Five Takeaways From the UCL Draw and Revamped Schedule Details

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A lot of fans would have been heavily disappointed to see the postponement of the Champions League in the spring – just when things were getting truly interesting. However, there is a reward for the patience of fans; namely, a fast and furious two-week tournament in August. All ties, apart from the Last 16 second legs still to be completed, will be played in Portugal. It should feel more like a World Cup than a Champions League, and it might represent a fantastic pick-me-up for fans this summer.  

The draw for the conclusion of the tournament took place last week, and there are some intriguing ties. Moreover, there is a lot to unpack with the unique nature of the format and schedule. Below we look at five key takeaways:  

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PSG Represent Intriguing Favourites 

Paris Saint-German were installed as co-favourites with Manchester City once the draw was finalised. According to 888sport, the French champions are 7/2 alongside City, both of whom will be aiming for a first Champions League title. PSG, you would gather, have moved into that position after being put in the ‘better half’ of the draw. They will play Atalanta in the quarters, and would then go on to face either Atletico Madrid or Leipzig in the other half of the draw. However, there might be some concern for the French side. While the rest of Europe’s elite have been completing their season, PSG have not played since April. Will they be fresh? Or, will they be rusty?  

Man City and Barcelona ‘Hurt’ by Draw 

It seems like a lifetime ago when Kevin De Bruyne’s late penalty secured a memorable 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in the Spanish capital. City would have fancied themselves to go through with that advantage, especially when playing with the crowd behind their backs at the Etihad. But that advantage is stymied somewhat. The second legs will still be played at the home stadiums as scheduled, but the lift of the crowd won’t be there. Does that count for much? We just don’t know yet, but you can bet that it will hurt City more than Madrid.  

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A lifeline for the Spanish side, who can now approach the game like a cup final. A similar story is told for Barcelona, who went to Napoli and got a hard-earned 1-1 draw. In short, City and Barcelona are hurt by not getting the home ties that would have likely seen them through. Now, it feels like a little more of a toss-up.  

But the Spanish Sides Represent Wonderful Betting Value  

It’s too soon to say whether Real Madrid are back to their best, but results of late have shown Los Blancos to a force to be reckoned with again. 33/1 is a ridiculous price for the Spanish champions-elect to win the Champions League, especially given what we have said about the clash with City above. Barcelona, meanwhile, are quoted at 9/1, which is almost triple the price of City, PSG and Bayern Munich. Both Spanish Giants have flattered to deceive at times this season, but it seems foolish to rule either of them out.  

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One-Legged Ties Will Prove Interesting  

Away goals have always been a lucrative currency in Champions League knockout games, and the two-legged ties have led to incredible drama down the years. But now we will see one-legged, all-or-nothing games. Does that mean they will be more exciting? It’s really difficult to say. As we mentioned, this is new terrain for Champions League clubs, and it could mean a gung-ho attitude by teams. But it could also mean more cagey games, played under the heat of the Portuguese summer.  

Could This Be the Future?  

Money dictates much of what happens with the organisation of tournaments, but it will be interesting to see what a serious summer competition among Europe’s elite clubs yields in terms of the future. It could be years before we see any significant changes to the format, but a summer tournament, or at least one with this condensed scheduling, could be a possibility one day.  

 

 

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