Betting public backs favorites in soccer tourneys

As the continental summer soccer tournaments enter their respective final fours, the betting public will largely be backing the favorites, several of whom have held that status throughout the competitions.

Spain enter their Tuesday showdown with France as favorites at +170 on the three-way moneyline and -125 to advance, per ESPN BET odds. At most sportsbooks across the American marketplace, La Roja are getting the majority of tickets and handle to take down Les Bleus, including 75% of the bets and 81% of the money at ESPN BET.

Similarly, England, who are -135 to qualify and +160 on the three-way for their matchup with the Netherlands, have attracted most of the public money at sportsbooks, taking 57% of tickets and 70% of handle to make it to the Euro 2024 Final at ESPN BET — though the book also reports that the highest handle (40%) on the three-way line is for a draw at +180.

England and Spain were the two biggest favorites, respectively, to win the entire tournament entering the knockout rounds, but those positions have now flipped, with Spain the futures favorites at +195 and England taking on the second-favorite role at +225. France isn’t far behind at +275, while the Netherlands hold the longest odds at +450.

It’s the opposite situation at Copa América, as Argentina have seen their chances to lift the trophy shorten to odds-on status (-120) after being favorites from the beginning and through the group stage. Next comes Uruguay (+275) and Colombia (+350), who will go head-to-head Wednesday night, with Canada very much taking up the rear at 25-1 odds to win the tournament.

The Canadians will battle the reigning World Cup champions as enormous underdogs Tuesday night, showing +400 to advance and +800 on the three-way moneyline at ESPN BET. As such, there isn’t a lot of betting interest to step in front of the Argentinians, who have north of 60% of the betting handle at every sportsbook polled, including 82% on the three-way (-310) and 97% to qualify (-600) at ESPN BET.

Uruguay and Colombia’s Wednesday night contest is where things get closer. The two South American sides each show -110 odds to advance, with the Colombians currently showing a slight edge as +175 favorites to Uruguay’s +180 odds.

While Los Cafeteros are underdogs to La Celeste in the future odds, they are likely taking on marginal favorite status in the head-to-head matchup due to action in their favor: ESPN BET, DraftKings and FanDuel all report larger ticket and handle percentages on Colombia for the three-way line.

In general, Euro and Copa have been great betting draws for sportsbooks during a time of the sports calendar that is usually slower.

“On many days, top individual soccer games are among our most popular events in terms of handle, including beating out most MLB games,” ESPN BET head of sportsbook Patrick Jay told ESPN via email. “The time difference from Europe creates multiple game windows throughout each day, allowing us to treat every match like a standalone, primetime event with an expansive offering.”

The sportsbook also notes that the quarterfinal match between Portugal and France was its most popular soccer event of the year by handle and that Euro matches account for seven of the 10 most popular soccer events of the year.

While both tournaments have been good, there’s a “noticeable” handle gap between Euro and Copa, per BetMGM trader Seamus Magee, who offers up “the level of teams playing and Copa América competing with baseball at night” as possible reasons why.

Still, it’s a good warmup for the sportsbooks and the betting public, who will be eagerly anticipating the biggest soccer competition in the world coming to North American soil in two years.

“The write on it has been really, really good,” says DraftKings director of sportsbooks Johnny Avello. “It’s not World Cup-ish, but it’s not far from it.”