The emergence of Leicester City in 2015-16 from relegation candidates to momentous Premier League champions shows that on occasion bets with (very) long odds can pay dividends.
While the achievements of Claudio Ranieri’s men last term can be considered a once-in-a-generation feat, there are certainly no certainties in football as new domestic campaigns kick off around the continent.
With this in mind, here are five clever bets the could well make you a bit of money this season, with appealing odds to boot.
Liverpool to win the league
With the expenditure of the Manchester teams this summer catching the eye, many pundits are predicting a two-horse race between United and City for the Premier League title.
Chelsea are expected to markedly improve this season while Arsenal, the serial under-achievers, are set to be in the mix also.
However, with Jurgen Klopp starting to mould his Liverpool team and a number of shrewd recruits this summer, the Anfield outfit could well be in the running also.
A 4-3 opening day win away to fellow challengers Arsenal will only bolster the Reds’ confidence further, while a 4-0 win over Barcelona in pre-season shows that on their day Liverpool are a scintillating attacking side.
There are still doubts over the Reds’ defence but odds of 7/1 at Ladbrokes look appealing for Liverpool to win the title this term.
Diego Costa to finish as top goalscorer
With Antonio Conte taking over at Stamford Bridge and a number of impressive signings this summer, there is expected to be a considerable change in personnel at Chelsea by the end of August.
One of the high-profile names linked with an exit from the West London club has been Diego Costa, who is being touted with a return to former club Atletico Madrid in his homeland.
Chelsea have signed Michy Batshuayi to bolster their striking ranks, while rumblings that Romelu Lukaku could return from Everton refuse to go away.
However, Costa reminded the world of his ability in the Blues’ opener against West Ham, scoring with a long-range effort to give his side victory and get his season off the mark.
If the Spain international can keep his questionable temperament in check and is given a chance by Conte, odds of 12/1 at Ladbrokes for Costa to top the scoring charts look appealing.
Leicester to get relegated
One of the most prominent stories of last season was 2014-15 champions Chelsea’s demise, with the London club going from first place to tenth in the space of 12 months.
The chance of Leicester in emulating last season’s heights seem slim, with domestic opposition now wary to the Foxes’ counter-attacking style of play.
An opening day 2-1 defeat to a decimated and newly promoted Hull City suggests that Ranieri’s men won’t have it all their own way this season and could well struggle.
Although few would predict Leicester to win the Premier League again in 2016-17, going the opposite way and suggesting that the King Power Stadium outfit could be relegated seems like a more sensible bet.
Sky Bet offer odds of 12/1 for Leicester to go from champions elect last term to be relegated this season.
Atletico Madrid to win La Liga
Perennial superpowers Barcelona and Real Madrid are always the focus in Spain, with the age-old Clasico rivals the favourites to contest this season’s La Liga title once again.
However, with the Camp Nou side evolving as the core of the team gets older and Madrid not making a splash in the transfer market, looking elsewhere could offer betting value.
Atletico Madrid have been transformed over the last five years by Diego Simeone and again made the Champions League final last season.
This summer the capital city side have ensured that their top stars will stay at the Vicente Calderon, while a number of clever acquisitions may well have flown under the mainstream focus to some degree.
With a venerable defence, Antoine Griezmann renewing his contract and the additions of Kevin Gameiro and Nicolas Gaitan, Atletico look like a daunting proposition in 2016-17.
For Atleti to upset the odds and win La Liga, odds of 10/1 from Bet 365 look like a sensible wager.
Dortmund to win Bundesliga
Bayern Munich have had it all their own way over the last number of seasons in Germany, with it being a matter of when, rather than if, the Bavarian giants claimed the Bundesliga title.
However, the departure of Pep Guardiola this summer means that there is a period of transition at the Allianz Arena that the rest of the German top flight will look to take advantage of.
Borussia Dortmund remain Bayern’s biggest threat and the Signal Iduna Park outfit’s squad is blessed with talent all over the pitch.
The summer additions of Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle in particular give coach Thomas Tuchel more stars in a team that can beat anyone in Europe on their day.
Although Bayern are rightly the favourites for the 2016-17 Bundesliga, Dortmund could give a shrewd punter a nice return at odds of 7/1 with Sky Bet.