World Cup Russia 2018 is now in the books and football fans are looking forward as the new season approaches. The top leagues across Europe prepare for the big kick-off in August and that has captured the imagination of followers across the planet.
Will Manchester City hold their ground at the top of the English Premier League? Will Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus help The Old Lady retain their title? Can Barcelona hold off a determined Real Madrid in Spain and will money buy PSG happiness on the French front? These are questions that’ll be answered before spring and the population of planet football will love finding out.
With passions running high and opinions being handed out like free sweeties, bookmakers have seized the moment and put forward their ante-post betting markets on Europe’s major divisions. Punters can now have their say on the winners and losers in each division or put together a big-price accumulator that’ll keep them interested during winter’s dark nights.
Not only can you call the eventual champions and relegated sides, there’s also a flood of special offers and promotions available as online bookmakers battle over your custom. It’s an industry where customer is king and Oddschecker users can get their pick of the deals, including Ladbrokes offering $200 in bonus bets.
Getting your hands on the offers is easy, turning them into winners remains the tricky part. Below you’ll find a handy review of how traders see the top European leagues playing out this season, complete with odds, stats and handy hints.
Source: UNILAD Sport via Twitter
Premier League – England – starts 10th August
This season’s English top-flight gets started on Friday night when Manchester United host Leicester City at Old Trafford. We then have eight more games played out over the course of Saturday and Sunday before the curtain goes down at the Emirates as Arsenal take on last season’s champions – and this year’s betting favourites – Manchester City.
The Cityzens haven’t been nearly as active in the summer transfer window as usual but they did bring in Leicester City playmaker Riyad Mahrez for £60m, which will only boost the side. City won the league last time with a stunning record of 32 wins and four draws against just two defeats. That landed them 100 points, 19 better than nearest finishers and long-time rivals Man Utd, who led the chasing pack. 106 goals scored was 38 more than The Red Devils. It is, therefore, no surprise to see traders rush to stick with Pep Guardiola’s crew. There’s currently no more than 7/10 (Ladbrokes) available on back-to-back league trophies.
The British press suggest there are troubled times ahead for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho with many fans growing tired of his negative tactics. The market has been quick to respond and despite finishing in the silver medal position last year, the club are now third in line at 12/1, well behind second favourites Liverpool and their 4/1 price tag.
The Reds were beaten in the Champions League final by Real Madrid last season and are expected to build on that to challenge for domestic honours this term. In Mo Salah they have one of the best strikers in European football and he’s sure to fire them towards the prize places.
Others in the outright betting worth a mention are Chelsea who can be supported at 20/1 and that’s a price shared by their London neighbours Tottenham. It’s difficult to see a team from outside of the top-five in the betting mounting a serious challenge but Arsenal can never be taken lightly at 25/1 and, following a summer of investment, it would be foolish to bypass the 300/1 attached to Everton.
Looking towards the other end of the table and Welsh side Cardiff City, who were promoted to the big league from the Championship last term, are favourites to drop straight back down at the first time of asking. 7/10 says they’ll suffer relegation. Huddersfield are next on that list at 5/4 before we find the likes of Watford 9/4, Brighton 3/1, Fulham 7/2 and Burnley 4/1.
One final market worth a mention is the top-scorer betting, where the usual suspects dominate the list. Harry Kane was excellent for Tottenham last season as well as England at the World Cup and the improving Londoner is 10/3 to win the Golden Boot. His main challenger is expected to be Liverpool’s Mo Salah at 5/1. Belgian Romelu Lukaku, wearing the colours of Man Utd, sticks out at 10/1.
La Liga – Spain – starts 19th August
Real Madrid may have won the Champions League at the expense of Liverpool, but it cost them dear on the domestic front, ending third in La Liga behind runaway champions Barcelona and runners-up Atletico Madrid. There has been a bit of a clear-out at Los Blancos since, with the management team knowing failure to win 16 of 38 games wasn’t anywhere near good enough for fans. Pushing themselves back into the top-two and asking questions of Barca will be the priority in the coming months. They line-up as 7/4 second favourites.
The defending champions looked to strengthen with the arrival of Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich for an undisclosed fee. The 31-year-old penned a three-year contract and has promised to bring a lot of energy to the pitch and work hard to bring joy to the fans. He’s added to the capture of Bordeaux winger Malcom, who signed a five-year deal following his £36m transfer.
Those moves have impressed bookies and Barca are favourites to repeat the feat of spring and hold onto their crown. Going into August, there’s no more than 4/5 available. No doubt Barca deserve to be a short-price but the odds-on quote may push value hunters further down the list. Atletico Madrid are 10/1 to go one better. It could happen.
Serie A – Italy – starts 18th August
There’s no doubting the major news in Italian football this year. Cristiano Ronaldo was rumoured to be pushing for a move out of Spain for quite some time and the Portuguese striker was eventually given his wish when transferred to Italian champions Juventus, who paid over £99m for the privilege. CR7 says he’s now concentrating on becoming his new employer’s lucky star as they aim for Champions League glory.
Juve fans had become used to getting things all their own way in Serie A but they were pushed hard by Napoli last time. Odds-makers don’t expect to see a repeat this year with The Old Lady strengthening in the best possible way while Napoli have become weaker, with manager Maurizio Sarri moving to Chelsea. He was replaced by former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is certainly experienced enough.
As is standard at this time of year, you’ll find Juventus as odds-on favourites to win Serie A and they will rate as banker material on most accumulators. 8/13 stands as their market best price with most firms stuck around the 4/9, 2/5 mark. Napoli are second at 7/1 with Roma 8/1 and the 10/1 of Inter Milan next in line.
Source: SPORF via Twitter
Bundesliga – Germany – starts 24th August
2017/18 was another season Bayern Munich spent in complete control of the German Bundesliga. A final score of 84 points meant they crossed the line in plenty of time before the official finish, with second-placed Schalke on 63 and Hoffenheim back on 55. It was another walkover, but nothing can be taken away from the champions who scored 92 goals, conceded 28 and won 27 of 34 league matches. They’re another side who will be desperate to put a dent in the Champions League, that’s for sure.
It really doesn’t pay to oppose Bayern Munich at this level and bookmakers are in no rush to encourage bets on another league-winning effort. The 1/6 top price says: we’re taking bets but there’s nothing to see here. That’s designed to put backers off a high-stakes punt as a single but there will be more than enough dropping them into accas, and why not?
The rest of the outright market tells its own story with Borussia Dortmund 8/1 second favourites and RB Leipzig carrying the burden of a 35/1 quote in third. This looks sure to be another episode of the Bayern Munich show with the race on to finish second. What UK punters may find interesting is that Bayern Munich are 1/6, meaning they are around the same price Celtic are to win the Scottish Premiership and many believe that’s as close to a gimme as you’ll find.
Ligue 1 – France – starts 10th August
Who can compete with PSG and their millions? They broke the bank to bring Neymar to Paris last summer and although it didn’t have the desired effect in the short-term – they were hoping to buy European football’s top prize – they will only get stronger. Winning the French premier division is no longer their main aim; they want their greedy hands on the Champions League and they want it before fans start to question where all the money has gone.
No one could get near PSG last time and it’s unlikely anyone will go close to giving them problems this season, either. Their squad reads like a who’s who of football, they have strength in numbers and, if all else fails, a bank account that’ll enable new manager Thomas Tuchel to add more players. Despite all their money the club captured headlines with a free transfer, bringing Juventus and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon to the Parc des Princes.
The 40-year-old shot-stopper, who played 656 times for Juve, said it took an ambitious project to get him to leave his country, but he assured fans of his new club he will bring all his energy, thirst and experience to the dressing room.
The betting has PSG no higher than 1/8 with Lyon thought to be the main danger, a rival marked up at 16/1. It’s wide-open after that, with Marseille 20/1, Monaco 20/1 and the staggering 300/1 on Bordeaux.
Champions League outright
Taking a glance at the Champions League betting for the coming season, Manchester City have been instilled as early favourites. The English champions are 6/1 to finally realise their ambition of conquering Europe. That has them ahead of the likes of Barcelona at 13/2, Juventus at 7/1 and PSG at 8/1.
Those on the lookout for a bit of value should give serious consideration to Liverpool. The Reds came agonisingly close last time and have reacted in the close-season, bringing in improvements. They’ll start this season a better team than the one that finished last but there’s an eye-catching 14/1 on them getting their hands on the silverware.
Liverpool have won Europe’s top footballing prize five times already, first in 1977 and last in 2005. Five titles and three runners-up placed them fourth in the outright list behind Real Madrid on 13-3, Inter Milan 7-4 and Bayern Munich 5-5.
The next English side to appear on that chart is Manchester United, boasting their 3-2 record, but it would take a monumental effort if they were to add a fourth. Jose Mourinho led the club to the Europa League recently, but they are a meaty 16/1 to add the Champions League. Time for the special one to live up to his name.
10 years ago we saw Man Utd play Chelsea in the final with the English pair battling out a 1-1 draw at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. Ronaldo and Lampard were on target for their teams before United won 6-5 on penalties – Ronaldo, Terry and Anelka missing from the spot. This year’s final takes place at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, home of Atletico Madrid, who have been chalked up at 16/1.