Champions League Quarter Final Reaction: Back Napoli at 10/3 as English teams could fall

Graham Potter
Potter's Chelsea face elimination to Real Madrid

Alex Keble looks at the Champions League quarter-final draw and predicts that Chelsea and Man City will both lose, with Napoli a good bet to win the whole competition...

  • Chelsea & Man City to go out

  • All-Italian semi-final awaits

  • Napoli worth backing as outright winners


  • CL Quarter Final Draw

    1. Real Madrid v Chelsea
    2. Inter Milan v Benfica
    3. Man City v Bayern Munich
    4. AC Milan v Napoli

    CL Semi Final Draw

    1. AC Milan/Napoli v Inter Milan/Benfica
    2. Real Madrid/Chelsea v Man City/Bayern Munich

    When will the ties be played?

    The first legs of the quarter-finals take place on 11-12 April, with the return games on 18-19 April.

    The semi-finals will be played on the 9th and 16th of May.

    Favourites paired together

    Both English clubs have been handed a tough draw in the Champions League quarter-final.

    Chelsea face Real Madrid and must travel to the Bernebau for the first leg while Manchester City face Bayern Munich, with the winners of these two ties going head-to-head in the semi-final.

    That means we could see an all-English semi-final or, to put it another way, should Chelsea and Man City triumph in the quarter-finals we are guaranteed to have one English finalist.

    We could also see an all-Italian semi-final after all three clubs from Italy were drawn in the same half: the winners of AC Milan v Napoli and Benfica v Inter Milan face off in the other quarter-final.

    It is an exciting draw for one main reason: the four favourites are bunched on one side while the other four have their own path to the final.

    Thumbnail image for Spaletti Napoli manager.jpg

    Consequently we are guaranteed to have a lesser-seen semi-final and a lesser-seen finalist in 2023, which after so many years of the same old super-clubs can only be a good thing.

    Here's an early look at who will win the quarter-finals, and who might lift the trophy.

    Napoli emerge as potential front-runners

    Before the draw had been made Napoli were joint-third favourites to win the tournament at 5/1 but their odds have now been slashed to 10/3 thanks to their placement in the weaker half.

    Top of Serie A by 18 points, they should be able to get past AC Milan and Inter Milan. They are worth a wager to go all the way and win the competition for the first time.

    There is very little to choose between the other three favourites Real Madrid (7/1), Bayern Munich (7/2), and Man City (9/4).

    Guardiola.jpg

    None of these three have been particularly effective domestically this year, which only increases the likelihood of an outside winner, although Man City's sluggish performances suggest they will be beaten over two legs by the counter-attacking speed of either Real or Bayern.

    The value is to be found in backing Napoli, then, with Chelsea (16/1) surely unable to lift themselves to get past such a tough set of games.

    As for the top goalscorer market, it's very unlikely anyone can catch Erling Haaland (1/12), because his nearest still-active competitor Vinicius Junior is four goals behind his ten.

    Real to cut through Potter's Chelsea


    Real Madrid v Chelsea

    Graham Potter's side have stabilised with three consecutive wins recently but all of their opponents have been hard-pressing and open teams of the sort that make Chelsea's slow possession football less of a problem.

    Leeds United, Leicester City, and Borussia Dortmund leave themselves open in a way that Carlo Ancelotti's calm, rational, and controlling Real Madrid simply do not.

    Like Liverpool before them, Chelsea should be picked off in this fixture. There will be long periods of measured Chelsea possession - leading to stale sideways football as Real sit in in their 4-4-2 - before gut-punching breaks through Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema.

    We have seen it so many times before from Real, who are far too street wise to be bullied by a tame and confused Chelsea team.

    Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid boss.jpg

    Real are rightly favourites (1/1) to win the first leg and to win the tie (3/4), and indeed with the first leg in Madrid this one might even be over before Potter gets a chance at Stamford Bridge.

    Back Real to qualify v Chelsea @

    3/4

    Inter's counter-punch could be too strong


    Benfica v Inter Milan

    This is the most interesting fixture of the four because it represents such a clear clash of styles.

    Benfica are a dominating possession team who like to play vertically when possible but generally hold above 60% of the ball, and although they went deeper against Paris Saint-Germain in the group stages Inter Milan will allow the Portuguese side to have all the territory.

    Simone Inzaghi is a reactive tactician who even allowed Porto to swarm them in the second round, only for rapid-fire counters through Lautaro Martinez to prove too much.

    Benfica, who have lost just twice in all competitions all season and are electric to watch in full flow, could show up Inter Milan's flaws by pushing them back - or they could get caught with a sucker punch.

    The tie hangs in the balance and is frankly too close to call, although on their incredible home form alone it is worth backing Benfica in the first leg at 5/4.

    Back Benfica to win leg one @

    5/4

    Bayern's sharp transitions to win out


    Man City v Bayern Munich

    This should be a hugely entertaining couple of games. Bayern Munich are a long way off their best this season and seem sloppy defensively, with Julian Nagelsmann's attacking football leaving big amounts of space at times.

    However, Man City's reluctance to attack quickly means this might not be such a big problem in the Champions League.

    We also have to think about Pep Guardiola's propensity to make strange decisions in this competition, and he will be frightened by the firepower of Serge Gnabry, Sadio Mane, Leroy Sane, and Jamal Musiala.

    That speed in the transition has been Man City's weakness all season as Guardiola's side play a little too slowly to cope with sudden tempo changes of the sort Bayern are brilliant at.

    Clearly there will be lots of goals here, and on balance Bayern are the more competent team in the late stages of the Champions League. Back over 3.5 goals in the first leg at 15/8 and Bayern to qualify at 21/20.

    Back Over 3.5 goals in the first leg @

    15/8

    Napoli unstoppable against Italians


    AC Milan v Napoli

    Napoli will be delighted to have drawn an Italian team. They are imperious domestically this season, losing just twice in 26 matches while the chasing pack continues to underwhelm.

    Their 2-1 victory over AC Milan at the San Siro earlier this season suggests they will qualify easily, although the two sides meet again on April 4, just a week before their Champions League tie.

    That throws a spanner in the works and makes predicting the outcome more difficult. However, Stefano Pioli's team have only won four of their last 14 matches and their goalscoring touch has deserted them, with just seven goals scored in their last eight games in all competitions.

    Assuming they don't suddenly find another gear, a buoyant Napoli can blow them away. Back Napoli to win the first leg at 11/10 and to qualify at 40/85.

    Back Napoli to win the first leg @

    11/10

New customers can get £20 in Free Bets!

New customers who sign up here, can earn up to £20 in free bets when they place a £5 wager. T&Cs apply.

Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.

Discover the latest articles