Betting on UEFA Champions League Football
The UEFA Champions League is arguably the most coveted club prize in global club football. Certainly, it is the competition with the most prestige in Europe, which is the world's footballing hotbed in terms of financial pull and star names. Therefore, the winners of the UEFA Champions League are often unofficially termed 'World Champions', although from FIFA's perspective, that is an honour only bestowed on the winners of the FIFA Club World Cup. However, seeing as the winners of that particular competition are usually the winners of the previous season's Champions League final, the point is made.
The Champions League begins in early July with the first qualifying round, featuring league champions from Europe's smallest leagues. For example, in the 2018/19 version, this round featured the likes of Cork City from Ireland, Celtic from Scotland, Astana from Kazakhstan and Sheriff Tiraspol from Moldova. The winners advanced to the second round of qualifying, where they are joined by some of the lower placed teams in some of the bigger leagues, while the losers entered the Europa League second qualifying round. Likewise, the losers in the second round of qualifying for the Champions League enter into the Europa League third qualifying round, while the winners from the Champions League second round advance to a third qualifying round. The winners here enter the playoff round, which then sees the winning six teams enter the Holy Grail of the Champions League group stages. Losing teams from both the Champions League third qualifying round, and the playoffs, enter the group stages of the Europa League instead.
From this point it is rather more straightforward. There are eight groups of four teams, and the top two teams from each group advance to the knockout phase. The third-placed team in each group goes into the knockout phases of the Europa League. After the group stages there is a round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final and then final, which takes place at the end of May or start of June, nearly 11 months after the qualifying rounds began. From this 11-month viewpoint, Champions League winners odds never become irrelevant.
UEFA Champions League Football Odds
Betting on the UEFA Champions League is perhaps more popular than betting on any other competition – with the exception of the FIFA World Cup maybe. But because the Champions League is played every season, and the competition is almost 11 months in duration, that is an incredible amount of time to have Champions League winners odds fresh in the mind. The competition itself features the cream of European, and therefore world football. Similarly, the world's best players play in, or aspire to play in, this incredibly competitive tournament, and global TV figures reveal the obsession that football fans have with the games featured.
Incredibly, for such a competitive tournament, the Champions League regularly features goals. The completed 2018/19 season saw 2.93 per match, which is way above the global average, while the 2017/18 season saw an incredible 3.21. This can be partly explained by the group stages, where Europe's behemoths can regularly hand out big defeats to some of the continent's smaller clubs coming from smaller leagues: the fact is that the financial disparity between the biggest clubs and everyone else is huge, and getting bigger by the year.
Having said that, the trend in recent years has been for attacking, risk-taking football, and so some defensive solidity has been forsaken – great news for audiences, even if it can lead to some heart-stopping moments for fans of clubs taking part.
Entering each new season, the same teams find themselves at the top of the Champions League winners odds lists: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Bayern Munich are perhaps the most commonly featured clubs, and these can be joined by whoever is dominant in English football at the time (currently Manchester City and Liverpool), while PSG have fought their way into contention thanks to the backing of their Qatari owners.
UEFA Champions League Winners Odds for 2019-20
As mentioned previously, the normal names appear once again with the shortest odds in terms of Champions League winners betting for 2019/20. Barcelona start as favourites, thanks to the genius of Lionel Messi, although Juventus, with Cristiano Ronaldo, will be a serious threat. Pep Guardiola's Manchester City come next, closely followed by reigning champions Liverpool, who overcame compatriots Tottenham Hotspur in the final in 2018/19. Tottenham themselves are way down the order, however, as their 2018/19 final appearance was unlikely in itself.
It will be interesting to see what Real Madrid offer: despite starting the campaign as fourth of firth favourites for the trophy, with a host of new signings and coming off the back of a disastrous 2018/19 campaign, anything could happen. The club does have Zinedine Zidane back in charge, however, who of course led the club to three consecutive titles from 2016 to 2018.
Other teams in the mix remain PSG, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Atlético Madrid, with the rest following a way behind. According to the bookmakers, it is most likely that a winner will come from the teams mentioned here.
UEFA Champions League Football History
The UEFA Champions League has been played every season since 1992/93, but before that the competition was known simply as the European Cup. The first European Cup was contested in 1955/56.
The old European Cup was a much simpler affair: only the champions from participating countries were able to enter, and it was a straight knockout tournament. Since the branding was changed in 1992, the competition has featured a group stage (it was actually introduced a season before in 1991/92) while teams who were not domestic champions have long since been able to enter. The competition may have evolved and grown almost unrecognizably since the old European Cup, but the winners of the tournament are still European Champions.
And so, historically, the most successful team in the European Cup/Champions League has been Real Madrid, with 13 titles. Next come Milan with seven titles, while Liverpool have six. Bayern Munich and Barcelona each have claimed five titles. In total, 22 clubs have won the famous trophy to date, as of the end of the 2018/19 season. A further 18 teams have featured in a final, making an illustrious group of 40 teams to have played in the biggest game in European, and perhaps world, club football.
Interestingly, although money has changed the landscape of football around the globe, and particularly in Europe, those clubs who sit atop the historical winners table still dominate when it comes to UEFA Champions League winners odds of today.