How To Bet On The Champions League

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Betting on the Champions League easily surpasses the volume of money bet on most domestic European football leagues. As Europe's biggest club football competition, the Champions League attracts both casual and serious bettors alike.

Champions League Betting: An Introduction

The Champions League is the premier club competition in world football. Other continents have similar tournaments but as the best players and the biggest clubs are in Europe, there is a fierce battle to be crowned the continent’s top team.

The excitement begins to build long before the Champions League draw is made for the tournament proper. Starting early in the summer, there is a protracted qualification period for the Champions League in which a mixture of famous clubs and little known minnows compete for the chance to mix it with the big boys.

Once the 32 teams who will play in the tournament have been decided upon, the Champions League offers thousands of top class football betting opportunities. The teams are divided into groups of four before it is time for the Champions League knockout stage. The 16 teams who make it out of the groups play two legged ties played at home and away all the way to the final which is a one off. Each and every year, betting odds on Champions League Final markets are some of the most popular of the season.

2018/19 Champions League Dates

The 2018/19 Champions League Group Stage begins September 18th and concludes December 12th.

This is followed by the Champions League knockout stage that begins February 12th 2019, concluding May 8th.

The Champions League Final will then be held on 1st June 2019 at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid.

Contents

  1. Champions League Tournament Format
  2. History Of The Champions League
  3. Champions League Odds Explained
  4. How To Bet On The Champions League And Win
  5. Betting On The Champions League Online
  6. Champions League Live Streaming
  7. Champions League Betting Tips

1. Champions League Tournament Format

Generations have only ever known the Champions League by its present name. However, prior to 1992, the competition was called the European Cup. It was in 1992 that UEFA, who have always hosted and set the rules for the tournament, decided that it was time for a rebrand. The decision was not universally popular.

When you look back in Champions League format history to the early stages of the rebranded competition you’ll see that there was at one time two group stages. Each group stage consisted of groups of four and many people believe that made the Champions League more difficult to win. The theory is that more knockout rounds enhance the chance of lesser teams making to the latter stages while a groups stage is better at separating the best teams from the pretenders.

How The Champions League Works

The 2018/19 Champions League format that clubs will compete under consists of three knockout qualifying rounds before a playoff round to end qualification. The winners of the playoff round advance to the group stage while the losers drop into the Europa League. Remember that you can pick your Champions League betting outright selections during this qualification period, well before the tournament properly begins with the groups stages.

Champions League Group Stage

The group stages are played in a double round robin format with each team playing their three opponents both home and away. There are three points awarded for a win and one for a draw and at the end the teams who finish in the top two positions make it through to the knockout stage.

Champions League Knockout Stage And Final

The Champions League knockout stage consists of three rounds of two-legged ties, with clubs eliminated after each round all the way up to the Champions League Final. Staged across some of the biggest and most revered stadiums in Europe, the Champions League Final is always one of the most watched sporting events of the year.

2. History Of The Champions League

Given that many of the best players in the history of the game have played in the elite European competition, Champions League history statistics make for some very interesting reading.

No team has won the Champions League more often than Real Madrid. The Spanish side have lifted the trophy on 13 occasions and been runners up a further three times. The closest team to Real are AC Milan with seven wins followed by Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Barcelona who have each won it five times.

Champions League Winners

ClubTitlesRunners-UpLast Title
Real Madrid 13 3 2018
Milan 7 4 2007
Bayern Munich 5 5 2013
Barcelona 5 3 2015
Liverpool 5 3 2005
Ajax 4 2 1995
Internazionale 3 2 2010
Manchester United 3 2 2008
Juventus 2 7 1996
Benfica 2 5 1962
Nottingham Forest 2 0 1980
Porto 2 0 2004
Celtic 1 1 1967
Hamburg 1 1 1983
Steaua Bucuresti 1 1 1986
Marseille 1 1 1993
Chelsea 1 1 2012
Borussia Dortmund 1 1 1997
Feyenoord 1 0 1970
Aston Villa 1 0 1982
PSV Eindhoven 1 0 1988
Red Star Belgrade 1 0 1991

In terms of nations, Spain are way ahead with 18 wins provided by just two clubs (guess who). English football has provided more individual winners than any other nation with five different clubs although Spain’s record of 13 clubs taking part in the competition cannot be matched.

Champions League Winners By Nation

NationWinnersRunners-Up
Spain 18 11
Italy 12 16
England 12 8
Germany 7 10
Netherlands 6 2
Portugal 4 5
France 1 5
Scotland 1 1
Romania 1 1
Yugoslavia 1 1

When it comes to Champions League history top scorers are always highly regarded. We are fortunate to have lived through an era in which the top two goal scorers in the tournament’s history have played.

Nobody has scored more Champions League goals than Cristiano Ronaldo who racked up an incredible 120 goals ahead of the 2018/19 tournament. Lionel Messi is three years younger than Ronaldo so will be hoping to close the 20 goal gap between the two. Ronaldo also holds the record for the most number of goals in a season with 17 in 2013/14.

Top Five Champions League Goalscorers

PlayerGoalsMatchesAverage
Cristiano Ronaldo 120 153 0.78
Lionel Messi 100 125 0.8
Raul 71 142 0.5
Ruud Van Nistelrooy 56 73 0.77
Thierry Henry 50 112 0.45

Again it is players who ply their trade in Spain who dominate when it comes to the most number of Champions League appearances. The bulk of Iker Casillas’ record 157 appearances came for Real Madrid although he does still play in the Champions League for Porto. Cristiano Ronaldo, with 153 and counting, is the outfield player to have played the most times. In total, 34 players have made 100 or more Champions League appearances.

Real Madrid great, Francisco Gento, is the only player to have won the Champions League (or European Cup as it was known) six times. Gento also shares the record for highest number of appearances in a final with eight with Paolo Maldini, the great AC Milan defender.

3. Champions League Odds Explained

There is nothing quite like the Champions League from the perspective of a football punter. Champions League betting odds are always varied, often tempting and sometimes incredibly lucrative. Therefore, it is important to know where to look when searching out the best Champions League betting odds.

The first thing to note about betting on the Champions League is that, like most domestic football leagues, there are two main types of market - outright markets and match markets.

While match markets focus on outcomes for individual Champions League matches, Champions League outright odds concern long term outcomes such as who will reach the semi finals while match markets are only concerned with individual games. Both match and outright markets offer you a broad range of Champions League odds to exploit throughout the tournament.

Champions League Match Odds

Champions League match betting offers markets just like any other form of football match betting. The most popular of these are:

  • Match Result 1X2: Selecting the result (Home win, Draw, Away win) at the end of 90 minutes plus added time.
  • Asian Handicap: Selecting the winner with each competing team carrying a goals handicap.
  • Goal Total Over/Under: Selecting either over or under a specified number of goals.

For a comprehensive list and detailed descriptions of football bet types, please read our How To Bet On Football - Football Bets Explained guide.

Champions League Winner Odds

The Champions League winner market is the number one option when it comes to outright betting. With Champions League winner odds, you are essentially betting on which team you think will be victorious in winning the Champions League Final. You can bet on every single team in the competition and if you get involved early enough you can even bet on teams who are taking part in Champions League qualification but who have not yet booked their place in the tournament proper.

We can see that heading into the current Champions League season, Barcelona were favourites at odds of 4.00, while Bayern Munich were just off the pace at odds of 5.00 and Real Madrid at odds of 6.00. Here we can see why the Champions League and in particular, Champions League betting appeals to so many. Unlike domestic league odds where only two or maybe three clubs are in serious contention, the Champions League is far more competitive with a number of clubs a chance to become title holders.

Champions League Winner Each Way Betting

As competitive as the Champions League may be, it is still rather unlikely that you are going to win betting on a team at long odds. These are the best club teams in the world and the cream normally rises to the top. However, the majority of the big bookmakers give you the option to place each way bets on their Champions League winner market. How does Champions League each way betting work?

Each way betting is essentially placing two bets. The first is your selection to win the Champions League. The second bet is for your selection to finish in the 'places'. In the example above we can see the each way terms in the top left corner. They read: 1/2 1-2. This means that the place portion of your each way bet is on your selection to finish either 1st (win the final) or 2nd (lose the final) a bet on which you will receive 1/2 (half) your outright winner odds.

So let's say we want to place £10 each way on Manchester City to win the Champions League. As we can see above, Manchester City are at odds of 13.0 to become Champions League title holders. Our each way bet is therefore:

  • £10 on Manchester City to win the Champions League at odds of 13.0
  • £10 on Manchester City to either win the Champions League or lose the final at 1/2 our outright odds of 13.0

Each way odds are calculated as:

Each Way Odds = ((Each way terms) of (winner odds - 1)) + 1

So in this example, our each way odds for Manchester City would be:

Each Way Odds = (1/2 of (13.0 - 1) +1
Each Way Odds = (1/2 of 12.0) +1
Each Way Odds = 6.0 + 1
Each Way Odds = 7.0

So our £10 each way on Manchester City, is essentially two bets:

  • £10 on Manchester City to win the Champions League at odds of 13.0
  • £10 on Manchester City to either win the Champions League or lose the final at odds of 7.0.

If you cannot pick the winner of the Champions League in the early stages, never mind. The winner markets remain open until the very end of the competition. This means you can watch the first couple of rounds and bet on a team to win when they reach the Champions League last 8 if you wish. If you never find a team to go to war with at any stage of the tournament you’ll be happy to learn that there are numerous other markets to chance your arm on.

Related Markets

There are a number of markets related to Champions League Winner Odds. These include:

  • Winning Nationality (the nationality of the winning team)
  • Highest Scoring Team (team to score the most goals throughout the tournament)

Champions League Group Odds

The group stages provide plenty of opportunities for the shrewd football bettor. Not only can you bet on the team to win the group, you’ll also find Champions League odds to qualify out of the groups and even on which team will finish bottom of the pile.

It's also possible to bet on a team to advance from the group stage to the knockout stage of the Champions League. This is most often referred to as 'To Qualify' meaning that the team will qualify for the knockout stage. 

As we can see, odds are typically far shorter in the To Qualify market than they are in the Group Winner market. This is because two of the four teams in each group can qualify for the knockout stage. To win this bet, your selection must either win the group or finish in second place within the group. 

One thing to note is that there is often great discrepency between bookmakers when it comes to both Group Winner and To Qualify betting. This is especially true shortly after the group draw when markets are yet to settle. It's often possible to find arbitrage opportunities, giving you the chance to create surebets and lock in a certain profit no matter who wins or qualifies from the group. To learn more about exploiting surebets, please read our detailed guide to arbitrage betting

Some of the biggest bookies go even deeper with their outright market coverage. You’ll find odds on which team will progress furthest from individual leagues, head to head markets between rivals such as Real Madrid and Barcelona and much more.

Related Markets

There are a number of markets related to Champions League group betting. These include:

  • To Finish 2nd In Group
  • To Finish 3rd In Group
  • To Finish Bottom Of Group
  • Dual Forecast (pick the two teams to qualify from a group)
  • Straight Forecast (pick the two teams to finish1st and 2nd from a group in correct order)

Champions League Top Goalscorer Odds

Champions League Top Goalscorer odds are always sought after by many bettors. The Top Goalscorer market is one of the most popular markets in Champions League football, and there are great odds to be found.

There is a correlation between the odds on Outright Champions League Winners and Top Goalscorers, with strikers who play for the sides at short odds to win the tournament likewise having short odds to finish as the top goalscorer. This is simply because these clubs are expected to go deepest into the tournament, therefore giving their players greater opportunity to add to the their tally of goals. 

Champions League Top Goalscorer Each Way Betting

We can also see that each way betting is available on this market, in this case the terms are 1/4 the odds for a player to finish in the top four of Champions League goalscorers. These each way odds are calculated in the same manner as Champions League winner each way betting. For example a £10 each way bet on Thomas Muller at odds of 11.0 would consist of two bets:

  • £10 on Muller to be the Champions League Top Goalscorer at odds of 11.0
  • £10 on Muller to finish in the top four of Champions League goalscorers at odds of 3.50

In each of the last three seasons, the Top Goalscorer in the Champions League has played for the side who has won the competition, and in the last eight years, the Top Goalscorer title has been shared between messrs Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (with Neymar matching their total in the 14/15 season). This is something worth bearing in mind when you're looking for goalscorer odds.

It is worth looking around at the top scorers in other teams too. Look at who has the 'easier' groups, who's in good form in their domestic leagues, and look around at the odds available. You might just discover a value bet or two. Check out Smartbets to compare all the latest odds on Top Goalscorer markets.

Champions League Top Goalscorers

SeasonPlayer(s)Club(s)Goals
1996/1997 Milinko Pantic Atletico Madrid 5
1997/1998 Alessandro Del Piero Juventus 10
1998/1999 Andriy Shevchenko Dynamo Kyiv 8
  Dwight Yorke Manchester United 8
1999/2000 Mario Jardel Porto 10
  Rivaldo Barcelona 10
  Raul Real Madrid 10
2000/2001 Raul Real Madrid 7
2001/2002 Ruud Van Nistelrooy Manchester United 10
2002/2003 Ruud Van Nistelrooy Manchester United 12
2003/2004 Fernando Morientes Monaco 9
2004/2005 Ruud Van Nistelrooy Manchester United 8
2005/2006 Andriy Shevchenko Milan 9
2006/2007 Kaka Milan 10
2007/2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 8
2008/2009 Lionel Messi Barcelona 9
2009/2010 Lionel Messi Barcelona 8
2010/2011 Lionel Messi Barcelona 12
2011/2012 Lionel Messi Barcelona 14
2012/2013 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 12
2013/2014 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 17
2014/2015 Neymar Barcelona 10
  Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 10
  Lionel Messi Barcelona 10
2015/2016 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 16
2016/2017 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 12
2017/2018 Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 15

4. How To Bet On The Champions League And Win

Betting on the Champions League is in many ways the same as betting on any other football league or tournament. As with all football betting, there are a number of ways to improve your chances of becoming consistently profitable. The most important of these include:

  • Bet only when there is value
  • Specialise in certain markets
  • Apply a consistent staking method
  • Keep detailed records of your bets
  • Have accounts with multiple bookmakers

To learn more about the basics of successful and profitable football betting, please read our How To Bet On Football And Win guide.

How To Bet On The Champions League Qualifying Rounds

It is best to start with the qualifying rounds. There is such a disparity in terms of quality between the teams looking to book a place in the group stage that odds to qualify for the Champions League always provide plenty of opportunity.

Big name teams fall foul of European minnows more often than you would expect in the early stages due to the rigours of playing competitive football so soon after coming back from the summer break.

When betting on the qualifying stages, make sure to have a look at whether the teams have only recently started pre-season or whether their league campaign has been going for a number of weeks. The start dates for leagues varies quite drastically throughout Europe so this is valuable information.

Similarly, many European leagues have a winter break to give the players a rest and miss the worst of the continent’s weather. For example, sides from the Ukrainian leagues offer some great appeal during the first few knockout rounds. You might be looking through the Champions League betting odds William Hill are quoting and see that Shakhtar Donetsk are big odds to qualify from the first knockout round for example. It is often worth having a bet at these long odds as the different schedule that Ukrainian teams are on compared to the rest of Europe plays into their hands in the first few months of the year.

How To Bet On The Champions League Group Stage

Champions League betting begins in earnest during the group stages. That’s when the big boys enter the stage and the fun really begins.

Before having a bet on the group stage it is vital to note what stage the campaign is at. There may be one particularly strong team in a group who go into each of their six games as the bookies’ favourites but it is very rare for a team to win all of their group stage matches. If a side have already booked a safe passage to the knockout stage via their results in the first few games, they are much more likely to rest their big stars for the remainder of their group matches which will of course affect their chances of winning the last match or two.

Understand the context of group stage matches and you can find some great value at the bookies.

How To Bet On The Champions League Knockout Stage

The same is true in the knockout stages. As we’ve seen before, it is rare to find a Champions League winner at large odds. The best teams tend to have the biggest chance of winning, with experience playing a significant role.

Clubs with the wiliest managers understand the rhythm of two-legged ties. They know the best times to attack and when it is better to shut up shop.

If you, in turn, gain a better understanding of how two-legged ties tend to pan out when the pressure is firmly applied, you’ll have a better chance of ending the Champions League season in profit.

5. Betting On The Champions League Online

The primary reason for holding accounts with multiple bookies is value. Having an account with just one bookmaker limits your choice and ability to get the best odds significantly.

When looking for value it makes sense to stick to the biggest and most well regarded bookies – William Hill Champions League odds are always competitive for example – but look to have accounts with a range of bookmakers, from mainstream bookmakers such as William Hill and Ladbrokes to bookmakers such as Pinnacle and exchanges such as Betfair and Matchbook.

You also want as much control over your Champions League betting as possible. The Champions League odds Sky Bet quote are regularly as big as you’ll find but they also give you the chance to cash out of your bet and provide you with great information about how the match you’ve bet on is unfolding on their match page.

It’s also important that your choice of bookmakers provide a wide selection of both outright markets and in-play markets. You may have a long running selection from an outright market with William Hill but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of Champions League final betting odds Ladbrokes are offering.

Champions League Free Bet Offers

Another important element to consider when choosing a bookmaker for your Champions League betting is the range and generosity of the free bet offers they are promoting. Bookmakers will often use free bet offers as a welcome bonus to new customers. These can be generic in nature – a £20 free bet after placing a £5 bet with Coral for example – but they can also be specific to individual matches and markets.

If you’re looking through the Champions League odds Ladbrokes have for a particular match but don’t have an account with them, make sure that you check out their latest free bet offers before simply opening account. Often times you will find a free bet offer which tallies perfectly with the bet that you were going to place. Not only does this give you the chance to win bigger but it gives you the chance to check out what a particular bookmaker is like whilst risking less of your own money.

Like the general offering that bookmakers have for the Champions League, these free bet offers cover both outright and match markets so a little while investigating these offers can prove to be time well spent.

What You Should Look For When Choosing An Online Bookmaker?

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing bookmakers for your Champions League betting there are a number things to keep in mind. The most important of these considerations are:

  • The bookmaker's reputation and media profile.
  • The diversity of Champions League betting markets available.
  • Champions League In-Play betting markets and Cash Out available.
  • Champions League betting odds and bookmaker commissions.
  • Mobile betting on Champions League matches.
  • Welcome Bonus and Champions League promotional offers.

To learn more about how to choose a bookmaker for football betting, please read our Football Bookmakers guide.

To read detailed reviews of over 50 online bookmakers, please visit our Bookmaker Reviews listing.

For the latest Champions League free bets and promotional offers, please visit our Free Bets

6. Champions League Live Streaming

Many of the biggest bookmakers offer live streaming of action from across the major European football leagues but unfortunately the Champions League is not included amongst this coverage.

Due to the way that the broadcasting rights for the competition work you won’t find a legitimate Champions League live stream free online. Thankfully, there are options to watch the live action on your TV.

Champions League On Television

In Britain, BT Sport have the exclusive rights to broadcast live Champions League football. That ends the Champions League ITV partnership which ran for many years. Most of the action that BT Sport show on their channel is available to subscribers only but they also have a number of matches which are free to air on UK TV. These free matches include one group stage match a week and the biggest matches of the knockout stages including the showpiece final itself.

If you are looking for Champions League live stream, ITV or other terrestrial options you’ll be disappointed in terms of live coverage but ITV do have a very good Champions League highlights show. This show brings you every goal of every game plus extended highlights of some matches so as you watch the Champions League results come in you can rest assured that you’ll be able to see the action on terrestrial TV, you’re just going to have to wait a little while.

Which Bookmakers Offer Football Live Streams?

To see which football leagues are being live streamed this season, please read the live streaming section of our How To Bet On Football guide.

To learn more about bookmaker live streams, please read our bettingexpert live streaming guide.

7. Champions League Betting Tips

While taking the time to identify Champions League value bets is well worth the effort, it's also worth discovering a number of profitable Champions League tipsters that are available for you free at bettingexpert. Each season, some of the best Champions League tipsters post their selections at bettingexpert.

Best Champions League Tipsters Of Last Season

Below are our top Champions League tipsters from the last few season. As you can see a number of our best Champions League tipsters posted solid numbers last season and will be looking for a repeat performance during the 2018/19 Champions League campaign.

best Champions League tipsters

For the latest Champions League selections, please visit our Champions League Betting Tips page.

To learn more about betting tips, please read our guide to following betting tips.


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