Many soccer fans would like to grab a stake in the Champions League action, but they are unsure of where to start. Let's explain the key betting categories so you can win some money.
The Champions League is the most prestigious competition in club soccer, and millions of fans around the world tune in to watch the action. It pits the leading lights from all of Europe’s top leagues against one another, providing a stage for the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG and Manchester City to battle it out for glory. Betting goes through the roof when these high-profile games take place.
This involves placing a wager on whether the home team will win, the away team will win or it will finish in a tie. Bookmakers will set odds for each outcome, depending on how likely each one is. If the teams are pretty evenly matched, you might see similar odds on each outcome. But if one team looks a lot stronger than the other, you are likely to see short odds on the bigger team, and long odds on the draw and the weaker team winning.
Let’s say Real Madrid is playing against Legia Warsaw. You might see odds on -1200 on a Real Madrid win, +500 for the draw and +1000 for a Legia Warsaw victory. When you see a minus symbol in the odds, it tells you how much you need to stake to win $100. So a $1,200 wager at odds of -1200 would net you a $100 profit. A plus symbol tells you how much you will win if you lay down $100. So $100 at +500 would generate a $500 profit, and $100 at +1000 would net you $1,000. You are by no means obliged to bet $100. You could bet $5 at +1000 and if Legia Warsaw pulled off an unlikely victory, you would get a $50 profit. Check out our guide on how to read odds for more on this. If Real Madrid is playing Bayern Munich at the Bernebeu, you might see -130 on Real Madrid, +120 on the draw and +120 on Bayern Munich, as the teams are more evenly matched.
Once the Champions League group stage is over, you move into the knockout phase of the tournament. This sees elite teams face one another in two-legged contests – one game at each team’s home ground – and the team with the highest aggregate score qualifies for the next round. You can bet on which team will qualify, and this also allows for extra-time and penalties if the scores are tied by the end of the second leg.
Spread betting in soccer is called handicap betting, and it involves giving one team a head start. To continue with the Real Madrid vs. Legia Warsaw example, you might find the odds on a Real Madrid win too low and unappealing to bother with. After all, it is risky to lay down $100 when you would only generate a $10 profit. To get more value, you could give Real Madrid a handicap. You might decide to give Los Blancos a -2.5 handicap, which would require them to win by three clear goals. It is a more difficult bet to pull off, but you will be rewarded with far more attractive odds. This might get up to around +100 on Real Madrid covering the spread. Alternatively you could go for Legia Warsaw +2.5 goals, and your bet would be a winner if Legia Warsaw either won the game, tied the game or lost by no more than two goals. In soccer, you can typically choose from a huge range of goal spreads, from 0.25 to 3.75, and the odds vary accordingly as the bet becomes more difficult to win.
This is a great option if you are unsure about who will win a game, but you have a hunch about whether it will be a high-scoring or a low-scoring encounter. You can bet "over" or "under" on total goal spreads: over/under 1.5 goals, 2.5 goals, 3.5 goals or 4.5 goals. The odds change for each game, depending on how evenly matched the teams are and how offensive or defensive each one typically is. If you think it will be a low-scoring game, "under" 2.5 goals is a popular bet. If you think a game will see lots of goals, you can be rewarded with strong odds by going for "over" 3.5 goals or over 4.5 goals. You can also combine an over/under bet with another bet for better odds. For example, you could go for "both teams to score" and "over" 2.5 goals in a particular game. Or "Man City to beat PSG" and "under" 4.5 goals, as that would give you a better set of odds than simply betting on a Man City win. Check out our over/under guide for more on this.
You can choose from all manner of specials bets within a Champions League game. These are called prop bets and they do not necessarily relate to the outcome of the contest. They include first goalscorer, anytime goalscorer, total corners over/under, total bookings over/under, man of the match and many more. There are other options that allow you to find more value when betting on the outcome of a game. Let’s say Barcelona is playing Napoli, and they are -350 to win. You could back Barcelona to win at halftime and full-time and enjoy boosted odds of -120, because you are making it harder for yourself. You could alternatively bet on Barcelona to "win to nil," and you might get odds of +175 for that. Or you could back Barcelona to win 2-0 and you might enjoy odds of +600. Each time you make it harder for yourself, the potential rewards are far greater.
You can combine multiple teams into one bet and enjoy vastly superior odds, and this is called a parlay bet. Say you believe Real Madrid will beat Legia Warsaw, Barcelona will beat Roma, and Man City will beat PSG. Instead of dividing your money into three and betting on them individually, you could put them all into the same bet. All three would need to win for your bet to be a winner – if one of them lets you down, your bet is bust – but the odds will be vastly greater as a result. This is a great way to find more value when betting on favorites, and a fun way to turn a small stake into a massive profit.