Football Betting

Ben Gray: Predicting the 24 winners of the 24 biggest trophies up for grabs in 2024


Happy New Year one and all, and the start of a new year brings with it new optimism for all football supporters, well most anyway.

2024 will see massive changes to the football landscape, with UEFA club competitions being expanded from next season, while the FIFA Intercontinental Cup will launch later in the year, I know we’re all excited about that.

Meanwhile, all across Europe, there are title races in most major leagues, while the fights to win the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League seems wide-open.

On the international scene, the Africa Cup of Nations and AFC Asia Cup get underway in mid-January, before the European Championships in Germany and the Copa América in the U.S. take place simultaneously during the summer.

So, as it’s New Year’s Day, we’re predicting the 24 winners of the 24 biggest trophies up for grabs in 2024.

Premier League

Manchester City

Manchester City have won back-to-back Premier League titles

Manchester City may be third in the Premier League right now, five points adrift league-leaders Liverpool, but they’re still strong favourites with the bookies to lift the trophy, and rightly so.

Huddersfield Town, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all won three successive top-flight titles, but no teams has ever won four on the spin, a feat Pep Guardiola’s team are chasing in 2024.

The Sky Blues do not face anyone in the top eight until the Manchester derby on 2 March, with games against Newcastle, Burnley, Brentford, Everton, Chelsea and Bournemouth on the calendar between now and then.

So, having won two out of two since returning from the FIFA Club World Cup, many would expect this to be just the start of a Man City winning streak so, if you do think they’ll retain the title, back them now before the odds plummet.

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Manchester City to retain the Premier League title - 4/6!

Back Manchester City to win an unprecedented 4th successive title

UEFA Champions League

Manchester City

It is once again the easy pick but yes, Manchester City are also favourites to retain the Champions League, and no this isn’t just because they’ll face FC København in the round of 16.

How many teams left in the competition are capable of beating Guardiola’s well-oiled machine?

Real Madrid? Sure. Bayern Munich? Perhaps. Beyond that, there’s not many other contenders and, whoever they come up against, Man City will be favoured to advance, which is a scary reality for Europe’s premier club competition.

Only eight clubs have retained the European Cup, Real Madrid (’50s & 2016-18), AC Milan (1990), Bayern Munich (1974-1976), Liverpool (1978), Ajax (1971-1973), Inter (1965), Benfica (1962) and Nottingham Forest (1980), but it would surprise no one if Man City added their names to that list on 1 June at Wembley.

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Manchester City to retain the Champions League title - 15/8!

Back Manchester City to retain the Champions League at Wembley

UEFA Europa League

Liverpool

As ever, we’re backing Sevilla to..... what?......they’re not in the Europa League this year? They finished bottom of their Champions League group? Wow. well then, it’s all to play for!

Only one club who’ve won the Europa League since 2009 are involved in this season’s knockout stages, that is Villarreal, so a competition that’s been dominated by Sevilla and Atlético Madrid in the last decade will be won by somebody else on 22 May.

Four British clubs have gone straight through to the round of 16, including 2022 runners-up Rangers, reigning Europa Conference League title holders West Ham and European debutants Brighton & Hove Albion.

That said, if Liverpool take the competition seriously, they should be firm favourites to go all the way, adding to the UEFA Cups won in 1973, 1976 and 2001, also beaten in the 2016 final, by Sevilla of course, soon after Jürgen Klopp’s arrival.

With this year’s final in Dublin, less than an hour away from Merseyside and home to a huge contingent of Reds, what a party it’ll be on the Emerald Isle of Liverpool do go all the way.

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Liverpool to win the Europa League - 9/4!

Back Liverpool to pick up a 4th UEFA Cup

UEFA Europa Conference League

Aston Villa

When it comes to winning Europa-based European competitions, Unai Emery’s pedigree is unrivalled, and we’re backing him and Aston Villa to add the Europa Conference League to their respective collections.

Emery has won four Europa Leagues, three with Sevilla and one in charge of Villarreal, also leading Arsenal to the 2019 final, while Aston Villa also have continental silverware in their cabinet.

The Claret and Blue Army were champions of Europe in 1982, beating Bayern Munich in the European Cup Final at De Kuip, before also defeating Barcelona in the subsequent UEFA Super Cup.

There are some other strong teams in this season’s Europa Conference League, including Ajax, Eintracht Frankfurt, Real Betis, Fiorentina and Lille.

That said, Aston Villa will be favourites whoever they play, so we foresee more European glory for Unai Emery at Agia Sophia Stadium in Athens on 29 May.

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Aston Villa to win the Europa Conference League- 3/1!

Back Aston Villa to win a third European honour

UEFA Women’s Champions League

Barcelona Femení

Barcelona Femení's recent record in the Women’s Champions League is ridiculous:

2019: Finalists. 2020: Semi-finalists. 2021: Winners. 2022: Finalists. 2023: Winners.

Given that the 2020 knockout phase was all one-legged, due to Covid-19, it’s six years since their most-recent two-legged defeat, coming against Olympique Lyonnais Féminin.

The Catalan club have become the leading force in the women’s game over the last five years or so while, this season so far, Jonatan Giráldez’s side have won all 16 matches, scoring 71 goals and conceding just three.

In the Champions League, it’s played four won four, scoring 21 and conceding one, so they’re going to cruise into the quarter-finals, while other traditional juggernauts left in the competition, Lyon and Chelsea, are finding things tougher.

With this season’s final at San Mamés in Bilbao, less than 350 miles from Barcelona, plenty of Barcelonistes could be there to see their team claim a third Champions League title on 25 May.

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Barcelona to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League- 8/15!

Back Barça to win a third Champions League title

FA Cup

Manchester City

After a few competitions Manchester City are unable to win, we’re back to predicting that last season’s treble winners will repeat that historic feat.

The Citizens won the FA Cup for the seventh time last June, now aiming to reach the final as holders for the very first time.

Pep Guardiola’s team host Huddersfield Town in round three on Sunday, a tie they’ll win easily, so get in early and back Man City now, because a few more favourable draws like that will see their odds drop significantly.

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Manchester City to retain the FA Cup - 5/2!

Back Manchester City to retain the FA Cup for the first time

Carabao Cup

Liverpool

Predicting the winner of this season’s Carabao Cup is a lot easier than most other competitions, given that 88 of the 92 contenders to do so have already been eliminated.

The semi-final first legs take place next mid-week, with Middlesbrough hosting Chelsea and Liverpool taking on Fulham, with the return legs scheduled for a fortnight later, both in West London.

Without wanting to write of either Boro or the Cottagers, a repeat of the 2022 final seems very likely.

Should Liverpool and Chelsea meet on 25 February, it would be the first time in the 64-year history of the EFL Cup that the same two finalists have met in the space of three seasons.

Back in 2022, the Reds prevailed in a penalty shootout at Wembley, winning 11-10 as Kepa Arrizabalaga was the only man to miss, and Jürgen Klopp’s team would go into a potential rematch as firm favourites.

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Liverpool to win the Carabao Cup- 4/5!

Back Liverpool to pick up a record-extending 10th EFL Cup

EFL Championship

Leicester City

Leicester City have been imperious in the EFL Championships so far, with their 4-1 hammering of Huddersfield on New Year’s Day making it 21 wins from 26 games for Enzo Maresca’s team, losing only three.

The Foxes are ten points clear of second-placed Ipswich and 13 points above Southampton in third, so they’ll be back in the Premier League next season, without anyone even really noticing that they’d gone.

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Leicester City to win the EFL Championship title- 1/7!

Back Leicester City to win an 8th second-tier title

FA Women’s Super League

Chelsea

This will be Emma Hayes’ final season in charge of Chelsea, 12 years after arriving at club, set to take over as United States head coach in time for the Olympics in Paris.

To date, Hayes has won seven league titles, five FA Cups and two Conti Cups, but is still determined to go out on top, with the Blues firm favourites to win a fifth FAWSL title on the spin.

Right now, Chelsea are top of the Women’s Super League table, with eight wins from ten leaving them three points clear.

Their main title rivals Arsenal have shown inconsistency, beaten by both Liverpool and Tottenham already, despite actually hammering the champions 4-1 in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Emirates in December.

Over a 22-game league season, we just can’t look past Hayes’ Blues to be hoisting aloft the trophy on 18 May once again.

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Chelsea to win the FAWSL title- 4/6!

Back Chelsea to capture a 5th successive WSL title

EFL League One

Derby County

The EFL League One title race title race is one of the toughest to call, with just seven points separating the top five.

Right now, it’s Portsmouth who lead the way, aiming to get back into the second-tier for the first time in 12 years, with Bolton Wanderers, another former Premier League stalwart, just behind.

However, despite their New Year’s Day defeat to third-placed Peterborough United, we think there’s value in backing Derby County for the title.

The Rams ended 2023 unbeaten in nine matches, winning eight of them, while manager Paul Warne has previously gained promotion to the Championship three times, all with Rotherham.

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Derby County to win the EFL League One title- 3/1!

Back Derby County to win a first third-tier title since 1957

EFL League Two

Wrexham

Wrexham’s rise in recent seasons has been nothing short of extraordinary and certainly very eventful; someone should make a documentary about it!

Last year, the Red Dragons won promotion back to the EFL after 16 seasons in non-league, but Phil Parkinson’s team are now targeting back-to-back titles.

Right now, following Monday’s 4-1 hammering of Barrow, the Town are third, level on points with Mansfield and two points adrift leaders Stockport County.

Thus, Wrexham are in a great position to go up and, with quality players in their squad such as Steven Fletcher, James McClean and, of course, super Paul Mullin, we think they could go all the way.

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Wrexham to win the EFL League Two title- 11/4!

Back Wrexham to secure back-to-back titles and promotions

La Liga

Real Madrid

From the Racecourse to the Bernabéu, Opta give Real Madrid an 86% chance of winning the La Liga title this season and, while we think that probability is rather high, Carlo Ancelotti’s team are undoubtedly favourites.

Our pre-season tip Atlético Madrid endured a nightmare end to 2023, losing three away games on the spin, meaning Diego Simeone’s side now find themselves off the pace.

Meanwhile, Barcelona are in horrendous form, with Xavi under enormous pressure, so they’re not going to retain the title.

What we hadn’t countenanced before a ball was kicked was two things: Jude Bellingham scoring in every game and Girona winning every game.

Girona, who face Atleti on Wednesday, have won 14 out of 18 so far, including hammering Barcelona 4-2 at Montjuïc in December, meaning Míchel’s men are joint-top, but this won’t last will it?

Without Karim Benzema, many expected Real Madrid to find goals hard to come by, a void Jude Bellingham has filled, scoring 17 in just 21 appearances for los Blancos, so can he keep that form going in 2024?

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Real Madrid to win La Liga- 1/4!

Back Real Madrid to win a record-extending 36th league title

Serie A

Internazionale Milano

Over in Serie A, most agree that Inter are strong favourites to win this season’s Scudetto, even if they are only two points clear.

Simone Inzaghi’s side have already beaten Milan 5-1, Roma 1-0, Napoli 3-0 and Lazio 2-0, showing their quality, but I Nerazzurri’s 1-1 draw with Genoa to conclude 2023 emphasises that they’re far from a perfect team.

One of the four games Inter have failed to win so far was against Juventus in Turin, with November’s Derby d’Italia ending 1-1.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side, banned from UEFA competition of course, only have domestic matters to focus on, so la Vecchia Signora are giving Inter a run for their money.

Nevertheless, due to their squad depth and overall quality, we foresee the leaders staying there all the way until May, becoming the first Milanese club to earn a second star on their crest.

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Inter Milan to win Serie A- 1/4

Back Internazionale Milano to win a 20th Scudetto

Bundesliga

Bayern Munich

Going into the winterpause, Bayern Munich are not top of the Bundesliga, but we still expect the Meisterschale to end up in Bavarian hands once again.

Current leaders Bayer Leverkusen have been amazing so far, unbeaten in 25 matches across all competitions, winning 13 out of 16 in the Bundesliga, their draws coming against Bayern, Dortmund and third-placed Stuttgart.

Despite this historic start from Xabi Alonso’s team, die Schwarzroten only find themselves four points clear of Bayern, who have a very winnable game in hand against relegation-threatened Union Berlin at home.

The pair clash at BayArena on 10 February, that could be crucial, but we just can’t see Leverkusen outlasting Thomas Tuchel’s team, with Bayern targeting a 12th successive Salatschüssel.

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Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga- 1/3!

Back Bayern Munich to lift a 12th successive Meisterschale

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain

Despite a slow start to the season, Paris Saint-Germain are five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and, with no obvious challengers, a tenth title in 12 seasons is heading les Rouges-et-Bleus’ way.

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PSG to win the Ligue 1 title- 1/28!

Back Paris Saint-Germain to win a record-extending 12th Ligue 1 title

Scottish Premiership

Celtic

A week ago, the odds-makers could not decide who were favourites to win this season’s Scottish Premiership, following Celtic’s slump and Rangers’ resurgence under Philippe Clement.

However, the pendulum has very much swung back towards Glasgow’s East End, following the Hoops’ 2-1 Old Firm win on Saturday, in which Paulo Bernardo and Kyōgo Furuhashi both scored stunning strikes.

The Celts have won the title in 11 of the last 12 seasons, including both of the last two, so the safe money is on Brendan Rodgers’ team going the distance again.

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Celtic to win the Premiership- 1/2!

Back Celtic to win a 3rd successive Scottish Premiership title

Primeira Liga

Porto

Of all 24 teams we’re tipping for glory in 2024, this is one of our bolder predictions, given that FC Porto are currently third in the Primeira Liga, two points behind Benfica and three adrift Sporting CP.

Sérgio Conceição’s side have lost to both their title rivals already, but still have to host the two Lisbon giants in the second half of the season, with O Clássico at Estádio do Dragão scheduled for early-March.

Porto have won the title in 2018, 2020 and 2022, and we think the Dragões can turn it round and make another even-numbered year their year again.

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Porto to win the Primeira Liga- 9/4!

Back Porto to win a 31st Primeira Liga title

Eredivisie

PSV Eindhoven

This meanwhile is not a bold prediction, given that PSV Eindhoven are ten points clear at the top of the Eredivisie, having won all 16 league games they’ve played so far, scoring 56 goals and conceding just six.

How long can their perfect record go on for?

Peter Bosz’s team have also won the Johan Cruijff Schaal, are still in the KNVB Beker and PSV are through to the Champions League round of 16 for the first time since 2016, set to face Borussia Dortmund.

So, things could literally not be going much better for Rood-witten, on course for a first league title since 2018 and, possibly, a first league-and-cup double since 2005.

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PSV Eindhoven to win the Eredivisie- 1/12!

Back PSV to win a 25th Eredivisie title

Süper Lig

Galatasaray

Over in the Süper Lig, it’s neck and neck between the big two, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, after the pair played out a goalless Intercontinental Derby at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on Christmas Eve.

The return match at the Ali Sami Yen is the penultimate fixture of the season, so how big could that be?

Both clubs have knockout European football to look forward to, with Fener through to the Europa Conference League round of 16, while Gala will face Sparta Prague in the Europa League knockouts.

It’s tough to call, but we just think Okan Buruk’s squad has more quality, including goal machine Mauro Icardi, hence why we’re backing Galatasaray to retain the title.

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Galatasaray to win the Süper Lig- 10/11!

Back Galatasaray to win a record-extending 24th Süper Lig title

MLS Cup

Inter Miami

The last of these 24 trophies to be handed out will be MLS Cup, with the new Major League Soccer season kicking off on 21 February, before the play-offs conclude in early-December.

On the face of it, backing Inter Miami, the side who finished 14th in the east and 27th overall, to win MLS Cup is a fool’s errand, until you remember that the greatest player of all-time is on their roster.

Lionel Messi made quite an impact in Miami, winning Leagues Cup within a month of his debut, before leading the Herons to the U.S. Open Cup Final, watching on injured as they were beaten by Houston Dynamo.

In the off-season, Luis Suárez has arrived from Grêmio, joining Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba in this Barça reunion party.

Of course, there’s 11 months worth of football to be played between now and MLS Cup, but it just suits the Messi story arch, David Beckham-esque if you will, that he’ll lead Miami to glory.

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Inter Miami to win MLS Cup- 3/1!

Back Inter Miami to win MLS Cup for the very first time

European Championships

France

Turning our attention to the international scene, the biggest of the four continental tournaments taking place in 2024 is the 17th edition of the European Championships in Germany.

More than a dozen teams will fancy their chances of hoisting aloft the Henri Delaunay Trophy in Berlin on 14 July, including holders Italy, 2021 runners-up England, 2016 winners Portugal and three-times champions Spain.

Germany, on home soil, could become the first nation to win four Euros, although the way Julian Nagelsmann’s team are going this does not seem likely.

So, for the fifth successive tournament, we’re backing France to go all the way and, while they’ve actually only won one of the previous four, their record isn’t half bad:

2016: Finalists. 2018: Winners. 2021: Round of 16. 2022: Finalists.

Didier Deschamps continues to have an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, including the best player at this tournament Kylian Mbappé, so we foresee les Bleus winning a first Euro since 2000.

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France to win Euro 2024- 7/2!

Back France to win a third European Championships

Copa América

Argentina

Happening at the same time stateside, will be the 48th edition of Copa América.

Back in 2021, Argentina ended their 28-year trophy draught by winning the tournament, subsequently adding the Finalísima trophy and a third World Cup to their collection.

So, we make Lionel Scaloni’s side strong favourites to retain Copa América, not least because usual rivals Brazil are in turmoil.

The Seleção have lost three-in-a-row, including a 1-0 defeat to la Albiceleste at the Maracanã in World Cup qualifying, while the future of interim manager Fernando Diniz remains up-in-the-air after Carlo Ancelotti, who the CBF had been attempted to woe for many years, signed a contract extension at Real Madrid.

Teams like the United States, Colombia and Uruguay could be dark horses, but Argentina are undoubtably the favourites to land a 16th Copa title at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami come July.

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Argentina to win Copa América 2024- 7/4!

Back Argentina to retain Copa América for the first time since 1993

Africa Cup of Nations

Egypt

Before these two big major tournaments take place in June and July, two get going as soon as next week.

The Ivory Coast plays host to the 34th Africa Cup of Nations and, as ever at AFCON, predicting a winner is extremely difficult, given that around half the 24-team field will believe they have a genuine shot at glory.

This time, we’re backing record seven-times winners Egypt to go all the way due to two words: Mohamed Salah.

To date, Salah’s international career has not lived up to that of his stellar club one, largely sitting out the 2018 World Cup due to injury, before the Pharaohs were beaten in the 2022 AFCON Final and the World Cup play-offs a month later, both times by Senegal on penalties.

Liverpool’s Egyptian king is running out of time to win international silverware but, backed by a solid supporting cast, we can see them going all the way for the first time in 14 years.

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Egypt to win Africa Cup of Nations 2024- 9/1!

Back Egypt to win a record-extending 8th AFCON

AFC Asian Cup

Japan

Happening at the same time, from mid-January to mid-February, over in Qatar is the 18th edition of the Asian Cup.

Hosts Qatar are hoping to retain their title, but it’s the team they beat in that final in Abu Dhabi five years ago who are overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy this time.

Hajime Moriyasu’s Japan have been, by far, the best team in Asia over the last 14 months, beating both Germany and Spain at the World Cup, before enjoying friendly wins over Tunisia, Canada, Peru, Türkiye and, most-famously Germany again in 2023, hammering the four-times world champions 4-1 in September.

The Samurai Blue will cruise through their group, facing Vietnam, Iraq and Indonesia, and Japan are going to take some stopping if they’re not to win a record-extending fifth Asian Cup at Lusail Stadium on 10 February.

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Japan to win Asian Cup 2024- 12/5!

Back Japan to win a record-extending 5th Asian Cup

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".