Choosing Which Soccer Competitions to Bet On
Do you know how many professional soccer competitions there are in the world? No? We don’t either! We just know it’s a lot. There’s at least one professional league in most countries, and in many there are several competitions. Then there are the continental competitions such as the UEFA Champion’s League, and international competitions such as the FIFA World Cup.
Honestly, it would be virtually impossible to compile a list of EVERY single competition. The folks at Wikipedia have done a good job, but we’re pretty sure that even their list is incomplete.
Thankfully you don’t need to know how many competitions there are in the world. You DO need to decide which ones you’re going to bet on though, and that’s not an easy decision to make. There are clearly lots of different options, so how are you supposed to choose the right one(s)?
There isn’t a “correct” way to make this decision, so we can’t tell you exactly what to do. What we can do, however, is talk you through the various factors you should consider. So that’s what we’ve done below. We’ve also offered some useful advice, and listed a few competitions that we like to bet on ourselves.
High Profile vs Low Profile Competitions
One of the first (and most important) things you need to think about is whether you’re better off betting on high profile competitions or low profile competitions. Both of these types of competitions offer a wide variety of options, and each come with their own list of pros and cons.
We’ll start with the main pros of betting on high profile competitions.
- Lots of televised games
- Extensive media coverage
- Readily available information and data
- Wagers accepted at most bookmakers and betting sites
- Wide range of betting options
The first three pros we’ve listed here all make it easier for us to do the research we need to do. This is extremely important, as the quality of our betting decisions is directly related to the quality of our research.
Being able to watch more games, see more coverage and access more data means we’re able to properly analyze all the relevant factors that we need to take into account. This should lead to higher quality research overall: assuming we put in the necessary effort, of course. High quality research then leads to making solid judgments, and therefore good betting decisions.
Good betting decisions improve our chances of winning money, so the benefits here are obvious. And we haven’t even gotten to the other two pros on our list, which are also pretty significant.
The fact that the higher profile competitions are covered by almost all bookmakers and betting sites means we can place our wagers wherever we like. This allows us to use the leading soccer betting sites, rather than having to settle for second best. Those leading soccer betting sites also typically offer a wide range of betting options on the high profile competitions, so we have an even better chance of finding good wagers to place.
The cons of betting on the high profile competitions are as follows.
- Bookmakers and betting sites pay close attention to these competitions
- Value in the betting markets often disappears quickly
Bookmakers and betting sites take far more wagers on the high profile competitions than they do on the low profile competitions. As a result, they work extremely hard to ensure that their odds and lines are VERY tight. They usually have a whole team of experts pricing up their betting markets, making sure that they offer very little value to their customers.
When there IS value in the betting markets, it doesn’t usually last for very long. Lots of people are betting on the high profile competitions, and many of them are very smart bettors. They tend to get their money down as soon as they see any value. This causes the value to disappear fast, as the odds are adjusted accordingly. That’s why our only chance of jumping on this opportunity is to act as quickly as possible.
Please note that this DOESN’T mean it’s impossible to make money from the high profile competitions. It just means it’s going to be difficult.
The pros and cons of betting on low profile competitions are basically just the opposite of what we’ve mentioned above. The bookmakers and betting sites don’t pay quite so much attention when they’re pricing up the markets for these competitions, so the odds and lines are a little looser. And the value doesn’t tend to disappear as quickly. That gives us time to find good spots to get our money down.
The one major downside we see is that games are not widely televised, and there’s not extensive coverage on them. The information and data we need isn’t as readily available, so doing the necessary research is a little more challenging. We may not have as much choice for where to place our wagers either, and we’re unlikely to have the same range of betting options.
We don’t really see either of these categories as being “better” than the other one. There are clear advantages to betting on high profile competitions, but some notable disadvantages too. The same applies to betting on low profile competitions. You can’t make a wrong decision here; you just have to decide what’s best for you.
Leagues vs Knockout Competitions
Another factor to consider is the format of the competition(s) you choose to bet on. Most competitions are played in either a league format or a knockout format, and there are a few differences between the two. Here are the key ones.
- Volume of games
- Likelihood of upsets
- Disparity in quality
Let’s explore these differences in detail, and see what they mean from a betting perspective.
A league competition will usually have a much higher volume of games than a knockout competition. The average league features 20 teams, with each team facing each other twice during a season. That’s a total of 38 games for each team, and 380 games overall. A typical knockout competition features more teams, but usually a lot less games. This is because each team only plays a single game in each round. The winner progresses to the next round, while the loser is eliminated.
The higher volume of games means that leagues offer us more betting opportunities. This allows us to be selective about which games we bet on, and still find good spots to get our money down. With a knockout competition, we don’t have that luxury. With fewer opportunities to choose from, being selective often means not betting at all. The alternative is to risk money on more speculative wagers, and that’s not something we should do too regularly.
As a general rule, league games are more predictable than knockout games. This should make it easier for us to find value in the betting markets. Upsets still happen in league games, of course, but they happen proportionately less than they do in knockout games.
It’s also usually easier to pick the overall winner of a league competition than it is to pick the overall winner of a knockout competition.
In most league competitions, the teams are reasonably evenly matched. The gap in quality between the strongest couple of teams and the weakest couple of teams might be significant, but there’s rarely much disparity between all the others. This is NOT the case in most knockout competitions. There’s usually a huge difference between the strongest teams taking part and the weakest.
We just mentioned how upsets are common in knockout competitions, but there are also a lot of games that are basically foregone conclusions. When one of the very strongest teams is up against one of the very weakest, there’s almost zero chance of an upset. We would even go as far as to say that these games aren’t worth betting on. The odds on the stronger team tend to be ridiculously low, and backing the underdog is usually a complete waste of money.
Based on everything we’ve written here, we see why so many people lean towards betting on league competitions. There are some advantages in doing so for sure, but we wouldn’t rule out betting on knockout competitions either.
It’s not like ALL games in knockout tournaments are either extremely unpredictable or foregone conclusions. There are plenty of games that are somewhere in the middle too, and they can offer value.
Finding games where an upset is more likely than people think is always a possibility, and so is picking an unlikely winner of a tournament. These opportunities are usually extremely profitable, since you’ll generally be offered high odds.
While it’s definitely harder to find good betting opportunities in knockout competitions, it’s clearly not impossible.
Overall, league competitions probably do have the slight edge on knockout competitions. This really doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore the knockout competitions though.
International vs Club Competitions
Competitions involving national teams are a very different proposition to competitions involving club teams. This is for one simple reason. It’s usually MUCH harder to analyze national teams than club teams.
Club teams play and train together on a weekly basis. If we follow them closely enough, we get to know all about their preferred playing styles, how well the players complement each other, what their strengths and weaknesses are and all kinds of other relevant details.
National teams train together just a handful of times each year, and they play fewer games. The makeup of the teams can change significantly from one game to the next, as different players may be selected by the national manager. No matter how closely we follow these teams, we’ll never get to know them as well as we know the club teams.
When we don’t know as much about the teams involved, it’s obviously harder to assess possible outcomes. Making good betting decisions and making money in general becomes more difficult.
However, this doesn’t mean that club competitions are automatically the better option. You see, the bookmakers face exactly the same problem that we do. They can’t analyze national teams to the same extent as club teams either, so it’s hard for them to assess possible outcomes too. The odds and lines they set won’t be as tight, which means finding value should be easier.
So, once again, we don’t think either of the options here are obviously better than the other. We have it easier in some ways when betting on club competitions, as we have more information to work with. The bookmakers are just as well-informed though, making them tough to beat. We have less information to work with when betting on international competitions, but so do the bookmakers. That levels the playing field a little, and gives us a chance to beat them.
Advice & Recommendations
We’ve provided you with a lot of information to think about, so you’ll need to take some time to consider it all carefully. Just remember that there’s no right and wrong when it comes to choosing which competition(s) to bet on. It’s really just a case of figuring out what’s best for you.
We still have one last piece of advice to offer though. Follow these two tips to make coming to a decision a little easier.
- Focus on what you already know
The first tip is perhaps an obvious one. It’s worth mentioning though, as people often forget the value of their existing knowledge. Try not to make that mistake yourself. If there are one or more soccer competitions that you’re already familiar with, those are the ones you should be betting on. It’s really that simple.
Of course, you may not be especially familiar with any of the competitions. Or maybe you’re only familiar with one or two, and want to expand your focus a little. In that case, our advice is to experiment with the various options. This is probably the easiest way to work out which ones are best for you.
We can even help you learn about any competition you want to bet on. In the following section of our soccer betting guide, we’ve provided details on many of the different soccer competitions around the world.
If all else fails, you can always just bet on the following competitions. These are our personal favorites, and the ones we bet on the most. We can’t state categorically that they are the “best” competitions to bet on, but they definitely tick the right boxes for us.