Soccer is possibly the most popular sport in the world and is growing in North America. That’s why the Unibet boffins who run our sportsbook have created a huge soccer betting hub so you can bet on the sport whenever and wherever you like.
Soccer — known as football elsewhere in the world — is vastly popular across Europe, Africa, South America and Australasia. Women’s soccer is also huge in Canada and the USA, with the men’s version of the game slowly catching up.
Because soccer is a worldwide sport there is always a game to bet on somewhere! And here at Unibet we offer odds on thousands of matches each week — so you won’t miss any of the action.
If you’re new to soccer then online betting on the sport may seem daunting. But this guide will take you through the rules of soccer, the biggest teams and leagues, and how to bet on soccer effectively. If you prefer basketball you can read our NBA betting guide.
You’ll discover where to follow the best games on the planet each week, how to bet on the World Cup and even make season-long combination bets across the biggest leagues in Europe.
Basic rules of soccer
The overall aim of soccer is to score more goals than the other team. And the rules of soccer are very easy. Two teams of 11 players (including one goalkeeper) kick a ball around on a grass pitch. There are goals at each end of the pitch, protected by a team’s goalkeeper. The aim is to kick or head the ball into the opposition team’s goal without using your hands or arms.
Matches are played over two 45-minute halves and teams can make three substitutions per game. Draws are commonplace in soccer but certain tournaments enter knockout stages where a winner must be found. In this instance, games can be played for a further 30 minutes and, if it’s still a draw, will be decided by a penalty shootout.
Almost every country in the world has a domestic soccer league, with clubs competing annually for the title. England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy boast what are widely regarded as the five best domestic leagues in the world. They are sometimes referred to as the Big Five.
Brazil and Argentina both have successful soccer leagues, while China, Australia and the USA all have burgeoning domestic competitions.
Every four years FIFA — the body that runs world soccer — stages a World Cup, where international teams compete. The World Cup has expanded over the years and there are plans in place to make it a 48-team tournament in the near future.
Soccer betting tips and markets
There are thousands of soccer matches taking place each week and Unibet offers hundreds of markets on the biggest games. From the Ecuadorian first division to the World Cup, there is always a soccer game taking place somewhere in the world!
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the main soccer betting markets and some tips for those who are new to the world of soccer betting.
This is the most popular form of sports betting, when you simply bet on who you think will win the game. Unlike many other North American sports, a tie can be common in soccer. Therefore, when you bet on the result of a game, you will bet on a home win (1), a draw (X) or an away win (2). This is sometimes known as a 1X2 bet.
Betting on a soccer result is very straightforward. For example, Brazil and playing Argentina in the Copa America. You back Brazil at 3.00 to win. If they win the game, you win your bet!
This is more specific but also a good way to boost your soccer betting odds. If you think you can correctly predict the final score of the game game, then this is the market for you. Here at Unibet we’ve created a score scale, so you can choose exactly the score you think the game will finish. It could be 2-1 or even 5-0, depending on what you think will happen!
The great thing about results betting in soccer is that very few goals are scored. On average, around three to four goals are scored per soccer game. So you won’t be trying to predict a high-scoring game and the odds reflect this.
This is a great way to bet on the score of a one-sided game, because the handicap will balance in unfair game. For example, USA are playing Costa Rica in a friendly. USA are 1.40 to win, making those odds not very tempting. You can use the handicap to bet on ‘USA -1.5 goals’ at odds of 3.00. This means the USA must win by two goals or more for you to win your bet!
Likewise, you could bet on Costa Rica +3.5 goals at odds of 1.89. So long as Costa Rica don’t lose by four goals or more, you win your bet.
This is an excellent way to bet on soccer if you’re a newcomer to sports betting and if you don’t support a team. You can bet on the total number of goals scored in a game. For example, you could bet on +3.5 goals being scored in a match between Napoli and Copenhagen. If there are four goals or more scored, you win your bet.
You can also bet on individual players scoring over/under a certain number of goals in a game! As well as teams recording over/under a certain amount of corners, free-kicks and yellow cards.
Goalscorer betting in soccer
This is a big soccer betting market and is focused on the players who score goals. Usually the strikers are the stars of the team who score the most goals. They will have low odds to score in a game, while a defender is likely to have higher odds. You can also bet on players to score in the most goals in tournaments and across seasons.
Best soccer leagues to bet on
The Premier League is possibly the most exciting domestic soccer league on the planet. There are 20 English clubs in the division and they compete for the domestic championship. The Premier League is very competitive, so teams at the bottom of the league have a chance of beating those at the top. This can be great if you’re betting on an upset in the soccer odds! For example, you could bet on Newcastle to beat Arsenal at 3.00 and stand a genuine chance of it happening.
Spain’s La Liga is also a strong league but is dominated but three clubs. That’s why many fans like to bet on Spanish teams in the Champions League instead.
Italy, Germany and France all have their big teams and smaller ones, and their divisions are less competitive than the Premier League. But they nevertheless possess some of the best talents in world soccer and entertain millions of fans each week.
Soccer specials betting
For many people soccer is not just a sport, it’s a way of life. And that means fans like to bet on other things that are not directly related to the 90 minutes on the pitch!
Just like in the NBA or MLB, you can bet on the Most Valuable Player in soccer each year. This is called the Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) and is awarded to the best player in the world that year.
You can also bet soccer transfers. Players are bought and sold in soccer much like in a free market, instead of the franchise system used by many North American sports leagues. It means the best players in the world can move between big clubs — and some of the transfers are very controversial!
Managers are the men and women who are in charge of a team and you can also bet on them too. During the summer many European teams seek new managers and that means there is always someone being linked to a club.
Follow soccer in Canada
Following soccer in Canada couldn’t be easier than with Unibet. That’s because we offer In Play betting odds on loads of matches live and throughout the day. Most of the big soccer leagues are in Europe and because of the time difference it means you can follow the Premier League, Serie A and other leagues in the middle of the day!
The MLS and Canadian Soccer League also play matches at good times for soccer betting fans in North America, as are the Brazilian and Argentine domestic divisions.
Major League Soccer was established in 1996 and features teams from the USA and Canada. Toronto FC were the first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup in 2017. Teams also compete in the Canadian Cup — a knockout competition for clubs based solely in Canada.