Biggest Underdogs of the Champions League (That Can Still Win It)
The Champions League is finally beginning to gather some serious momentum at the halfway point of the round of 16. The contest has already provided more than enough excitement and surprises, but now we’re getting into serious, “do-or-die” stages. Although there have been many decisive results during the first leg of this round of 16, we all know that anything can happen in football. The Champions League has delivered all kinds of shocking upsets, and it’s a contest where underdogs can (and will) exceed all expectations.
From what we’ve seen so far, we’re betting that these four underdog teams can rise up and seriously challenge the established champions. Plenty might be putting their money on the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Liverpool using the best betting app for mobile devices. Sure, it might be a safe bet – but we have a sneaking suspicion that these underdogs have a lot more fight left in them than many give them credit for…
Make no mistake; it takes some serious perseverance and attacking creativity to break down the ironclad defense of Juventus. On their home turf, Lyon somehow managed a 1-0 victory against the team that has won the Champions League multiple times, setting themselves up perfectly for a difficult trip to Italy.
We all know how futile it can seem to try and get a result at the Allianz, so maybe it’s a little early for serious talk about Lyon winning the competition. That being said, they are clear underdogs, and they’re achieving admirable results. Consider the other French team in the competition – Paris St. Germaine, who lost 2-1 against Dortmund despite their unlimited transfer budget.
What if Lyon beat Juventus? It could be a major morale boost that carries them all the way to the final. Fairytales can happen in this competition, and we could be witnessing the beginning of an unforgettable one with this Lyon side.
Rumors have been spreading about Atalanta’s dazzling exploits on the pitch. The international stage of the Champions League has left no room for doubt – this is an incredible side. Valencia is certainly no joke, but Atalanta seemed to perform at another level as they stunned the Spanish side with a 4-1 victory.
A deficit of three goals is difficult to turn around. Many have accepted that the Italian team is essentially through to the next round already. During the first leg, the team seemed to carry themselves like champions. Will they show the same level of swagger and self-assuredness when faced with tougher opponents?
There’s no doubt that Atalanta is gathering momentum, and the right string of results can turn just about any team into an unstoppable juggernaut. This is a side that has beaten Juventus handily and regularly scores seven goals in their league matches. Who can beat them? We’re not sure anyone in the Champions League is truly up to the task.
Napoli is another Italian side that clearly has what it takes to lift the trophy. They’re also the only side we’re mentioning here that didn’t manage to win their first leg. That being said, we also need to take into account who they were playing – Barcelona. They drew 1-1 against the team that many like to call “UEFAlona,”. Anyone watching the match will tell you that they deserved to win.
It’s clear that Barcelona only survived by the skin of their teeth. Now, let’s get to the obvious: Leg 2 is going to be a serious challenge for Napoli. For virtually any other side in this competition, we’d put our money on Barca to see off the Italian challengers. Napoli, however, has the defensive discipline and attacking talent to actually pull this off. Dries Mertens is on fire these days, and he can critically wound the Catalans if he’s given space to operate. If not, then he’ll probably create his own space anyway. He’s just that kind of player.
Could Napoli go on and win it? Of all the underdogs we’ve included in this list, Napoli probably has the most consistency when it comes to shape and discipline. While others might be caught out by creative attackers or tactical ingenuity, we genuinely get the feeling that this Italian side can adapt with the right strategies to outmaneuver any other team in the Champions League.
RB Leipzig is one of those teams that has been building something interesting for years. With new budgetary freedom and a sustainable long-term vision, RB Leipzig marks their genuine arrival in the Champions League after making it to the round of 16 for the first time ever. Hated in Germany for “corporatizing” football, the East German side is nonetheless an exciting prospect for neutrals, representing a unique way of approaching the game as a whole.
Their 32-year-old manager, Juliann Nagelsmann, has steered the club in the right direction. He made sensible transfers and financial decisions (despite being issued what’s essentially a blank check). To be fair, Tottenham isn’t exactly performing very well these days. So perhaps their victory against the English side in the first leg isn’t worth that much praise. That being said, RB Leipzig was the only side to win away from home in the first leg.
They have everything they need to continue on after putting an end to Tottenham’s dreams at their home stadium. Timo Werner and Patrik Schick pressed hard. They could have scored plenty more goals if they’d been more clinical in the first leg. The truth is that the scoreline flatters Tottenham, and the German side was completely in control throughout the match. Despite Mourinho’s tactical prowess, he will find it hard to overcome such an energetic and modern side. Okay, so maybe the prospect of RB Leipzig actually winning the Champions League is a little far-fetched.
On the other hand, stranger things have happened in this competition… Mourinho himself won it with Porto back in 2004. All we’re saying is that if you feel like betting on the long odds, RB Leipzig might just be your team…