Longshot Real Madrid A Great Value Bet in Champions League
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Real Madrid is Europe’s most decorated club when it comes to continental competition. Their two UEFA Cup (Europa League) victories are all well and good, but it’s their 13 European Cup/Champions League titles which separates them from the rest.
However, while they won the title three times in a row from 2016 to 2018, their play in this competition has been a long way below the impossibly high standards they set themselves since then. Blown away in the Round of 16 by Ajax last season, Los Blancos are currently second in Group A, five points back of Paris Saint-Germain.
Real were destroyed 3-0 by the French champions in their opening game, then drew at home with 10 man Club Brugge, before narrowly defeating Galatasaray 1-0 in Round 3. This uninspiring set of results has seen them fall considerably in the Champions League betting.
888sport priced the 13-time winners at +1100 (11/1) prior to their first match, but they are now available at +2000 (20/1). From a value perspective, this may prove to be the longest price Real Madrid will be available at in the outright winner market. Here’s why it’s time to bet on them to lift the UCL trophy in 2020.
Qualification of Knockout Phase
Despite their poor results so far, it would be an enormous shock if Real Madrid did not make the Round of 16 in this season’s Champions League. William Hill have priced them at -1667 to make it into the knockout phase for the 23rd consecutive season.
They may only be two points ahead of Club Brugge in Group A, but Real has the favorable fixtures as two of their remaining three matches are at home. Their next game sees them welcome Turkish champions Galatasaray to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, and they’re priced at -400 with 888sport to take all three points. It’s seven years since the Turkish side won an away game in Europe, so Los Blancos should win handsomely, which may see their price to win the tournament shrink.
Zinedine Zidane Is Back
Despite his legendary status as a World Cup winning player, Zinedine Zidane didn’t have much managerial experience when he was appointed as manager of Real Madrid in January 2016. Three successive Champions League wins later, ‘Zizou’ is certainly a highly rated coach now.
After leaving following the third of those triumphs in 2018, Zidane was coaxed back in 2019 after the team was humbled 5-3 on aggregate by Ajax. Assuming his team make it to the latter stages of the competition this season, the manager has the nous and experience to drive his team all the way to glory.
On This Day in 2017 Zinedine Zidane won the Coach of the Year Award 🥇 pic.twitter.com/YNpuWdU54v— OTRO (@OTRO) October 23, 2019
Blend Of Experience And Hunger
There are men at Real Madrid who have won it all, and many times over. Karim Benzema, Daniel Carvajal, Casemiro and Raphael Varane have played every minute of the current Champions League campaign, and have each won the tournament four times in the past.
Other long standing players like Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric might not be featuring as often, but their experience ensures they know exactly what is required in the knockout stages to get the job done and advance.
There are also more recent acquisitions with everything to prove at this level. Former Chelsea stars Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois have yet to win the Champions League, and doing so will have been part of why they moved to Madrid. Hazard has had a slow start to his career with the Spanish giants, but if he can find his game in the spring time, that can only bode well for Real’s Champions League chances.
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Not Favored For La Liga
This may seem like an odd benefit. However, for their seven European titles from 1997-98 onward, Real Madrid only won La Liga in the same season once, in 2016-17. In five of their successful European seasons, they actually finished third-or-lower in the league table. In other words, once the league is out of reach, they can focus upon the Champions League.
Real is currently +200 with William Hill to win the Spanish title, but Barcelona is -250 with the same company. If the gap between the two sides is viewed as unbridgeable by the time the knockout phase begins, you can guarantee Zidane will focus the minds of his squad upon the challenge of bringing home another European crown.
This might not be the strongest Madrid side we’ve ever seen, but write them off at your peril. Now might just be your best time to bet on them becoming champions of Europe in 2020.