Tottenham Hotspurs. Pictured: Mauricio Pochettino
- For the first time in at least a decade, all five major European soccer leagues have odds-on favorites heading into the new season.
- While Manchester City is a deserved favorite in the Premier League, Tottenham (+1850) shouldn't be overlooked in the title race.
- Atletico Madrid are also a decent value bet as they could give Barcelona and Real Madrid a run for their money in La Liga.
Manchester City are -139 to win the 2018-19 Premier League title. If City stay at minus-money, it will be the first time in at least the past decade that England’s top flight will enter play with an odds-on favorite.
It would also mean that all five of Europe’s “major” leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1) have an odds-on favorite entering the season. French giants Paris Saint-Germain are -700 (~87.5% implied probability) to win Ligue 1, making them the biggest favorite of the bunch. Bayern Munich are not far behind at -675 (~87.1%) to win their seventh Bundesliga in a row. Juventus are -225 (~69.2%) to capture an eighth straight Scudetto in Serie A, while Barcelona are -140 (~58.3%) to win La Liga.
Nothing like a bunch of big favorites to get you excited for the upcoming season, right? While it’s definitely possible that all five trophies end up in the hands of the preseason favorites, there are a pair of teams further down the charts that warrant some consideration.
All odds from Bookmaker, current as of July 29.
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Tottenham Hotspur (+1845)
Spurs are a rarity in today’s game. The squad’s core remains intact season after season, and they seem committed to seeing this thing out under Mauricio Pochettino, the third-longest-tenured manager in the Premiership.
In addition to their cohesion and harmony, Spurs have talent up and down their lineup. Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli give them a ton of flair, and their backline is in good hands with Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose, even if they do seem set to lose centerback Toby Alderweireld to Manchester United.
There are four teams with shorter odds than Tottenham: City, Liverpool (+360), Manchester United (+780) and Chelsea (+1150). City could very well run away with the league again, but we’re not looking to lay money for a season-long bet; plus, their goal will be to win the Champions League. While Liverpool look like City’s best competition, there are still question marks surrounding their defense, and those odds are way too short to get involved.
United, meanwhile, will have to deal with the Jose Mourinho circus, as the Portuguese manager has spent the offseason complaining about his team. Even if Mourinho was not being a weirdo, there’s not much to separate these two teams, and I’d even say that Spurs are a better team. Last year, Tottenham finished with 76.02 expected points, while United finished with 62.33.
Arsenal (+2610) and Chelsea will also be gunning for a top-four finish, but both are dealing with major changes. The former parted ways with Arsene Wenger, who had been running the show at Arsenal for 22 seasons, and the latter also hired a new manager and may lose their best player (Eden Hazard) and goalkeeper (Thibaut Courtois) before the season starts.
Spurs have finished no worse than third over the past three seasons, and they should be right in the thick of things again in 2018-19. I think Spurs are level-pegging with Liverpool, Chelsea and United but are listed at much longer odds, providing some value.
This could be the season that Tottenham get it over the line. And even if they don’t, you should still get a good run for your money at these odds.
Atletico Madrid (+1315)
La Liga will undoubtedly have a different look and feel to it with Cristiano Ronaldo departing for Juventus. Ronaldo’s departure will likely have a bigger impact off the field than on it, but it still should shake things up in Spain.
Last year, Barcelona ran away with La Liga, and while there were blips of a title race between Barca and Atletico Madrid, it was pretty clear from the beginning that Lionel Messi and Co. were going to hoist the trophy. In the end, the Catalans finished 14 points ahead of Atleti, who impressively finished second in the league while also lifting the Europa League trophy.
Like Spurs, Atletico Madrid are a team that has bought into the vision of their manager, Diego Simeone. The fiery Argentine has turned Atleti into one of the best defensive clubs of this era, and with Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa leading the charge up front, they have a clear formula — and it works.
Real Madrid will have a new manager after Zinedine Zidane left the club following a third Champions League title in three seasons. With Zidane and Ronaldo out, the club will have a different feel under Julen Lopetegui. There’s still a wealth of talent at the Bernabeu, but these Galaticos aren’t invincible, as they showed in a disappointing domestic campaign last season.
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Barcelona will still have Messi running the show, and that makes them the team to beat in La Liga. They won’t have Andres Iniesta, however, and he leaves a big hole in the middle of the park. With Messi and Luis Suarez getting up there in age, there are legitimate questions to be asked of Barcelona heading into the new campaign.
It isn’t often you fancy your chances to take on Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Atletico have a real opportunity to upset the odds in Spain.