Wager Alarm Best Bets: Champions League Final
Dan Servodidio offers up his best bets for this week's Champions League and Europa League action.
The 2018-19 European soccer season officially concludes this week with the two biggest club competitions in the continent - and coincidentally, we have four English teams battling it out in both Finals.
Chelsea and Arsenal will play in the Europa League Final on Wednesday afternoon in Baku, Azerbaijan before Liverpool and Tottenham face-off in the Champions League Final on Saturday in Madrid, Spain. Chelsea enters as the slight favorite to lift the Europa League trophy (-165) while Liverpool is the massive favorite to lift the Champions League trophy (-215). Note that those are just the odds for which team will win overall in each match as there are different odds for which team could win in regulation or if the match will end in a draw before penalties.
There are also many odds available for total goals scored, 1st half and 2nd half lines, correct score, etc. Many sportsbooks provide a variety of these odds and props to bet on and we’ll outline the best ones to get action on ahead of Wednesday and Saturday’s matches. The following odds are taken from Sportsbook.ag, which you can find at VegasInsider.com.
Chelsea vs. Arsenal -- Europa League Final -- Wednesday, May 29 (3 pm ET)
These two Premier League rivals are more-than-familiar with each other and they will battle it out for the automatic bid into next season’s Champions League tournament. Chelsea are already in - having finished in the top four of the EPL this year - but Arsenal will definitely be hungry to win to earn a berth in Europe’s top competition next season after ending up fifth in the EPL.
Both teams, unfortunately, will be without a couple key players in this match. Chelsea center-back Antonio Rudiger will sit out after recent knee surgery, while star midfielder N’Golo Kante is also in doubt for the Blues with a knee injury he suffered in training. Meanwhile, Arsenal will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan after the winger made the decision not to travel to Azerbaijan due to political tensions with his native country, Armenia. This is huge for Arsenal because Mkhitaryan played the joint-most games (11) for the club in the Europa League.
Wednesday’s final will be the third meeting between these clubs this season - Arsenal and Chelsea both won home matches during the Premier League.
As mentioned before, Arsenal have a lot more riding on this outcome. If they win, they’ll be in next year’s Champions League and will be able to recruit bigger names during the upcoming transfer market. If they lose, the Gunners will return to the Europa League for another season and will have to try to win the tournament all over again to earn a berth into Europe’s top competition in 2020.
Chelsea, although already safely into next year’s Champions League, have some motivations of their own here. A win in the final would elevate them to pot 1 for the Champions League draw - which would help them avoid playing powerhouses Bayern Munich, PSG, Barcelona and Juventus in the group stage. Plus, this match might be Maurizio Sarri’s last as manager of the Blues as there are rumors surrounding his departure regardless of the result.
This match could also be Eden Hazard’s last in a Chelsea uniform as the Belgium international is rumored to be headed to Real Madrid over the summer. Hazard compiled 16 goals and 15 assists this past season for the Blues.
Chelsea definitely has had the stronger season, finishing higher than Arsenal in the Premier League, but those key injuries could derail them today - Kante would be a major loss in the midfield as a defensive specialist. We could see Arsenal forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette have a ton of chances to score in this one without the disruption of Kante on the other side. Aubameyang has seven goals in his last four games - including a hat-trick against Valencia in the Europa semi-final - while Lacazette has scored five goals in this tournament.
The Bet: Arsenal +220 to win in regulation; +125 to lift the trophy
Other Bets To Consider: Arsenal Win 2-1 (+900); Over 1.5 Second-Half Goals (+120)
Liverpool vs. Tottenham -- Champions League Final -- Saturday, June 1 (3 pm ET)
Liverpool enters as strong favorites to ultimately lift the Champions League trophy (-215) and to win the match in regular-time (-105). Tottenham have yet to win Europe’s top tournament in what is their first appearance in the final, while Liverpool has five Champions League titles with the most recent in 2005. These two clubs played twice during the Premier League this year and both matches resulted in 2-1 Liverpool victories.
It’s no surprise Liverpool comes in with these favorable odds considering their historical season - their +67 goal-differential was the fourth-best in Premier League history, trailing only Chelsea in 2009-10 (+71) and Manchester City this year (+72) and last (+79).
Both these teams pulled off stunning wins in their respective semi-finals. Liverpool came back to win 4-0 over Barcelona in the home second-leg after going down 3-0 in Spain in the first-leg. Tottenham, meanwhile, won 3-2 on the road in Amsterdam in the second-leg after losing 1-0 to Ajax at home in the first meeting.
Fortunately for Liverpool, they will have star Mo Salah healthy for this one after he returned to action at the end of the Premier League season following a concussion that knocked him out of the semifinals. On the other side, Tottenham have a few injuries that should become clearer as Saturday’s match gets closer. Star forward Harry Kane is expected to be fit for the Spurs after missing the last two months due to a left ankle injury. Tottenham have survived thus far without Kane but his goal-scoring abilities paired with breakout stud Son Heung-Min atop the attack should be a big boost.
As many opposing teams have found this year, Tottenham will have to deal with Liverpool’s dangerous attacking trio of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The Spurs like to use their defending fullbacks as attacking wingers more often than not - but they’ll have to fall back more in this match to defend the likes of Salah, Mane and Firmino. This should also limit the number of scoring opportunities for Tottenham and keep them in a defensive formation more than usual.
The Bet: Liverpool -105 to win in regulation
Other Bets To Consider: Liverpool to win in second-half (+120); Over 1.5 Total Goals in the second-half (+110); Liverpool to win 3-1 (+1350)