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Champions League betting, story so far
Champions League betting markets have become more popular in recent years. The more people that watch, the more people that wager and it is attracting an ever increasing interest across Europe and beyond.
In 2012 the trophy fell to a London team for the first time when Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties. They had scored a goal apiece in open play.
However it was sweet redemption for Bayern a year later as they beat compatriots Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in 2013 in the first all-German final. That game was played at Wembley and the pre-match favourites, and German Champions, only won the game late on with a neat finish from Arjen Robbin in the 89th minute.
Football is the most followed sport and this is now the most popular tournament. Television viewing figures demonstrate the massive popularity. That Chelsea victory was watched by a global TV audience of 300 million. The final in 2009 between Manchester United and Barcelona attracted 109 million, which was more than the NFL Superbowl final during that year.
Favourites have tended to deliver. But it has not been without its upsets. In October 2009 a number of the fancied teams flopped. Both Liverpool and Barcelona suffered shocking, high profile home defeats. They were not the only victims in the market favourite massacre. Five of seven odds-on chances were conquered as punters across Europe sat deep in their armchairs experiencing sensations of shock and grief in equal measure.
The major casualties were the punters who preferred to stay with favourites within multiples, but they were closely followed by Liverpool, who squandered a 1-0 advantage in the first half of the match to lose, ultimately, to Lyon. They bagged the game within injury time through the efforts of Mr Cesa Delgado.
What went wrong in the most major form upset in years when, also in October 2009, the Russian team, Rubin Kazan, managed to triumph over the mighty Barcelona at Camp Nou thanks to the talents of Gokdeniz Karadeniz. He launched an amazing attack at seventy three minutes which proved decisive, giving the Russian team a 2-1 victory.
Rubin Kazan had been 25/1 on the Tuesday morning while Barcelona had been 1/10 odds-on shots. There are other teams that you can more consistently rely on.
The inaugural final took place in 1956. Since its inception, Real Madrid have won it a record nine times, including five consecutive victories from 1956 to 1960. It was over ten years later before a UK team topped the league. It was not the mighty Manchester United but Celtic Glasgow who finally triumphed in 1967 with Man Utd following suit the year after.
Looking back at the list of past winners, consecutive victories are a feature of the League. After Real Madrid's early domination, Benfica Lisbon managed two wins in a row, beating Madrid in the final of 1962. After a brief interjection of AC Milan in '63, Inter Milan achieved consecutive victories in '64 and '65.
Six years later in '71, Ajax Amsterdam achieved their first success in the League and managed to follow up in the next two years, making it three in a row. As soon as their three year run was over, Bayern Munich did exactly the same thing, beating all-comers from 1974 to '76.
By 1977 British teams dominated the leader board with three teams taking victory of the next six years and that really boosted the profile of Champions League betting domestically. Liverpool FC started the run with two wins in a row, followed by Nottingham Forest who also managed consecutive victories before Liverpool regained the top spot in '81 only to give way to Aston Villa the following year.
Thinking back on British winners, Man Utd immediately come to mind after their victory in 2008. They have won the League three times but it is Liverpool who have succeeded most often with five, most recently in 2005 when they defeated AC Milan in the final. Chelsea, of course, defied all expectations to lift the trophy in 2012.
In the 56 years since the Champions League started, only ten countries have fielded winning teams. If you're looking to place a bet with the bookies then it's worth considering the nation's record. England and Spain are the leading countries with 12 wins - an impressive success rate of over twenty percent. Italy is in third place with 11 wins followed by Germany and The Netherlands with six each. Portugal has triumphed four times with France, Scotland, Romania and Serbia achieving a single victory.
If you are planning to bet on the final, English teams have one of the best track records with twelve successes from 18 final attendances. The Netherlands have demonstrated the greatest tenacity, only losing twice in the eight times they have reached the final. Spain is the only other country with a strike rate greater than fifty per cent on reaching the final with twelve wins from twenty one appearances. France has the weakest record, only winning once having reached the final six times.
Ironically, it was Gabriel Hanot, a leading French sporting journalist and then editor of L'Equipe, the French football newspaper, who, together with his colleagues, suggested the inception of the tournament. They were apparently irritated that the British media were describing Wolves as world champions following an impressive run of results in European friendly matches, especially a double victory against the Hungarian star team, Honved and Spartak Moscow. L'Equipe even donated the trophy which, in 1967, was permanently presented to Real Madrid after the club achieved their sixth success in the competition.
Focusing more closely on the cities that teams come from, only two have reached the final more than once and can boast an unbeaten record at that level. Porto and Nottingham Forest, both made it two out of two. Next best is Manchester United with three wins from four appearances. Liverpool are also impressive with five wins from seven finals. Their victories contributed to England being the most successful nation in the league in terms of percentage of wins from the number of entries. They have a twenty three percent success rate, closely followed by Spain at twenty two percent and Italy at twenty percent. Germany have achieved victory with five different teams, while England can boast six.
Madrid have made their final place count on almost seventy percent of occasions whereas Milan, who have reached the final a staggering fifteen times have a strike rate of sixty percent. If Lisbon or Torino find themselves in the final, it's worth remembering, when considering Champions League betting, that less than thirty percent of their attempts have been successful.