European Soccer Betting Preview, February 15-18: Real Madrid Making a Run for La Liga Supremacy
Getty Images. Pictured: Real Madrid celebrating a goal vs. Ajax in the Champions League Round of 16
- A full weekend of European soccer awaits, and the title battles in Spain's La Liga and Germany's Bundesliga are really heating up.
- Dortmund's lead over Bayern Munich is down to just five points in the Bundesliga, and Barcelona's lead over Real Madrid has been cut to six points in La Liga.
- I've taken a look at the betting market for all the major leagues around Europe this weekend and highlighted where the early line movement has been.
There was no shortage of upsets around Europe last weekend, and the biggest one occurred in the Netherlands Eredivisie, shaking things up in the title race.
Biggest upsets around Europe this weekend
🇳🇱 Heracles (+1300) vs. Ajax
🇮🇹 Frosinone (+610) at Sampdoria
🇫🇷 Nice (+500) vs. Lyon
🇩🇪 Hertha Berlin (+490) at Monchengladbach
🇬🇧 Cardiff (+410) at Southampton
— Action Network Soccer (@ActionNetSoccer) February 10, 2019
Ajax did bounce back nicely against Real Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg, but ultimately dropped that match at home, 2-1.
In other action, Juventus are running away with Italy’s Serie A, but Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga have much closer races.
Here’s a look at how the betting market is shaping up for all the top leagues around Europe.
Spain La Liga
Real Madrid were the big winners in Spain last weekend as they beat Atletico Madrid, 3-1, to gain two points on their other rivals, Barcelona, at the top of the table. The gap has now been narrowed to just six points with 15 matches remaining.
Toward the bottom of the table, Huesca earned another win as +360 underdogs to give them a realistic chance of surviving another season. They’re now just six points behind both Celta Vigo and Girona in the race against relegation.
Barcelona (-630) and Real Madrid (-510) are mammoth home favorites this weekend and oddsmakers don’t expect either to slip up. However, Barcelona will be without midfielder Arthur, and they may be cautious with the rest of the squad since a Champions League match against Lyon looms on Tuesday.
Another thing to keep in mind for the weekend is that several teams will be playing Europa League matches on Thursday: Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Real Betis. Injuries and/or lineup changes could easily sway the odds, so bettors will need to be aware of what happens in those games.
So far, clubs seeing the most line movement in their favor have been Atletico Madrid (-140), Atletico Bilbao (+150) and Leganes (+330).
Italy Serie A
After slipping up two weeks ago, Juventus have already retained their 11-point lead at the top of Serie A. Napoli don’t appear likely to make up any ground this weekend, either, as Juventus are listed as considerable -785 favorites against Frosinone.
The bad news continues for Napoli as all-time leading scorer Marek Hamsik is officially off to China to play for Dalian Yifang. Bettors may also want to be careful with the top clubs since Napoli, Inter Milan and Lazio all play Europa League matches on Thursday (Feb. 14).
The biggest line moves of the weekend have actually been toward Sassuolo (+170), Genoa (+275), Sampdoria (+560) and Torino (+760), so clearly sharp bettors are banking on a Europa League hangover for clubs like Napoli and Lazio.
The Bundesliga hardly ever disappoints, and last weekend was filled with plenty of drama as Dortmund blew a 3-0 lead at home against Hoffenheim.
Incredibly, Dortmund and Hoffenheim draw 3-3 after Dortmund led 3-0.
Draw closed +330 with less than 10% of bets.pic.twitter.com/dQC8iZDhsP
— Action Network Soccer (@ActionNetSoccer) February 9, 2019
Bayern Munich were ecstatic with that result since it brought them to within five points of first place. Dortmund are still the slight favorites to win the league at -120 odds but Bayern are right behind at +100.
This weekend is full of big favorites with seven clubs listed at -130 or higher on the moneyline, led by Bayern (-360), Leverkusen (-245) and Dortmund (-240). The league tends to be noted for its goal-scoring and exciting gameplay, and six of the 10 matches this weekend have an over/under listed of three goals or higher.
The biggest line shifts have been toward Wolfsburg (-140), RB Leipzig (-150) and Freiburg (+345). As of now, I tend to agree with all three of those market movers.
Other leagues around Europe
France Ligue 1: PSG are back to winning ways and their lead in France’s Ligue 1 is up to 10 points with two games in hand on the rest of the league.
PSG also have an absurd +55 goal differential in domestic play, and are coming off a decisive 2-0 win at Manchester United in the Champions League. This weekend poses a bit of a problem as they’re just -155 at St. Etienne, but the lead at the top of the league appears to be very safe.
Netherlands Eredivisie: The top teams struggled last weekend with Ajax losing at Heracles, 1-0, and PSV drawing at Utrecht, 2-2.
PSV did manage to extend the lead at the top of the table to six points over Ajax with 13 matches remaining, and are now -250 favorites to win the title. Ajax are currently available at +200 odds but will need plenty of help the rest of the way.
For this weekend’s matchups, Ajax are enormous -2500 favorites at Breda, the worst club in Netherlands, while PSV are listed -275 at Heerenveen.
Portugal Primeira Liga: Another disappointing draw from FC Porto last week means the gap has been narrowed to just one point over Benfica, a club that won their match 10-0 over the weekend. There are now three teams within two points at the top of the Primeira Liga: Porto (51), Benfica (50) and Braga (49).
We’ll likely see more shifting after this weekend since Braga (+225) have a difficult match at Sporting Lisbon (+120). Porto (-765) and Benfica (-255) are both big favorites to win their matches.
Want live updates of the action all weekend? Be sure to follow @actionnetsoccer on Twitter for all the latest soccer betting news around the market.