The current champions, Barcelona, did spread bettors a big favour last season, comfortably winning La Liga, as well as producing an assured performance to beat Man United in the final in Rome. Their spread, before a ball has been kicked, is set at 42-45 (100 points for the winner, 75 for runner-up, 50 for losing semi-finalist, 25 for losing quarter-finalist and 10 for last 16) and they will be many people’s idea of the winner again this time around.
However, their arch rivals Real Madrid will also carry a lot of spread bettors’ cash after getting through a shed-load of the stuff themselves this summer to bring in the likes of Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema and Alonso. Manuel Pelligrini’s side are next best in the index with a 38-41 point spread, but the problem for those who fancy either of these sides on the spreads is that no individual country has won back-to-back competitions for 20 years.
Milan were the last club (and Italy the last country) to win it two years in a row back in 1990, so spread sellers of the big Spanish two have some reason for optimism.
Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to have a big bearing on Real Madrid’s European ambitions and those punters following Madrid on the spreads will be hoping the Portuguese winger can give Los Blancos their 10th European Cup success. If they do make it to the final, it is more than likely that they will face an English side – possibly his old club Man United.
Following a break of five years without an English side contesting the final after United won it in 1999, one or more of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or United have been involved in the last five.
Madrid, on the other hand, have had a very disappointing recent record in Europe’s most important competition, failing to make it to the final since they last won it courtesy of Zidane’s wonder strike in 2002. Spread bettors following them will have to take a huge leap of faith that the new Galacticos can prove themselves up to the mark.
Although England are the equal second most successful nation in the competition, patriotic spread punters will be aware that all of the last four runners-up have been from Blighty. That isn’t too bad though for those buying them on the outright win index and the Sporting Index market makers make the next four in the list England’s very own Big Four.
Chelsea, although never having won the competition, are joint second favourites with a 38-41 point spread, Man United are next best at 34-37, with Arsenal 30-33 and Liverpool 29-32. Spread bettors are normally far too sensible to follow random patterns, but in the last five years, the winners have been from: England, Spain, Italy, England, Spain…
If the pattern is to continue, Inter Milan are the most likely Italian team to lift the prize and their spread has been set at 25-28.