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Quarter-final second-leg action
With the help of football journalist Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed), we preview the return legs of the quarter-finals, with the hope of finding value in Cloudbet odds. So make sure to return to the Blog for sharp advice, and to Cloudbet's leading crypto sportsbook for all you need to bet with bitcoin on the UCL.
With the 2021 Champions League quarter-final first legs played, we’re left with a quartet of clear favourites that look likely to complete the job this week and advance to the last four of the competition.
But the teams who lost the first meetings can all harbour varying degrees of hope in qualifying for the semi-finals, particularly if they open the scoring.
The first leg provided a beautiful example of the power of chance quality and the relevance of expected goals.
Both teams that played away from home last Tuesday (Liverpool and Dortmund) had seven shots and lost, while the away sides this Wednesday (City and Real) had six shots, and won. And Bayern Munich had more goal attempts than all four away sides combined, only to get beaten 3-2 on their own snowy patch.
Despite the German side facing a first-leg score line which no side has recovered from since the Champions League adopted its current format in 2003/04, they are the most fancied of our underdogs to recover. This nicely illustrates the whole range of potential outcomes open to us at this point, so let’s take a look at some of the value propositions available in the second-leg matches. As ever, odds quoted are correct at the time of writing, but please be sure to check the live site for the latest numbers.
Chelsea v FC Porto (2-0)
Chelsea may have secured an away win to nil as we predicted, but were somewhat underwhelming in their victory in Portugal. Yet they got the job done and are all but into the semi-finals.
Only once in the history of the competition has a team qualified after losing 2-0 at home in a first leg, and Porto haven’t won away in the knock-out phase of the Champions League since 2004, when they went all the way. Their last two exits have been to an English team, and this will be the third in a row.
Our concern from Porto’s perspective ahead of the first leg was how they would create the opportunities needed to win, and while they had a couple of clear-cut chances, they remain terribly shot shy.
In fact, three teams went out in the group stage this year that took more Champions League shots than Sergio Conceicao’s side have in 2020/21, which says everything about Porto’s relative impotence in front of goal.
Of course, the last time the Blues played at home they conceded five goals to a West Bromwich Albion team who are firmly entrenched in the Premier League relegation zone. That feels like one of those ‘once a decade’ random results though, and even if Porto were to score first here, Chelsea won’t need to chase a result like they did against the Baggies.
Thomas Tuchel’s team should win once again, and keep a clean sheet while doing so. A repeat of the 2-0 score line from the first leg is a decent shout if you’re looking for a Correct Score bet.
Match result: Chelsea to win (1.80)
Both teams to score: No (1.89) - the Over/Under on total goals is set at 2.5.
To win the competition: Chelsea are now at 5.03 for the tournament, slightly tighter than the 5.49 ahead of the first leg. Reflecting Porto’s likelihood to come through this tie, they are now at 101 for the tournament, from 35.9 before the first leg.
Paris Saint Germain v Bayern Munich (3-2)
Our one failed bet from the first leg was tipping Bayern Munich to win. As the shot count in their defeat to Paris Saint Germain was 31 to 6 in their favour, should we feel hard done by?
Not particularly. Game state will always have an influence on the goal attempt numbers, and Mauricio Pochettino’s side were ahead for 79 minutes of the contest.
PSG’s limited opportunities were of a particularly high quality too - their average shot value was 0.32 xG, the highest by an away side in the Champions League this season, and the third-best overall.
They’ve also scored more (Opta-defined) counter-attacking goals than any other team in Europe’s big leagues this season, and with Bayern needing to score at least twice, the home side should have ample opportunity to hit them on the break.
Hansi Flick’s side are favourites to win the match, and it would hardly be a devastating shock to see the reigning European champions turn this tie around, but the circumstances feel perfectly set up for PSG to do what they do best.
The Total Goal line of 3.5 feels a little high, but backing both teams to score feels like one of the safest bets available across these four matches.
Match result: Paris Saint Germain to win (3.03)
Both teams to score: Yes (1.36) - The Over/Under on total goals is set at 3.5.
To win the competition: PSG’s odds on taking the title have come in a little, to 5.28 from 7.99 before the first leg, while Bayern’s have lengthened from 4.49 to 8.04.
Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City (1-2)
We went on a real rollercoaster with our two bets in the first match, with them both only paying out thanks to Phil Foden’s 90th minute winner.
A glance at the match statistics would suggest the final score line in the first leg was just - but it certainly doesn’t paint an entirely accurate picture of the game, as Jude Bellingham had a goal ruled out for a foul which looked very generous to the Manchester City goalkeeper, Ederson.
However, it seems telling that even after equalising in the 84th minute, the visitors were unable to hold City at bay.
It’s entirely possible that Dortmund could fly out of the traps at Signal Iduna Park and score first, to put themselves on track for the 1-0 win that would see them advance to a first semi-final since 2013. And if they did take the lead, would City’s history of failure in the Champions League begin to play on their minds?
While that could happen, it’s really impossible to see Pep Guardiola’s side not scoring. They have done so in their last 15 away games in all competitions, and they’ve won all of those matches for good measure too.
As Dortmund have netted in every home game this season they should do so once again, but it won’t be enough. As with Chelsea and Porto, a repeat of the score line from the first leg definitely feels like a probable result here.
Match result: Manchester City to win (1.63)
Both teams to score: Yes (1.58) - the Over/Under on total goals is set at 3.
To win the competition: Dortmund are now at 36.19 from 25.90 ahead of the first leg, while City remain favourites for the competition at 2.76, from 3.11.
Liverpool v Real Madrid (1-3)
Both of our tips for the first leg proved correct (Real to win, both to score), but we hadn’t anticipated just how poorly Liverpool would play, particularly in the first half. Indeed, they failed to have a single shot in the opening 45 minutes of a Champions League match for the first time since November 2014.
But, by getting on the scoresheet through Mohamed Salah, the Reds have at least given themselves a slither of hope - between 2012 and 2015 there have been three UCL ties in which a team has managed to recover from a 3-1 first-leg deficit to qualify.
It’s a big ask here though. Real Madrid are masters of the kind of gamesmanship that makes them incredibly difficult to beat, and if Liverpool play with their usual high defensive line then the visitors can pick them off via incisive counter attacking.
With Anfield deserted rather than packed, there will be no support from the stands to help power the kind of comeback seen in 2019 when Barcelona were beaten 4-0. Liverpool are unlikely to play as badly as in the first leg and should win - but Real Madrid will score too to ensure they advance.
Match result: Liverpool to win (1.90)
Total Goals: Over 2.75 (1.70) - the Over/Under on total goals is set at 3.
To win the competition: Movement here clearly reflects the scoreline, with Liverpool’s odds for the title at 15.08, while Real Madrid’s are 5.82, from 6.98 and 10.90, respectively, ahead of the first leg.
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