There’s no getting around it. Handicapping the Premier League successfully involves knowing at least something about the other domestic leagues in Europe.
Heck, old Las Vegas hands might suggest even trying to figure out if a club will flourish in the UEFA Champions League as a possible detriment to the squad’s other futures markets. Teams are known to go all-out in a Champions League format and become worn down while local rivals lurk.
But it happens more often that American soccer clubs – and others around the world whose regional Federation holds its CL at an inopportune time – are dubious futures bets when advancing in the Champions League. CONCACAF holds its flagship club competition in spring, just when Major League Soccer managers want their lineups jogging and not sprinting through the schedule. Later, when supporters’ fanfare dies down, the roster faces an injury-riddled uphill climb in late summer.
Overseas, more often a rising tide lifts all boats. Players can develop as youth prospects or on-loan in thin European leagues before throwing their hats into the deeply rich EPL. Star performers around the continent will transfer between English Premier League sides and the elites of various nations.
The good news for newbie football ‘cappers is that you don’t need to carefully examine most of the also-rans in Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, or other top leagues in Europe. Those clubs have no chance to win a championship futures bet in a given season since organizations like Barcelona and Bayern Munich soak-up all of the premier domestic talent and loads of scoring from across borders. French side PSG has been so dominant that the club appears to be barnstorming its own minor-league franchises.
To know the Kings of Europe is to know the game of Europe. Here’s where the most-popular picks to win leagues west of the UK stand headed into 2019-20…along with their fiercest potential rivals.
Serie A Futures Lines-to-Win League 2019-20
Juventus stands as the shortest bet to conquer Italy again, holding at (-225) at BetOnline.
But the defending champs have bigger aspirations and fell to Ajax in the quarterfinals of the 2018-19 Champions League in a shocking defeat that splashed headlines around the globe. The team had simply oozed confidence that the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer would lift crown since 1996.
If you can’t beat them…steal them. 19-year-old back Matthijs de Ligt has been welcomed by Juventus on a transfer from Ajax after heading a dagger in the semifinals.
What a season for Matthijs de Ligt! 👏👏👏
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 14, 2019
Veteran leadership has also been added in 28-year-old Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey following his lengthy and successful run with Arsenal.
Maurizio Sarri also makes his return to Italy to coach the Girlfriend of Italy (I’ve always thought “Mistress of Italy” would be more to the point) this season. We’ll see if Sarri’s “stubborn” tactics that led to a recent 0-6 drubbing of Chelsea by Man City will look any better in a league where he’s got the best lineup.
Inter is an interesting underdog pick at (+550). The team is currently in the hunt for Man United forward Romelu Lukaku, a brawny and relentless talent who could change the paradigm for an Italian soccer season.
Juventus, however, is making its own play for Lukaku’s services. Inter has already been spurned once this transfer window as Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani turned down an offer to join the team.
Meanwhile, Napoli (also (+550)) failed to land 24-year-old Ivorian winger Nicolas Pépé, who is headed to Arsenal instead. Wilfred Zaha could be in the picture but appears to be in shopping mode.
Roma has made it on every ESPN Wheel since it was invented for some reason, and Greek center-back Konstantinos Manolas has transferred to play for the rival Parthenopeans as well. He’ll be on the Wheel less now but could see a few more victories.
19-year-old midfielder Eljif Elmas – formerly of Turkish Süper Lig – could have an immediate impact.
Ligue 1 Futures Odds at BetOnline
Consider that the defending-champion Parisians enjoyed the most-absurd Vegas betting line I’ve ever seen to win the French league in spring of ’19, (-100000) or a “dime on a Benjamin” payoff.
The squad had an excellent lead on the table as usual, and Neymar stood as a lynchpin for the organization.
The Brazilian footballer’s trials this offseason have at least brought the 2019-20 odds back to Earth at PSG: (-1000).
Plagued by alleged sexual misconduct, everyone’s favorite “rollin’” forward is refusing to play another year in Ligue 1. What a time to act like you’ve got any stroke in the transfer market, hm?
Rumors have swirled that Neymar could return to Barcelona, but confidence is waning on that outcome now. Why would an already-iconic club risk everything on a man accused of a disgusting crime?
PSG has done the right thing from a management POV, refusing to sit on laurels or save money to pay a defiant striker later. The club has dipped into the Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga for quality transfers in 2019.
Senegalese central midfielder Idrissa Gueye arrives from Everton, and 23-year-old defender Abdou Diallo makes a return to France after a season with Borussia Dortmund.
There are stats at the beginning of this highlight reel, but I assure you there is one.
Talented attacking midfielder Pablo Sarabia was also reeled in from Sevilla to help cement Paris Saint Germain as a favorite to repeat again…for now.
Maybe the 1-to-10 favorite’s line has something to do with problems among rivals. Lyon (+1000) lost a piece of its midfield with the departure of Tanguy Ndombélé. The youngster has inked a long-term deal with Spurs after a noteworthy performance in the Champions League.
It doesn’t stop there – Ferland Mendy has packed bags for Spain with a transfer to Real Madrid.
Lyon is going to bank on a defense-first approach to 2020. That could lead to a lot of dismal low-scoring results as was the case for Chelsea Football Club under Sarri last season.
Bundesliga Futures for Spring 2020
Bayern Munich (-400) had a hard slog to the German title in 2019, but made it to the finish line with an incredible 28th domestic championship.
Speaking of not resting on hands, Bavarians have been hot on the trail of Manchester City winger Leroy Sané in the friendly season. The club has made an official offer to the defending Premier League champs and only time will tell if the 23-year old will be on his way to Munich.
Lucas Hernández is among the fiercest defenders on the planet and is expected to provide a big lift for Bavarians in the coming days. Bayern Munich did not have to look far for another tough French back, as 23-year-old Benjamin Pavard joins the team from VfB Stuttgart.
Then there’s that little Champions League Q-final exit that has supporters (and futures bettors) on edge.
Borussia Dortmund (+450) is another interesting underdog as a team that was every bit FCB’s match last season.
Notwithstanding the departure of backliner Abdou Diallo to Paris Saint-Germain, the club has made numerous quality upgrades across the board. Mats Hummels makes his return from Munich in hopes of capturing another title. The veteran defender has played in over 300 league fixtures and brings a world of experience to the roster. Meanwhile, 26-year-old left-back Nico Schulz has risen through the ranks and comes in from TSG Hoffenheim ready to make a big impact.
I’m liking Dortmund a lot at nearly 5-to-1 odds. The club proved it was on the same elite level with Bayern Munich last time through, so if there are improvements to go around, why the long odds?
La Liga 2019-20 Futures Lines and Popular Picks
The iconic Spanish club Barcelona was left reeling after a stunning collapse against Liverpool in the Champions League.
A relentless pursuit of Neymar has persisted throughout the transfer window, with team officials ready to meet Neymar’s > $165M asking price but wary of scandal.
Not everything (thank goodness) revolves around 1 player. 28-year-old French forward Antoine Griezmann has been a star for Atlético Madrid and the French national team and arrives for Barca following a bitter team vs team dispute.
Meanwhile, newcomer Frenkie de Jong has long been among the most coveted youngsters in Europe. His move to Barcelona was settled in January, but de Jong finally arrived at camp in July.
The delays, impasses, and twists of the offseason has made the bookmakers at BetOnline hesitant to handicap a price on Barcelona in the short term.
However, our pals at Bovada Sportsbook think Blaugrana is a (-155) pick to win again. That has something to do with my forgetting to bring a player up until now…but I always make a “Messi” of these things.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid (+130) made a huge splash in the offseason with the signing of former Chelsea winger Eden Hazard.
Hazard disappointed supporters in the early going for showing up to town overweight. The furious pace of a soccer schedule will take care of that soon enough.
Vikings have added lots of youthful talent over the summer – but not of the sort that’s going to beat Barcelona. Rumors persist that the club will take on another big contract soon, perhaps the enigmatic Paul Pogba of Manchester United or Christian Erikson of Spurs.