Top Soccer Leagues To Be On
If you’re interested in betting soccer (football) and are unfamiliar with the sport, this article will serve as an excellent primer for those interested in betting the top-flight football leagues of Europe and other elite level competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League. You will not only learn about the rich history of each top European football league but also have a better understanding of the mechanics of each and how European football leagues compare to each other.
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English Football – English Premier League
Although English football was quite successful in the 1970s, the 80s was a bit of a weak point. Stadiums and supporters endured poor conditions and hooliganism was a major problem. However, with more money coming into football in the early 90s, England’s top clubs, the “big five” met in 1990.
The English Premier League had its inaugural season in 1992-93. The league was originally made up of 22 clubs. The first ever Premier League goal was scored by Brian Dean of Sheffield United in a 2-1 victory against Manchester United.
The dominance of the top clubs was apparent throughout the 2000s. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United dominated the league taking down the most titles and finishing in the top four spots most seasons to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Arsenal famously won the league in the 2003-04 season without losing a single match. However, no team has been more dominant than Manchester United since the Premier League was founded. They have won the title 13 times since 1992.
As the league headed into the 2010s, the ‘Big Four’s’ dominance waned. Manchester City won the league in the 2011-12 season and Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool all had multiple years out of the top four spots. The 2015-16 season had perhaps the biggest upset in not only the Premier League but sports history. Leicester City, which had just received a promotion from the Championship, won the Premier League, despite being 5,000-1 underdogs to win at the start of the season.
English Premier League Rules
The Premier League utilizes a promotion and regulation system with the English Football League Championship. The bottom three teams each season are relegated to the Championship. The Championship’s title winner and runner-up are automatically promoted to the Premier League. The next four compete in a playoff, with the winner getting the last promotion spot.
The EPL is known as the top football league in the world. They garner the most betting action out of any league in the world, much due to liberalized gambling laws in the United Kingdom and Ireland, but also because of their international fan base. Regular season matches typically dwarf the Super Bowl when it comes to viewing numbers.
Spanish Football – La Liga
La Primera División is the top professional football association in Spain. It is commonly known in English-language markets as La Liga. There are 20 teams in La Liga. The bottom three finishers after each season are relegated to the Segunda División and are replaced by top-two finishers in the Segunda and the winner of a playoff involving the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth placed clubs.
La Liga has roots going back to 1929. Ten teams formed the first Primera División in the inaugural season. These teams included Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Athletic Bilbao, all of which have never been relegated from the top division. Similar to the English Premier League, La Liga has seen plenty of dominance from its top clubs. Real Madrid holds a record 32 wins with Barcelona coming in second with 24 La Liga titles. Barcelona has been especially dominant the last decade, winning six titles in the last eight seasons.
La Liga is the only other league that challenges the Premier League regarding popularity and quality of play. Some might argue the Spanish league has an edge when it comes to star power with Messi and Ronaldo competing against each other every year.
German Football – Bundesliga
The Bundesliga is Germany’s top professional football association. More specifically, the league is called the 1. Bundesliga. Popularity has increased worldwide with the Bundesliga after the league sold international TV rights. They are the football league with the highest average attendance per match.
The Bundesliga has 18 clubs and operates with promotion and regulation with the 2. Bundesliga. The bottom two clubs from the Bundesliga season are automatically relegated to the lower division. The top two finishers from the 2. Bundesliga take their place.
Unlike other associations, the third-place spot isn’t decided by a playoff. The third to last club in the Bundesliga will play a two-legged match (home and away) with the third-placed team from the 2. Bundesliga. The winner then takes the final spot in the next season’s Bundesliga. The Bundesliga was founded in 1963 and had its first season that year. FC Bayern Munich has won the most titles, with 25 to their club, including the latest 2015-16 season. They are by far the most decorated team in Bundesliga history.
German football is just a few notches below La Liga and the Premiership in terms of interest and level of play. However, Bayern Munich is regularly considered a top club worldwide, and many other clubs had made waves in Europe, including Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke.
Italian Football – Serie A
The Serie A is the top professional football league in Italy. Like La Liga, Serie A has been operating 1929. Serie A was probably the top football league in the world a decade ago, but after the match-fixing scandals of 2006, their popularity worldwide dropped, and they have yet to recover.
The Serie A consists of 20 teams. There are promotion and regulation with Serie B, the second division of Italian football. The three lowest placed teams are relegated to Serie B and the top three finishers from Serie B move to Serie A the next season. Juventus is far and away the most successful club in Serie A. They have a record 32 titles and have easily been the most successful Italian team in European competitions. Juventus has won the Serie A title for the past five seasons, including the 2015-16 season.
Serie A ranks firmly behind the Premiership, La Liga, and Bundesliga when it comes to quality of player and viewership. However, the association is still favored among purists who prefer tactics over flair.
French Football – Ligue 1
Ligue 1 is the top football league in France. The league dates back to September 1923, where it operated under the name National before changing to Division 1 after a full season. In 2002, they change the name to Ligue 1.
20 different football clubs contest Ligue 1’s title. They utilize promotion and regulation with the French second division, Ligue 2. The bottom three finishers in Ligue 1 are relegated to Ligue 2, and the top three finishers from Ligue 2 are promoted to Ligue 1.
Ligue 1 was once a wide open competition each season but has been extremely top heavy, particularly since Middle Eastern Oil Tycoon bought Paris Saint-Germain. PSG has won the last four titles, dating back to the 2012-13 season.
UEFA Champions League
The Union of European Football Associations Europa League’s (UEFA) Champions League is an annual competition in which the top clubs in Europe face off in a tournament.
It begins each year in July, with three knockout qualifying rounds and a playoff. The ten teams remaining enter the group stage. Those teams join the 22 other teams that have already qualified through cup wins or the previous year’s league table. Groups are then made, and teams play each other in a round-robin format. The winners of the eight groups and runners up then head to the knockout phase. The final match is played in May every year on a neutral site. The winners of the Champion’s League are known as “the Champions of Europe.”
The winner of the Champion’s League faces the winner of the UEFA Europa League, a similar, but slightly lower-tier competition in the UEFA Super Cup. This takes place in mid-August. The winner of UEFA Europa League is guaranteed a spot in the following year’s Champion’s league.
Champions League Betting
The Champion’s League Final is one of the biggest events each year in football. There are spectators from all over the world watching the game and it is broadcasted on American televisions on ESPN. It is one of the most heavily wagered events of the year, regardless of sport. See an eye on our Free Picks page for champions league bets predictions.