The World Cup is the marquee event when it comes to world soccer, but unfortunately we only get to experience that once every four years. The most prestigious annual event when it comes to the world’s game is the UEFA Champions League.
The concept of the Champions League is simple. The tournament pits Europe’s top clubs against one another in a season-long event that determines which is the best on the continent in a given year.
As is the case with any event involving clubs of this caliber, the UCL essentially prints its own money. An estimated €1.3 billion will be shared among the participants in the 2016-17 tournament.
We think of the Super Bowl as the most popular television event on an annual basis, but that crowd does not extend far beyond America’s borders. The most-watched Super Bowl of all-time was Super Bowl XLIX between the Seahawks and Patriots. That event drew 115 million viewers in America alone. By comparison, the 2013 UCL Final between German clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund drew an estimated 360 million sets of eyeballs worldwide.
As you would expect, a ton of money is also bet on soccer’s most prolific annual tournament. Bettors spend an estimated $700 billion to $1 trillion dollars per year gambling on this sport, and it is safe to assume a huge chunk of that is bet on Champions League.
The Champions League was founded in 1955 and was then known simply as the European Cup. It was created by European soccer’s governing body, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
The tournament consists of top-division clubs from all over the continent and pits champions (and runners-up) from various nations against one another in an attempt to crown the best team in Europe.
Not every European country puts the same number of teams into Champions League. The number of teams each nation puts into the tournament are determined by UEFA coefficients. UEFA coefficients are determined by the results of clubs and associations in the Champions League and Europa League (a lesser version of the UCL) each season.
Two coefficient points are awarded per win in Champions League or Europa League. For example, if the English side Liverpool win a game in Champions League, England as a whole gets those two points. One point is awarded for a draw, and no points are awarded for a loss.
The number of points awarded to each nation in a given year is then divided by the number of teams that participated in UCL or UEL. The coefficient for the last five seasons are then all added together to determine a country’s coefficient.
As of January 2017, Spain had the highest coefficient of any nation in Europe, followed by Germany, England, Italy and France.
As a result, Spain, Germany and England are able to put four teams in the Champions League every year. Italy, France and Portugal get three apiece, and on down the line.
The teams that qualify for UCL are determined by where they finished in their league standings in the previous season. For example, the teams that finished first through fourth in the English Premier League last season (Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City) are the teams that represent England in the 2016-17 version of Champions League.
Champions League games are played intermittently throughout the regular European season. Most games take place in the midweek, though the semifinals and final often land on weekends.
The group stage of the tournament takes place from September through December, with the knockout stages beginning in February. The final is typically held in the latter stages of May once the domestic campaigns have wrapped up.
Spanish side Real Madrid have won the Champions League 11 times in their history, which is easily the most of any club. They have won the tournament four times since 2002, including both 2014 and 2016.
Italian club AC Milan is second with seven UCL trophies, followed by Germany’s Bayern Munich, England’s Liverpool, and Spain’s Barcelona, each of whom boast five trophies apiece.
Inter Milan, Manchester United, Benfica, Juventus, Nottingham Forest and Porto are the only other clubs to have won Champions League more than one time.
Spanish teams have claimed the top prize a record 16 times, followed by Italy and England with 12 apiece.
€15 million in prize money is handed out to the tournament’s winning team, with the team that loses the final earning €10.5 million for their efforts. Semifinalists earn €7 million, while quarterfinalists get €6 million.
There are three outcomes when it comes to your standard soccer bet. One team will win, one team will lose, or the game will end in a tie, or draw. That holds true for the group stages of Champions League.
However, the possibility of a draw goes out the window the later we get into the tournament. Once we reach the knockout stages, one team has to advance with a win.
Early in the UCL, you may bet on a two-way moneyline. In this arrangement, one side bets on one team to win and the other to lose. If the game ends in a draw, goes to extra time or ends in a shootout, the bet is nullified. This is also known as a “draw, no bet.”
You may also choose the three-way moneyline that involves the possibility of a draw. If you think two sides are fairly evenly matched and have a hard time envisioning one team gaining the advantage, betting on the outcome being a draw is a fairly safe strategy.
These games can be thrilling in their own right, but placing a live wager on the action is an easy way to ramp up the intensity for you, the bettor. Doing so is a fun way to make a match between two clubs to which you have no real allegiance more interesting and entertaining.
Despite this tournament consisting of the greatest teams throughout Europe, there are still plenty of sure things when it comes to results, especially early in the tournament.
Red Star Belgrade may be the best team Serbia has to offer, but they are typically no match for the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. With those clubs, we typically know where the goals are coming from.
If you think Cristiano Ronaldo is a lock to be the next player to find the back of the net in a given match, go ahead and place a wager on it. Goals are never a sure thing when it comes to soccer, so you can still get favorable odds on even the most prolific goal scorers in the world.
If you are feeling extra bold, you can wager on Ronaldo scoring twice or even three times if you so choose.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is a wizard when it comes to racking up assists, so if you notice him picking out teammates with passes with ease, why not put a little money on Messi being the next player to notch an assist?
Of course, you do not just have to bet on individuals to score goals or pick up assists. If you see the one team enjoying the lion’s share of possession as a game progresses, you can put a buck on a given team being the next to score.
We typically associate prop bets with the Super Bowl, but they exist in just about every sport nowadays. Lots of soccer’s prop bets have to do with what will occur within a given time frame in the match.
Let’s say that Liverpool is facing Manchester United at Anfield. LFC may have +150 odds to score the first goal, while United may check in at +200. If you think the match will be a defensive struggle, you can get even longer odds on neither team finding the score sheet.
You can place a wager on which player will be the first in the game to draw a yellow card, and even which player you think could be sent off with a red. If you think Pepe is playing with even more aggression than usual in a given match, predicting his sending off may not be the dumbest prop bet to place.
Will Ronaldo score within the first 10 minutes of a game? Will Diego Costa score in the final 10 minutes? There are all sorts of ways you can go as far as a live prop bet, as well.
You can also place a long-term prop bet that spans the length of the entire Champions League season. Will Lionel Messi score at least five goals as long as Barcelona is still alive in the tournament? Will David De Gea rack up at least three clean sheets as long as Manchester United are alive?
Prop bets can be very specific, so it is not something you will likely want to dive right into if you are relatively new to soccer. Once you start to learn more about the way the game is played and which players are most likely to accomplish certain feats, you can open yourself up to the endless array of possibilities prop betting may offer.
To put it short, no, it is not easy to predict scoring in soccer. Oftentimes it is easy to predict who will come out on top of a given match, but who scores the goals and by what margin one team will win is often incredibly random.
A 1-0 result is statistically the most common outcome of a soccer match, followed by 2-1, 1-1, 2-0 and 0-0. The average number of goals in a given match is about 2.6. So, there are usually at least two goals over the course of a 90-minute match, but even the world’s most prolific goal scorers do not find the score sheet in every game.
For example, Ronaldo, heralded by many as the best scorer on the planet, scored a goal in just two of his first six Champions League appearances in 2016. Messi, on the other hand, scored 10 goals in his first five appearances in the ’16 UCL.
Players like those two are still the most likely of anyone to score goals, but predicting them is far from a sure thing.
Unfortunately, upsets are not particularly common in UCL play. They will still occur every now and again, but in world soccer the cream most often rises to the top.
The teams that have won Champions League since 2010 are as follows: Inter Milan, Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid again.
The clubs that made it to the quarterfinals of the 2016 UCL were Wolfsburg, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
All of these teams (perhaps with the exception of Wolfsburg) have established themselves as soccer’s European powerhouses. Upsets in the early rounds are more likely than they are in the latter stages when the best teams have established themselves.
If you are interested in taking on a scoring prop bet, you should do some research into when goals are most likely to come. Statistically, most goals are scored within the last 10 minutes of either half. Goals are also far more likely to take place in the second half than the first half, in general
You would imagine a team would buckle down and try to defend extra hard just before halftime in order to go into the locker room feeling good about the way they are playing, but perhaps teams just get caught looking ahead to the break. A momentary lapse can lead to an opportunistic chance for an opponent.
It also makes sense that goals will occur more often in the second half as players begin to grow more fatigued. Also, if a team is trailing or tied late in the game, they will get desperate for an equalizer or late winner. That will ramp up the offensive intensity, which does not bode well for tired defenders.
So, if you are interested in trying to predict when goals will be scored, betting on one coming late in either half seems like the smartest way to go.
The Champions League is the crown jewel of world soccer on an annual basis, and millions are bet on the event each and every year. There is plenty of money to be made in gambling on the world’s game, so be sure to do plenty of research in order to put yourself in the best position to succeed.
More often than not we know which teams are going to be in the tournament once we reach the semifinal and final stages. Trying to find an edge is always key in sports betting, and it is no different with the UEFA Champions League.