There is no competition in club soccer that can claim to come close to the UEFA Champions League. The tournament sees the best club sides from around Europe go head to head in the battle for supremacy. It has created some of the sports most iconic moments down the years and is a lucrative betting option for punters.
Champions League Odds
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The competition itself begins in late June with the playoffs, with the group stage starting in late September and ending in December. Four teams are drawn into groups, with the majority of the heavyweights being kept separate due to the seedings. The two teams that progress from each group, then move onto the double round-robin competition.
The group winners will face sides who finished second, with the runners-up forced to play the second leg away from home. The competition keeps progressing in these knockout games until only two remain. The final takes place in either late May or June depending on the scheduling. The winners are then awarded a place in the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Europe’s premier club competition was first introduced in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. During these early years, it was mainly a straight knockout competition and involved just club sides that had achieved domestic success. However, it changed in 1992 to the format that we are more familiar with today except for one exception; it has expanded in the number of sides involved.
Most leagues around Europe only have one space available for their club sides, while the biggest domestic leagues such as England, Spain, Germany and France have multiple spots available. The Champions League has been won by 22 different clubs, with 12 of the teams having won it more than once.
Real Madrid has the honor of winning the competition the most, as they have 13 titles. Meanwhile, Liverpool are the reigning champions. Spanish sides have recorded the most victories in the competition (18), while England has the most teams that have won the Champions League (Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest).
Betting on the UEFA Champions League
Like all of the major soccer competitions, there is more than one way to bet on the Champions League. There are both ante-post and individual match betting options available, with both presenting lucrative betting options for punters.
The most popular way to bet on the Champions League in the ante-post market is by putting a stake on the team that you believe will win. This can be a lucrative avenue for betting as there are numerous sides that will have a good chance of winning. The odds for this market will change throughout the season depending on form and the draws that they have been given.
You can also take advantage of the each-way value in this market, as you can get returns if your chosen team finishes as runners up. For instance, if you bet on Bayern Munich to win the Champions League with an each-way option, you will get returns if they get to the final. However, the returns will be slashed should they lose in the showpiece event.
|2015-16||Real Madrid||Atletico Madrid|
In the ante-post market, you can also bet on the teams that will win each of the respective groups. There are eight groups in total during the group stages and they are ordered from Group A to Group H. Punters can lay their stake on the team that they believe will win the group when the draw is made, and should that team progress as group winners then they will win the returns.
The quality of players competing in the Champions League is unparalleled. The very best players in the world leave their mark on this competition, and the best way to do that is by finishing as the Golden Boot winner. Punters can bet on the player that will score the most goals in the competition. If their pick wins, then they are rewarded with the returns. There is value in this market since there are so many high-quality forwards involved.
|Season||Golden Boot Winner|
|2018-19||Lionel Messi (12)|
|2017-18||Christiano Ronaldo (15)|
|2016-17||Christiano Ronaldo (12)|
|2015-16||Christiano Ronaldo (16)|
|2014-15||Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo/Neymar (All 10)|
Individual Match Betting
The most common way to bet on any Champions League fixture is by placing a stake on the result. Punters will put their money on either one of the sides, or the draw. It is important to understand for matches that go to extra time in the knockout rounds that this market revolves around the winning team after 90 minutes. The bet is won should the punter have staked their money on the winning team.
When it gets to the knockout stages, then this market is a popular pick for punters. Instead of betting on the team that will win the individual matches, punters will instead wager on who will progress. It removes the draw from the equation and as long as the team that the punter has betted on goes through then the bet is won.
Both Teams To Score
Punters don’t need to just correctly predict the winning team to win money. Instead, they can opt to lay their stake on either yes or no revolving around the question of whether both teams will score. For example, if a punter puts a bet on yes for a match between Real Madrid and Manchester City, then both teams will have to find the net at least once for the bet to be a winner.
The over/under markets are also extremely popular for Champions League matches. Here, punters can put their money on whether there will be more or fewer cards, corners or goals in a game than the benchmark set by the bookmaker. For instance, a bookmaker may set a benchmark on 3.5 goes for a fixture between Barcelona and Juventus. If the punter thinks there will be more than four goals, then they would put their stake on over.
One of the hardest markets to predict is the correct score. Here, punters will need to be exactly correct on their bet to win the potential returns. This market can also be joined with the first goalscorer market to be even more lucrative. However, the punter will have to be exactly right with the player to score the first goal and the end scoreline in order to win.
This market could be lucrative in the group stages of the competition but is less used in the knockout rounds. It is the best way to get additional value on the teams that are favourites as they would start with a disadvantage. For example, in a fixture between PSG and Galatasaray, the French side may start with a handicap of -2.5. If a punter bets on them to win with that handicap, then they will need to win by at least three goals for the bet to be a winner.
Champions League Winners
We’ve touched this subject in the upper part of the text. As many of you know, Real Madrid is the most successful club with 13 titles. AC Milan is next on the list with 7, Liverpool has 6, and Bayern Munich and Barcelona both have five. In the next table, you will get all the winners, sorted by the number of won trophies.
|Winner||Number of Titles|
|Red Star Belgrade||1|
Spanish clubs won the trophy 18 times, English 13, and Italian 12. German sides have 7, and Netherland 6, Portugal 4 titles. France, Romania, Scotland, and Serbia all have one.
There were periods of domination of certain nations. For example, in the last decade, the Spanish clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona were smashing the entire competition, winning six of the previous nine finals. Real also won the first five editions of the Champions Cup.
During the early 70s, Dutch teams were very strong, particularly Ajax with three straight titles, and numerous records. After them, came a three-year reign of Bayern Munich before English teams took over the wheel, winning six trophies in a row.
Champions League Finals
The crown game of the entire competition is a spectacle that creates enormous popularity. Until recently, it was usually played on Wednesdays, but UEFA changed that traditional rule in order to try to generate more revenue.
Soccer fans all around the world are still a bit angry at the European house of soccer about this change, but over time they had to adjust to it.
Now, something more about the history and fun facts of the Champions League finals.
- The first one took place in Paris, at Parc des Princes in 1956. Real defeated the French side Reims with 4-3.
- The UCL final with the highest attendance was in 1960, at the legendary Hampden Park in Glasgow, in front of more than 127,000 people. The one with the lowest audience was a year later in 1961, at Wankdorf Stadium in Basel, 26,732 spectators.
- Ten goals were seen in the one played at Hampden, once Real defeated Eintracht Frankfurt with 7-3. Ferenc Puskas netted four times in that event.
- The first final, which ended with penalty shootouts, was in 1984 when Liverpool defeated Roma, and to make it even more interesting, that event took place at Roma’s stadium, Olimpico.
- Wembley has been the venue of the Champions League final seven times, and it is scheduled to have another one in 2023.
Champions League brings together nothing but the best of the best. In such an environment, you need to be extraordinary to stand above all others. When talking about the greatest goalscorers of this competition, they are always in the combination for the best strikers of all time.
At the moment, Cristiano Ronaldo has 128 goals, which is 14 more than Lionel Messi, and the Portuguese holds the top spot in the all-time list. However, the Argentinian has a better goal per game ratio, with 0.81 goals per match, compared to 0.76 by Ronaldo.
Gerd Muller is the best in this aspect of the game, with fantastic 0.97 goals per match, or 34 hits in 35 appearances.
Ronaldo was the UCL top goalscorer on seven occasions, one more than Messi, while Muller comes behind with four trophies.
|Eusebio / Jean-Pierre Papin / Ruud Van Nistelrooy||3|
|Ferenc Puskas / Torbjorn Nilsson / Raul / Andriy Shevchenko||2|
Portugal has 13 Golden Boots, shared between Ronaldo, Eusebio, Rui Aguas, and Jose Tores. The next country on the list is Germany with 8, Argentina, and France have seven, the Netherlands 6, while Yugoslavia, Italy, and Brazil have five.
Champions League Groups
The group stage of the Champions League consists of 32 teams divided into eight groups, four in each one. The draw is set that the teams from the same association can’t meet at this stage. Also, the seedings are done according to the club coefficient, and they apply to all but the first pot.
Pot 1 consists of the Champions League winners, Europa League winners and the champions of the first six associations in the UEFA country coefficient list. If, for example, Liverpool is both the Champions League and the English Premier League winner, the next association on the list jumps in, and its champion takes the seed in Pot 1.
There are few rules about Champions League fixtures, and they are not that known among the fans. First of all, the schedule is made using a computer which randomly generates fixtures. That part of the process is without the presence of the public.
Also, there are some mandatory guidelines, which can affect the already generated schedule. For example, two teams from one city can’t play home games on the same day, or even the day after. Such a thing would create many problems for the organizers. This factor applies to all the stages, not just this one.
From recently, the daily fixtures have been divided into two groups. Two games are starting at 6:55 pm CET, and others at 8:55 pm. It is something UEFA wanted for a long time, admitting that there is a much better potential for the TV coverage and the publicity, meaning that there will be more money generated from this format.
In general, that earlier fixture usually involves one Russian team due to the time zone difference. When mentioning Russia, clubs from that country and Ukrainian sides are prevented from meeting one another due to off-field circumstances.
After the group stage, teams enter the part of the competition where they play eliminations. The round of 16 is the first stage, and the draw for this one is made pretty simply.
The winners of the groups are in the first pot, and they face the runners-up with the note that teams from one country can’t meet.
After this round, this rule is no longer mandatory. The draw for the quarterfinals is the last one in the Champions League, and from now on, the brackets determine the path to the finals.
- Did you know that PSV Eindhoven won the European title in 1988 with just three wins during the entire competition?
- Manchester United won the Champions League in 1999 with just five wins.
- The writer of the Champions League’s anthem is Tony Britten.
- Two clubs haven’t lost the finals while appearing at least twice, Nottingham Forest and Porto.
- By the way, Forest won more European titles than English, where they lifted the trophy just once.
- Atletico Madrid never won the title while playing three UCL finals.
- Juventus has seven lost finals, while Benfica has five.
- The biggest win was recorded by Dinamo Bucuresti in 1974, once they demolished Crusaders 11-0
- AEK Athens have recorded all six draws in the group stage during their 2002/2003 campaign.
- At one period, Barcelona didn’t lose at home in the Champions League for 35 matches, and that is a record.
Iker Casillas played 177 matches in the UCL and he is the record-holder right now. Cristiano Ronaldo is second with 169.
Alex Ferguson led United in 190 matches, and he is the No.1 in appearances by one coach.
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