Betting on major football leagues

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Football continues to be the most watched sport on television, as well as the most popular recreational activity in the world. The game has billions of followers and its participators play across a number of different competitions and leagues. And if you are into beting on sports, you will find everything you need here at Mr Green, including the major football leagues. Here are six of the most popular competitions and leagues in the world today.

Champions League

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When it comes to club football, the UEFA Champions League, which replaced the European Cup, is the No. 1 annual competition in Europe.

Among the more talked-about and respected tournaments in the world, its quality is of sheer excellence, and from its first year in 2002, only Real Madrid have won it in consecutive years. In fact, in 2018, they won it for the third year in a row.

The competition’s finale attracts a larger audience than the World Cup Final or the Olympics and is generally regarded as the highlight on the football calendar.

The history of the Champions League

In the old days, entry to the European Cup was restricted to those who ranked first in their respective European leagues. The teams also played knockout football from the opening whistle.

However, it was in the 1990’s when UEFA decided to adopt a new strategy to raise the quality of the competition. As a result, in 1992, the more reputable leagues were allowed to enter up to four of its teams in what would be known as the Champions League.

Since 1955, we have been treated to a major European club competition. That year saw 16 teams battling it out. Real Madrid was the most successful club even in those days. Los Blancos won five tournaments in a row from 1956 to 1960.

However, the competition entered a new realm when it was renamed the Champions League, with television money and sponsorship now worth billions.

Champions League format

Qualification

When it comes to qualifying for the league, it can be a complex matter with dozens of clubs participating and all but four of the 32 spots in the group stage already occupied by Europe’s top clubs.

Those 28 clubs achieve automatic qualification due to having finished first in their respective leagues or having finished in the top two, three, or four based on where UEFA has that league ranked. Four clubs from England and four clubs from Spain, for example, qualify, due to being ranked the best leagues in Europe by UEFA.

The action starts in the summer when the first round kicks off before the first, second, and third knockout rounds take place, leaving just six teams to battle it out. Two other teams from top European leagues are entered into a playoff game, taking the total of teams left to eight. They then compete in two-legged knockouts with the four teams left entering the group stage.

Group stage

The 32 teams are then divided into eight groups. The best teams are typically prevented from playing each other at this stage by a seeding-based system. These teams play each other twice. They are awarded three points for a win and one for a draw. This stage takes place from mid-September to December.

The two teams from each group then go on to play in the next round, with the third-placed team being demoted to the Europa League. The team at the bottom is eliminated from the competition entirely.

Advanced stages

The competition returns in February after a winter break with just 16 teams left. The winners from each of the eight groups compete against the second-placed teams in a two-legged contest. No team can play another team from the same group at this point, or even teams from their own country.

The next two stages: the quarter-final and semi-final are also two-legged contests before the winners play each other in the one-off 90-minute Final. UEFA selects the stadium to host the biggest game of the tournament years in advance.

Winners

The Champions League has seen a total of 13 winners since its inception. Here is a list of each of those winners.

Team Year(s) Won
Real Madrid 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2002, 2000, 1998
Barcelona 2015, 2011, 2009, 2006
Bayern Munich 2013, 2001
Chelsea 2012
Inter Milan 2010
Manchester United 2008, 1999
AC Milan 2007, 2003, 1994
Liverpool 2005
Porto 2004
Borussia Dortmund 1997
Juventus 1996
Ajax 1995
Marseille 1993

Premier League

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The Premier League draws a larger number of viewers than any other domestic football competition. International viewers refer to the league as the EPL (English Premier League). The action is shown in more than 200 countries every single match day, with an impressive five billion people tuning in.

History of the Premier League

In spite of England’s longstanding reputation in the game, a number of factors, such as hooliganism and dated stadiums meant that change was called for.

The Premier League, which replaced the First Division, was born in the early 90’s. It started in the 1992-93 season when Sir Alex Ferguson led Manchester Utd to the title. The club is still the Premier League’s most successful side.

Format

The league comprises 20 clubs battling it out week in and week out from August all the way until May of the following year. Each club plays every other club twice (once at their home stadium and once at their opponent’s). This ensures that every team plays 38 games. Each win sees the victor awarded three points, with one point for a draw. This points system has now been standardised in football throughout the world.

The team that ranks first place at the end of the season lifts the Premier League Trophy. The teams in each of the first four places all qualify for a place in the Champions League. The team that finishes fifth is entered into the Europa League (essentially Europe’s second division).

Each of the bottom three clubs are demoted to the lower division, called the Championship. Three teams from the Championship are promoted to the Premier League.

The Premier League and finances

While the typical England football fan may be disgruntled by some of the prices charged by the Premier League (and rightfully so), the Premier League is now the world’s richest league with revenues close to £23bn a year. The majority of that revenue comes from global television rights and sponsorship.

Some of the world’s richest clubs compete in the league, highlighted by the fact that seven English teams being regular fixtures in the top 20 rankings.

The cash available in England has resulted in certain players earning £500,000 a week. This has led to fans feeling that the money is a factor in the increasing gap between the players and those who ultimately pay the wages: the fans themselves

European success

In spite of it often being referred to as the “best league in the world”, there have only been three teams from the Premier League to have lifted the Champions League trophy: Manchester Utd (twice), and Liverpool and Chelsea (once each).

This can partially be attributed to the fact that competition in the Premier League is stronger than it is in any other. It’s strong from first place all the way down to 20th. No team in any season has ever been given an easy ride. This has meant that it’s always been a challenge for those competing in Europe to get ready for the Champions League

Previous Premier League winners

Only six clubs have been lucky (and talented) enough to ever finish first in an English league in its present form.

Team Years(s) Won
Manchester City 2018, 2014, 2012
Chelsea 2017, 2015, 2010, 2006, 2005
Leicester City 2016
Manchester United 2013, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1993
Arsenal 2004, 2002, 1998
Blackburn Rovers 1995

FA Cup

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The FA Cup, or its full name the Football Association Challenge Cup, is the No. 1 club competition in England.

History of the FA Cup

The game’s laws had only been around for eight years before The Football Association committee received a proposal which suggested that its member clubs should participate in a challenge cup. The first tournament took place in 1871.

The FA Cup enjoyed strong growth, even in the face of the First World War, and by the year 1921, the cup final was held in the brand new Empire Stadium. Today, that stadium is known as Wembley Stadium.

 

Wembley was due to be closed while being rebuilt, which meant that between the years 2001 and 2008, the final had to be relocated to Wales’ Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Liverpool won two of those finals, with Arsenal winning the other three.

In 2007, Wembley Stadium was reopened with Chelsea being the first club to lift the trophy at the new-look venue. The remodelled layout meant that 90,000 people could attend the final, which is staged in May of each year, just one week after the Premier League has ended.

FA Cup competition format

While the final is held in May, the actual tournament begins in August at the start of the season with non-league clubs competing in the early rounds.

The action really begins in November in the first round when League One and League Two teams begin battling it out, along with those who have survived the earlier rounds.

80 clubs enter the tournament but that number is halved by the time we get to the second round. Each fixture is randomly drawn with one team from each selection lucky enough to have secured a home tie. If the game is drawn, however, a replay is called, with the team who played away now hosting their opponent. That second game, however, will include extra time and penalties, if necessary.

It isn’t until the third round that we see clubs from the Premier League and Championship enter the fray, which sees the total number of teams taking part reach 64.

The following three rounds adhere to the regular format until the tournament reaches the semi-final, which is played on the third weekend in April at Wembley Stadium. The final also takes place at Wembley in the following month and can include extra time and penalties if needed, although there is no replay allowed.

Succession

The winner of the competition is rewarded with entry into the Europa League the following season. The only exception to that being the case is if that team already received qualification through their position in the Premier League. In that instance, the finalist also receives entry into Europa.

The winner is expected to take part in the subsequent season’s Community Shield. The competition is a one-off game in which the Premier League winner meets the FA Cup winner. If one team is successful in both, the Premier League runner-up is called upon to play against the champions.

FA Cup Final

Once the final has been played, the football season in England is considered to be over. Traditionally, at the match played at Wembley Stadium, the English national anthem and Abide with Me are sung and the players meet special guests, which can be members of the British Royal Family.

Records

There have been numerous records broken in the competition’s long and often spectacular history. Here are some of the more notable examples.

Most wins: Arsenal (13 times between 1930 and 2017).
Most final appearances: Arsenal and Manchester United (20 each).
Most final defeats: Everton and Manchester United (8 each).
Most final appearances without winning: Leicester City (4 – 1949, 1961, 1963, 1969).

European Championships

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The contest that we affectionately refer to as the Euros e.g. Euro 96 is officially known as the UEFA European Championship. It’s also Europe’s most prestigious national football tournament. In fact, it’s the second most prominent football competition in the world, and not unlike the FIFA World Cup, it’s held every four years.

The Euros history

While an official proposal was made for a European tournament all the way back in 1927, the Euros wasn’t established until as later as 1958, with the very first tournament staged in France in 1960. Only four teams participated in the competition, with countries such as West Germany, Italy, and England all absent.

The tournament, however, became more and more popular with more countries seeking to qualify. By 1980, there were eight teams in the finals. West Germany won in that particular tournament, which was held in Italy.

By 1996, when the competition was held in England, it was the first time that the official title gave way to its far shorter nickname. This was also the year that even more teams took part, with 16 teams now gracing the tournament that was regarded as a firm success.

Euro 2000 was the first tournament to be staged by dual countries: Belgium and the Netherlands. This approach has since been replicated in both the World Cup and the Euros.

Euro 2016 was also a first, now that 24 teams were invited to compete. The next in a series of ongoing changes will see Euro 2020 be staged by multiple European cities over several countries.

Competition format

In spite of the fact that there’s sufficient space for 24 teams, a congested Europe means that qualification is a requirement, with each of the UEFA countries placed into groups dating back close to two years before the actual tournament takes place and shortly after the World Cup.

The winners, and typically the second-placed teams from each group, are invited to the finals that start in June. From that point, the name of each team goes back into a hat, as teams are drawn into groups of four, with each playing the other members of the group once. The quarter-final comprises the winner from each group, along with the best two second-placed teams. Each game is in a 90-minute knockout format, with extra-time and penalties allowed.

A format not dissimilar to that is applied in the semi-final matches. The final takes place in the middle of July when we find out the winner of that particular tournament.

Succession

The competition winner is invited to play in the subsequent FIFA Confederations Cup, an international competition staged every four years and including eight teams from multiple world confederations.

Previous winners

The competition has seen 11 previous winners lift the prestigious trophy, with the Soviet Union winning the first ever tournament and Portugal being the most recent winners (as of 2016).

Country Year(s) won
Portugal 2016
Spain 2012, 2008
Greece 2004
France 2000, 1984
Germany (incl West Germany) 1996, 1980, 1972
Denmark 1992
Netherlands 1988
Czechoslovakia 1976
Italy 1968
Spain 1964
Soviet Union 1960

Europa League

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The UEFA Europa League is Europe’s second division club tournament. It has been staged each year since 1971 in various forms. The clubs that have qualified for Europa have done so as a result of their league and cup performances.

History of the Europa League

Europa, in 1955-1971, was known as the Inter City Fairs Cup. However, a rise in popularity, as well as competition from clubs, resulted in the format being rebranded as the UEFA Cup. The now straight knockout tournament saw teams drawn against each other, with matches both home and away.

 

 

 

The new format continued this way until 2009. After the Champions league had shown just how successful its format had been, UEFA had decided to introduce its own group stage before the knockout rounds. And so, the name ‘Europa League’ was born.

Competition format

Qualification

The Europa League uses UEFA coefficients just as the Champions League does i.e. clubs can be assigned their ranking based on the performance of their country’s domestic league. It’s usually the case, however, that each country is awarded three places in the tournament.

Typically, each country enters their second-placed club (or highest-placed club that failed to qualify for the Champions League) in addition to their overall winner. The exceptions are France and England, whereby the winners of their knockout competition can also participate.

Dozens of sides compete in the preliminary round before we reach the first three qualifying rounds where we’re treated to knockout football over both home and away legs. Once those rounds have been completed, 36 teams enter the playoff round where they play with the six losers from their third qualifying round in the Champions League.

The playoff winners join winners of domestic cups from the top associations, and runners-up, along with lower-placed teams from the best countries, in addition to playoff losers from the Champions League. That’s 48 teams in total.

Group stage

At this stage, the 48 teams are divided into groups of four to compete against each other at both teams’ stadiums between the months of September and December. The typical scoring system applies, with three points awarded for a win and a single point for a tie.

Advanced stages

Each of the 12 group winners, along with the 12 second-placed teams, advance on to the next stage where they join the eight third-ranked sides from the group phase. The remaining 32 teams will play each other in 16 games, both home and away, until we have 16 teams left, ready to compete in the round of 16.

The exact same procedure applies in the quarter-final and semi-final until we are left with two teams who go on to compete in the final, which is played over 90 minutes, with extra-time and penalties included should the game be tied after the full-time whistle..

Previous winners

Spain has enjoyed immense success at this particular competition since 2000, with La Liga representatives winning nine titles in that time.

Team Year(s) won
Atletico Madrid 2018, 2012, 2010
Manchester United 2017
Sevilla 2016, 2015, 2014, 2007, 2006
Chelsea 2013
Porto 2011, 2003
Shakhtar Donetsk 2009
Zenit St Petersburg 2008
CSKA Moscow 2005
Valencia 2004
Feyenoord 2002
Liverpool 2001
Galatasaray 2000

Bundesliga

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The Bundesliga is the top domestic league in Germany. It comprises the 18 best teams in the country competing against one another from August until May. It also attracts Europe’s highest attendance average.

The history of Bundesliga

While German clubs were no strangers to high-level football, dating back to the early 1900’s, there were a large number of pointless games being played between regional clubs and big clubs. The Bundesliga was formed in 1963 as a means to resolve the situation and to allow the best 16 teams to compete in a single division.

The integration of the Bundesliga into German football had another effect in that it made football in the country more professional with an increase of monthly pay, in addition to bonuses. Players would now receive 1,200 Deutsche marks per month.

A famous publication of the day said that the league was like having the mood of a final at every single match day. Today’s attendances suggest that that mood still exists.

Format

The Bundesliga has changed the number of teams it’s allowed in the league a number of times, with 16 teams permitted from 1963-1965 and 18 teams from 1965 to 1990.

The following season, that number increased to 20, while the clubs from East Germany were integrated into the league after Germany unified. Since 1992, however, the league has decided on 18 teams and that is still the case today.

Each team competes with every other team, both home and away, resulting in 34 games being played each year.

Of course, the team that ranks first is the Bundesliga champion. However, a second, third, and fourth-placed finish holds some value, as those teams are awarded qualification into the UEFA Champions League.

The teams that finish fifth and sixth respectively have a chance at qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. The German cup winners (DFB-Pokal) automatically qualify.

Each year sees two teams relegated. Those finishing in the bottom two positions are forced to play in the lower division while two teams from that lower division are promoted to the Bundesliga. The team that finishes 16th place in the Bundesliga competes in a two-legged playoff with the term that finishes third in the lower division to determine which will play in the Bundesliga the following season.

Attendances

One thing that the Bundesliga is particularly proud of is its famously impressive attendances. In fact, it’s the world’s highest-attended league. Borussia Dortmund, in particular, averages somewhere in the region of 80,000 fans each and every match consistently for the last decade. This is partly down to having the continent’s lowest ticket costs, as well as fanatical support.

The attendance records have made for a fantastic atmosphere in German stadiums, which has been a positive factor when it comes to their clubs competing against other European sides.

Bundesliga winners since 2000

In recent years Germany’s domestic league championship has been dominated by Bayern Munich with only 4 teams in total having won the league since the turn of the millennium:

Team Year(s) won
Bayern Munich 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2001, 2000
Borussia Dortmund 2012, 2011, 2002
VfL Wolfsburg 2009, 2007
Werder Bremen 2004