European Football Betting Guide
Betting on European football is a very easy process. If not already registered, simply sign up with one of the top betting sites and fill out your details as prompted. In order to immediately take up any offers exclusive to new registrants, you may need to use a bonus code, if one is provided or the links on this page.
Unless you are partaking in a free bet, you only need to deposit to get the welcome offers. There are multiple ways you can deposit funds, with debit cards, e-wallets (such as Neteller and Skrill) and Paypal being the most common methods of transaction.
Placing a bet is also easy, with an array of action buttons to streamline the whole process.
The sites listed below provide up-to-date price shifts, as well as betting insights, special offers. Each site offers plenty of in-play betting opportunities, and the ability to cash out amongst many other features, some of which may be unique to the site.
Types of bonuses for soccer & football betting
The popularity of soccer / football across the world ensures that all bookmakers across Europe will have boosted odds available and no-deposit bonuses that can include free and/or matched bets. This is how they work:
Odds boosts fall into two main categories. The first of these is a one-off odds boost where a bookmaker has a bet with very specific stipulations. If it is a special one-off it will usually take the form of a banner with bright colours, bold font and crisp graphics, and will be targeted at new users.
This type is usually quite simplistic, for example “Harry Kane to score for England any time 30/1. New Users only, T’s and C’s apply”. However, the terms and conditions – which invariably apply to the payout terms – are a potential catch.
The second type of odds boost is available to anyone. Some bookmakers may simply display a selection of these as text on the front page, but reputable bookmakers will also have a ‘Specials’ market on each game’s individual odds page.
This is most commonly found next to the ‘Popular’ tab where the prices for the most frequently-used markets (i.e Handicap, Correct Score, First Scorer) can be viewed.
The conditions for a payout are often much more complex, but as these require a wager upfront, any payout is yours straight away. Here are some examples:
“Teams to be level after 60 minutes, Penalty to be awarded, Liverpool to win by 2+ goals” (22/1 or +2200)
“Pogba and Aubameyang to score, 3+ Bookings in total, Over 7.5 corners” (33/1 or +3300)
“Maguire to be booked, Sterling to score 2+ goals and Over 4.5 goals” (40/1 or +4000)
Some bookmakers will actively order these set odds boosts (likeliest / shortest odds first), Odds are calculated based on multiples automatically created by algorithms, and then manually lengthened by betting analysts in accordance with short-term corporate goals.
The typical structure of these boosts will contain about two or three different conditions that must be fulfilled for a payout. Often they will be a combination of the likely and the less-likely, to maintain interest and remain credible as potential bets.
Bookmakers can also reward bettors that have a longer history of wagering with them, providing periodical odds boosts that can be used on any bet at all. If prompted by an action button, a bettor can boost their odds instantly.
Betting sites will generally offer a free betting credit to new registrants on just about any betting site. If a new user than places the free bet and wins, the free bet’s amount is not refunded in the same way a normal stake would. This is called a ‘matched bet’.
Free bet amounts can vary, from $1 available to anyone to perhaps as much as $50, but while free bets of just $1 may merely be deducted from the payout, bigger free bet amounts may come with terms and conditions that are always worth perusing.
Match bet & No-deposit bonuses
Match Bet bonuses are relatively rare, though the stake is returned along with any winnings. A much more common offer for new customers is a no-deposit bonus, where no money changes hands for the first bet. The wagering process described earlier still applies.
However, there are always wagering requirements involved. This means that the customer must play the bonus amount a predetermined number of times to unlock any winnings. Wagering requirements vary between bookmakers, and will always be found within the terms and conditions pages.
How to Bet on Mobile via Apps
Every bookmaker worth any attention has a well-maintained, intricate, yet simple-to-use football betting app ready for a extra-quick download in the looming 5G era.
Football betting apps are best described as stripped-down versions of the bookmaker’s website. Efforts are continually being made to make the entwined processes of depositing, wagering and withdrawing as streamlined as possible. The best apps will enable users to place bets with a minimum of touches.
Customization is also an ever-evolving feature of betting apps, where sports or key markets that are of interest to the user are shown more prominently, or made easier to access.
Occasionally, some bookmakers may also have offers that are solely available to those who sign up via an app on a smartphone.
Types of Bets
Bets fall into three categories, outright (or ‘futures’), moneyline and accumulator.
Outright / futures
With outright bets, a wager is placed on one winner after the completion of a long-term event, like a footy tournament or a whole league season, which lasts for months and maintains a sense of suspense.
In the strictest sense, a moneyline bet on a football / soccer match is simply a wager on the result (win/draw/win). There are also niche markets that relate to moneyline odds, but demand specific win conditions for a payout, and the question is no longer what the result will be, but how it is attained or who attains it.
Amongst the most popular is the ‘anytime goalscorer’ market, and although backing a team to score at any time will make an unimpressive profit, backing a specific player to score anytime yields much better odds, as the variables are greater. Backing them to do so and achieve a certain result only increases the potential payout.
Indeed, some bookmakers also provide the opportunity for ‘Scorecast’ bets, where a first/last/anytime scorer is backed along with a specific scoreline. These produce some excellent potential payouts.
Also popular are the markets for both teams to score (BTTS) and half-time/full-time results. The latter market is a focal point for anyone who wants to back a strong team, but one that starts cautiously and ends strongly (i.e draw first half / win second half). Invariably, odds for a favoured team to win after a level half-time score are longer than for them to lead at half-time and win.
Meanwhile, BTTS can refer to both teams scoring across the whole match, or in just one half, with the latter always offering better odds due to the smaller timescale within which both teams must score. BTTS to score in the second half is a common part of many ready-made multiples from bookmakers, with the belief that teams will tire in the second half of matches.
The ‘Over/Under 2.5 Goals’ market also figures prominently under any tabs named ‘Popular’ / ‘Most Used’ (or similar). With most football matches producing between 1 and 3 goals in total, Over 2.5 goals (three goals or more) is considered above average.
While small profits can be made on backing a match to produce Over 2.5 goals, odds start to escalate dramatically beyond Over 3.5/4.5/5.5 etc.
In European club matches, games producing Over 5.5 goals (or at least six goals) are relatively rare, but leagues with one or two very dominant teams never fail to throw up some memorable results at least once a season.
In relation to the ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ market, ‘Over 2.5 trebles’ are also a popular draw for bettors with good wagering experience in European league markets. Simply put, it is a wager on three separate games each producing three or more goals, and many bettors see this type of multiple bet as having a good risk/reward balance.
Euro accas / multiple bets
European accumulators (also known as ‘Euro accas’) are best described as one wager placed on multiple events occurring across top leagues in Europe. Many bookmakers will have set combinations available, or they can be custom-built by the bettor.
All must come through for a payout, but with the odds automatically multiplied alongside each other, accumulators can offer some enormous potential payouts depending on the wagered amount.
Multiple bets can also be placed within an accumulator, where only a certain number of outcomes need to be fulfilled. However, the payout is always smaller, even if all of the bets within the accumulator come through.
For instance, if someone placed a four-fold accumulator bet in a list of seven, the wager would be subject to an automatic multiplier, which would be displayed next to the ‘four-fold’ option. If four came in, the bet would be won, but only a very small profit would be made.
If all seven came through, the profit would be much smaller than it would have been had the bettor backed a straight accumulator (all seven wagers prevail or the bet is lost).
One of the most popular niche accumulators out there is Sky Bet’s ‘Super 6’, which requires no wager and is free to enter. Every week from the start of August, users are invited to register / login and predict the scores of six chosen matches, all of which will have a 3pm kickoff. This ensures that the result of Super 6 is known by 5pm on the same day.
The prize for getting all six scorelines correct is currently $250,000 in cash, though this can increase for some special weekends. There are no wagering requirements, this is a straight-up payout, and there have been several jackpot winners before now.
If nobody wins, a consolation prize of $5,000 is given to the person who got the closest to a winning combination. Points are also awarded for every correct result, even if the scoreline is wrong, and three users with the most points at the end of the season also receive prizes.
Major Football Tournaments
Every domestic league and cup competition in Europe has its own unique traits, which can be useful when it comes to wagering in a smart, effective way. Click here to find out about the top five European leagues, and the most popular domestic cup competitions for betting.
European and domestic knockout competitions are also popular for bettors. Though they all have a knockout stage, each competition also has unique traits that make them stand out in betting markets.
The most prominent of these is, of course, the UEFA Champions League.
UEFA Champions League
Knockout qualifiers begin in late June, and carry on through until August. Under the current format, there is a group stage and a knockout stage. The group stage begins in September and ends in December, with the 32 teams involved split into eight groups of four.
Each plays one another twice, home and away, making six match days per group. The top two proceed to the knockout stage (Round of 16), which is a series of two-legged (home/away) knockouts until the final two play off at a neutral venue for the Champions League trophy.
Even before the group stage begins, this competition offers a unique opportunity to back certain teams to finish top of their respective groups. Though the seeding system prevents the best teams (those in ‘Pot 1’) from meeting at the group stage, backing multiple teams to finish top improves potential payouts.
So too can backing multiple teams to qualify (finish first and second) yield a better potential payout. Some bookmaker might also offer bettors the chance to back a team to win every group stage match, if the top-seeded team is strong, and the others in the same group are relatively weak.
Champions League betting can also be used in relation to the Europa League, which is Europe’s secondary club competition.
Teams that finish third in the Champions League group stage are transferred to the Europa League’s Round of 32. As a point of interest, Europa League outright lists may name some teams that are in the Champions League group stage – and September is the optimal time to pick such a team in the Europa League outrights list.
If picking a team in the Champions League to win the Europa League, the only means of a payout is for the team in question to, firstly, finish third in the Champions League group stage.
Given the team’s status as a Champions League participant, they will be among the frontrunners to win the Europa League, and see their price of winning the Europa League drastically shorten, once third place in the Champions League group is confirmed.
Following the abolition of the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2019, there is only one FIFA-sanctioned international tournament of note currently in existence. That is, of course, the FIFA World Cup.
Under the current 32-team finals format, with eight groups of four and then a single-round knockout bracket, there are currently 14 berths afforded to European (UEFA zone) teams. This may be reduced to just 13 in the event that the host is a UEFA nation.
The qualification process typically begins with just under two months remaining until the start of the tournament.
As with the Champions League group stage, teams are split into pots depending on their FIFA rank. Again, this protects the stronger teams, and can make handicap betting a good means of wagering, with very small nations like Andorra, San Marino and Gibraltar commonly losing by massive scorelines to sides drawn from the top two pots.
Such teams can never hope to get to the World Cup itself, but it is not likely to offer as much handicapping opportunity. While the top-eight ranked teams are kept separate, teams are not otherwise placed into groups based on their FIFA rank. Instead, they are distributed on a geographic basis, and no two nations from the same continent can share a group.
UEFA teams are exempt from this rule, and up to two European teams can be drawn into the same group. In turn, this potentially makes all-UEFA World Cup clashes a point of interest, with the teams often having a good history of competitive Head-to-Head clashes, which can provide guidance for bettors seeking to justify a wager.
Understanding the odds
Football betting odds can be presented in one of three formats. They are Decimal, Fractional or American. For example, this is how Tottenham’s average pre-season price of winning the 2019/20 Premier League appear under each format:
- Decimal: 19.0
- Fractional: 18/1
- American: +1800
The longer the odds, the lesser the considered likelihood of the event occurring. Odds are lengthening if the numbers shown in Decimal and American format are rising, or the difference between the two numbers (with the number on the left of the slash getting bigger) is increasing under the Fractional format.
Here, the potential payout increases, as the considered likelihood drops.
On the flip side, Decimal and American values that are getting lower indicate shortening odds, as does a reduction in the difference between the two numbers in a Fractional price.
In the case of teams being odds-on to achieve an outcome (or considered likelier than not to achieve it), Fractional odds are shortening if the number on the right of the slash is getting bigger, and in turn increasing the difference between the two numbers in the fraction.
Potential payouts can simply be calculated by converting odds to Decimal format using any conversion app or online calculator. The decimal value multiplied by the wager is the payout.
How to Bet Smart on Football
The niche markets described under ‘Types of Bets’ each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but getting the most out of them all depends on the individual and their level of knowledge about European football, and experience with that particular market.
Common sense can be as good as a shrewd bet though, and this applies to both outright and moneyline / moneyline-related betting.
Outright betting tip
The key to making the most from an outright market for a long-term competition like the Premier League or Champions League is usually to back a team early. This is because markets are very reactionary in online football betting, but react more readily to runs of good form and overachievement.
For instance, if you were to back Everton to finish top (without the top six) in 2019/20 at odds of 6/1 (+600), and they won their first three games of the 2019/20 season to end August top of the table, those odds would be slashed to, say, just 5/2 (+250). Even their title outright odds, though still very long, would also undergo a significant shortening.
There have, of course, been instances of odds drifting and then prevailing. For instance, City began 2018/19 as Premier League team favorites, but found themselves trailing Liverpool by seven points at the mid-point of the season. That was the ideal time to back them, as they soon wiped out the deficit, eventually winning the title by one point.
Moneyline betting tip
By its very nature, moneyline betting is all about the quick fix. While getting a decent payout is often a focal consideration, success in moneyline betting is not necessarily all about huge payouts. More than anything, it is about avoiding needless loss, and the most seasoned bettors will find a way to place bets that have an optimal chance of coming through, even if the profits are very small.
For instance, you might consider placing a wager on a multiple bet of teams that are considered very likely to win. In the screenshot shown above, the seven teams are all comfortable favorites, but just a $1 bet yields a $15 payout if successful.
Assuming this bet was won, a low wager has yielded a payout that can hardly be described as life-changing. However, $10 of that could be used on a much more speculative wager, on say, 2019 semi-finalists Ajax reaching the Champions League final in 2020 at a market average of 20/1 (+2000).
No Eredivisie team has reached the final since 1996 (Ajax themselves), making this a speculative bet, but one where the bettor will either remain $5 in profit from the winning accumulator described earlier, or make a winning profit of $200.
Football Betting FAQ
The price (moneyline odds) for/against a team achieving an objective. Can also refer to the odds against a tie occurring.
Betting lines are not to be confused with win lines, which refer to every possible winning combination in a multi-fold Euro Acca. The number of possible win lines in a multi-fold acca is also the automatic stake multiplier.
‘The spread’ is seen in spread betting, where a bookmaker predicts that a result will fall within particular parameters.
So for example, ahead of a match between Chelsea and Newcastle, the spread on the ‘Che/New Supremacy’ market (how many goals Chelsea will win by) may be 1.75 (the ‘sell’) and 2.25 (the ‘buy’). This essentially means that the bookmaker is predicting Chelsea will win by two goals (1.75 + 2.25 / 2 = 2).
Whether a bettor wins or not depends on whether they backed the ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ value. So if Chelsea won 4-0, the market would settle on ‘4’, and anyone backing the ‘buy’ would make 1.75 their stake back (4-2.25 = 1.75).
However, anyone backing the ‘sell’ would lose 3.75x their initial wager (1.75 -4 = -3.75).
Both teams to Score (or BTTS), Over/Under 2.5 Goals, First/Anytime Scorer and Half-time/Full-time results are the most popular bets other than the straight win/tie/win bet.
The moneyline is the price for/against a favorite/underdog. In moneyline betting, an odds-on favorite will have a moneyline price of under -100 (a more than 50% chance of prevailing). An underdog will have a price of over +100 (a less than 50% chance of being victorious).
Not via the win/draw/win moneyline, though some particularly generous bookmakers may allow extra time to count towards the final result. This is rare, however, and it can be safely assumed that the result after 90 minutes plus stoppage time is all that counts.
When a team ‘qualifies’ in soccer, it means that they have negotiated the qualification round for a major tournament. However, the ‘To Qualify’ betting market refers to one team reaching the next round of a tournament by any means, including a victory in regular/extra time or via penalty shootout.
In a 3-way bet, you back every result possible (team 1 to win, draw, team 2 to win). Thus a win is guaranteed, but the wagering must be divided according to the situation, to ensure that the win is bigger than the total lost on the other two possibilities. For instance:
Manchester City win (4/11) – Wager: $10
Draw (9/2) – Wager: $2
Manchester United win (8/1) – Wager: $1
If Manchester City win, this is what happens:
Manchester City win (4/11) – Profit: $3.60
Draw (9/2) – Loss: $2
Manchester United win (8/1) – Loss: $1
In this instance, the overall profit is $0.60, which can then be used on something much more speculative without incurring a loss.
Penalty shootouts do not count as part of any Over/Under wager, as they can potentially go on in great length.
Conventionally, drawing the foul that leads to a goal credits an assist, but that does not apply if the fouled player scores from it. It is, however, always worth double-checking any bookmakers’ own terms and definitions of what an ‘assist’ is.