UEFA Cup Online Betting
The UEFA Cup, which replaced the Inter-City Fairs Cup in 1971 and incorporated the Cup Winners' Cup in 1999, is the second most prestigious European club competition, following the Champion's League. Qualification for the UEFA Cup, due to be rebranded the UEFA Europa League as of 2009, is based on clubs' performance in domestic league and cup competitions.
The UEFA Cup commences with qualifying rounds in July and August. Qualifiers from the lower ranked UEFA associations enter the competition at the first qualifying round, along with 3 "Fair Play" qualifiers. First qualifying round survivors are joined in the second qualifying round by clubs from associations ranked 9-18 by UEFA, along with 11 UEFA Intertoto Cup Winners. Qualifying round winners are joined in the first round proper by the representatives of the top 13 UEFA-ranked associations, along with 3rd qualifying round losers from the Champions' League, totalling 80 sides. The 40 survivors progress to a groups phase, consisting of 8 groups of 5 teams. The top 3 sides from each group progress to the knockout phase, where they are joined by the 8 3rd-placed teams from the Champions' League group stages. Following a winter break, the knockout stages consist of ties over two legs, leading to a one-off final at a neutral venue.
Premier League Qualification
The 5th-placed team in the Premiership automatically qualifies for the UEFA Cup. The sixth and seventh placed teams may also qualify, dependent on the result of the FA and Carling Cups. If the FA Cup winners qualify for the Champions' League, the FA Cup runners-up receive a UEFA Cup place. If the runners-up are also Champions' League qualifiers, the UEFA Cup place is awarded to the next-highest placed league finisher not already qualified for Europe. If the Carling Cup is won by a team that has already qualified for Europe, the UEFA Cup place goes to the next highest-placed team in the League.
British Clubs in the UEFA Cup
English teams have performed well in the UEFA Cup, winning the trophy of 6 occasions and finishing runners-up on 4 occasions, bettered only by Italy and Germany. Liverpool have been the most successful English side, winning the UEFA Cup in 1973, 1976 and 2001. Their 1973 success is notable for their scoring 17 goals, and their opponents, German side Borussia Monchengladbach 34 in 6 matches en route to the final. Having defeated Spurs after extra time in the semi-final, the Reds beat Monchengladbach 3-0 at Anfield, with 2 successful strikes from Kevin Keegan in the 21st and 32nd minutes, along with centre- back Larry Lloyd's 61st minute goal sufficient to negate a 2-0 loss in Germany. In 1976, The Reds saw off Barcelona in the semi-final before defeating Brugge 4-3 in the two-legged final. Spurs won the inaugural UEFA Cup, beating IBK Keflavik 15-1 on aggregate on route to the final. In the two-legged final, against Wolves, a second-half brace from Martin Chivers at Molineux, along with a first-half strike from Alan Mullery, at White Hart Lane was enough to secure a 3-2 triumph for the London side. Spurs were also UEFA Cup runners-up to Feyenoord in 1973-74, losing 4-2 on aggregate, before a further success in 1983-84, with a penalty shootout win over Anderlecht. The 2001-02 Dortmund final is renowned as one of the greatest finals in UEFA Cup history. Spanish side, Deportivo Alaves came from behind 4 times, levelling at 4-4 2 minutes from time. The Reds eventually prevailed by virtue of a "golden goal", with Delfi Geli heading a Gary McAllister set-piece into his own net, giving the Anfield side their first European success in 17 years. Ipswich defied their UEFA Cup betting odds by lifting the trophy, under the guidance of Bobby Robson, in 1980-81. A 3-0 win at Portman Road was enough to offset a 4-2 away loss to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, giving the Tractor Bys their only recent European success.
A Scottish club has yet to lift the trophy, but teams from north of the border have finished runners-up on 3 occasions. Glasgow Rangers have come closest in recent years, losing 2-0 in the 2007-08 final to Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia. Celtic have also come close in recent years, only losing out to an extra-time goal in a 3-2 defeat by FC Porto in 2002-03. Dundee excelled themselves in1986-87, beating Barcelona, both home and away, before succumbing 2-1 on aggregate in the final.
UEFA Cup Betting Markets
The UEFA Cup betting market regarding the outright winners generally centres around teams from the most successful nation, which is hardly any great surprise, considering that clubs from only 10 countries have ever won the UEFA Cup. Teams from Italy, Germany, England and Spain tend to dominate the UEFA Cup betting market, which is hardly unjustified, given their 26 successes in the competition. Finding a value bet in the UEFA Cup betting market is dependent on an in-depth knowledge of the sides involved, perhaps a lesser-known German or Dutch side, which may be available at odds in excess of their winning chance. In the early stages of UEFA Cup betting, punters should be a little circumspect, as the Champions' League "outcasts" have yet to be determined. Often, a small "saver" on "any Champions' League side," at 4/1 or so may be advisable.
Most online layers offer a "Top 2" UEFA Cup betting market, in lieu of each-way betting. The same essential principles apply as to the outright UEFA Cup betting, insofar as little value is likely to be found, unless in-depth study happens to reveal a "wrong 'un" or "ringer," which the bookmakers have badly mispriced (a highly unlikely occurrence).
UEFA Cup betting at the group stage also offers little value for the punter. Despite groups of 5 teams, the top two can usually be taken as read. The only value left tends to be in finding a less than obvious 3rd-placed team to qualify, usually notoriously difficult to find. For punters wishing to bet on the group stages, the only viable option appears to be multiple bets on the obvious qualifiers from each group.
UEFA Cup betting on the "Golden Boot" winner inevitably offers some fancy prices, especially if ignoring the obvious, but is a notoriously difficult bet on which to collect.