Champions League Quarterfinal: Sharp and Public Bettors Disagree on Barca-Man United

Champions League Quarterfinal: Sharp and Public Bettors Disagree on Barca-Man United article feature image

Stu Forster, Getty Images. Pictured: Leo Messi

  • Manchester United will look to pull off another huge upset in the Champions League as they head to Barcelona on Tuesday for the quarterfinal second leg (3 p.m. ET on TNT and Univision).
  • Barcelona won the opening leg at Old Trafford, 1-0, although Manchester United did a solid job limiting Leo Messi.
  • Sharp bettors have been very active on the moneyline and over/under, causing sportsbooks around the market to adjust.

Based on historical and current odds, Barcelona have the clear advantage for Tuesday’s Champions League quarterfinal at Camp Nou. They hold a 1-0 aggregate lead over Manchester United and are lofty -1250 betting favorites to advance to the semifinal.

Barca also come into this match in impeccable form, riding an 18-match unbeaten streak. Their last loss came on Jan. 23 against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey quarterfinal.

Meanwhile, Manchester United’s recent form has been shaky at best. They barely squeaked by West Ham at home last weekend, 2-1, on a late Paul Pogba penalty kick.

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Barcelona-Manchester United Odds to Advance

Teams taking a lead back home for the return leg have advanced 66 of 70 times (96%) in Champions League history. However, two of the losses have come this season:

  • Real Madrid were eliminated by Ajax despite winning the first leg, 2-1, in Amsterdam. Ajax went on to win the second leg, 4-1, in very convincing fashion.
  • PSG were knocked out by Manchester United after winning the first leg, 2-0, at Old Trafford. That was a memorable second leg where Manchester United scored a late penalty to steal a 3-1 victory in Paris.

Tuesday may be a different beast, though, as Barcelona are unbeaten in 30 consecutive Champions League home matches, conceding just 15 times along the way and never more than once in a game.

Injuries + Suspensions

Barcelona: M Rafinha (out)

Manchester United:  D Luke Shaw (out, suspension), D Ander Herrera (out), D Eric Bailly (out), F Alexis Sanchez (probable), D Nemanja Matic (probable)

Second Leg Betting Breakdown

Sharp bettors have been all over Barcelona since odds opened for the second leg, increasing from -210 to -270 to secure another victory.

A draw would be enough to automatically advance, yet smart money has hammered the home side to shift the line 60 cents so far. The public isn’t exactly on board since Manchester United have accounted for nearly 65% of wagers.

The prospect of getting United at odds of +700 or higher is too enticing for casual bettors to lay off, but sportsbooks have gladly welcomed the action to offset Barcelona bets.

Despite receiving less than 35% of wagers, Barcelona have attracted almost 80% of the money.

Barca were able to rest most of their starting lineup last weekend and have no new injury or suspension concerns. Leo Messi did take a shot to the face in the first leg but he played through it with no issues.

Manchester United were out-possessed by a large margin in that match but they soaked up nearly all of Barca’s attacks. Smart money took the under (2.5) for the first leg and it was never really in doubt.

This time the sharp side is the over (3) and the majority of public bettors do agree. There’s not much wiggle room when the total is on a whole number, but the juice has been increased from -116 to -135.

Some sportsbooks have already moved to 3.25 and there’s a possibility it could reach 3.5.

Barcelona will likely own possession again and will probably create more scoring chances than they did at Old Trafford. On the other side, Manchester United did nothing on offense at home and will have to push for a goal eventually to have any chance of advancing.

With a fully healthy and rested lineup, I’m backing Barcelona to put the pressure on early on their way to a multi-goal win.

Value Play

  • Barcelona -1.5 (+110)

Updated Champions League Title Odds

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