How to Bet on Soccer – A Definitive Soccer Betting Tutorial

Soccer Ball No matter what you call it—football, futbol, footie or otherwise—soccer is one of the world's most successful sports with billions of people watching league matches every year. The planet practically comes to a standstill every four years to watch the World Cup. Soccer has staked its claim on every inhabited continent on the globe, and the sport continues to grow in popularity as time marches forward. To date, there are dozens of popular leagues out there, like the Premier League, La Liga, Bundisliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and even Major League Soccer (MLS). Not to mention the UEFA Champions and Euro Leagues. Soccer is also big for another reason, and it has little to do with wanting to play the sport. It's about the gambling. Soccer is the most bet-on sport across the globe, and billions of dollars are wagered every month. Knowing how to bet on soccer matches properly will be the difference between potentially winning or losing big. This page was created by our team of online soccer betting analysts to provide you with some insights into how to bet on the Beautiful Game.

A Brief Soccer Betting Tutorial

Betting Types

There are 3 main betting types in soccer: The point spread, the moneyline and the total (o/u).

Understanding The Point Spread In Soccer

Let's start with the point spread. This is simply the number of goals which oddsmakers predict a particular team will win by. So, let's say you have Manchester City playing Arsenal and the oddsmakers feel comfortable that Man City has the better team this year. They may favor Man City by 2 goals, which would read like this:

Man City -2: Arsenal +2.

When you place a bet on Man City to cover, the team must win by 2 or more goals. If Arsenal covers, they can still lose but come within one goal and you will lose the bet. Oftentimes you will see a line that reads like this:

Man City -2 (-115): Arsenal +2 (-105).

Understanding The Moneyline Bet In Soccer

The second set of numbers is a variation of a moneyline. This means you have to bet $115 to win $100. It's basically just a way for the oddsmakers to not only keep action even on both teams but also to cover their losses. If, for example, 90% of the action went to Man City and Man City won, the sportsbook would take a bath on losses with even money ($1 to win $2).

The moneyline in a soccer context is the bet that reads like this:

Man City +135.

What does this mean? It's simply a representation of what you win per $100 bet. So, basically, each dollar earns an extra 35%, or a bet of $100 will win $135. The negative sign indicates the favorite and the positive sign indicates the underdog team. For instance, if you read this line:

Arsenal -140.

What does this mean? Well, it means you have to bet $140 to win $100, or, to put it another way, you're paying an extra 40% for every dollar won.

Betting The Totals Over/Under In Soccer

The total of a match, also called the over/under (O/U), is the third and final main betting structure in soccer. Using our two Premier League teams as examples again, let's look at a typical O/U line:

Man City 2 ½ +120 over; Arsenal -150 under.

This one looks more complicated, but it's actually quite simple. The first number, 2 ½, is the projected total number of goals in the game. So, betting the over, which would be the underdog bet, has a line of +120, or +20%. Remember, the positive sign shows an underdog and a winning bet brings in more money. Whereas betting the under, which would be 2 goals, is the more likely predicted outcome, and so you're giving up 50% with the line of -150, meaning you have to bet $150 to win $100.

Check Out Props

Prop bets are an exciting component of sports gambling. In prop, short for “proposition,” bets, you are gambling on a specific occurrence or non-occurrence. These include alternate point spreads, player props, team props, specials and more. If you are knowledgeable on teams, prop bets create potentially lucrative betting opportunities. For example, if you have El Clasico—Real Madrid v. Barcelona—you know that there are some big names on the pitch. If you want to place a bet on a specific player to score first, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi would both be strong options. Another example would be betting on a team to have a clean sheet when you know they have a world class goalkeeper, or that the opposing team’s offense is poor.

Don’t Get Lost In Props

With props, it is important to stay within the lines of common sense. You will find several props on things that have no bearing on the game. For example, you could bet on which team kicks off first, the total number of bookings, number of corners, etc. A rule of thumb is sticking to things that make the most sense. If you are betting on a strong team with a good defense, betting on them to have a clean sheet is smart. If you are wagering on a team with multiple talented offensive players, and they’ve been in form, betting on them to score a high number of goals is smart. Betting too many props runs the risk of you losing all your winnings, especially if you put money down on the spread, moneyline or total. It would be a shame to lose all your winnings on the point spread because you wagered too much on silly props.

Research Teams And Players

There are a lot of games with top-flight European teams. Most teams play in several leagues at once, meaning the month can be packed with betting opportunities. This is both positive and negative because it presents more chances of winning, but also requires more intensive research. You need to follow along with teams to see how their season has been. Have they had a poor run of games? Are they resting their starters for an easy game this week? Is their best player sitting out due to a contract dispute? Has a player accumulated too many yellow cards? Have there been any new transfers? Knowing exactly where your team sits is the best way of planning your betting strategy. There are 2 transfer windows in top-flight soccer, 1 in the summer and the other in the winter—during midseason. It is not uncommon for a team to switch up their roster midway when things aren’t working out, especially for teams expected to do well.

Know The Top Teams

Teams come and go in terms of dominance, but there are select few that always take up the top spots in European leagues. Knowing these teams can skew you wagering pending whether you bet on or against them. We’ve broken down the top teams in each league:

English Premier League

Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal

Bundisliga

Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund

La Liga

Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Valencia

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco, Marseille, Lyon

Serie A

Napoli, Juventus, Inter Milan, Roma, AC Milan

Again, there are other teams that creep up into the fold from time to time (take Leicester City’s miracle championship run 2 years ago in the EPL), but these teams are almost always in contention for the top spots.

Know The Difference Between Leagues

As mentioned, some teams are often playing in multiple leagues at once. This can create confusion with your betting strategy, especially depending on which league/tournament it is. Each domestic league has their regular league fixtures and multiple separate domestic knockout tournament (FA Cup and EFL Cup for England; varies per country). There is also the UEFA Europe League, which is the little brother to the UEFA Champions League. The Champions League is the most prestigious and is a tournament made up of the best international teams from each domestic league in Europe. The Euros are made up of the second-tier level teams, those who fell out of the top 4 but are still towards the top of the table. These other smaller domestic tournaments are for placement in the Euros, which could then lead to automatic placement in the Champions League.

Winning the Champions League is the highest honor in football (under winning the World Cup, of course). Some teams will put their spot in the Champions League over their domestic fixtures, and this is where things get interesting from a betting standpoint. Since Champions League fall in the middle of the week as opposed to regular weekend games, teams will sometimes rest certain players in anticipation of the big games. This could affect their overall performance on the domestic front, meaning it could affect your betting. This is why it is crucial to follow your favorite teams to track how they are rotating squad players, handling intense schedules, etc. It gets particularly clogged up over the holidays, so teams do everything they can to conserve their best players.

If you are ready to make a bet, check out our list of legal USA soccer betting sites for the top rated bookmakers that are US friendly.