Champions League Betting Tips

Champions League Match Ball on Pitch

vverve, bigstockphoto.com

The UEFA Champions League is the premier club competition in Europe and arguably the most prestigious club competition in the world. Recent English winners include Manchester United in 1999 and 2008, Liverpool in 2005 and Chelsea in 2012.

Previously this was known as the European Cup, a knockout competition for the previous season’s league winner from across the continent. The Champions League now sees up to 4 teams from each country take part in a series of qualifying rounds before a league stage and subsequent knockout format.

Each round we’ll take a look and the pick of the fixtures and offer up our betting predictions, with the most recent shown below.

Champions League Matches – 5th to 6th November 2019

Date Time Channel Match Tip
05/11/19 17:55 BT Sport Barcelona v Slavia Prague Barcelona to Win -2
05/11/19 20:00 BT Sport Chelsea v Ajax Chelsea Win
05/11/19 20:00 BT Sport Dortmund v Inter Draw
05/11/19 20:00 BT Sport Liverpool v Genk Liverpool to Win -2
06/11/19 20:00 BT Sport Atalanta v Man City Man City to Win -1
06/11/19 20:00 BT Sport Red Star v Tottenham Tottenham Win
06/11/19 20:00 BT Sport Real Madrid v Galatasaray Real Madrid to Win -1

The UEFA Champions League group stage has reached the business end, as match round four takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. We’ll start to get an idea of which teams will be progressing after this as right now almost all of the groups are, in theory at least, very open. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are all in action and all four are currently in the top two ion their respective groups.

The Blues entertain Ajax, while the Reds host Genk on Tuesday. The following day, Man City travel to Atalanta, and Spurs play Red Star Belgrade in the Serbian capital. If the English quartet can gain wins they will plant one foot very firmly in the knockout phase and that’s what we expect to happen this midweek.

Blues to Edge Past Ajax Again

Chelsea Stamford Bridge

By Erik Drost, flickr

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea and Erik ten Hag’s Ajax lock horns at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. The pair played out a tight and tense affair in Amsterdam two weeks ago, and we could be in for another close encounter between the two evenly matched teams.

A Michy Batshuayi goal gave Chelsea a 1-0 win in an eventful game at the Johan Cruyff Arena last month. The hosts will feel a little upset not to have taken anything from the game but will feel they have a decent chance in the reverse fixture. Their win saw the Blues move on to six points with the victory on Dutch soil, level with Ajax at the top of Group H, so this clash could well determine who tops the pile.

Ajax, who reached the Champions League semi-final last season, kicked off their group campaign with back-to-back 3-0 wins over Lille and Valencia. The defeat to Chelsea was no doubt a setback, but the Eredivisie champions are still in a very strong position in the group.

Ajax will be out for revenge in this one, but in-form Chelsea are very strong at Stamford Bridge. This could be another close matchup, but we fancy the hosts to edge it in the English capital. Despite a recent EFL Cup loss to Man United, Lampard’s men are in good form so the home win, available at evens, looks very decent value indeed.

Big Win for the Reds

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will be looking for their third Champions League win in a row when they entertain Felice Mazzu’s Genk at Anfield on Tuesday. The Reds are the overwhelming favourites in this one and given their home European record it is hard to see past an easy Reds win.

Since losing to Napoli on matchday one, Liverpool have hit back with victories over Red Bull Salzburg and Genk, scoring four goals in both matches. The European champions will put one foot in the knockout rounds with victory over the Belgian side in midweek.

Genk have found it tough going in Group E so far, picking up just one point from a possible nine. In the reverse match at the Luminus Arena a fortnight ago, the Belgians were easily beaten 4-1 by Liverpool and more of the same seems highly likely here.

Klopp’s boys have not put a foot wrong at Anfield this season, and the Premier League leaders should stroll to three European points on Tuesday. Have a punt on the home team to win -2 (8/11).

City to Make it 12 Points from a Possible 12

Pep Guardiola’s Man City have dominated Group C so far, winning all three fixtures to sit five points clear at the top at the halfway stage. They, Bayern and PSG are the only teams to have taken maximum points and they will be very confident of all-but sealing top spot here. This Wednesday, the English champions travel to the San Siro to play struggling Atalanta in their temporary European home.

This is Atalanta’s first ever Champions League campaign, and things have not been easy for the Serie A outfit. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have picked up zero points from three matches, shipping 11 goals along the way and, at times, looking out of their depth.

City have looked the real deal in the Champions League so far this season, scoring 10 and conceding just one. After easing to a win over Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb, Pep’s troops thumped Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad last time out in Europe.

Atalanta gave City some problems for half an hour in Manchester before being overwhelmed and they have struggled in Group C up until now, and we can see them falling to another heavy defeat on Wednesday. Put some money on City to win -1 at 21/20.

Spurs to Prevail in Belgrade

Red Star Belgrade Rajko Mitic Stadium

Photo: Bobik, Wikimedia Commons

Mauricio Pochettino takes his Tottenham team to the Red Star Stadium in Belgrade on Wednesday. Spurs, who sit on four points in Group B, could do with another Champions League win in midweek as they look to turn their campaign around.

After beating Olympiacos 3-1 at home, Red Star could only follow that up with a heavy defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in their last Group B encounter. However, Vladan Milojevic’s boys are just a point behind Spurs in the table.

Tottenham have been well out of sorts lately, but they did secure an emphatic 5-0 win over Red Star when the pair squared off in London two weeks back. That was just what the doctor ordered for Spurs after their humiliating 7-2 home loss to Bayern Munich.

Tottenham have been poor travellers in 2019, but they should squeeze past Red Star in Belgrade on Wednesday. It won’t be easy given the strong home record the Serbians have but back the away side to come out on top at 8/15.

Other Matches

  • Barcelona v Slavia Prague - In Group F on Tuesday, leaders Barcelona welcome bottom side Slavia Prague to the Camp Nou. Barca, who have seven points to their name, will take a giant leap towards the last 16 with a home victory in midweek. We’re backing a big win for Barcelona, so put a few quid on the hosts to win -2 at very nice odds of 6/5.
  • Dortmund v Inter - Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan meet in a mouth-watering Champions League matchup at the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday. Both sides have picked up four points so far, and the evenly matched teams could play out a draw (12/5) in Germany in midweek.
  • Real Madrid v Galatasaray - Real Madrid and Galatasaray square off at the Santiago Bernabeu in Group A. Zinedine Zidane’s Real, who have taken a meagre (by their standards) four points from a possible nine, should be too strong for the Turkish side on Wednesday. You can get the hosts to win -1 at 4/7.

Champions League Ante Post Betting Tips 2019-2020

The 2018/19 Champions League could well go down as the best season in the tournament’s history. It was certainly the most dramatic football tournament of the year with any number of incredible matches, comebacks and upsets. This year’s renewal will struggle to serve up matches on a par with Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona, Tottenham’s last minute triumph over Ajax or Juventus’ 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick. But this is football, so who knows?!

The quality of the teams in the 2019/20 Champions League means that it is unlikely to disappoint. Any number of the well fancied teams in the outright betting have a genuine chance of winning a tournament which features many of the very best players and managers in the world.

Football punters love the number of high quality betting opportunities provided by the Champions League. As well as the matches, the ante post markets should not be ignored. There is some excellent early value to be had which we’ve gone in search of in our Champions League ante post betting tips.

Big Guns Putting Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

You would have earned a lot of money for correctly predicting that Liverpool and Tottenham would be the Champions League finalists at the start of the competition. You would have got an even bigger price when Spurs took one point from their first three games and Liverpool lost against Red Star and PSG.

Both sides have a lot going for them but they weren’t even the shortest priced Premier League clubs in the outright betting. Ajax were arguably even bigger surprise semi finalists last season as they overcame the odds time and time again before that dramatic match against Tottenham in Amsterdam.

The unpredictability of the Champions League was brilliant for neutrals and provided some great betting opportunities for punters. It went down rather less well with the big established European clubs, many of whom have spent huge sums over the course of the summer to boost their chances of winning the biggest competition in club football.

Say what you like about the way Barcelona threw away a place in the Champions League final against Liverpool, it was clear throughout the tournament that this was not a vintage Barca side. Even the inspirational performances of Lionel Messi were not enough so the Barcelona board had no choice but to sanction some big moves. Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong and Neto will each add something to Barcelona and with more additions around the corner, it’s little surprise that the Catalans are a general price of 5/1 to win the Champions League.

Each of the other teams towards the top of the outright Champions League betting market have invested heavily in their squads. Zinedine Zidane has spent more than most with the best part of £300 million invested in the likes of Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Eder Militao. The Frenchman has an absolutely phenomenal record in the Champions League and with that sort of firepower, Real Madrid should be major players in the competition they love once again. They are available at 8/1 with Betfred.

Bayern Munich are another established European side to have splashed the cash over the summer. The Bavarians have backed Niko Kovac after his initial struggles in his first season in charge of the club by sanctioning the signings of Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard who cost over £100 million combined. They’ve also been heavily linked with a move for Leroy Sane who would be an incredible signing given the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, so Bayern must be considered value at 14/1 with bet365.

Will the Champions League Remain Guardiola’s Blind Spot?

Pep Guardiola won the Champions League twice with Barcelona. Those successes played a major part in building his reputation as one of the best managers in the world so it is surprising to say the least that some believe he now has a weakness in the competition.

The lack of a Champions League win was perhaps the only negative of Guardiola’s time at Bayern Munich and Manchester City have so far been unable to take their domestic brilliance to the European stage under the Spaniard’s guidance.

Of course, you can read too much into football. Guardiola is in charge of a club with no European pedigree to speak of in the last half a century and City were very unfortunate to be knocked out of last season’s Champions League by Tottenham.

However, Guardiola does seem to make strange decisions in terms of team selection and tactics in the big European matches. He’ll be acutely aware of his and Man City’s problems in Europe in recent seasons and there is no doubt he will do everything in his power to end them. Man City also have arguably the strongest squad in Europe but can you really make a strong case for them as Champions League favourites at a general 4/1? It might only be a matter of time before they do win it, of course, but that still looks a shade short to us.

Forward Thinking Liverpool to Challenge Again

Last season’s Champions League was characterised by a huge number of goals and unbelievable late drama. Most of the teams in with a chance of winning the tournament will be aiming for much less drama this time around. However, this is a cup competition where momentum plays a key role. That favours teams who can score heavily and create chances even when they’re playing poorly. Teams like Liverpool.

Liverpool’s performances in the Premier League last season were characterised by a new found pragmatism. It was not quite the same in Europe when Liverpool utilised their attacking quality to full extent, being crowned champions of Europe for an incredible sixth time. Jurgen Klopp’s team have not been missed by the bookmakers and are available at a best price of 7/1 with Betfair. That is probably fair enough given their quality, confidence and recent record.

Borussia Dortmund are a long way below Liverpool in the betting at 33/1 across the board but they too should be fancied to go well. There are several ties between the clubs, one of which is the attack minded approach they take to their football.

Everybody at Dortmund will have to put the disappointment of missing out on the Bundesliga title last season to the back of their minds but they should take confidence from the quality of football they played for much of the campaign. Dortmund are led by a brilliant manager and have spent a lot of money on some high class players over the summer. They also look set to hold on to Jadon Sancho and their other key players, so consider backing them either each way or to make it to the semi finals.

Champions League Betting Strategy

The Champions League is arguably the best football tournament in the world in terms of the standard of football. Many argue that the quality of the last 16 in this continental cup eclipses the World Cup, European Championships, Copa America and all the rest. Whether you agree with that or not, one thing is for sure, the Champions League is packed with brilliant players, exciting football and superb betting opportunities.

It evolved from the European Cup, which was initially designed to pit the champions of the various domestic leagues around Europe against each other to determine the best club side in the continent. That aim remains but the modern competition, for good or ill, is much expanded and now countries can have as many as five entrants.

Whatever you think of the current format, which ultimately is designed to maximise revenue for all parties, especially the biggest and best sides, the Champions League remains a brilliant competition. Read on as we take a closer look at its history, the format and structure of the tournament as well as offer a few betting pointers if you fancy a bet on the Champions League.

Betting on the Tournament

As you would expect of a competition with the best teams and players around and masses of television and online coverage, your options for betting on the Champions League are almost limitless.

If you include the earliest preliminary rounds through to the final, the Champions League offers up betting options 12 months of the year, starting in June and ending with the final in May! As well as being a year-round cup, once the real action gets started, usually in September, your options within each game are astounding too.

The question is, with all these options, what tactics can you use to try and make a profit to make the Champions League even more exciting? Our main football betting strategy feature has some more general info but here are one or two things to look out for that are more specific to the UCL itself.

Preliminary and Qualifying Rounds

Whilst many people don’t really get too excited about the early stages of the competition, arguably this might be the best time to make a profit. Whilst the sun shines in June, July and August, make betting hay, we say.

When the big boys get involved it is hard to get an edge over the bookies as they put the full might of their resources into analysing all the available information. Moreover, for such games, the level of data offered is huge.

In contrast, for the games in the early stages of the Champions League, the determined punter has a much better chance of finding something the bookie hasn’t considered. Be this through a local contact, local news source or simply by outworking the bookies’ oddsmakers, you might just find a value bet or two.

Back Real Madrid…Every Year!

Real Madrid have won the Champions League (including European Cup) an astounding 13 times. That means they have won more than 20% of all editions, winning around once every 4.8 years.

If betting on Lincoln Imps (Gibraltar) v La Fiorita (San Marino) and trying to find out if the players were out drinking before the game, or if the star striker’s wife is in the process of divorcing him, sounds like too much hassle, you could just back Real to win the Champions League outright.

Ahead of the 2018-19 campaign the Spanish giants were priced at 10/1 – not bad for a side that has won one out of every five Champions Leagues! Even the favourites are rarely shorter than 4/1 or 5/1 so it is safe to say Real would have returned a healthy profit over the years!

Comeback Kings?

Fans of in-play betting may be interested to know that one trend noted by UEFA’s own technical report recently is the Champions League comeback. If you love backing a side when they have conceded the first goal and their odds have rocketed, now could be the time to up your bets.

For a long time it was felt that the first goal was so crucial in this competition and past technical reports highlighted the importance of scoring first. In the 2014-15 Champions League, there were just five games where the side scoring first lost.

However, since then there has been a steady increase. The comeback stats jumped to 15 the following season, then 17 and last season the upwards trend continued as there were 20 wins for teams that had gone 1-0 down.

This is a trend that may well be worth paying particular attention to in the knockout phase. In 2017-18 there were 27 knockout games with at least one goal. Of those, eight, 30%, were won by the side that conceded first.

Now, this may simply be an anomaly, although UEFA state that teams may be “mentally better equipped to deal with adverse situations”. Other explanations are that sides are playing more attacking football, resulting in more goals, especially away goals, and thus a greater capacity for comebacks.

Goals

Talking of goals, UEFA also note that in 2017-18 more than 400 goals were scored for the first time in the 125-match format of the Champions League. The season before saw the goals per game average surpass three for the first time and so there are definitely more goals being scored.

Many bookies and punters can be slow to react to changing trends and so this could mean there is value to be found on a range of goals markets. It’s also worth noting that 3% of goals were scored in stoppage time, whilst 38% in total were scored from the 61st minute onwards.

This could mean there is even more value indulging in a spot of in-play betting on a late goal, especially where injuries mean a significant amount of added time is anticipated.

Champions League and European Cup History

The Champions League had its first season in 1992 but the roots of this competition go back much further. The Champions League is simply a rebranding of the European Cup and that was first held back in 1955.

In the years following the end of the Second World War many pan-European initiatives, events and organisations were set up. It was believed that if the individual European countries had closer links, a repeat of such a terrible war could be avoided in the future.

It may seem strange to view the Champions League as a bid to avoid war and even stranger to view the Eurovision Song Contest (founded in 1956) in that context, but such competitions were indeed part of a wider effort to ensure that never again would Europe be ripped apart.

In fact, a continental football championship had been considered before, as early as 1927, but after much discussion and deliberation the first ever European Cup took place only in the 1955-56 season. A total of 16 sides took part, including giants such as Real Madrid and AC Milan. Hibs were the only British side involved, along with lesser European lights such as Sweden’s Djurgården and Reims from France.

The competition evolved over the years but for most of its history it was a straight knockout cup, featuring only the sides who had won their domestic leagues the preceding season. Different clubs and countries enjoyed long periods of dominance, with Real Madrid winning the first five editions. In the 1970s, Dutch clubs won the first four European Cups, before Bayern Munich won three in a row and then English sides took the glory in 1977, 1978 and 1979.

Indeed, the 1970s and 1980s were a brilliant period for English teams. Between 1977 and 1984, Liverpool won four European Cups, Nottingham Forrest won back to back titles under Brian Clough and Aston Villa triumphed in the 1981-82 season.

Cup Becomes a League

In 1992-93 the European Cup was rebranded as the UEFA Champions League (UCL), UEFA working in partnership with T.E.A.M. Marketing AG to create a more lucrative event. More games were televised and the new competition was heavily marketed. The biggest change in terms of the format was that the eight quarter-finalists now entered a league phase.

This created more games between top sides and thus generated more money for the clubs and UEFA. Milan and Marseille topped the first ever “leagues” within the Champions League, Marseille going on to beat the Italians 1-0 in the first ever Champions League final.

The biggest change since then came shortly after the rebranding in 1997-98 when sides who had not won their domestic leagues were admitted. League, yes: champions (only), no more. Some purists were outraged by this but, as ever in modern football, money was the final judge. By admitting more teams into the Champions League there would be more games, not to mention more “big” sides.

No longer did either Barca or Real have to miss out every year, with a similar story in England and the other top European Leagues. There is no doubt that these changes have proved hugely lucrative for all involved. However, for some, it still rankles that a side can be crowned the champions of Europe when they were not even the champions in their own country.

As the competition has continued to grow and evolve, countries can now have as many as five sides in the Champions League. This has meant that non-champions have won on a number of occasions, for example Manchester United in 1999 and Chelsea in 2012.

However, there can be no doubt that the Champions League has been a huge success since its rebranding at the start of the 1990s. Since the move to admit non-league winners, the key structure and format have remained largely the same. More countries and teams have been admitted and there have been some minor tweaks over the years.

Essentially, though, the Champions League continues to thrive on the basis of pitting Europe’s best teams and players against each other on a regular basis. Long may it continue!

Champions League Format

As alluded to above, the exact structure and format of the Champions League has changed many times. In essence, it features the top sides from all of the UEFA national associations. Each nation has a ranking based on various factors with the weakest nations having fewer sides admitted and at earlier stages of the competition.

To give you a better idea of how this structure works, let us consider the 2018-19 UCL. That year saw European minnows such as the champions of Andorra, Gibraltar, San Marino and Kosovo as the only entrants from their leagues. These teams entered the Champions League at the preliminary round.

One of those four teams will progress to the First Qualifying round, where they are joined by 33 champions of the next-lowest ranked 33 UEFA associations. This process continues, with higher and higher ranked leagues joining deeper and deeper into the competition.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to the likes of Gibraltar and San Marino are leagues such as the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga. Those three, along with (again, as of 2018) Serie A, automatically get all four of their sides straight into the group phase of the competition, with further seedings also ensuring that the strongest sides from the highest-ranked federations will not be drawn against each other.

To put all that into perspective, Kosovo’s Drita, who began their Champions league journey back in June, would need to play 10 games to qualify for the groups.

Champions League Proper

For many viewers and punters, the “Champions League” really means the competition from the group stage onwards. Again, in order to generate more matches and maximise revenue, this part of the tournament, has, in general, been growing since the competition’s inception.

There are now eight groups of four, meaning 32 sides, with each playing home and away and thus six games each at this phase of the UCL. The top two teams from each group qualify for the knockout phase, which older readers will probably call “the last 16”, whilst younger football fans know it as the “Round of 16”.

From this stage onwards the competition begins to look a little like the European Cups of old. These 16 sides are drawn against each other, with group winners facing those that finished second in their groups. These teams play home and away with the aggregate winners progressing to the quarter finals.

The quarter finals and semis are also both played over two legs before the winners of the latter meet in the Champions League final at a venue that is decided on a rotating basis many years in advance. Got it?!

Champions League Trivia

Some may view that as simply the boring history, and those people will be pleased that stuff is over with. Now for 15 facts essentially guaranteed to impress your mates. Or at least to make them think you are a total geek; or maybe both.

  1. Lucrative – winning the 2019 Champions League could earn a club as much as €82m. And that’s not including their share of the television money!
  2. Ronaldo – has won the UCL five times – no player has won more. He is also the first player to score in two finals for different winning sides.
  3. Ronaldo Again – and that’s not to mention his 121 (and counting) Champions League goals or the six seasons he has been the competition’s top scorer.
  4. Real Madrid – their 13 titles is more than won by Bayern Munich and Barca combined!
  5. Juventus – as of 2018, Juventus have made nine finals but lost seven of them.
  6. 100% – Nottingham Forest and Porto are the only sides to have appeared in more than one final and won them all.
  7. Anthem – the iconic and, well, anthemic, Champions League music is unimaginatively called Champions League, though it is an adaptation of the much better-named Zadok the Priest by Handel.
  8. Derby – there have been six UCL finals between clubs from the same country, with Real and Atletico Madrid playing twice in a true derby. Real also played Valencia, with Chelsea and Man United, Juve and Milan, and Bayern v Borussia Dortmund completing the set.
  9. Seeing Red – there have been three red cards in finals of the Champions League, with Jens Lehmann, Didier Drogba and Juan Cuadrado the men to receive their marching orders.
  10. TV – in recent seasons the CL final has been the most-watched annual sporting event on TV with more than 300m viewers, around three times that of the Super Bowl.
  11. Home – Real Madrid are the only side to have won the Champions League/European Cup at their own ground. They beat Fiorentina 2-0 back in 1957.
  12. Goals Galore – the highest scoring Champions League final ever was in 1960 when Real (yes, them again!) beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in 1960
  13. Fans Galore – there were 127,621 people inside Hampden Park, Glasgow (officially at least) for the 1960 final, a record for a Champions League final and one unlikely to be broken any time soon
  14. 8-0 – 8-0 is the biggest win in the history of the modern Champions League, achieved by Liverpool against Besiktas and some team from Madrid against Malmo.
  15. Pah, Only 8? – 11-0 is the biggest win in the overall history of the competition, with Dinamo București beating Crusaders 11–0 in 1973–74.