Guide to European Football Betting
As the world’s most popular sport, it follows that betting on football is a big deal. As home to some of the biggest tournaments in the beautiful game, European football is watched by a global audience stretching to billions every year.
Football in Europe is dominated by the ‘big five’ domestic leagues along with the Champions League and the Europa League played out between qualifiers from individual nations.
Then every four years, the European Championships roll around featuring the major nations which make up UEFA, the governing body of football on the continent.
As well as betting on the results of matches and tournaments, every kick of a ball, every incident in a match, every passage of play and every feat achieved by individual players can be backed in online football betting.
It pays to know which leagues to follow, how each competition works and how to spot a little value that could provide an edge in your football picks to return a profit. Once you understand the basics of football betting, taking a look at European markets can offer a whole new world of options.
Champions League Betting
The UEFA Champions League is the most glamorous club competition in football. The annual tournament pits the biggest clubs and the best players in the world against each other.
The Champions League plays out in preliminary rounds before the group stage proper. The winners and runners-up of each pool then enter the knock-out stages which run through to the final usually played in late May or early June.
The premier teams from each country tend to qualify from the group stage, but from the round of 16 onwards, almost anything can happen because of the sheer quality of each team that has made it through.
Betting on the Champions League provides a range of opportunities, from selecting the overall winner of the tournament to betting on the outcome and events unfolding in individual Champions League matches throughout the season. And as one of the highlights of the European footballing calendar, Champions League final betting is always popular with fans as the two remaining teams go head to head for the chance to lift the European Cup.
Europa League Betting
The Europa League runs alongside the Champions League and sits second in terms of prestige. Betting on the Europa League is an entertaining affair thanks to its breadth of competition and unpredictable outcomes.
The Europa League tends to feature some of Europe’s less fashionable - yet mostly still massive - clubs. There’s a huge amount of games (almost double that of the Champions League) and there’s often a lot of goals and plenty of upsets, which means there’s plenty of opportunity to make all kinds of different European football wagers.
The Europa League follows a similar format to the Champions League with the additional edge that teams can move between the Europa League and the Champions League at certain stages of each competition.
Betting On The Biggest Domestic Leagues In European Football
The premier competitions in European domestic football are:
The English Premier League
With fans all over the world as well as in the UK, Premier League betting is one of the most popular markets of any domestic football competition. The Premier League season runs from August to May, with each of the 20 teams playing 38 matches.
The Bundesliga in Germany
With 18 teams each playing 36 games across the season which runs from August to May, there is plenty of opportunities to bet on the Bundesliga, with the top four teams at the end of the season qualifying for a spot in the Champions League.
Serie A in Italy
Italy’s top professional league features 20 clubs including the likes of Lazio, AC Milan and Inter who each play 38 games between August and May. Famous for a slightly slower-paced, defence-orientated style, football in Italy has some of the most passionate fans in attendance and betting on Serie A is popular throughout the world.
La Liga in Spain
Home to giants of club football Barcelona and Real Madrid, La Liga regularly attracts some of the most famous players in the game and has been rated as the top league in Europe by UEFA more times than any other. It’s perhaps no surprise that La Liga betting is also incredibly popular, with 20 clubs each playing 38 games during the season which usually runs from August to May.
Ligue 1 in France
Featuring 20 teams that each play 38 games between August and May, there are plenty of opportunities to bet on Ligue 1, France’s top-flight domestic football league. With some high profile clubs such as PSG, as well as a number of fierce rivalries, there’s always entertainment to be had throughout the season.
The unique nature of betting on the top tiers of European football is the breadth of quality on offer and the unique nature of each league. Which league is best is a debate as fierce as the rivalries which exist in each one:
- The English Premier League (EPL) is the wealthiest top division in the world.
- The Bundesliga attracts the largest average attendances.
- La Liga has the two richest clubs in the world.
- Ligue 1 can claim to be the fastest improving - propelled by the successes of the national team and Paris St Germain.
- Serie A is enjoying a huge renaissance in the quality on offer and its pure competitiveness.
Some of these leagues are dominated by one or two clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. Others have a handful of clubs likely to be in the running for the title each year such as the ‘top four’ in England. That can mean that the biggest teams are usually priced at short odds. It also means that an upset with a less likely winner could return a healthy profit.
Beyond the dominant clubs in each European league, there is enormous competition between those who tend to occupy the midtable positions and those who perennially battle against relegation. The annual fight against the drop in the EPL is as intense as the race for the title and generates almost as many column inches in the press.
Scouring Europe’s Other Leagues For Value Bets
It’s also worth looking further afield for some of the most exciting football in Europe. Take the Turkish Süper Lig which is renowned for the passion of its fans and the intense competition between the clubs of Istanbul - Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Besiktas.
The Portuguese Primeira Liga annually produces some of the finest young players on the continent plus teams who regularly perform better than the odds suggest in European competitions. Meanwhile, the Dutch Eredivisie has a legion of loyal followers who lap up the action for the entertaining football on offer.
To really gain an edge when betting on football it can even pay dividends to become an expert on one of the lesser-backed leagues. The Polish Ekstraklasa, Scottish Premier League and the Championship in England are as varied in the football on offer as they are the individual intrigue as to which teams will prosper.
Europe’s Best Cup Competitions To Bet On
Alongside league football in Europe, each nation has an assortment of cup competitions that operate on a knock-out format.
The FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in the world. Played in a one-leg format, the FA Cup is renowned for its ‘magic’ which regularly produces surprise results with the big clubs being knocked out by lesser opposition, and FA Cup betting can sometimes provide unlikely wins. Likewise, the Coupe de France is played in a similar format and actually tends to produce more upsets than its English equivalent.
Spain’s Copa del Rey differs in that all ties from the round of 32 to the semi-final stage are played over two legs. That means the top sides tend to be favoured as they are less likely to be knocked out by weaker teams.
The Coppa Italia only pits teams home and away in the semi-finals while the DFB-Pokal in Germany seeds teams in the early rounds meaning top Bundesliga sides are guaranteed to come up against opposition from the lower leagues. This either produces a near-certain outcome or a massive shock result.
How To Bet On European Football
The breadth of European football means there are dozens of competitions to bet on and thousands of matches every week. Once you’ve picked your league, competition, team or player to follow, the best chance of making a profit is to understand the bets on offer.
European Football Outright Bets
One of the most popular bet types is simply backing a team to win a tournament. This type of wager is known as an “outright”.
You don’t necessarily need to pick a winner before the competition starts. You can bet on a victor as the competition progresses but the odds will tend to fall as the likely eventual champions become clearer.
Match Result Bets In European Football
Match result markets are self-explanatory. The options are for a team to win the game within 90 minutes or you can bet on the outcome being a draw.
A double-chance bet allows you to cover two out of three outcomes of a match. You can back the home team or a draw, or the away team or a draw. The likelihood of a successful bet increases but the odds will be lower.
You will also find half-time/full-time bets. You are gambling that a team will be winning, drawing or losing at half-time, followed by them winning, drawing or losing at full-time. The odds on this type of bet tend to be higher than straight match result picks.
Over/Under Bets in European Football
The most popular type of bet in the over/under betting market is to predict that there will be over 1.5 or 2.5 goals in a match but it can be a higher number.
This is where research into the form of the teams can really pay - both in attack and defence. If a strong side with in-form goalscorers is coming up against a weaker defence, then over bets might be the ones to pick. If two defensive line-ups are facing each other, the under will often be the ones to look at.
Correct Score Betting In European Football
Difficult to get right, but the rewards can be high if you predict what the final score will be after 90 minutes of play. However, sometimes certain teams have a tendency to play out certain scorelines. For example, sometimes sides will have a tendency to gain a 1-1 draw. This could be as a result of the pattern of their play. Some teams go a goal ahead then try to hang on and later concede, while some have a habit of snatching a last gasp equaliser. Take a look at the form of each team and see if there is a trend like this.
Individual Player Markets In European Football
There are a huge number of bets you can place on individual players in games doing certain things. The most common is who will be the first goalscorer, the last goalscorer or will score at any time during the match.
You might find really good odds offered on a defender scoring who tends to come forward during attacking set-pieces or a player who is the manager’s favoured taker of penalties.
You will also find bets offered on who will receive a yellow card, who will be sent off or even how many shots on target a player will have. Some players are simply disciplined more often during a match than others or some will shoot on sight of goal and have more shots per game. Researching player stats can reap rewards with these types of bets.
Handicap Betting In European Football
Handicap betting is now incredibly popular in European football markets. A handicap is applied in a way that effectively levels the playing field between two teams.
Typically a strong team will have a -1.5 handicap against a weaker team, who will, in turn, have a +1.5 handicap. Simply this means your team would need to win by two goals or more when betting with a -1.5 handicap. If you choose to bet on the +1.5 handicap, your bet would win if your team won, drew, or lost by only one goal. All manner of other handicap levels are usually available on matches, including Champions League handicap betting options.
Accumulator Bets In European Football
Accas are massive in football. You combine multiple selections from more than one market and the odds will be multiplied to create a potentially massive payout, even on relatively small stakes. Lots of research here can really pay off if you pick a winning combination, and of course, it pays to understand how accumulator bets work before making your picks.
European Football In-Play Betting
Another type of betting which is now huge during football matches is gambling on outcomes as the match plays out live. The number of options you can bet on as the game is “in-play” can be enormous and adds to the pure entertainment of watching a fixture. With the quality of football on display in competitions such as the Champions League, in-play betting only helps to make the action on the pitch even more engaging.
How To Find Value In Betting On European Football
In its simplest terms, finding value in football betting means identifying an edge to help pick a market that will return a profit.
Because there are so many games in European football, with so many individual outcomes of competitions, matches and events during play, there is always value to be found somewhere.
There are all manner of calculations and strategies used by experienced punters to find value. But the basics of finding value in European football betting are to:
Identify underdogs who have a chance of victory.
Research results to find a team who may be coming into form at just the right time to upset the odds.
Identify a team whose likelihood of victory has been “underplayed” by the odds.
Follow football stats services to identify certain traits of teams. For example, a team may get a lot of corners in a match or more than the average number of yellow cards.
Monitor in-play betting markets to spot opportunities where odds change to provide better value.
All of that barely scrapes the surface of how to bet on European football. But that is the beauty of the beautiful game. Betting on football can be as simple or as in-depth as you make it, just like the game itself. Above all, have fun when betting and know your limits.