Champions Cup Betting Tips: How Will The Semi Finals Go?
Champions Cup Tips:
- Back Toulouse To Lead At Half-Time/Leinster To Lead At Full-Time at 11/2 with bet365
- Back Racing 92 To Lead At Half-Time/Full-Time At 6/4 with Paddy Power
The dust has only just about settled from an absorbing weekend of rugby, but the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup are already coming quickly on the horizon.
Just four teams remain in this top-tier competition and with penultimate round encounters pencilled in for this Saturday and Sunday, the best betting sites for rugby union are offering some interesting odds on who will progress to the grand decider at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on May 28.
On paper, there is little to separate any of the teams that remain in the Champions Cup. All four of them have competed in recent finals at this grade - including last year’s showpiece behind closed doors at Twickenham Stadium.
While it has become a well-worn cliche for teams to take it ‘one game at a time’, any player within the four squads who are already planning on a trip to Marseille could be in for a rude awakening this weekend. Besides, with ample threats across the board, no side will be expecting a comfortable semi-final outing.
Saturday May 14
3pm Leinster v Toulouse
The one team standing in the way of an all-French final in France, Leinster come into Saturday’s game against Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium as the competition’s favourites with betting sites.
Four-time European Cup winners, Leo Cullen’s men underlined their credentials with a 23-14 triumph over Leicester Tigers last weekend that was even more convincing than the scoreline may suggest.
20-0 in front at the break courtesy of tries from Josh van der Flier and Robbie Henshaw - as well as 10 points from the boot of Jonathan Sexton - the Irish province could afford to ease off after the resumption.
While Leicester outscored the Blues 14-3 in the second period, Nic Dolly’s converted finish arrived with just two minutes remaining on the clock.
A lot has been made of the cohesion that Leinster have within their ranks, given 13 of their starting line-up (plus two of their replacements) featured for Ireland on their march to a Triple Crown in the Six Nations Championship.
There was also a lot of talk that they may be rusty after not playing together as a collective unit for a number of weeks, but they shrugged off these concerns with minimal fuss.
Saturday will represent the fourth game in succession that defending champions Toulouse have faced an Irish side in this year’s Champions Cup. Following a two-legged saga against Ulster in the Round of 16, the Top 14 outfit played out a tie for the ages with Munster at the Aviva last weekend.
After 100 minutes of intense rugby couldn't separate the two sides, a place-kick competition was needed to determine who was going to advance into the last-four.
In the end, the combined forces of Thomas Ramos, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack had the measure of the Munster triumvirate of Conor Murray, Joey Carbery and Ben Healy off the tee.
The French men were certainly put to the pin of their collar but, having overcome a stern test from Ulster in the previous round (they lost the first leg to Dan McFarland’s troops on home soil), there is plenty of resilience in this Toulouse group to compliment their undoubted talent.
Yet the five-time champions have shown throughout this year’s campaign that they are far from invincible.
Playing in front of a partisan crowd of 40,476 in Dublin last weekend will certainly help them to deal with a similar atmosphere at the Aviva on Saturday.
Still, it is anticipated Leinster will make up for their disappointing early round exits in 2020 and 2021, and make it through to a sixth top-tier European decider.
Tip: Toulouse To Lead At Half-Time/Leinster To Lead At Full-Time at 11/2 with bet365.
Sunday May 15
3pm Racing 92 v La Rochelle
The clash of the last two beaten finalists, Sunday’s showdown between Racing 92 and La Rochelle is one that is expected to go down to the wire.
Whereas Leinster will be playing Toulouse within walking distance of their principle home ground of the RDS Arena, both teams are being taken well outside of their comfort zone for this game.
The venue for this penultimate phase outing is Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, which is an incredible 676 kilometres from La Rochelle’s stomping ground of Stade Marcel-Deflandre.
While Racing don't have as much ground to cover, they will be making a not inconsiderable 210 kilometres journey from their own base of Paris La Défense Arena.
This should mean that neither team has a significant advantage coming into this contest and with just four points separating them in this season’s Top 14, picking a winner from this contest is exceedingly difficult.
Racing and La Rochelle have enjoyed unbeaten runs to this stage of the competition, and have managed to hit top form in the knockout stages in particular.
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In the Round of 16, Racing recorded a 55-31 aggregate success against Parisienne neighbours Stade Français. They were trailing Sale Sharks at half-time in last Sunday’s quarter-final in Paris, before kicking into overdrive to claim a 41-22 victory.
Similarly, La Rochelle swept aside French rivals Bordeaux with a degree of comfort in the last-16 (62-36 on aggregate) and were accomplished 31-19 winners over Montpellier on home soil last Saturday.
They lost out to Toulouse in last year’s final and will be eager to go one better in 2021/22. Racing, on the other hand, have made a habit of reaching a Champions Cup decider every other year.
Finalists in 2016, 2018 and 2020 - losing on all three occasions - Laurent Travers’ side will fancy their chances of maintaining this trend. They have a rogue element to their play in the form of stars like Teddy Thomas and Finn Russell and despite not getting over the final hurdle just yet, the men from the French capital are certainly adept at working their way through semi-finals.
Tip: Racing 92 To Lead At Half-Time/Full-Time At 6/4 With Paddy Power.
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