For any of us who like to have a flutter on the football, choosing which teams or markets to back can often be quite tricky. The level of unpredictability is what makes the sport so special, because on their day, even the lowliest minnows and underdogs can score surprise victories against the most powerful teams.
With that in mind, we take a look at teams who could ruffle more than a few feathers this season throughout the most popular leagues in European football.
Early form amongst the English elite would suggest that the habitual favourites will be fighting for the Premier League title – however, there’s one team enjoying an early flourish amongst the top four. Watford have won each of their opening four games, the latest of which was an impressive 2-1 victory against Tottenham, placing them as one of only three teams on maximum points so far, alongside Liverpool and Chelsea.
Spanish coach Javi Gracia certainly seems to have found the winning formula but isn’t afraid to tinker tactically when needed, giving Watford a flexibility that could see them finish amongst the European positions. Despite being priced as a 12/1 outsider in the football betting odds for a top six position with bet365, and an even lengthier 40/1 for a top-four spot, the Hornets might just be the surprise package of the 2018-19 Premier League season.
There are few surprises in the Spanish top flight, with Barcelona and Real Madrid the only teams boasting a perfect record after the opening three games of the season, suggesting that once again they will be the duopoly dominating La Liga yet again. Atletico Madrid, considered by many as the next best contenders, have made a sluggish start by comparison, winning, drawing and losing in their opening three matches.
Jostling for European positions behind Barcelona and Real Madrid looks set to be wide open this season, although Atletico Madrid at 1/8 are reckoned as certainties to finish in the top four, closely followed by 5/2 odds on both Valencia and Sevilla being in the mix. However, one of the more interesting bets might be 14/1 shot Real Betis, having reinforced well during the summer with the aim of pushing for a Champions League spot, along with evergreen veteran Joaquin in superb form and at 37, showing no signs of slowing down.
The biggest story of the summer in Italian football was Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus from Real Madrid. As they have won the last seven consecutive Serie A titles, few are looking beyond Madrid to achieve another Scudetto with the Portuguese star. Nevertheless, Carlo Ancelotti and Napoli will be battling and eager to push them all the way to the final games of the season, hoping to guide the club to a first title triumph since the 1989-90 season when Diego Maradona dazzled.
In terms of the title race, few surprises are expected, but after failing to finish in the top for five straight seasons, 16/1 odds on AC Milan doing so looks a decent bet this time around. Led by former defensive midfield general Gennaro Gattuso, renowned throughout an illustrious playing career for his competitive nature and leadership qualities, if anyone can get this sleeping giant back in the Champions League, he’s most certainly the right man for the job.