European Football 3
HOW DO I GET THE INFORMATION I NEED? Most punters will, quite rightly, want to make sure a team they are considering backing isn't missing the striker whose goals have fired them into an unusually high position in the standings, or members of a defence that has conceded an impressively low number of goals.
Getting team news isn't always easy, especially if you don't read the language of the country that that side comes from and therefore can't make use of a foreign newspaper or its website. However, many club's websites (especially the Bundesliga outfits) have an English version button.
www.germansoccer.net, which gives team news and lists the probable formations of the sides, is highly useful. The site also gives its own tips on the forthcoming games.
But beware - in contrast to the otherwise excellent info available, the betting advice given leaves plenty to be desired! A general search using the club's name will generally direct you to sites that provide team news and visiting these is recommended.
Other useful reference tools are monthly magazines World Soccer and Football Italia, both of which you should be able to find at larger newsagents. World Soccer gives a brief report on the goings-on in each country and often focuses on a player in form from that league.
For latest scores, www.livescore.com will give you up-to-the-minute info on how your bet is going. For stats, www.soccerway.com, which contains information on just about every league on the planet, is unmissable.
This site archives results going back many seasons, and breaks teams' records down into home and away league tables enabling you to form ratings for the sides.
THIS TEAM NEEDS TO WIN - BUT CAN THEY? Some punters don't like to bet on European matches near the end of the season, as they can't be sure whether teams who are sitting in mid-table, neither able to earn promotion nor threatened by relegation, will be trying to win.
However, it is at this time of year that some of the best bets can be had.
When else would you get the chance to back a mid-table team at odds-against at home to a team who are near the foot of the table? When else would exchange layers be able to get matched at odds-on when opposing a struggling club to beat a better team on their own patch?
These prices get offered only because many punters attach far too much importance to a team's desire for points, rather than their ability to get them.
There were plenty of examples of this in 2003-04. One of the most profitable sides to oppose were Celta Vigo, who were surprisingly relegated from the top flight in Spain after qualifying for the Champions League the season before.
Coral actually made their Galician neighbours Deportivo 9-5 outsiders to win a home derby with Celta on May 15, as defeat would have edged Celta closer to the drop. Depor had little to play for except regional pride, but earned a comfortable 3-0 victory nevertheless.
And Celta had already lost a remarkable ten home league games that term when Mallorca visited on the last day of the campaign, yet they were just 8-15 to beat the 7-1 islanders. Celta lost 2-1.