How Does the UEFA Champions League Work?
Unlike the NFL or other North American sports leagues where divisions and conferences are set, this Euro-centric league begins with two qualification streams. The first is for teams that haven’t received direct entry to the tournament and those who have pre-qualified because they are past champions or finished second to fourth in their national championship.
The group stage follows, and it’s here that the real betting begins. From September to December, 32 teams are divided into eight groups. The winning teams and runners-up are allowed to proceed to the next level. Teams that have placed third enter the UEFA Europa League where they can compete for the UEFA Cup.
In February, the knockout phase begins, culminating in the Champions League Final in the last weeks of May. Sixteen teams (eight winners and eight runners-up from the group stage) play against each other until there is one left standing. The winner is awarded the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. If a team wins three years in a row the club is bestowed a commemorative badge to wear permanently on their uniforms.
As a nation, Spain has the most championships with 18, followed closely by England (13) and Italy (12). The top goal scorer is Cristiano Ronaldo with 127. He also has the second-most appearances in the Champions League with 166. Iker Casillas beats him by 11 appearances. Belgium, Greece and Sweden have all been in the finals but have never won outright.
|Real Madrid||13||1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018|
|Milan||7||1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007|
|Liverpool||6||1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005, 2019|
|Bayern Munich||5||1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013|
|Barcelona||5||1992, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015|
|Ajax||4||1971, 1972, 1973, 1995|
|Inter Milan||3||1964, 1965, 2010|
|Manchester United||3||1968, 1999, 2008|
|Nottingham Forest||2||1979, 1980|
|Red Star Belgrade||1||1991|
How to Read Champions League Odds
At Odds Shark, we use American-style odds. However, most betting sites provide the option to choose between Fractional (1/5) or Decimal (1.2) too. Where you live will usually dictate the kind of odds you’ll use. For instance, bettors from the U.K. tend to gravitate to fractions, whereas North Americans commonly use the American type, and Europeans favor decimals.
When you check out any sportsbook, you’ll see soccer odds for a typical moneyline bet displayed like this:
For a moneyline bet, you simply have to pick a team to win straight up. In this scenario, Tottenham is the favorite. You can tell this by the minus sign (-). Olympiacos is the underdog which is shown with the plus sign (+).
If you believe the team from Great Britain is going to win, and you bet $100, you’d get a payout of $129.85 – your original money is returned, coupled with your winnings of $29.85.
That same $100 on the Greek club would give you $900 – you get your $100 back along with your prize of $800.
Another option is the draw. Soccer is one of the only professional sports where you can bet on a tie. A $100 bet would pay $575 – your $100 is repaid, combined with the $475 you won.
To see how much you’d win based on the odds and amount bet, use our Odds Calculator.
Champions League Betting
We’ve mentioned the popular moneyline bet, but that’s only the beginning. There are many other wagers you can make on soccer.
Point Spread: Which Club will Cover?
Spreads in Euro football are somewhat similar to those used in American football. Oddsmakers adjust the betting line to give the underdog an advantage of +0.5 goals. In turn, the favorite has the disadvantage of -0.5. The dog must either win outright or not lose by more than a goal to cover, and the fave must win by a goal or more.
Totals: What will the Combined Score be?
Often referred to as OVER/UNDERs, a totals bet requires you to wager on the collective score of both clubs. You’ll see the odds listed like this:
Dinamo Zagreb vs Napoli
If you think the joint score will be more than three goals, you would take the OVER. If you think it’ll be less than three, you would bet the UNDER.
Futures: Who will Win it all?
Any bet made weeks or months in advance of a big event is a futures bet. In this case you would be betting on a club to win the entire competition. The odds would appear like so:
Manchester City +650
FC Brugge +900
Atletico Madrid +1200
You would pick the team you think is going to be victorious at the end of the tournament. Futures odds are set early so if you see betting lines you like, take them ASAP.
Props: Ready for More Fun?
All sports betting should be fun and for those looking for extra entertainment with their wagers, try prop betting. These are bets based on the occurrence or non-occurrence of specific team or player milestones that could affect the outcome of a game but don’t necessarily need to, like:
• Which club will score first?
• How many yellow cards will team X get?
• How many goals will be scored in the second half of the match?
Asian Handicapping: Want to take your Betting Beyond?
This is a form of spread betting that originated in Indonesia and takes your wagers to the next level. The Asian handicap eliminates the draw from the equation and gives the underdog even more of an advantage.
From betting odds to match analysis and consensus info, we’ve got you covered for all things related to Champions League. Keep it locked to Odds Shark and we’ll ensure you have all the necessary tools to make your bets count.