Top 5 European Football Leagues
Every European nation that participates in UEFA competitions has at least one flagship domestic league. With some football bookmakers, no league is considered too small to include in its long list, and everything from the miniscule Gibraltar Premier Division to the mighty English Premier League enjoys representation these days.
However, there are five that stand out as the most popular, both on the pitch and in the bookmakers, and this is how they all currently stand:
English Premier League
Manchester City are odds-on to retain the title, having won it twice in succession with a total of 198 points (with three points awarded for a win) across two seasons.
Along with the five other teams that have now made up the ‘top six’ for three seasons running, they will be popular picks, both in the outright market to win the title, and as part of a Euro Acca.
The top teams (six in total) also enjoy a lot of attention within handicap markets on certain weekends, as they are generally expected to get landslide victories against newly-promoted opposition, or low-ranked relegation survivors from the previous campaign.
Spanish La Liga
In this league, it is only a specific top-three that is widely expected, and some bookmakers enable bettors to pick the exact order of the top-three.
2018/19 saw Barcelona win the title, with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid finishing quite a distance behind. Real Madrid are expected to improve, having just signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea, and being linked to top talents after a relatively dreadful season.
Below third place, the league is much more open, but those that participate frequently in European football will be popular Euro Acca picks.
Italian Serie A
As has been the case throughout the second half of the 2010s, Juventus dominated utterly in 2018/19. Right now, there seems to be no other team worth backing in the futures list, with Napoli being the closest contenders, along perhaps with AS Roma, Inter Milan and AC Milan.
Juventus sealed the league title by April, but Serie A has always had a reputation for low-scoring, defensive play. To an extent, this reputation has been justified afresh, by the fact that half of Juventus’ SA wins in 2018/19 were merely been attained by a one-goal margin.
This means that people will generally avoid Serie A in Euro Accas themed on ‘Over 2.5 Goals’. However, the more defensive games can still refresh interest in many other niche markets, such as ‘Number of Corners’ or ‘Booking Points’.
French Ligue 1
As with Serie A, there is only one team that has a realistic chance of winning the title. With unrivalled amounts of cash afforded to them by their owners, PSG are the go-to pick for handicap markets, where a team must win by a minimum margin of goals for a payout.
Because of PSG’s dominance, other types of futures bets are gaining popularity in Ligue 1. One of these is ‘League without PSG’, where (assuming PSG win the title in 2020) the team that finishes second behind PSG is the market winner. Olympique Lyon and Lille will be popular picks for that market.
Some also explore the Ligue 1 ‘top scorer’ futures market. Naturally, PSG forwards Kylian Mbappe and Neymar top the list with very short individual odds, but some bookmakers may offer them as a multiple to finish as top-scorer and runner up, possibly in a specific order, which further boosts otherwise unimpressive odds.
With only 18 teams involved, the Bundesliga season is the shortest of the five in terms of games played. Last season, Borussia Dortmund took a massive lead into the winter break, only to be overcome by a resurgent Bayern Munich, who have won the league an astounding number of times.
Bayern are once more big favorites, with Robert Lewandowski again favorite to defend his top-scorer award. However, Bayern are not favorites to the same degree as Juventus or PSG. The 2019/20 Bundesliga is expected to be relatively open, with Borussia Dortmund as Bayern’s nearest challengers.
Germans traditionally pride themselves on technical skills and stamina, so markets that relate to set-pieces and late goals are popular under Bundesliga moneylines.
Domestic knockout tournaments.
With the UEFA Champions League offering a much greater prize pot to successful teams, those targeting glory in the Champions League will often play more conservatively in domestic cup matches, and retain stamina for midweek clashes across Europe.
This certainly makes an each-way bet on a team with longer outright odds worth consideration, as although their odds are slashed under ‘each way’ win conditions, they need only reach the final of the tournament in question, in order to enable a payout.
From a betting perspective, the four most popular domestic knockout tournaments are:
Football Association Challenge Cup
Also known as the F.A Cup, this is the oldest domestic knockout competition in existence, and unlike the EFL Cup, teams from any level of the English system can theoretically win it.
As the point at which the Premier League and EFL Championship teams enter the fray, the ‘F.A Cup Third Round’ (always played in early January) is famous for throwing up some glamorous ties. Almost every year, small teams are sent to legendary destinations, and in some cases, the revenue generated by a trip to a big team can be a financial godsend to any minnows.
At the very least, the first four rounds of the F.A Cup always have the potential to throw up some huge scorelines. This is because some amateurs can get into the first round, and then face a team with a solid history of participation. Naturally, these ties habitually draw attention to the handicap and ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ markets.
The competition starts in July, with teams from Serie C and Serie D entering at this stage, known as the First Round. Serie B teams enter in the next round, with some from Serie A then entering in the Third Round.
After the Fourth Round ends in December, the ‘Final Stage’ begins in January with the Round of 16, followed by the quarter-finals, semis and the final.
Semi-finals are two-legged. Teams that finished sufficiently high in the previous season’s Serie A table and/or qualified for Europe receive a bye to the Round of 16, and avoid the four rounds prior.
Recent winners include Lazio (2019) and Juventus (2014-18), with the latter club winning it a record 13 times to date.
Copa del Rey
The Copa del Rey begins in September, with teams from the third (Segunda División B) and fourth (Tercera) tiers of Spanish football entering at the First Round and second-tier (Segunda División) teams entering in the next.
The subsequent Third Round is the final stage before the top-flight teams of La Liga enter the competition for the Round of 32. This begins in late October or early November, and at this point, the knockouts become two-legged, right up until the final match, which is a single clash on neutral turf.
A heavy presence of two-legged ties from the stage at which the top-flight teams enter ensure that the ‘To Qualify’ market is a popular draw, especially if a bigger team has lost the first leg against lower-league opposition. This is because the odds of the bigger team qualifying will then be much longer (and more attractive to bettors) than the odds merely against them winning the second leg.
Coupe de France
Rounds 1 to 8 run between September and December, but it is not until the first weekend of January that the Ligue 1 teams enter the tournament and draw bettors in. Teams are seeded, and split into four groups accordingly at this stage, to ensure that the stronger Ligue 1 teams avoid one another at this stage.
Once again, this potentially generates interest in handicap markets, especially with the single-match structure forcing underdog teams to avoid merely playing for a draw. None of the rounds are two-legged, and there are no replays as there are in the earlier rounds of the F.A Cup proper, with ties going to extra time, and possibly penalties.