Football Betting Guide
Football is recognised as the world's most loved sport, being played on the streets everywhere from Stockholm to Sao Paulo, and watched all over the globe on millions of TV sets. Thanks to the widespread broadcasting of football, you don't need to be in the stadium to enjoy the buzz of two teams going at it. And even if you don't support one of the clubs involved, football betting can make each match important, adding to the engagement and anticipation of every game.
Before you start betting on football, it’s important to understand how football betting markets work, the types of bets that are available and what football betting odds mean. So let’s look further into all the football betting essentials, including how to bet on 'The Beautiful Game', what you can bet on, the different types of bets you can make, and the main competition formats you can expect.
How To Bet On Football
From international showpieces like the World Cup and European Championships to the top domestic club leagues like the Premier League and La Liga, football gives us a packed calendar full of meaningful matches to bet on. Football markets offer some of the most high profile competitions in the world, as well as a plethora of domestic competitions to dive into. Whether you like to place regular bets on football, have the occasional punt from time to time, or are getting started with sports betting, it seems there is never a shortage of fixtures on which to place wagers - but what are the kind of bets you can make?
Football Match Betting
Many of the available football bets you will see concern the outcome, or events within, a match between two teams. Betting on the outcome of a football match is perhaps the most common type of bet placed within football betting markets. However, along with backing who will win a particular match, there is a range of markets that are typically offered on each game, and we will break down the different types of match bets available in more detail further down the page.
Football Competition Betting
It isn't just the winner of matches, or events within matches, which you can bet on. There are markets for the overall winner of competitions that allow you to place a bet on the eventual champion. It could be a knockout tournament played over a period of a few weeks (such as the World Cup and European Championships), European knockout competitions spread over the course of a season (such as the Champions League and Europa League), or domestic league seasons which last for the majority of the year (such as La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga or The Premier League outright betting).
This type of betting allows you to predict the best team over the course of a competition, rather than just one game. This might mean that there is less chance of an upset or unlikely outcome. But not always - remember Leicester City's amazing Premier League title win in 2015/16? They were available at 5,000-1 to become champions at one stage.
But it’s not only the outright winner of competitions that you can bet on. In league formats, you can place wagers on whether a team will finish in the top 2, 3, or 4 positions and so on. You may also place a bet on whether a team will be relegated to the division below after finishing in the bottom two or three positions. Or you could pick the specific teams you think will be relegated. For example in English Premier League relegation betting, you might place a bet on one or more teams that you think will be relegated to the Championship come the end of the season.
Each-way betting in football means you can pick a team to win a competition, or simply reach the final. This effectively halves your stake into two different bets - one for the tournament win, and the other for reaching the final, or in the case of a league format, coming second.
Individual Football Player Betting
While football is a team sport, it also relies on the brilliance of individuals. As such, there are individual accolades that you can wager on. Top goalscorer in a particular competition is a popular example of betting on individuals. There are also events relating to individual players that you can bet on within matches - we will cover this in our section on the different types of football bets available.
Each year, there are several awards handed out to the best players in a country (e.g. PFA Player of the Year), continent (e.g. Ballon d'Or), or around the world (e.g. FIFA World Player of the Year). You may also find markets for the winner of these awards, available to bet on every season.
In-Play Football Betting
Over the past few years, football betting online has been taken to the next level with in-play betting. This type of live football betting sees the odds change as the match progresses. In general, most of the markets available before a match will also be available in-play. But there can be some exceptions, such as the first goalscorer for instance.
In-play betting offers the opportunity to 'see how the land lies' before placing a bet. It means you can wait for certain odds to lengthen before pouncing, or just watch some of the action to get a feel for the game before placing a wager.
In-play betting also means that you can adapt your betting style depending on how the game seems to be unfolding, potentially recovering some of the losses you think might be incurred if the game doesn’t seem to be going how you originally anticipated.
Which Types Of Football Bet Are Available?
Now let's hone in on football match betting specifically. Which kind of bets can you expect when betting on a match? Here are some of the most common:
Match Outcome In Football Betting
This might be the most common type of bet in football. Match outcome requires you to predict the outcome of a fixture. So you would place a wager on either team winning, or a draw. Depending on which team is more highly rated, who is playing at home, and recent form, odds can vary significantly for a match outcome.
Over/Under Football Bet
An over/under bet in football is whether there will be over or under a certain amount of goals during a game. This is typically set as 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 and upwards. If you think that a game is bound to produce a few goals - perhaps due to the weakness of the respective defences - you might be tempted by the odds for an over, whereas when two teams with misfiring attacks and solid defences meet, the under might seem more attractive.
For example, a bet on under 2.5 goals means that the match would need to finish 1-1, 2-0, 0-0 or any combination where the total number of goals in the game was under 2.5 i.e. 2 or less.
Remember, the odds are likely to reflect the defensive and attacking capabilities of two teams - so just because two teams tend to score a lot of goals, that doesn't necessarily mean that the value is in the over. As with other types of football match bet, factors such as form and team selection should also be considered.
When you place a bet on the correct score, there is typically higher risk than a match outcome or over/under bet. A correct score bet simply requires you to predict the final score at the end of the match. This is a potentially more profitable bet which you can lengthen the odds of further by betting on a correct score double or accumulator (we will cover these types of bets further on in this section). If you have a hunch that a game will finish as a particular scoreline, a correct score bet can be your chance to cash in. A good way to approach correct score betting is to consider if one or both teams will score at all. Once you have decided, then settle on the number of goals.
Both Teams To Score
Both teams to score (also known as BTTS and goal-no goal) is along the same lines as a correct score bet, but is a simpler choice - will both teams score during the match, or not? If you bet 'yes', a score of at least 1-1 is required for you to win, while taking 'no' on a BTTS bet in football sees you win if the game ends 0-0, or 1-0 to either side. BTTS has become popular on the in-play market, with events such as goals, substitutions and tactical changes having the ability to swing the odds.
Bet On First Goalscorer
Has a striker on one of the two teams found their shooting boots in recent weeks? Or perhaps a midfielder has a record of popping up with goals against a certain team? These are reasons why you might choose to place a first goalscorer bet, which quite simply requires you to pick which player on either team will score the first goal. This is a high risk but potentially profitable market, and seems sure to have you on the edge of your seat until the net bulges for the first time!
Football Handicap Betting
Handicap betting refers to a betting system that imposes a certain handicap on the favourite before the match starts. For example, if Bayern Munich played Schalke, a handicap market could have heavy favourites Bayern at -2 and underdogs Schalke at +2. That means if you placed a handicap bet on Schalke, you would win the bet if they won, drew, or lost by less than two goals. Conversely, if you picked Bayern in the same handicap market, they would have to win by more than two goals for the bet to win.
A football handicap bet could be part of a three-way handicap market, which would also have a betting option for the handicap tie (a handicap tie would be if Bayern won by two goals in this scenario), or in the case of no draw handicap betting, using decimal handicaps of 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 and so on, can ensure that there is no draw option, as the final handicap score will always be a win for either team.
Handicap betting is a way of 'levelling the playing field' in football matches with a heavy favourite and a big underdog. For example, the normal match outcome odds for Bayern Munich vs Schalke might be very slim for Bayern the favourites, making a punt on them appear pointless. Equally, you might think that Schalke have such a small chance of winning that there is little point in making a wager. With a handicap market, the odds are made more attractive thanks to the application of the respective handicaps.
Football Accumulator Bets
Whether it is a double (two selections), a treble (three selections), four-fold, five-fold or upwards - an accumulator bet relies on all your selections winning in order for you to win the bet. However, if you pick five teams to win on an accumulator, also known as an ‘acca’ and they are all victorious, you can expect much higher winnings than if you had bet on them in five separate bets. That's because accumulators multiply together to give you a 'jackpot'. But remember - it just takes one selection to go wrong for your accumulator to return nothing.
When it comes to football accumulators, one of the most popular forms is to bet on a number of matches happening on the same day, or over the course of a few days. This means that win or lose, the result can be known reasonably quickly. Other types of football accas can include bets involving matches across a variety of leagues or competitions, or on matches taking place over the course of a season.
Football Betting Odds
As with all types of sports betting, one of the most important pieces of information to look at when betting on football is the odds on offer for the wager you’d like to make. Being aware of the odds, along with your own opinion of how individual teams or players will perform can help you to find value in football betting markets.
If we take a typical bet on the outcome of a match between Manchester City and Sheffield United as an example. You might see the odds for the game shown as:
Manchester City: 1/6
Sheffield United: 15/1
The underdog - in this case, Sheffield United - would typically be listed at longer odds to win the game. This means that if you backed them to win and they went on to win the match, your profit would be larger than if you had backed the favourites, typically listed at shorter odds, and that team ended up as winners.
In this example, backing Man. City to win the game would mean that for every five pounds you bet on this outcome, you would receive a pound returned if the bet was successful. In this instance, a £5 bet on Manchester City to win the match would return £6 (£1 profit plus your initial stake) if they did in fact win the game. Conversely, betting on Sheffield United to win would mean that if successful, a £1 stake would return £16.
The available odds in a market represent the likelihood that a particular outcome will unfold. Longer odds mean that something is less likely to happen, and therefore while these bets can result in higher profits if successful, they do usually carry more risk. Understanding betting odds is therefore fundamental to identifying which bets you wish to back.
Football Betting Competition Formats
So which are the competitions you should be looking out for as a football bettor? In this section, we look at the most prominent cups and leagues that are contested, along with popular bets to make on outright markets.
Betting On International Football Tournaments
Seen by some as the pinnacle of the sport, tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championships only come around every four years, when they are sure to be the focus of sports fans and casual punters. After a long qualification process, the countries left in the competition will battle it out for international supremacy. These tournaments typically start with a group phase, followed by a knock-out competition which culminates in a final. While they are usually won by the traditional powerhouse countries - such as Brazil, Germany or Italy - every now and then, you might get a surprise winner. Think Greece at the 2004 Euros!
There is also the UEFA Nations League, which was set up to replace international friendlies. This can provide countries with an alternative route to the World Cup and European Championships qualification play-offs.
Popular bets include the winner, top goalscorer, a winner/top goalscorer double, naming the finalists, and predicting which teams will qualify from the group phase.
Betting On European Club Competitions
The Champions League comprises the best club teams from all over Europe and is contested over the course of the season, with the final usually being played in May. It has a sister competition, the Europa League, for lower-ranked teams across the continent - the winner of the Europa League qualifies for next season's Champions League. Teams gain entry to the Champions League via a high position in their domestic league competition. While these competitions are based in Europe, you can find many of the best players from across the world strutting their stuff in these games, which are usually played on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Popular bets include the winner, top goalscorer, nationality of the winning club, and team to progress furthest from a certain country.
Betting On Domestic Football Leagues
As a global sport, domestic competitions take place all around the world and it’s usually possible to place bets on matches taking place in a range of different domestic leagues.
These leagues - such as the Premier League in England, Serie A in Italy, La Liga in Spain, Bundesliga in Germany, and Ligue 1 in France - can be considered the 'bread and butter' of our football diet, giving us a steady stream of fixtures across most of the year.
For example, Premier League betting, provides opportunities to bet on all of the games that take place over a season, as well as which team will be crowned champions once the season is over. The same is also true for Serie A betting for the Italian football season and La Liga betting for Spanish domestic football.
Popular domestic league football bets include the winner, which teams will be relegated, top goalscorer, next manager to leave their post, and if a team will finish in the top four.
So whether you’re a die-hard football fan or someone who is simply interested in finding the best betting options, this amazing sport continues to give us so much joy and excitement, along with a world of betting opportunities season after season. And while there are always teams who are considered to be the elite of world football, upsets do happen, which means that sometimes even the most unlikely of bets can pay off.