With the Champions League now becoming a global betting phenomenon, Mark O’Haire from Sportingbet kindly took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his views on this season’s tournament, and the some of the bets he has come across so far.
What are your major tips for this weeks Champions League encounters, and why?
(Mark): I expected to see Porto shorter than 8/11-4/5ish, if I’m honest. They’ve a superb home record – unbeaten in 19 matches and are notoriously strong at the Dragao in Europe.
Malaga are unbeaten in the Champions League defence but were lucky to be drawn in a fairly comfortable group. Their away record in La Liga is sketchy and Porto have plenty of firepower to break their resolute defence.
Elsewhere, I was a big fan of Galatasaray when the draw was made. Schalke have been out-of-sorts since the Champions League group phase ended in November. I watched them on Saturday and they picked up a credible draw at Mainz which will no doubt give them some belief but a visit to Istanbul will definitely test their character.
What is proving popular with your punters?
Outright Bayern Munich are our biggest loser following by Real Madrid and Dortmund. Barcelona are also a small loser but all other runners are decent results for us at Sportingbet.
In this week’s games, Galatasaray have had a lot of interest and could be our worst result. Bayern Munich and Barcelona make up a number of accumulators and would represent poor results for us.
What’s the biggest bet that has been wagered on this year’s Champions League?
We’ve a big German punter who’s regularly placed bets around the £200,000 mark this season. He’s been less prolific in the Champions League but did have a winning £40,000 bet on Cluj double chance away at Galatasaray in the group stage at 6/4.
What’s the most obscure bet you have witnessed for the Champions League, on the whole?
There’s been a few. Last week one of our punters had £50 on Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be sent off in our Zlatan specials at 40/1. He was given a red card in stoppage time of PSG’s game against Valencia.
But the strangest was probably a £39 bet on the winner of the Champions League to be from Belarus at 250/1!
Who is your fancy to win the prize outright, and why?
Taking price and betting out of the equation, Barcelona are the greatest club team I’ve ever seen with the best player to ever walk the earth so they’ll take all the beating. But my outsider pick ante-post was Juventus and I don’t think any side will enjoy playing against them.
Italian clubs haven’t performed well in Europe over the past few seasons but this Juventus side is head and shoulders above the rest without many weaknesses. I also think they’re being underrated in the markets.
If you wish to take Mark’s advice, there are some brilliant odds on offer with his very own Sportingbet.
Galatasaray to beat Schalke @ 23/20 (Sportingbet)
Porto to beat Malaga @ 4/6 (Sportingbet)
Juventus to win the Champions League @ 9/1 (Sportingbet)