The Champions League returns as the knockout stage gets set to kick off.
There are 16 teams remaining in the competition, with a collection of European powers and new challengers ready to begin a charge through the knockout rounds.
With Barcelona and AC Milan the only big names eliminated in the group stage, fans can enjoy a series of high-profile matchups between all the other European powers up and down the fixture list.
Here, we break down everything you need to know to bet the Champions League knockout stage.
Who will win the 2022 Champions League? Latest odds
Currently dominating their respective domestic leagues, Manchester City and Bayern Munich are the clear title favorites. Both were given relatively easy Round of 16 matchups.
Real Madrid and PSG, despite boasting star-studded lineups, are further down the list due to the Round of 16 draw that pitted the two title contenders against one another. One is guaranteed a devastating early elimination in March, with its European hopes dashed with months left in the season.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
|Team||Country||Odds to Win||Titles (Last)|
|Bayern Munich||Germany||+350||6 (2020)|
|Real Madrid||Spain||+1400||13 (2018)|
|Manchester United||England||+1800||3 (2008)|
|Inter Milan||Italy||+5000||7 (2007)|
Best bets to win the 2022 Champions League
Favorite: Man City (+250)
While the winner of Real Madrid vs. PSG remains well-positioned to win the crown, Man City has a much weaker Round of 16 matchup and therefore a calmer route to the final.
Plus, City looks flat out unbeatable in Premier League play. That hasn’t always translated to Champions League success — just ask the 2017-18 squad, which set Premier League points record that season but was dumped from the competition 5-1 on aggregate by fellow Premier League side Liverpool — but this year, it very well may.
Man City’s expected goals (xG) differential is +40.17 in Premier League play this season, the best in the English top flight and second-best among the Champions League favorites, only behind Bayern’s outrageous +47.45 with Robert Lewandowski eating the German Bundesliga alive.
Kevin De Bruyne is in scintillating form, Riyad Mahrez can’t stop scoring, Rodri makes a heat map light up like a Christmas tree, and the defense is maybe the best in all of Europe. This is the most complete team in the competition, and if manager Pep Guardiola can stop outsmarting himself in big games, this could be the season City gets over the Champions League hump.
🔥 Riyad Mahrez’s last seven appearances for Man City:
⚽ vs Brentford
⚽⚽🅰️ vs Fulham
⚽ vs Arsenal
⚽🅰️ vs Leicester
⚽🅰️ vs Newcastle
⚽🅰️ vs Leeds
⚽ vs RB Leipzig pic.twitter.com/weRH0r4LjW
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 10, 2022
Sleeper: Juventus (+2500)
Juve has had a tough season, but the Old Lady is trending up, in a big way.
The Italian side began the season in brutal form, unable to create opportunities up front as Paulo Dybala, Moise Kean, and Alvaro Morata failed to shoulder the extra goalscoring responsibilities in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence.
Enter Dusan Vlahovic. While manager Massimiliano Allegri was trying to find a formula that worked, the club went out and captured the most in-form striker in the world to solve its problems. Don’t be fooled by Juve’s Serie A table position: This is a dangerous side on a 10-match Serie A unbeaten run and ready to prove to Europe it is for real.
Overhyped: Man United (+1800)
The odds for the Red Devils aren’t exactly the +250 of their crosstown rivals, but even this number might be giving the Premier League giants too much respect.
The engine is turning over, but the spark plug is busted under Ralf Rangnick, unable to get the pistons moving. Having Paul Pogba back and Jadon Sancho in better form is good, but United is not a contender. The defense is leaky with Harry Maguire failing to live up to his massive transfer fee, and its 34 expected goals allowed (xGA) in Premier League play ranks an abysmal 14th in the English top flight. Add in the decline of 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, and the club hasn’t found a working formula.
The Red Devils have a soft Round of 16 matchup against another side struggling to rediscover its prior dominance in Atletico Madrid, but even if the English side progresses to the quarterfinals, do not back United to make a run.
Round of 16 upset: Inter (+240) vs. Liverpool (+110 )
Inter is +240 odds in the first leg of this matchup at home, which is plenty of reason to jump on that number.
Liverpool looks to be rounding into form after a holiday season slip, but Inter has plenty of firepower to challenge a Reds side that still relies too much on aging midfield duo Jordan Henderson and James Milner. Curtis Jones has come into the side and provided life, but is the 21-year-old Champions League-ready?
Inter, meanwhile, is on an absolute tear. The club was on a 10-match Serie A unbeaten run (9W-0L-1D) until a slight blip in the recent Milan derby. Still, this club has goalscoring firepower and a complementary stout back line. Look out for the Italians.
Round of 16 match to avoid: PSG (+100) vs. Real Madrid (+250)
While that number on Real Madrid might be tough for some to stay away from, this is a matchup of which to steer clear.
These may just be the two best teams in Europe, and it’s a shame they meet in the Round of 16. In a matchup with a final feel, where the margins are razor-thin, sit this one out.
Top Goalscorer: Robert Lewandowski (-225)
This is an incredibly boring pick. Lewandowski, on nine goals, is one behind the current leader Sebastian Haller (10 goals, +300). While the Ajax man lit up the group stage, his side isn’t equipped for the deep run necessary to maintain his lead.
Bayern, meanwhile, is a top-three team in the competition and is going to make a true title challenge. Lewandowski is probably a top-two in-form striker in the world alongside Vlahovic, and little will stop him in this competition.
Others behind him include Mohamed Salah (7 goals, +800), Cristiano Ronaldo (6 goals, +1600), Karim Benzema (5 goals, +2500), Lionel Messi (5 goals, +5000), Kylian Mbappe (4 goals, +4000). Christopher Nkunku, hilariously, doesn’t even appear on DraftKings’ list despite owning seven goals to his name already.
The PSG stars have too many good teammates and might not even advance past the Round of 16. The latter is also true for Benzema. Bayern will eat RB Salzburg’s lunch, and Lewandowski will have it wrapped up from there.
Champions League winner: Real Madrid (+1400)
Yes, I did mention staying away from PSG vs. Real Madrid.
That said, you will never see a team as good as Real Madrid in this competition with these type of odds, solely attributed to the brutal heavyweight Round of 16 matchup. The team that survives this series will immediately become a top-three favorite to win the tournament, if not the top overall club, and Real Madrid is my pick.
In a topsy-turvy La Liga season, manager Carlo Ancelotti has steered a steady ship at Real Madrid.
While not as consistent at the back as maybe one might expect from a Champions League title favorite, the team is defensively stout in spurts, as Eder Militao has developed into a world-class center back and Luka Modric hasn’t quite yet fallen off the cliff despite his 36 years of age. Add in the club’s transformation into a dangerous counter-attacking side, and Real Madrid could make a deep run.
1 – @realmadriden have generated more shots following high turnovers than any other @LaLigaEN team this season in all competitions (55), with only Getafe (7) scoring more goals following high turnovers than them (six, level with four teams). Pressure. pic.twitter.com/ujXC5efMzx
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 7, 2022
While PSG is a star-studded team rounding into form in Ligue 1, the French side is only just now getting Neymar back from a months-long ankle injury and doesn’t have time to properly integrate him into the squad. Manager Mauricio Pochettino has done just enough to quiet early whispers of a quick hook, but those haven’t truly disappeared all season, adding instability.
Real Madrid is a risky title pick given its next match, but the odds here are just too good to pass up. Madrid seems well equipped to handle a PSG side with many questions still left to answer, and if Los Merengues beat PSG, there would really only be two sides left in the competition — Man City and Bayern — that could truly challenge the Spanish giants in a quest for European crown No. 14.