Soccer Betting Analysis: How Europa League Odds Are Shifting

Thursday, April 28, 2016 1:54 PM GMT

Europa League semi-finals are set and we examine public soccer betting trends to determine where the consensus bets are and how betting has shifted since the semi-final draw emerged.

Europa League Semi-final Draw
As Europa League enters the semi-final round, Liverpool emerge, quite rightly, as the team to beat in the market. After taking down competition favorites Borussia Dortmund in spectacular fashion on one of the most extraordinary European nights at Anfield Stadium, Jurgen Klopp's side threw down the gauntlet in no uncertain terms. Two-time defending champions Sevilla along with former champions Shakhtar Donetsk and La Liga hopefuls Villarreal are sure to pay attention.

As far as the draw is concerned, Liverpool avoided two-time defending champions but were still dealt a tough matchup with Villarreal. Sevilla, meanwhile, appear to be the winners with a matchup against competition longshots Shakhtar Donetsk.

Europa League Outrights
As it is, Liverpool enter the penultimate round as the top favorites almost unanimously across the board, trading anywhere from +150 to +185 in outright betting markets depending on your choice sportsbook.

Curiously, though, a few UK-based sportsbooks have Liverpool trading either on par with Sevilla – such as 888sport that hang the pair on +184 soccer odds or Stan James where the pair are trading on +174 apiece – while others, namely Ladbrokes, put up the two-time defending champions Sevilla as the top favorites at +170 and Liverpool just a smidgen larger at +175.

Table 1: Europa League Odds ComparisonImage preview

To look at public betting trends a day before the first leg of the Europa League semi-finals is to discover few surprises in outrights. For the most part, it seems to be falling in line with the market outlook as Liverpool emerge with the lion's share of bets in outright markets. (See Chart 1).

Chart 1: Consensus Betting Polls Ahead of the First Leg of Semis
Image preview

As Chart 1 indicates, Liverpool have 63.85% of the bets which makes them the presumptive favorites to win it all in soccer betting circles. The remaining three contenders split almost 40% of the market with Sevilla owning the better part of the portion at almost 17%.

Potential for Upsets?
The potential for the upset certainly exists in all sporting events. Nothing can ever be taken for granted – take Leicester City's magical run through Premier League.

Few bettors entertained such a possibility at the start of the season, save for the few that are diehard King Power Stadium goers maybe. So it follows it must exist even in Europa League betting despite the market leaning towards a Liverpool-Sevilla showdown.

Well, yes and no.

On the heels of the Europa League draw, we looked at consensus betting polls and early bettors were certainly keen on upset scenarios by the stats (Chart 2). Indeed, 43.48% of early bets coming down the wire were tipping Sevilla-Villarreal.

Chart 2: Consensus Betting Polls On April 17, 2016Image preview

Sat on the cusp of the Europa League semi-finals, a day before the semis get underway there has been a remarkable shift in betting trends as late bettors weigh in on the action. Although almost 30% of bets are going towards alternative scenarios the expected finale between Liverpool and Sevilla has garnered 70% of the bets. (See Chart 3).

Chart 3: Consensus Betting Polls On April 27, 2016Image preview

In no uncertain terms that is a dramatic shift in the tide of public betting and, importantly, one that now brings public bettors and markets in harmony with 70% of betting falling in line with the market outlook.

Of course, just because the likeliest and most popular outcome is a Liverpool-Sevilla clash doesn't mean that any other scenario is impossible. They are less likely to be soccer pick but still probable. As Sherlock Holmes would say, ‘when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?'.