Soccer Selections: Analyzing Best Champions League, Europa League Futures

The UEFA Champions League knockout-round draw happened on Monday morning.

And then it happened again.

The snafu in the draw process the first time around forced a second draw a few hours later. Seven of the eight original knockout-round matchups were changed. The Chelsea-Lille fixture was the only one drawn twice.

Chelsea drew one of its best-case scenarios as a second-place team from the group phase. The Blues could have faced Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Ajax.

Instead, Thomas Tuchel's side is in a good position to move on to the quarterfinals, which is why it is one of my favorite sides to take a chance on in the futures market.

Chelsea is the fourth favorite on the Champions League odds board behind Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

The Blues are the team with the lowest odds that I invested in on Monday morning. The rest of my futures picks for the Champions League and UEFA Europa League are long shots on the odds chart that have potential to make deep runs.

UEFA Champions League

Chelsea (+700)

Chelsea is getting healthier at the right point in the season.

The Blues got Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner back in the last few weeks and it has the potential to build up confidence in the next two months ahead of the round-of-16 clash with Lille.

Chelsea is the defending champion of the competition and it went through a much tougher road to get to the final last season. The Blues had to beat Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid just to get to the final to play Manchester City.

Defense was Chelsea's biggest key last season. The Blues did not allow multiple goals to any of their knockout-round foes.

Chelsea tied with Lille for the second-best defensive record in the Champions League group stage. The Blues scored six more goals than the French side over six games.

The combination of strong defense, experience gained from last season and a world-class striker in Lukaku make Chelsea a very dangerous team in the knockout round.

Real Madrid (+2000)

Real Madrid was one of the losers of the second draw, as it landed a tougher matchup against Paris Saint Germain.

The difficult round of 16 matchup might scare away some Real Madrid futures bettors, but I don't think that's the case.

Real Madrid is in a fantastic groove on top of La Liga and it had one of the best group stages with 15 points out of a possible 18 and it tied with Bayern Munich for the fewest goals allowed with three.

The Real Madrid squad is littered with experience from Karim Benzema up top to Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the middle to David Alaba in the back.

Los Blancos' defense will be the key to shutting down Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. It is worth noting Real Madrid has experience dealing with Messi and Neymar from their time with FC Barcelona.

It is hard to pass up on Real Madrid at a +2000 price given how well it has played across all competitions.

Atletico Madrid (+3500)

Atletico Madrid's best chance to win hardware comes in the Champions League.

Atleti is already 13 points adrift of Real Madrid after its 2-0 loss in the Madrid Derby, so it does not seem like it will come back to win that title.

Diego Simeone's squad should put all of its energy into winning the European crown. It reached the UCL final in 2014 and 2016 and lost both to Real Madrid.

Atleti's switch from Bayern Munich to Manchester United as its round of 16 opponent is a boost. United has Cristiano Ronaldo, but its defense can be leaky at times, which is a better matchup than the world-class Bayern unit.

UEFA Europa League

Sevilla (+900)

Placing a bet on Sevilla to win the Europa League is a no-brainer.

Sevilla has four Europa League trophies since 2014 and this year's final is being played in its home stadium.

There is going to be so much motivation within the Sevilla squad to reach the final, and then win it, especially with the rare opportunity to play a title match at home.

Sevilla drew a favorable matchup in the Europa League knockout round playoffs against Dinamo Zagreb. The eight winners from the knockout round playoffs advance to the round of 16, where the eight Europa League group winners await.

West Ham United (+1000)

Time to talk about the Europa League group winners.

West Ham United dominated its group and won first place at the end of the fifth matchday.

The Hammers have been surprisingly consistent all season under David Moyes. They have lost five games in all competitions and one of them came on Matchday 6 with a weakened squad against Dinamo Zagreb.

West Ham has a lethal striker up top in Michail Antonio and its defense has not allowed more than two goals in a single game all season long.

The Hammers have not been at this stage much in the last few decades and they should put all of their efforts into winning the Europa League with one of the best squads in England.

Bayer Leverkusen (+1800)

The collection of German teams in the Europa League could all go far.

Bayer Leverkusen has an advantage over Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig because it does not have to participate in the knockout round playoffs.

Dortmund should get through against Rangers, but its defense is too inconsistent to be considered a title favorite, even with Erling Haaland up top.

RB Leipzig might not get past its matchup with Real Sociedad. That is one of three matchups that could knock out potential favorites along with Barcelona-Napoli and Porto-Lazio.

Leverkusen's defense is better than Dortmund's unit and it has a more prolific striker in Patrik Schick than Leipzig possesses on its roster.

A strong argument can be made that Leverkusen is the third-best team in Germany and the round of 32 exit in last season's Europa League could be a motivating factor to go deep as well.

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