Soccer truly is the world’s global sport, with hundreds of professional leagues across five continents and 211 FIFA-affiliated national teams. As such, the soccer betting market reaches far and wide, and provides countless ways to profit beyond simply win, lose or tie. Here is a complete guide to soccer betting, so bookmark this page to refer to when it’s time to place your wagers!
Leagues and Tournaments
The English Premier League is the most popular league in world soccer and is readily available on NBC Sports where all 380 matches are broadcast live. The EPL is widely covered by all major sports websites as well as thousands of independent sites, blogs and social media accounts, so preview info is easy to find, which will help to educate your betting choices.
Spain’s La Liga is, according to UEFA’s coefficient rankings, the best league in Europe and home to the world’s two richest clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona. Available in the U.S on beIN Sports and beIN Sports Espanol, La Liga’s global interest – particularly in Real and Barca – means it is covered extensively. Like the EPL, there are many ways to access game info to boost your betting knowledge.
Italy’s Serie A is ranked behind La Liga and the EPL as Europe’s third best league and is broadcast live in the U.S on ESPN. The arrival of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus has further increased global interest in Italian soccer. Germany’s Bundesliga – available in the United States on Fox Sports and other networks – complete Europe’s ‘Big Four’.
The UEFA Champions League and the second-tier Europa League are also great sources for European soccer betting and a great way to get involved in some midweek action.
In the United States, Major League Soccer (MLS) is the premier club competition, with games shown across multiple national and local TV networks.
On an international level, the World Cup – taking place every four years – is the ultimate tournament, with the next edition held in 2022 in Qatar. There are also six continental competitions, the most popular and high-profile being the Copa America and European Championships.
Soccer Betting Options
There are countless ways to bet on soccer so below we will go through some of the most popular (and exciting!) ways to approach soccer betting.
When to Place Soccer Bets
There are two moments in time to place soccer bets: in advance and in-play. Bets made in advance can often be placed up until a few minutes before kick-off and from the time the fixture and date is announced.
There is a good chance the odds will adjust in the build-up to a game due to two key factors: star players could be absent from the line-up or a team’s form may change. What is therefore recommended is to place your pre-game bets within the final hour before kick-off after you learn the teams. If Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are missing for Barcelona, the odds on Barca winning will invariably shorten. It’s then up to you if you want to take advantage of these new, better odds despite Barcelona’s chances of winning decreasing in the absence of their best players.
In-play betting allows you to place a variety of bets when the game is live. The options of what can be bet on are usually reduced compared to preview betting, but in-play has the huge benefit of letting you react to a game’s circumstances to your advantage. A great recent example of this was Manchester City’s FA Cup match against Swansea City. Premier League champions Manchester City were -700 before the game, but at halftime when they were losing 2-0 the odds had moved to +110. City went on to win 3-2, so anyone who bet on them to win at halftime would have made money.
What to Bet On
Before we delve deeper into the various ways that bets can be placed, there are two main areas that each of these fall in to: match betting and futures betting.
Match betting refers to any bets placed on a specific match or series of matches, and we will get into the details of these types of bets below.
Futures betting focuses on longer-term outcomes. These would include betting on league or tournament champions, top goal-scorers, teams to be relegated, teams to finish (or not finish) in the top four, player of the year awards, managers to be hired (or fired) and player transfers.
These types of bets are a great way to maintain long-term interest throughout a league season or tournament as you would have a vested interest in the outcome of the outright bets that you placed money on. If, for example, you bet on Barcelona to win La Liga at the start of the season, you would be taking joy from each of their victories even if you didn’t bet directly on that specific game. Similarly to in-play betting, futures odds can, and likely will, fluctuate throughout a season or tournament based on how the circumstances unfold.
An ideal example of this recently is the German Bundesliga title odds. Pre-season, Bayern Munich were a massive -800 to win the league title as bookmakers made it clear they could not see any team stopping defending champions from winning the league. However, as Borussia Dortmund took a nine-point lead at the end of January, Bayern were pushed all the way out to -111. Seven games later, Bayern are now back on top and the odds have been shortened to around -278.
Ways to Place Soccer Bets
Now for the fun stuff! Let’s take a look at the many ways you can place bets on soccer and how you can give yourself the best chances of profit.
The most common of all soccer bets is the moneyline: a simple case of win, lose or tie. The odds are provided in positive or negative figures – the team with a positive figure is considered by the bookmakers to be the underdogs, while the negative figure team is viewed as the favorites. The larger the positive or negative number, the longer or shorter the odds become. Bets presented as -100 or +100 are even odds.
Example: Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool to win -163, Tottenham to win +450, tie +280. If you place $100 on Liverpool and they win the game, you will get $161.53 in return. A $100 bet on Tottenham to win will give you returns of $550, while $100 on the tie will return $380.
Soccer Point Spreads
Point spreads is when you bet on a team to win or lose by a certain amount of goals. This is a great way to gain shorter odds in a game where there is a clear favorite and underdog. Point spread bets will be presented as +0.5 or -0.5, +1.5 or -1.5 and so on.
Example: Fulham v Manchester City. Fulham to win +1600, Manchester City to win -700, tie +650. There isn’t much money to be won on the moneyline in this game, but the point spread on Manchester City to win by 2.5 goals (meaning they need to win by a three-goal margin) is +100 or evens. So if you placed $100 on the Manchester City points spread of -2.5 goals and they win 3-0, 4-1 and so on, you will get $200 in return.
Bets placed on over/under focus on certain incidents happening more or less times than presented by the bookmakers. Most commonly, over/under bets will be based on goals scored, but could also include other factors like total cards or corners. When bets are placed only on total over/under, the bettor takes the outcome of the game out of the equation. This is another great way to bet on a game where the moneyline doesn’t offer competitive odds.
Example: Barcelona v Espanyol. Barcelona to win -600, Espanyol to win +1200, tie +650. Again these odds don’t offer much on the moneyline. But total goals over 3.5 offer odds of -110, so if you place $100 on over 3.5 goals, you will get $190.90 in return. It means that regardless of the result, as long as four goals or more are scored, you win.
Other Soccer Betting Options
The three betting options above – moneyline, point spreads and totals over/under – are by far the most common and are a great starting point for those new to soccer betting. However, there are plenty of other soccer betting methods, a few of which we will look at below.
A variation of the moneyline, double chance allows you to bet on two different outcomes of the same match: Team A or Team B to win or tie, or either Team A or Team B to win. This might be used when you’re not confident of a team winning, but think they will at least not lose.
Example: Wolves v Manchester United. Wolves to win +250, Manchester United to win +110, tie +230. Wolves are underdogs to win the game, but if you feel they could at least tie, the double chance odds are -134, which means $100 on will provide returns of $175. The odds may have shortened but so has the risk factor.
Draw No Bet
Not too dissimilar to double chance, draw no bet is when you bet on a team to win, but if they tie, you get a full refund. It’s another option if you want added protection from the chances of your team not winning.
Example: Roma v Napoli. Roma to win +200, Napoli to win +125, tie +250. A game that appears close to call, a draw no bet on Roma would be +120, so a $100 wager would earn you $220. However, if Roma tie with Napoli, you get your full $100 back.
Both Teams To Score
Another great way to take the result off the table and equalize the odds is betting Both Teams to Score (BTTS). You are simply betting on whether both teams will score at least one goal each.
Example: Juventus v Empoli. Juventus to win -450, Empoli to win +1400, tie +450. Juventus are strong favorite so there’s nothing attractive on the moneyline. But both teams to score is +110, while both teams not to score is -150. So if you think both teams will score at least a goal, $100 could return $210.
For the soccer betting beginner, the Asian handicap methods are quite complex. A kind of variation on points spread betting, Asian handicaps essentially take the tie out of the equation as the bookmakers spread the odds over two options instead of three.
Single Asian handicap betting will often have the favorite team starting the game with -0.5, -1, -1.5, or -2 goals. Split Asian handicap betting will allow you the option to split your wager across two handicaps (0 and -0.5), (-0.5 and -1), (-1 and -1.5). Asian handicaps are always presented in decimals.
For a more in-depth explanation as to what Asian handicap is and how it exactly works, click here.
Example: Real Madrid v Huesca. Real Madrid to win -800, Huesca to win +1400, tie +800. Real Madrid are heavy favorites to win this game, so to gain better odds Asian handicap would be an option. Single Asian handicap of -2.0 (Real Madrid to win by two or more goals) is 1.525 so a $100 bet would return $152.50. Split Asian handicap of -2.0, -2.5 offers 1.700 so $100 would return $170 if Real Madrid win by two or more goals. If Real Madrid only win by two goals, you still win on the 2.0 part of the bet.
Stack plenty bets on top of each other to further increase your odds and build an accumulator. Your accumulator could be made up entirely of moneyline bets, point spreads, total over/unders, double chance bets or indeed any combination. This is a great way to group strong favorites together in one single bet to increase your chances of winning.
Example: Real Madrid to beat Huesca -800, Manchester City to beat Fulham -700, Barcelona to beat Espanyol -200, Juventus to beat Empoli -450. Combined in an accumulator, this four-fold bet totals -120 so a $100 bet will return $183.33.
There are numerous more ways to place soccer bets – including correct score, goalscorers, and even building your own bets, but the guide above will give you plenty of assistance. Good luck!