Betting Insider

Barca to win UCL, Liverpool could, but nope, Ajax and Tottenham are even

Barcelona are favourites to win the 2019 UEFA Champions League, but the Blaugrana will need to get past second-favourites Liverpool, after the Reds and Tottenham Hotspur completed the semi-final draw on Wednesday.

Liverpool, beaten in last season's final, set up a tie with Barca in the last four by thrashing Porto 4-1 in the quarter-final second leg. While the Reds were winning at the Estadio do Dragao, Spurs were making history, despite losing 4-3 away to Manchester City.

Fernando Llorente's finish gave the Lilywhites a first-ever semi-final berth in the Champions League era on the away goals rule, in a match marred by controversy when City had a late winner ruled out by video review.

Liverpool's 6-1 aggregate triumph was ensured with typical pace and power in attack. Every member of the lethal front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino got on the scoresheet.

Virgil van Dijk headed in a fourth, and the world's most-expensive centre-back will now turn his attention to the task of stopping Lionel Messi. It won't be easy, based on how Barca's attacking talisman dismantled Manchester United during Tuesday's 3-0 triumph, but this dream matchup already has people excited.

There's no denying Liverpool are strong at the back and ruthless up front. Yet Barca can lay claim to both labels after blanking United in both legs of an impressive 4-0 aggregate victory in the last eight.

If Messi and former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez click again, the five-time winners should edge past the in-form Reds. Barca may also have a slight advantage thanks to Liverpool's participation in an intense Premier League title race.

The Reds lead City by two points with four matches to go, but the latter have a game in hand. By contrast, Barca have all but officially wrapped up La Liga, holding a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid with six games to go.

Being able to take advantage of Liverpool perhaps splitting focus between domestic objectives and the looming challenge of Barcelona will likely offer little consolation to City.

Heung-Min Son picked up the slack by scoring three goals over the tie, including two at the Etihad Stadium. He'll be the man Ajax fear, although precocious skipper Matthijs de Ligt, who headed the winner to beat Juventus 2-1 and 3-2 on aggregate on Tuesday, will likely relish the challenge.

Just like Suarez and Philippe Coutinho getting to see former Liverpool teammates, it will be a reunion of sorts for Tottenham centre-backs Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. They both played for Ajax, and the Eredivisie club's sporting director Marc Overmars hasn't been shy about talking up the chance to re-sign the pair.

Spurs and Ajax, who also sent holders Real Madrid packing in the round of 16, have both produced minor miracles in this season's tournament. Odds of 4-1 reflect their ability to beat the best but also show an awareness neither is quite as strong as Liverpool or Barca.

So the odds are

Barca – 2.40

Liverpool – 3.50

Ajax – 5.0

Tottenham – 5.0

Source: BR

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