On behalf of a site that deserves better fact-checking from its authors, I owe WagerBop readers a sincere apology.
Not just for my looks in the byline photo.
Our headline on the upcoming Bayern-Liverpool leg has been deceiving gamblers on more than one continent.
What our staff overlooked (easy to miss stuff with me in charge of anything) is a subtle, modern rule change in Champions League play which is partly responsible for the betting odds at MyBookie. Which are, by the way, holding firm for the to-advance prop market.
That’s good news, because in reality our headline isn’t a lie…just a little exaggerated. In case you’re not one of the blokes or babes who’s figured all this out already, I’ll explain.
The “away goals” rule promises an automatic tie-breaker win to the squad with more tallies in the opponent’s venue during a 2-legged tie in the knockout round of 16 teams. Manchester United’s dramatic victory over Paris Saint-Germain was decided that way. Marcus Rashford’s penalty goal sealed a 3-3 aggregate draw, but the Red Devils had scored 3 goals, not 2, in France.
If Liverpool matches Bayern’s goal total in anything but a 0-0 draw, then Liverpool will advance automatically for having scored more goals in Germany than the Munich club was able to score in the 0-0 maiden leg hosted by the Reds. This turns the old strategy of parrying in a maiden road leg on its head to an extent. Salah can essentially put Liverpool up by 2 goals with an early strike.
While are usually 6 potential outcomes to consider – a scoreless draw and penalties following added (not extra) time with either side winning, a goal-scoring draw and penalties with either side prevailing, and an outright win for either team. There are only 5 possible outcomes in Munich, and 3 of them favor the visiting Reds.
That explains why the prop lines should be about equal for the 2nd leg in Munich. But lucky enough, it still doesn’t explain why Bayern would be an underdog to move forward and nearly an (Even) favorite on the moneyline.
Enjoy or scroll through our form-analysis of the 2 squads to find out why the Bayern-t0-advance line (and especially the O/U) offer value to the gambler.
Note that Liverpool’s attack came alive again in a 5-0 romp over Watford since the bulk of this preview was written.
Liverpool: Making Under-Bettors Happy a Match at a Time
Mohamed Salah seems to be good for a goal in just about every match, whether scoring it himself (usually) or dishing off in the box. That is something you just can’t say about every striker. The extraordinary 26-year-old scored again on February 9th as the Reds walloped Cherries 3-0.
Since that day, however, Liverpool has been trapped in 2nd-gear for matches in which neither side was able to generate enough of an attack to score.
Then 0-0 UEFA result against Bayern could have been written off. The Reds didn’t pass the ball extremely well, but managed more offense that their heralded opponent. Bayern didn’t muster a single on-target shot as the quartet of Alexander-Arnold – Matip – Fabinho – Robertson held firm on the backline of Jürgen Klopp’s 4-4-3.
Fabinho would head back to midfield to make room for Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool next stepped onto the pitch at Old Trafford for a critical Premier League kickoff. Tottenham lost over the weekend, giving Klopp’s side a huge opportunity to pull away from at least one competitor for the 2018-19 crown.
Instead, visiting supporters were treated to another 0-0 draw.
The Reds are firing on almost all cylinders and is missing chances at the tail-end. It’s not as if the side is failing to get out from the back altogether, or not spending enough time around the opposing keeper.
What of the passing stats like a mournful 77% against MUFC on Sunday? I think we’ve seen forwards like Sadio Mané pass the football enough to be pretty sure they can still do it. Passing is a matter of comfort-level and neither of the Reds’ 2 most recent matches have felt very comfortable.
It’s a small surprise that we’re in late February talking about Bayern Munich getting sidetracked by its domestic club league. The season began with the Bavarians strong favorites to win Bundesliga all over again, but a challenge from Dortmund may be poised to steal the crown away in 2019.
Led by striker Robert Lewandowski and one of the best GKs of the modern era in Neuer, Bayern keeps winning and winning. But the team is struggling to catch Borussia Dortmund, which has only lost once on the season.
It took a strong stand from the Bayern backline to hold off the Reds in the maiden UEFA leg. Slight right-back Joshua Kimmich took a yellow card.
I agree with my colleague that the host midfield will be formidable. But it’s not necessarily an all-time great unit. Look at a player like James Rodríguez. For all of the buzz, he’s still an athlete whose future is largely unsettled and who doesn’t even really belong to Bayern Munich right now. He just fits in well enough with a high-energy machine and tons of surrounding talent for skipper Niko Kovač to play with.
Would a legendary club really suffer from a lack of focus in the Champions League due to a domestic league battle? Probably not.
However, chasing a team that never loses can lead to aggravation and fatigue. We can’t be certain if the stress will catch up to Bayern by mid-March.
Those (Not So) Crazy MyBookie Odds
Update: Not sure the Bayern-to-advance line (still (-105) at MyBookie) adds up even with the away-goals rule in effect. After all the hosts’ line-to-qualify isn’t quite so short at other sportsbooks, and it seems strange to cast an All-Star squad which would likely win 60% of all plausible regulation-time outcomes as an underdog to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Bettors are trusting Klopp’s mastery at exploiting tense circumstances with waves of attacks and counter-attacks built off of quality defense. But they might be overlooking Bundesliga’s cunning in response. Bayern Munich skipper Niko Kovač will have his flexible 3-5-2 system maintains plenty of backline support. The coach knows that if the match goes to penalties following a scoreless draw, Liverpool will be in every bit as much danger as his team.
If the Reds manage to score in the 1st half, expect Bayern to turn it on with fleet wingers attacking down the flanks. If the hosts score early, they will know that any kind of a comeback might win it for Liverpool. The result will be either a 2nd cautious 0-0 draw with equal qualification chances for both sides or a cat-and-mouse game that could abide wild attacks from both sides in the 2nd frame.
Offense might erupt faster than anyone thinks. The Over (2 1/2) is a nice wager at MyBookie even versus a fat vig, considering that the scenarios in which Klopp and Kovač will loose deadly attackers in the final 45:00 far outnumber those in which the squads might sit back.
And if you’ve already settled on the German club’s prop, never fear. Bayern has a 60% chance to out-play a traveling Liverpool side, so even the 3-of-5-outcomes advantage enjoyed by the guests doesn’t invalidate the principle of taking the ‘dog in a 50-50.
If you are betting the prop line, Bayern at (-105) is a better gamble than picking the Reds at (-125).
A trio of bets (still) offer value depending on units wagered – Liverpool on the ML, Bayern to advance, and a combination-wager on both.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.