Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Sport. Pictured: France National Team celebrating the 2018 World Cup win
- 2018 was the Year of the Favorite for trophy winners, but many of the runners-up were big underdogs, including the World Cup Final between France and Croatia.
- We've recapped the major tournaments and leagues around the world from 2018 and looked ahead to 2019 for the next bets to make.
Now that we’re into 2019, it’s time to look back at 2018, which was a memorable year for soccer fans and bettors, highlighted by a fantastic World Cup in Russia.
Here’s a look at the title winners and how the betting unfolded for major tournaments and leagues around the world.
2018 World Cup – France (+750)
France won their second-ever World Cup, beating Croatia, 5-2, in the highest-scoring final since 1966. They were one of the favorites to hoist the trophy from start to finish.
Croatia were the surprise runners-up, led by midfielder Luka Modric. He earned Most Outstanding Player and was listed at 100-1 odds before the tournament to win the award. He also won the 2018 Ballon d’Or despite being a 150-1 longshot.
The entire World Cup offered plenty of drama, starting on Day 1 with host Russia’s impressive blowout win against Saudi Arabia. Along the way, Germany suffered the tournament’s two biggest upsets, Argentina and Brazil went down to European foes, and underdogs Croatia nearly won it all.
The next World Cup is in 2022 and is still scheduled to take place in Qatar.
2017-18 Champions League – Real Madrid (+450)
It was an incredible 2017-18 Champions League which ended with another Real Madrid victory, 3-1, over Liverpool. Real Madrid were one of the favorites throughout the tourney while Liverpool reached as high as +3500 to win the title.
The final was scoreless at halftime, but after the teams traded goals early in the second half, Gareth Bale stole the show with this stunning game-winner.
It was a crazy quarterfinal round with a number of underdog victories. Roma advanced by overturning a 4-1 first leg deficit and beating Barcelona, 3-0, in the second leg. Real Madrid, eventual winners, nearly blew a three-goal cushion against Juventus but survived to advance. Liverpool crushed Manchester City, 5-1 on aggregate, and made a statement to the world.
The semifinals were even more wild with Liverpool advancing past Roma, 7-6 on aggregate. Liverpool comfortably won the first leg at home, 5-2, but nearly blew it in the second leg, scraping through with a 4-2 loss.
Real Madrid were in strong shape after their first leg, too, winning 2-1 at Bayern Munich then barely hanging on for a 2-2 draw in the second leg. Despite winning another Champions League title, manager Zinedine Zidane parted ways with the club following the season.
The 2018-19 Champions League is currently in the Round of 16 stage with a number of juicy matchups including PSG-Manchester United, Liverpool-Bayern Munich, Tottenham-Dortmund and Atletico Madrid-Juventus.
2017-18 Premier League – Manchester City (+240)
Manchester City won their third Premier League title in seven seasons, setting numerous records along the way.
Over the course of the season, road teams were extremely poor and lost bettors 59 units, but home teams (+12 units) and draws (+21 units) were both profitable.
The biggest upset of the 2017-18 season was West Brom (+1700) at Manchester United on April 15th. That had been the biggest upset we’d ever tracked in the EPL before being topped this season with Crystal Palace (+1870) beating Manchester City on December 22nd.
In 2018-19, Liverpool have a chance to win their first top flight title in 30 years and currently hold a seven-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table.
Other Winners Around the World
Europa League: Atletico Madrid (+400), 3rd Europa Lg title
Italy: Juventus (-160), 37th Serie A title
Spain: Barcelona (+100), 25th La Liga title
Germany: Bayern Munich (-600), 27th Bundesliga title
France: PSG (-300), 7th Ligue 1 title
Netherlands: PSV (+125), 24th league title
Portugal: Porto (-150), 28th league title
USA/Canada: Atlanta United (+400), 1st MLS title
Looking ahead to 2019…
Jan 5 to Feb 1 – Asian Cup
March 2 – MLS Season Openers
May 12 – England Premier League Final Day
May 18 – Germany Bundesliga Final Day
May 26 – Spain La Liga and Italy Serie A Final Day
May 29 – Europa League Final
June 1 – Champions League Final
June 5 to June 9 – UEFA Nations League Semifinal and Final
June 7 to July 9 – Women’s World Cup
June 14 to July 7 – Copa America
June 15 to July 7 – CONCACAF Gold Cup
June 15 to July 19 – African Cup of Nations
Some quick predictions for the new year: Manchester City will edge out Liverpool by 1 point for the EPL title…Barcelona will hold on to win Spain’s La Liga…Bayern Munich will come back to win the Bundesliga over Dortmund…Juventus and PSG will go on to win Serie A and Ligue 1, respectively….Barcelona will win the Champions League…Netherlands or USA will win the Women’s World Cup.