With over six weeks having passed since the conclusion of the Champions League group stages, the general consensus among punters is to forget about the competition until its resumption in the middle of February. However, with the ties and schedule having already been arranged for the foreseeable future, more interest should be taken in the fluctuating betting odds which will occur over the coming weeks. Some of European football's biggest clubs have struggled for form of late, and the consequence of that will be their tag of favourites heading into their respective last-16 encounters being deemed far less clear-cut than it was in December. With that in mind, now is the right time for bets to be placed on the eight ties which will be played before the middle of March.
When considering your UEFA Champions League bets, you should not be ignoring the recent slump of Chelsea. After suffering five defeats in eight Premier League matches, Roman Abramovich is considering whether to part ways with Frank Lampard, and everything is pointing to a change in the dugout if the Blues do not record wins over Luton Town, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley before the end of January. Remarkably, bookmakers still have Chelsea as the marginal favourites when it comes to their tie with La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, something which will surely change if Chelsea suffer another defeat in the short term. Diego Simeone's team were regarded as the worst possible opponents for the West Londoners six weeks ago, and that perception has certainly not changed over the Christmas and New Year period. As it stands, you can get Atletico at marginally above Evens, and it is a complete no-brainer to commit to that bet sooner rather than later.
There will also be plenty of interest in the tie involving Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund. With Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland in their ranks, Dortmund have understandably been placed as the clear favourites to reach the quarter-finals, but they are under-performing in the Bundesliga. Just three wins have been recorded from nine matches in Germany's top flight, a run which has left the club 10 points behind leaders Bayern Munich. Sevilla cannot claim to be faring much better in La Liga with the inconsistency of Julen Lopetegui's side leaving them down in fifth position, but they showed in winning last season's Europa League that they can overcome any team on their day. Bookmakers are unlikely to have Sevilla in the region of 6/4 for much longer, and punters should be taking an interest in various markets concerning that tie.
Even having struggled through the group stages, Real Madrid remain as one of the favourites to win the Champions League. However, Los Blancos have been far from their best all season, a feeling which was strengthened as the Spanish champions lost to third-tier Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night. Zinedine Zidane does not appear to be at any immediate risk of losing his job at the Bernabeu, but it would be naive to think that more poor performances are not around the corner. Despite their contrasting club statures, Atalanta BC is a brutal draw for a team who are out of form, and being able to get in the region of 5/2 for the Italian side to progress into the last eight is undoubtedly the best bet of the last 16. Their 5-0 defeat at home to Liverpool earlier in the competition was an anomaly, and Gian Piero Gasperini's men have responded to that embarrassment with one defeat in 16 matches. Providing that they can avoid remain at least on level terms by the end of the first leg, expect this side to claim the away goals they require in the reverse fixture in Spain.