Soccer is watched and enjoyed by 3.5 billion fans all over the world. In Europe, it’s widely known as football, while most Americans, Canadians, and Australians refer to it as soccer.
The game has the most straightforward rules compared to other sports. So, it’s easier for fans, including first-timers, to understand the competitions, teams, and players involved. These factors contribute to the growth of soccer betting, as bettors can make informed betting decisions.
Most gamblers place bets on UEFA Champions League (UCL), UEFA Europa League (UEL), English Premier League (PL), and other major leagues in Europe. According to Statista, at least USD$1.6 trillion was wagered on European soccer matches alone in 2020.
This amount could increase in the coming years as more gamblers tap into the leagues’ thrilling moments. The 2023 soccer season is filled with excitement, and there are several compelling storylines to follow.
This brief will provide an overview of the betting trends for the 2023 season, including the favourites in various leagues and competitions and potential upsets to look out for.
English Premier League
The English Premier League, recently renamed to Premier League (PL), is a popular league among soccer fans and bettors. It offers some of the most thrilling moments during almost all matches across the season.
The shift from Football League to the English Premier League in 1992 brought many structural adjustments to the system. One of the improvements was a more merit-based club relegation and promotion policies between the top and lower divisions. That change spiced up the whole league, with the so-called underdogs fighting to avoid relegation.
This battle is evident every season, but the 2023 campaign looks even better. There have been a lot of surprises both at the top and bottom of the PL table.
Arsenal fans expected a better run than the 2021/22 season, but none of them expected to be top of the table in February. Mikel Arteta’s side started the season brightly and maintained high standards throughout the first half of the season.
However, they lost points against Everton, Brentford, and Manchester City at the start of February. This turn of events took them to the second position, with the Citizens leading on goal difference. Of course, that makes things a little more difficult for the Gunners as they hunt for their first league title since 2004. But no one said it’d be easy, especially given Manchester City’s quality.
Apart from the two, another candidate that’s favorite to win the PL title is Manchester United. The Red Devils have been the sleeping giants for a few years. Their last title came in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge in 2013.
Since then, they’ve not hit their expected standards, but things seem to be working out this season. The signing of Erik Ten Hag has proven fruitful, with the Dutch manager slowly making Old Trafford a fortress again.
Ten Hag’s men have only lost once in all competitions since December 2022. They hope that Marcus Rashford’s form can help them take advantage of Arsenal’s recent bad run of results.
Tottenham Hotspur may not be serious title challengers, but they’re still in the discussion. The top-four position is definitely the only thing on Antonio Conte’s mind at the moment. But given the form of those above them, it won’t be an easy fight for the Spurs team.
Team to watch
Newcastle United is the surprise of the season so far. The change of ownership in 2021 brought a lot of fresh air to St James’ Park. But you also must give Eddie Howe credit for rejuvenating the team’s spirit.
The English manager inherited a squad that looked weak and too defensive on the pitch. Despite being rich, the owners have been cautious with their spending.
Nevertheless, the few players brought in, including Bruno Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier, have made huge impacts. The Magpies currently sit fourth in the Premier League standing, just five points behind third-placed Manchester United.
Another team that’s surprised many is Brighton and Hove Albion. The Seagulls escaped relegation by two points in the 2018/19 season, and you’d be forgiven for writing them off. They finished in the top half of the table in the 2021/22 season with Graham Potter at the helm.
Potter left for Chelsea earlier this season, and everyone expected his Brighton project to fall apart. However, Roberton De Zerbi came in and made the team even stronger. The Seagulls have a great chance to play in one of next season’s European tournaments as things stand.
Teams in danger
As others enjoy one of their best campaigns, some clubs are having a nightmare. A big threat for being relegated this season is Everton. Despite upsetting league leader Arsenal, the Toffees are fighting for life to survive another year in the Premier League. Notorious betting website Stake.com sponsored Everton this season after Watford was relegated last season, and the ‘Stake curse’ may continue for the beleaguered teams.
Other teams that aren’t enjoying the season so far are Liverpool and Chelsea. The two members of “the big six” began the season slowly and are yet to pick up any real momentum. Both are in danger of missing a chance to play in any European tournament in the 2023/24 season.
Despite winning the Merseyside Derby, Liverpool still has a lot to do before its season looks decent. Chelsea’s recent disappointment is the 1-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the UCL knockout tie. The Blues failed to maximize their chances and now have it all to do in the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
UEFA Champions League
As teams strive to win their respective domestic leagues, they fight for a position in Europe’s most prestigious competition. The following teams are the bookie favorites to win the UCL:
During his spell at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola won two UCL titles as a manager. This trophy has since evaded him several times, with the closes run coming in 2021 with his Etihad team.
The Citizens have never won the Champions League and will do with that success this season. Given their quality, you’d think their cabinet is due a UCL trophy. Most bookies are backing Pep’s men to go on and win it all in this campaign, with the next hurdle being RB Leipzig in the Round of 16.
Pep’s former team has had a good run under Julian Nagelsmann. Bayern Munich is on 4/1 to win the UCL, and it’s already shown why people believe in the team. The German side triumphed in the first leg of the Round of 16 against the Messi-led Paris Saint Germain (PSG).
The Spanish club is always in the debate regarding the Champions League. Real Madrid is still one of the favorites to win the UCL even as it prepares to face an English giant in Liverpool in the next stage.
The 2023 season is the worst Liverpool’s campaign under Jurgen Klopp. The unimpressive run sees the Merseyside team sit 9th on the PL table after 21 games. However, they’ve had some great moments in UCL and are expected to replicate the same in the upcoming matches.
Napoli is having an impressive season, one that no football fan expected. The run-away Serie A league leaders face Eintracht Frankfurt in the UCL Round of 16. Based on their current form, the Blues are serious contenders for the Champions League trophy.
- Paris Saint Germain (14/1)
Like Manchester City, PSG is looking for its first Champions League title. Considering the amount of money spent by the owners over the past few years, you can understand the urge to clinch this trophy. They hope that the deadly combination of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe will help them overcome the challenge posed by Bayern Munich.
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UEFA Europa League
The UEFA Europa League will probably be one of the most difficult trophies to win this season. It features Arsenal, Barcelona, and Manchester United, with excellent runs in their respective domestic leagues.
The three are odds-on favorites to win the UEL, but it won’t be that easy. They face challenges from Juventus, Ajax, Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Freiburg, Roma, and Sevilla, who the bookies also back in that order.
The Spanish La Liga is another popular soccer league worth mentioning. Every sports bettor has interacted with teams from this division at least once. So, who’re the favorites this season?
Despite being relegated to the UEFA Europa League, Barcelona is still dangerous in its domestic league. The Spanish giants have already opened up an eight-point gap at the top and are threatening to be run-away leaders. Barca will look to push on for the second trophy of Xavi Hernandez’s era.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side has seemingly lost momentum in the title race following their slow return from the World Cup. Questions were asked after Real Madrid lost the Spanish Supercopa final to Barcelona.
The Whites could concede another trophy to their rivals if they don’t experience a quick turnaround soon. Nevertheless, the season is far from over, and Ancelotti’s men are hoping for a good return in the next 17 games.
Although it’s not considered a serious title contender, the White-Blue is a team to watch this season. Real Sociedad is in the race for the Champions League and is currently in the front seat. They face pressure from Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, and Rayo Vallecano.
The Bundesliga is dubbed a one-team league, and rightly so. Bayern Munich has won the last 10 titles (since 2013), with Borussia Dortmund coming second in most of those seasons. However, this campaign is looking more competitive. So, who could challenge Bayern Munich for the title?
Union Berlin has had a fairy-tale experience since its first-time promotion to the Bundesliga in 2019. In 2022, the team secured a place in the Europa League, having finished fifth in the domestic league.
The Iron Ones are serious contenders for the 2022/23 Bundesliga title. They sit second, one point behind Bayern Munich, and the fans hope their miracle journey will continue.
BVB has always been the favorite to clinch the title despite conceding to Bayern Munich in most cases. But this season, the Black-Yellow team is looking well-equipped to challenge Nagelsmann’s men for the elusive title. Their win against Chelsea in the Champions League could just be the motivation they needed to keep pushing.
RB Leipzig has also had a miraculous rise in the Bundesliga over the past few years. The 2020/21 season was their closest to winning the title, finishing second. Although it’s not replicated in the same form this season, this is one team you can’t ignore in your betting decisions.
The Italian league is always full of drama; this season is no exception. Like Bundesliga, Serie A was dubbed a one-team league given Juventus’ 9-year winning streak.
But there have been three different winners in the past three years, making it one of the most exciting leagues in the world. Napoli looks set to be the next winner, with the Blues holding a 15-point lead at the top.
Of course, the season is far from over, and anything could happen in the next 16 games. Some of the teams wishing for a dramatic turn of events are Inter Milan and AC Milan. Both Milan teams have clinched the title in the past two years. However, they’ll need a lot of things to go their way to take the trophy back to the San Siro.
On the other hand, Juventus are having a rough season. The previous dominators of the league were in contention for their 37th Championship before their 15-point deduction. The Italian Football Federation announced the decision after Juventus was found guilty of financial irregularities.
The 2023 soccer season is sure to be filled with excitement and surprises, with several top teams and players competing for titles in various leagues and competitions.
This brief provides an overview of the betting trends to guide soccer fans and sports bettors as they navigate the season.
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