The UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday with round of 16 action.
Manchester City is the one clear favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook to win the trophy.
It is difficult to suggest betting on a team on the futures market at +170. The good news for us is Manchester City's low price opens up the opportunity to bet some of Europe's other giant clubs at higher odds.
The Champions League knockout round is trickier to handicap this season because of the round of 16 matchups. Bayern Munich plays Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid takes on Liverpool.
The AC Milan-Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund-Chelsea and Man City-RB Leipzig two-match series will eliminate more teams capable of making deep runs.
A handful of long shots will qualify for the quarterfinals, but how far they actually last will be dependent on the draw. For example, the Club Brugge-Benfica winner looks enticing now, but the risk you run is one, two or three blockbuster matchups with the remaining power brokers of European soccer.
My approach to betting UCL futures this year is to take one or two of the top-tier clubs, but also to ride with one long shot bet.
Let's hope the same success comes this season as it did with Real Madrid last year.
UEFA Champions League Futures Bets
Real Madrid (+1100)
Of course, I'm going back to Real Madrid.
Real Madrid has won five of the last nine UEFA Champions League titles, including last year's 1-0 triumph over Liverpool.
Liverpool stands in Los Blancos' way to begin the knockout round this year, but the challenge posed by the Reds will not be as tough as it would have been in previous seasons.
Liverpool is experiencing all sorts of issues in all levels of the game. There is no way you can trust an inconsistent Reds side against one of the best teams in knockout competitions.
Real Madrid possesses one of the most experienced squads from front to back in Europe. This year's version of Los Blancos has a terrific mix of veterans, like Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and up-and-coming stars, like Aurelien Tchouameni, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
Madrid is far better when Karim Benzema is healthy and leading the line, but Vinicius, Rodrygo and Marco Asensio make up a front line that is as deep as any group in Europe.
There's no way you can justify Madrid being lower on the odds board than Liverpool right now, and at +1100, the price is right to grab Los Blancos because they will drop to second or third favorite depending on the PSG-Bayern result.
I can promise you that you will not get Real Madrid this high at any other point in the competition, and to be honest, I'm surprised it is not on the same level as Bayern and PSG.
Inter Milan (+3500)
Inter Milan fascinates me as a potential Champions League winner.
The Nerazzurri sit second in Serie A, but they are 16 points back of Napoli. The title race may already be conceded because of the large gap.
That could convince Inter to go all-in on the Champions League to salvage the season with a massive trophy.
Inter got lucky in the draw by landing Porto instead of any of the super clubs. Porto is still a tricky opponent, but if Romelu Lukaku, Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez are playing up top, my round of 16 nod has to go to Inter.
Lukaku recently returned from injury and his experience up top in big matches could end up as a massive boost to Inter's UCL title quest. Lukaku and Martinez led Inter to the 2020 UEFA Europa League final.
With two of Madrid, Liverpool, Bayern and PSG out before the quarterfinals, the amount of mismatches Inter could face in the later rounds drop significantly.
While the attackers are the main draw, Inter's defense has been terrific of late. Inter has four clean sheets in its last six games, and it produced three clean sheets in the UCL group stage.
Inter's number will likely depreciate if it advances to the quarterfinals because of the impending exits of the big clubs, so this feels like a great spot to buy in with a potential cash out opportunity awaiting us in the future.
Borussia Dortmund (+5000)
I love everything about how Borussia Dortmund is playing right now.
Frankly, I was surprised that the third-place team in the Bundesliga was this far down on the futures board considering its round-of-16 matchup.
Dortmund is in far better form than Chelsea, and it can take a significant edge in the two-leg series at home in the first leg.
The Black-Yellow is on a six-game winning streak across all competitions in which it outscored opponents 17-6. Three of the concessions occurred in their first game out of the World Cup break.
Dortmund's defense is in solid form, and its attack is only going to get better as Sebastien Haller receives more minutes. Haller, who scored 11 UCL goals for Ajax last season, is working his way back to 100 percent after receiving testicular cancer treatments in the first half of the campaign.
Haller leads a deep attack that also features American Gio Reyna, English wonderkid Jude Bellingham and Marco Reus that can hit opponents from all angles and lengths over 90 minutes.