UEFA Champions League

Champions League Final Betting: Previous finals lead us to a 12/1 shot

Julian Brandt, Dortmund
Staying on Brandt

Ste Tudor prepares for the worst this weekend, using past Champions League finals as his betting guide with not much to shout about in recent years...

After four successive 1-0 finals we're long overdue a continental cracker at Wembley this Saturday.

Thankfully, in Vinicius Jr, and Jadon Sancho, and Jude Bellingham, and Julian Brandt there is ample flair to conjure up something special, while there is an intriguing contrast in styles to consider too.

But we've said this before, and ended up disappointed.

Perhaps though, it's not the player's fault. Perhaps the fixture is to blame, one that has developed its own distinctive traits down the years such is its scale and individuality.

Indeed, by studying the patterns from previous finals we can better understand what potentially awaits us this weekend
Just not another 1-0, that's all we ask.

First goal wins

Around the turn of the century an odd habit formed, that of teams scoring first in a Champions League final then going on to lose the contest.

Bayern famously did this in Fergie-time. AC Milan surrendered a three-goal advantage in Istanbul. A year later, Arsenal dared to score first against Barcelona.

Since then though finals have reverted to the norm, and then some.

Every team that has gone in front in the last decade has ultimately lifted the jug-eared trophy, a fact underpinned by the last five finals ending to nil.

Even if we include the comebacks mentioned above in the data we find that across the last 25 finals first-goal winners exceeds the mean average of this happening.

Typically, 63% of sides who notch first end up victorious. Here it's 75%, and even if extra-time and penalties skews the numbers somewhat that remains a persuasive figure.

Whoever takes the lead this Saturday will prevail three times out of four.

So how does that tie in with Los Blancos vs Die Schwarzgelben this Saturday?

Well, firstly it's a consideration for the in-play markets, but this historical trend also lends itself to the half time/full time options, a market that tends to offer up decent value.

Real Madrid have been magnificent front-runners in 2023/24, going ahead 42 times across all comps and not losing once.

Moreover, 28.8% of their goals since the start of February have been converted inside 25 minutes and in six of their 12 Champions League ties this term they have scored in both halves.

History casts a doubt

For the above bet to come in of course it is necessary for Real to score before the break and in this regard admittedly history does cast some doubt. Recent history certainly does with the last six finals only heralding two first half goals.

Across the last 25 finals meanwhile a slender 24 first-half goals have been converted while all told this marquee fixture since 1999 has produced a mere 2.6 goals per 90 (with three more scored in extra-time).

To put that average in context only one Premier League club was responsible for fewer goals per game in 2023/24. That was Everton.
In the over/under market it is definitely best to lean towards the latter.

Still, there have been a sufficient amount of 3-0s and 3-1s down the years to make us wary of committing to a low-scoring affair.

What is more convincing is that 40% of finals in the last 25 years have been won to nil while Real kept clean sheets in 55% of their La Liga outings in 2023/24.

Fair play

Real and Dortmund both boast a perfectly reasonable disciplinary record this term, as is usually the case.

Carlo Ancelotti's men picked up 1.7 yellows per 90 in La Liga. Edin Terzic's side picked up 1.5 per 90 in the Bundesliga.


Furthermore, the official in charge this weekend, Slovenia's Slavko Vinčić, is known for his moderate reffing. In his only other big European final - Frankfurt v Rangers in 2022 - he kept the booking count down to two despite the game being tight and tense, going all the way to pens.

This theme can be extended to Champions League finals down the years where only three players have ever been sent off. Since 1999 there has been an average of 3.8 yellows per final - in regulation time - and even that decidedly ordinary figure comes with a significant caveat.

It's that the amount is skewed by two finals involving Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, feisty feuds that produced a crazy 20 cautions combined.

Atletico will be nowhere to be seen at Wembley.

Case for defence

Breaking down the various goal-scorers since 1999, and their positions, we find that centre-forwards have bagged a standard number with 34.3% of Champions League final goals in that period scored by frontmen. In FA Cup finals it is 34.4%.

The same applies to wingers and attacking midfielders.

At the back though, defenders have come to the fore more often in the most prestigious club contest of them all. It's only an edge, but edges matter.

Over the last quarter of a century, 11.9% of Champions League final goals have been converted by centre-backs and full-backs. In the FA Cup that diminishes to 8.6%. In Europa League finals it's 7.1%.

This presents us with an opportunity to go long, especially when the narrative fits as it does in this instance. Momentous occasions can see main goal sources tactically nullified and it's not unknown for a set-piece or marauding full-back to be needed to disrupt two steadfast game-plans.

This leads us to Dani Carvajal who has scored one in eight for Los Blancos in 2023/24, a career-best return.

Now read Andy Schooler's guide to Euro 2024 betting here!

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