LIVERPOOL
Why you should love this?: This is a classic matchup between two sides that advance in different ways. Liverpool will squeeze the oxygen out of you. Leipzig pumped in the goals during the opening stages of the Champions League but also conceded its share. Liverpool hardly conceded anything during the Group Stage (three allowed) and, as one of the top sides remaining, had no problem winning it.
BARCELONA VS. PSG
Why you should love this?: Messi, Neymar, Mbappe, Griezmann … what else do you have to say? Answer? Absolutely nothing.
This is the marquee matchup of the Round of 16. Barcelona didn’t win its group. PSG did. But we’re splitting hairs here … because none of that matters, and anybody who knows anything would agree. By the way … for those scoring at home … Neymar has popped in six goals during Champions League play, and Messi has scored three. Just be ready for this two-match dandy. And of course … every time you see Messi score, you’re seeing history (118 career Champions League goals).
FEB 17 (2nd Leg - March 9)
SEVILLA VS. DORTMUND
Why you should love this?: Perhaps nobody has been as fascinating to watch as Norweigan phenom Erling Haaland. The Dortmund striker is only 20 years old and has been ripping up the Bundesliga like it’s some third-rate, back-lot league playing on a forgotten field. Through mid-January, he has been on fire, and that includes a six-goal rampage through the Champions League coming into the decisive Round of 16. It would appear that Spanish side Sevilla will have its hands full in this two-off duel.
PORTO VS. JUVENTUS
Why you should love this?: What more can you ask for? The all-time leading scorer in Champions League history (Juventus’ Christiano Ronaldo) and the 2020-21 distribution genius of UCL in Columbian national Juan Cuadrado (Juventus) -- and possibly the most effective player in the tournament, Alvaro Morato (Juventus). See the trend?
Portuguese side FC Porto certainly earned its way to this round, squeezing the competition in Group C play and only conceding three goals (in six matches, including two against Group C winner Manchester City). But Juventus wasn’t exactly gracious to opponents either, giving up only four goals in its six matches, and when it comes to offensive production? Well, you see the names mentioned above.
FEB 23 (2nd Leg - March 17)
ATLETICO MADRID VS. CHELSEA
Why you should love this?: Aside from Manchester City (one goal conceded in six matches), nobody was as stingy as Chelsea in group play. The Blues gave up only two goals in six, and Frenchman Olivier Giroud pumped in five goals to win the group. And while EPL play hasn’t exactly gone perfectly in 2020-21 for Frank Lampard’s side, Chelsea rose to the occasion in UCL play.
LAZIO VS. BAYERN
Why you should love this?: Robert Lewandowski is crushing it in the Bundesliga, and he also pumped in three goals in four matches during the UCL Group stage. Nobody would be surprised by any of the above. Lazio, on the other hand, got here on pure grit (and defense), drawing four times in six matches in Group Stage. The problem is, Bayern Munich isn’t exactly a side you’re going to handcuff, praying for a draw. Good luck with that method, Lazio -- it may work against the majority of the competition in Serie A, but it’ll be tough here.
FEB 24 (2nd Leg - March 16)
ATALANTA VS. REAL MADRID
Why you should love this?: Real Madrid was clearly the least impressive group champion, and it wasn’t even close. That doesn’t mean Los Blancos couldn’t explode during the Round of 16, but it dropped two matches and had one draw in six outings in Group B play. Of course, dealing with the likes of Gladbach, Inter, and Ukrainian power Shakhtar had a hand in that challenging stage. Atalanta, on the other hand, can amaze you one day and make you shake your head the next. Which version of Atalanta will show up?
GLADBACH VS. MAN. CITY
Why you should love this?: Manchester City conceded only one goal in six Group C matches. We’ll pause to let you absorb that. That’s what Gladbach is going up against. And honestly? Gladbach wouldn’t even be in this stage if not for two stellar showings against Shakhtar in the group stage. The soccer odds should be pretty obvious here.
The Odds To Win Champions League
Man City +375
Real Madrid +1400
Atletico Madrid +2200
Place Soccer Wagers at BetMGM
Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All American teams, covered the FCS for HERO Sports, and wrote for so many newspapers he lost count. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.