The gates may have closed on the stadiums of the World Cup in Qatar, but international football has not gone anywhere as European competitions resume.
SBC’s Bookies Corner asked some leading sportsbooks for insights into who punters are favouring – is it Pep’s time to finally lift the Champions League with Manchester City, and can Manchester United end its six year trophy drought?
We’ve seen a few upsets in the knockout tournaments this year, have there been any standout underdogs catching punters attention?
Chad Yeomans, Head of Communications and PR, Betway: I think from the start of the season, no one really expected Newcastle to be punching this much above their weight. They’ve currently got one foot in the final of the Carabao Cup, which looks likely to be against Manchester United, who will be favourites on the day if those two were to meet in the final at Wembley.
Since the exit of Manchester City, who had won four of the last five renewals, Arsenal and Liverpool, Man Utd have been favourites and it looks as though Erik ten Hag could win a trophy in his first season as manager of the club.
Adam Baylis, Head of Customer Marketing, Smarkets: The World Cup was awash with surprise results but specifically punters latched onto the giant-killing narrative around Morocco on their journey throughout the tournament.
Domestically, not many people could have predicted the fantastic season that Arsenal are having and it’s only been until their recent victory over Man Utd that the money has started to arrive for The Gunners to capture the Premier League title, moving them as favourites over Manchester City.
UEFA introduced the Europe Conference League recently, has this competition drawn much Thursday night betting attention?
Henry Beesley, Content Executive, FItzdares: As our football product goes from strength-to-strength, we’ve seen a flurry of interest in the Conference League to supplement the existing Europa League action on a Thursday night!
As you’d expect, The Hammers have proven to be the highlight among many of our players with punters latching onto the home hopes in their bid to lift a European trophy but there’s also other ‘sleeping giants’ in there, including Lazio and Villarreal.
After a few sticky results in the new year, are Manchester City still a favourite among punters for Cup glory this year or have other teams caught attention?
CY: Betway: City are second favourites to win the Premier League, so they’re not out of that race with Arsenal just yet.
However, the piece of silverware that alludes Pep at City is the Champions League but they are the ante post favourites, but the question has to be asked, will Erling Haaland be the difference for the Citizens this year and can they finally go all the way?
Some big European players are now in the Europa League – Man Utd, Juventus, Barcelona – do you think this could drive engagement with the tournament?
HB, Fitzdares: This season’s Europa League draw has thrown up cracking ties with Man Utd taking on Barcelona and with punters increasing following players over teams, we’ve seen an influx in create-a-bets and player market permutations.
We’d expect this to continue with some traditional European powerhouses still in the mix and ultimately, should ensure that engagement in Europe’s second tier of club football remains high.
AB, Smarkets: Ever since the ‘early-return’ of the Bundesliga during the pandemic, we’ve seen a heightened interest in the wider European Leagues and that’s very much carried over into the Europa League as a tournament.
In that sense, the larger teams such as Man Utd and Barcelona qualifying for the competition may not be as big of a deal as one would expect, but if they make it to the latter stages of the competition, there’ll almost certainly be even more interest.