UEFA Champions League

Champions League Tips: How to bet on the knockout rounds

Champions League football
The Champions League knockout stages begin this week

As the Champions League returns Bet Angel's Peter Webb explains how you could make a profit by trading on European football's premier club competition...

  • Home advantage huge in UCL knockout rounds

  • Back unders in first legs, overs in second

  • Learn when to lay the draw

Home advantage has long been considered a crucial factor in football, with teams often performing better when playing in front of their own fans.

This advantage is even more pronounced in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, where teams compete across two-legged ties.

Stats show home advantage is key

The significance of home advantage in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League is illustrated by the following statistics:

In the competition's history, teams have won 74% of their first leg games when played at home and 60% of the second legs in knockout ties.

In the last 10 seasons, 87.5% of the teams that progressed to the quarter-finals had won their home leg (either the first or second leg).

It is rare for a team to progress to the quarter-finals after losing their home leg. The 2018/19 season proved an exception when both Manchester United and Ajax lost at home but turned things around in the second leg.

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Because of this, you may want to look for value in the To Qualify markets where most teams, that have won their first legs, will be trading odds-on to qualify.

After the first leg, the incentive for the team that plays the second leg at home will be high and the statistics be favourable to them.

You can see how the importance of home advantage is heightened in the Champions league.

The aim therefore in the first leg is to try and not lose which in turn means that defending is a priority unless there is a real mismatch in skill levels. By this stage of the competition, however, the weaker teams should have been eliminated and we should not see many mismatches.

Unders/Overs? First legs see fewer goals

Teams' determination not to lose tends to mean we see fewer goals in the first legs.

Over the past 10 seasons, the average number of goals scored in the first leg of the round of 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals combined was 2.4 goals per game.

In the same period, the average number of goals scored in the second leg of the round of 16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals combined was 2.6 goals per game.

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Aiming for trading or betting strategies that take advantage of lower scoring games - under 2.5 goals would be the obvious bet - is the most sensible path in the first leg.

This should be inverted for the second leg where there is more incentive to score and over 2.5 goals is a more likely outcome.

When to lay the draw

Lower goals also mean, by default, there is more chance of a draw in first legs. Examining the statistics confirms this to be true.

Over the past 10 seasons, approximately 24.5% of first legs ended in a draw. But only 19% of matches in the second leg ended in a draw.

Laying the draw is definitely a second leg preference.

Are away goals still important?

It used to be that, in the event of a draw across two legs, away goals counted double. The rule has been abolished, and now second legs go to extra-time and penalties if the tie is level after two legs. In the 10 years prior to the rule change, however, approximately 20% of knockout ties were decided by the away goals.

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It's too early to deduce what effect the rule change has had on how teams approach Champions League knockout ties. But the consensus view is that that home teams may be more inclined to be more aggressive in the first leg, knowing that they no longer have the advantage of the away goals rule to fall back on in the second.

Defending a lead away from home and hoping to sneak a goal on the break is more likely to be a characteristic going forward.

Each Champions League tie needs to be assessed on its own merits but, by looking at historical statistics, we can see long term biases that can shape where and how you can deploy your favourite betting or trading strategy.

Knockout competitions have clearly definable long terms trends and you should take advantage.


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