Few sporting events can capture a punter’s attention quite like Champions League betting.

With a brand-new football season now underway, Champions League betting in 2020 is in full swing.

We’re here to tickle your taste buds for juicy bets and delicious wagers on footy with our Champions League betting guide.

The first of our twin guides on Champions League and Europa League betting tips; this article covers the ins and outs of the competition, its history, the teams, the works.

Learn how the competition is run, the types of bets available and where you can play, with our cracking in-depth guide to the most vibrant club competition in world football.

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Betting on the UEFA Champions League – Our Guide

There is much more to UEFA Champions League betting than picking a team and hoping for the best. A whole array of Champions League bets can be found for you to take advantage of. If you want to decipher the best Champions League betting odds to win the big bucks, you’ll need to know a thing or two about how the competition works.

We’re not going to go flat out and tell you who will win the Champions League this year. As you’ll see from our guide, there are lots of ins and outs, and twists and turns on the road to continental cup glory. However, we will dive into the history of the competition, the types of bets you can make, as well as how the tournament is run. With our guide, everyone from Europe to those who favour Champions League betting in the USA will be in the know.

Let’s begin by looking at the history of the competition.

A History Lesson and a Bit of Background on the UCL

The UEFA Champions League is the top continental competition for football clubs in Europe. It took its current form in 1992, but the tournament has roots stretching back to 1955. Twenty-two different teams have won the competition since its inaugural season, with the most recent winners being Liverpool.

If you had a tenner on Liverpool to win the Champions League betting last season, then you’d have no doubt gained a windfall. The English club took the title despite not being firm favourites to do so. Let’s take a rapid look at the history of the competition.

  • The European Cup: First taking place in 55/56 season, the Champions League was then known as the European Cup. Sixteen teams played in the initial competition, with Real Madrid winning the final in 4-3 win against Stade de Reims. Real Madrid would go on to win the next four tournaments before they were finally undone in 1961 by a much-loved Benfica side. Over the next thirty years, the format would remain largely unchanged as AC Milan, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Juventus, Nottingham Forest, Porto, Celtic, Hamburg, Barcelona, Feyenoord, Aston Villa, PSV Eindhoven and even surprise side likes Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade bagged the trophy.
  • The Champions League: The first modern tournament started in time for the 1992/1993 season. Rebranded as the UEFA Champions League (and with that catchy anthem appearing the same year) it introduced the group stage to the competition. Marseille were the surprise winners of the competition, becoming the only French side to so thus far. The 1996/1997 tournament was the last to feature “champions” of domestic leagues, with the tournament opening up to other “big teams” who finished in respectable league positions in their associations. Manchester United’s win in 1999 represented the first time a team won the competition having failed to win their national league the previous season.

In 2000, the tournament gained a second group stage, as more teams joined in the fun. This would be removed from the 2003/2004 season, with group winners and runners-up progressing directly to knock out phases. The competition isn’t much different today. F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid have both had long periods of success in modern times, with Liverpool winning the most recent tournament with a comfortable 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in an all-English final at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.

Top 5 Memorable Games in the UEFA Champions League

There have been many cracking matches over the years. Most of the best have come from the recent incarnation of the competition, under its Champions League branding. Many people rank the following games as their Champions League favourites:

  • 1998/1999 – Manchester United 2-1 FC Bayern München: Arguably Manchester United’s finest night. After coming from behind to beat Juventus in the semi-finals, United was up against one of the most skilled Bayern sides ever to take to the field. Champions League sports betting on Bayern Munich was heavy that year, but it was for nothing. After going behind to a Mario Basler strike in the sixth minute, Sire Alex Ferguson threw on two of the timeliest substitutes ever seen. First, Teddy Sheringham scored an injury-time equaliser in the ninety-first minute. Bayern hearts broke just two minutes later, as Ole Gunnar Solskjær nabbed the winner in the ninety-third minute. The breathtaking match capped off an impressive treble for United, who added the Premier League and FA Cup to their trophy cabinet.
  • 2004/2005 – AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool win 2-3 on penalties): The Champions League bets and odds were heavily stacked against Liverpool at half-time in this epic game. Milan stormed into an impressive lead at half-time, with Paolo Maldini and Hernán Crespo giving the Rossoneri a commanding 3-0 lead. Liverpool then shocked the world by scoring three in six minutes after the break, with Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Šmicer and Xavi Alonso adding their names to the scoresheet. Try as they might, neither footy side could find a winner. The unlikeliest of comebacks was competed via a shootout, as Serginho, the legendary Andrea Pirlo and Chelsea-bound Andriy Shevchenko failing to score from the spot.
  • 2018/2019 – Manchester City 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs with on away goals): Manchester City’s Champions League curse continued last season, as they came unstuck by fellow English side Tottenham Hotspur in the quarterfinals. Son Heung-min gave Spurs a narrow home win in the first leg. City’s inability to score an away goal would come back to haunt them. Sterling may have given City the lead, by Son Heung-min came back to equalise and then give Spurs the edge three minutes later. City was back in the hunt with two goals in ten minutes from Sterling and Bernardo Silva. Sergio Äguero tipped the scales in City’s favour with a fifty-ninth minute goal, only for Fernando Llorente to score one of his last goals for the club in the seventy-third minute. City may have won the battle 4-3, but Spurs won the war, with the much-hated away goal rule sending them on to an eventual defeat in the final to Liverpool.
  • 2016/2017: Barcelona 6-1 Paris-Saint-Germain: The UCL betting odds were split across the park for this encounter. Many were frustrated that arguably two of the best sides in Europe at the time were destined to meet in the UCL Round of 16 and thought that the game should have been the final, but one team would be going home early. Which one, nobody could say? Paris-Saint-German seemed destined to conquer, having won 4-0 at the Parc des Princes in the first leg. The wheels seemed to fall off in the second leg. Barcelona rallied, and PSG became complacent. Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, a brace from Neymar, and Kurzawa and Sergi Roberto goals sank PSG, in a thrilling 6-1 match. Barca won 6-5 on aggregate but would come undone in the quarterfinals against eventual runners-up, Juventus.
  • 2011/2012: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (Chelsea win 2-3 on aggregate): Semi-finals frequently turn up treats, and that was the case in 2012, too, as Chelsea came from behind to draw with Barcelona and win on aggregate. The Blues had taken a 1-0 win at home in the first leg. However, drama followed at the Camp Nou, as Barca struck twice in the first half of the rematch to take a 2-0 lead. Ramires managed to snap one back for Chelsea, and it was crucial. Chelsea was set to advance on away goals, but a late Barcelona strike would surely shatter the English side’s dream. With a near-invincible Barcelona pushing with everything they had, Chelsea did the unthinkable and snuck up the opposite end, with Fernando Torres nabbing a ninety-second-minute equaliser. The match ended up 2-3 in Chelsea’s favour on aggregate, and they would go on to beat Bayern in the final to win their first Champions League trophy on penalties.

Understanding The UEFA Champions League Format

We’ve looked at the history of the competition, and its most memorable games. Now it is time to get into the nitty-gritty of the competition itself. Champions League betting can take place in any round of the competition, and there are few of those to get through. With hindsight, we can see that it is only once the Group Stage begins, though, that Champions League predictions betting starts to mirror real life.

How The Champions League Works: Team Entry and Coefficients

The number of teams which compete from any one country in the Champions League is determined by UEFA coefficients. These footy “rankings” are determined by the success of each nation’s teams over previous competitions.

England, Spain, Germany and Italy generally provide more teams for the Champions League than France (as have been more successful), and France has more teams in the competition than say, Turkey, Belgium, or the Netherlands.

The most successful teams in those national leagues will automatically enter the Group Stage, while less successful teams will enter the qualifying round. Notably, the coefficients of smaller football powers such as Sweden, Romania, Norway and Scotland are so low, than even most of their league winners are forced into qualifiers at the expense of more significant, “non-champions” such as Liverpool, who go straight to the Group Stage.

The latter managed to be in (and win) the Champions League in 2018/2019, despite not having won the English domestic league’s top-flight since 1989. Meanwhile, the winners of the Swedish Allsvenskan were not given an automatic spot in the Group Stage and had to fight their way into the tournament.

This seems wholly unfair, but UEFA does this to guarantee that the top teams (which draw the biggest crowds) are entered into the competition. It also makes judging UCL odds a touch more challenging as many “big sides” are represented.

The Qualifiers

Thirty-two spots are available in the Champions League Group Stage. Many of these are automatically filled by teams from nations with the highest coefficients, as mentioned. Champions from football associations ranked 52-55, and then 18-51 take part in Preliminary and First Qualifying Round matches. However, there are two other routes to get into the Group Stage and make up the final spots.

There are two paths a team can take in the Second and Third Qualifying Rounds. The first (Champions Path) is open to 20 European league champions from nations with lower coefficients, such as Sweden, Romania, Wales, Iceland, and the 17 league winners from the previous round.

The second path (League Path) is open to high-ranking teams more commonly ranked second to fourth in their domestic league, again based on coefficients. These two paths both involve knock out rounds.

The winners of the League Path will qualify for the Group Stage after the Third Qualifier Round. The winners of the Champions Path advance to the Play-Offs. There, four of the eight teams remaining from the Champions Path will make it to the Group Stage.

Champions League betting on teams to qualify begins at this stage, although UCL betting tips are hardly useful, as it can often be anyone’s guess who makes it through the qualifiers.

The Group Stage

The Group Stage consists of the Europa League winner, the previous Champions League winner, 26 automatically selected teams, the 4 Playoff winners from the Champions Path, and the winners of the League Path. Adjustments are made if the Europa League or Champions League winners have already qualified via other means.

Once all 32 Group Stage teams have been decided, they are drawn into four pots, based on their club coefficients/ranking. Those are based on the previous success over recent Champions League competitions. The top pot is full of seeds (the best teams), and they are drawn into each group first. A team is then added from each pot to a group, making up eight groups of four teams. Teams from the same football nation cannot be drawn into the same group.

Each team plays the others twice (at home and away). The winners and runners-up of each group advance to the Round of 16. The third-placed team is relegated down into the Europa League. You can find out more about that competition in our guide to Europa League betting. What about the fourth-placed team? The team that finishes plum last sees their European campaign end for good.

Champions League group stage betting is often popular with punters. Many big sides can play smaller ones in this round, so it is a touch easier to predict who will triumph and potentially pocket a more comfortable win than in later stages of the competition.

Round of 16

The Round of 16 is also known as the Knock-Out Phase. This is where Champions League soccer betting becomes a bit more complicated, as theoretically (barring shock results) only the big teams are likely to remain.

The winners of the group in the Group Stage will be drawn (at random) against a runner-up from another group. It is, therefore, an advantage for a team to win their group. The teams will face-off at home and away, with the team with the highest aggregate score over two legs advancing to the Quarterfinals.

If aggregate scores don’t yield a winner, away goals come into play. Basically, if the aggregate score is even, the team which scored the most goals away from home progresses. Should no winner be determined, an additional thirty minutes (consisting of two halves of 15 minutes) is played, known as Extra-Time. If the scores remain equal at its conclusion, a penalty shoot-out will determine the winner.

Quarterfinals

The Quarterfinals can see two teams from the same country play each other for the first time. Seeding goes out of the window for this round, with the draw truly random. Again, aggregate scores, away goals, extra-time and then a penalty shoot-out are used to determine the semi-finalists.

Semi-Finals

The winners of the four quarterfinals meet in a two-legged Semi-Final. Once more, the winning criteria remain the same, with both successful teams in the semi-finals meeting in the UEFA Champions League final.

Champions League Final

The Champions League Final takes between the two semi-final winners. The venue it is held at differs every year (well, almost every year). Champions League Final betting odds tend to be close, as it is often the case that the two finalists are evenly matched.

Unlike the previous rounds, there is no aggregate score, or away goals rule in the final. Extra-time will be played in the event of a tie, and if that still doesn’t produce a winner, a penalty shootout will.

Having a Punt on the UEFA Champions League

There are plenty of different bets you can make when it comes to UCL betting. Some are positively outlandish (such as betting on the number of corners in a game). Others are far more straightforward. We would start with simple Champions League betting lines. Some of the more straightforward bets you can get to grips with include:

  • Match Winner: A typical Champions League betting line involves predicting the winning team in an individual match. These make up the most common bets in football. Some bookies will also give you the result including extra-time and penalties, but some may stipulate that your bet is on the score at 90 minutes. You need to check this before you bet.
  • Outright Tournament Winner: Another popular type of Champions League bet is the Outright Winner bet. This is one of the firm Champions League betting favourites around. In a nutshell, you’re basically wagering on the eventual UEFA Champions League winner’s betting odds. The earlier you bet, the more favourable the odds will be.
  • Top Goalscorer: Another popular Champions League bet is a stake on who will be the top scorer. If you fancy Ronaldo or Messi bagging the Golden Boot, this is the bet for you.
  • Oddities: As mentioned above, oddities can include bets on the number of cards handed out in a game, the number of fouls, corners, or simply anything, really. These have superb odds but are exceptionally difficult to predict. Using over/under bets may be the best way to go with these.
  • Accumulators UCL betting also permits accumulators. These are several wagers on different matches but all on the same ticket. Players are typically required to win all the bets on their accumulator ticket (sometimes, just winning most of them is enough), but the winnings will be multiplied if you do so.

Champions League Live Streaming and Betting

Many of the internet’s leading bookies offer UEFA Champions League betting on live matches. Some even go as far as streaming the games on their sportsbooks. One of the perks to live betting is that you can watch the action unfold and bet accordingly.

You can bet after the footy game has started, and in some cases, you can even cash out before the final whistle. This is particularly handy if your team looks like they may be about to lose their lead. Doing so will often see your winnings drop in value, though. Not all bookies offer early cash out options for live bets.

As well as providing live streaming, most of the best bookies will also serve up mobile apps. The best betting apps for Champions League wagers will provide you with a variety of ways to bet on the go, which makes them perfect for having a punt when you’re down the pub with the lads and lasses.

Top Tips for Betting on the Champions League

If you’re a keen footy fan, you’ll no doubt already know well-enough who to bet on and how each team’s season is unfolding. As such, Champions League betting odds may not faze you. Nonetheless, there are a few added Champions League betting tips you may want to take on board. Here is our brief but ultimately very handy selection of UEFA Champions League free betting tips for you…

  • David vs Goliath and Accumulators: In most cases, a David vs Goliath (favourite vs underdog) game will yield the same result as you might expect. These can make them ideal to include on accumulator bets. Since accumulators only pay out when you predict most (if not all) of your games correctly, big matches between two evenly matched teams are not ideal. It is those smart players who pick easy to call matches who will win Champions League betting accumulators.
  • Later Stage Odds: Champions League betting is one of the most exhilarating ways you can bet on football. It is fair to say that the Champions League betting odds are easier to gauge earlier in the competition when you could come across David vs Goliath matches. The further into the competition a team goes, the more difficult it is to predict Champions League bets. Would you rather have a punt on Barcelona vs Lech Poznan, or Real Madrid vs Juventus? Champions league betting predictions are easier to call if there is a clear favourite, even if the odds are worth less to you in total.
  • Stats and Homework: Doing your homework can be beneficial. Having a look at UEFA Champions League betting stats before wagering is advised. A club’s European form can be wildly different from their domestic form. This is particularly true of teams which have qualified via the League Path. Using stat centres and studying teams can help predict matches more accurately.
  • Using Tipsters: There are plenty of tipsters out there who can recommend bets. They often require payment for their services, but some offer their advice freely. Incorporated the help of a Champions League betting expert certainly won’t hurt your chances of success.

Pros and Cons of UEFA Champions League Betting

PROS
  • The best teams in Europe are competing, so it is easy to know a bit about them before wagering
  • Champions League fixtures cannot be adjusted (like they can in domestic leagues), so it is less likely that match (and thus your bet) will be cancelled
  • If you have an outright bet on a team to win the Champions League, it is isn’t stuffed if your team loses the first leg. You’ll have a second chance in the second leg, thus potentially rescuing your bet
  • A surplus of tipsters exists out there offering advice and Champions League betting tips. The same isn’t always true of smaller-scale domestic league football
CONS
  • With so many top teams competing in the latter stages of the competition, it can be tricky to pull a winner out of the bag
  • Like England’s FA Cup, there is often magic in Champions League footy. A minnow may pull off an incredible result and perform a giant killing. When this happens, it plays havoc with your bets. You could argue that this could be a perk, though, as minnows often have long odds

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Champions League Guide FAQ:

If you’re still a bit hazy on some aspects of the Champions League, let’s see if we can help you with our UCL-based FAQ guide.

The competition’s Preliminary Rounds usually kick-off in June. The Group Stage begins in October and is wrapped up by Christmas. The Knock-Out Phase starts in the New Year, with the final almost always played in May.
If you’re looking for UEFA Champions League betting picks and handy Champions League betting advice, tipsters can found all over the net. Some charge fees for their services and others can provide their service for free.
Yes, and we’d advise you to do so. By playing at several bookies, you can compare UEFA Champions League betting tips and predictions, thus giving you a good overview of the best odds.
That depends on the game. Underdogs have won the Champions League in its earlier years. Surprise packages (like José Mourinho’s Porto in 2004) have won tournaments. Your best shot at betting with underdogs, though is in Group Stage games, particularly when a minnow is playing a big team which has already qualified for the next round.

Enjoy Champions League Betting at the Best Sportsbooks

If you fancy a spot of Champions League betting in 2020, where do you start? There are a host of top sites offering bets on the competition. The best ones will be able to provide Champions League betting promotions, such as offering you your money back in a draw. Others have Champions League betting offers such as accumulators, early cashouts and more. Many even provide a Champions League free bet upon sign-up.

Major giants such as Champions League specialist William Hill are always leading sportsbook to play at. However, there are many other top sites which can do just as good a job for you if you know where to look. Our page recommends a host of leading sportsbooks with great deals. All are vetted, secure and safe to play at. If you’re new to Champions League betting, we’d start there.

Time to Score – Place Champions League Bets Today!

It’s full-time for our guide to Champions League betting. It is time for you to get up off the substitutes bench and get ready to play. All that remains is for you to pop along to a leading sportsbook, sign-up and start perusing the best UEFA Champions League betting odds around. If you follow the advice given and play at one of our leading sportsbooks, we’re sure that you’ll go on to lift the cup and pocket a fistful of dollars in the process.