A Beginner's Guide to European Domestic Football Leagues

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While BookieSmash welcomes experienced bettors, it was also set up to help people who had never bet on sport before. From that point of view, we thought it was worth taking you through the different European domestic football league competitions you can bet on. Check out our beginner's guide to football's top leagues.

England - Premier League

We've probably covered the Premier League in enough detail before now, but in any case, this is the league often said to be the best in the world, but which is perhaps more accurately known as the most exciting. Anything can happen from weekend to weekend, and it is this less-predictable air that makes watching English football enjoyable.

There are still a few clubs that you can expect to be in the running for every league title, particularly Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, with one of the dominant clubs of the pre-Premier League (before 1992) era, Liverpool, also knocking on the door.

The new clubs this season are Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich City, who were promoted from the Championship and will be hoping to remain in the top flight for more than one term.

Germany - Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is well-known for taking a different view of economic and social matters than the free-market Premier League. The German Football Federation (DFB) has a rule that no individual or corporation (with a couple of exceptions) can own more than 50% of a football club, and this leads to more sustainable structures, some believe, than the money-obsessed English, French and Spanish leagues.

However, the most successful and best-financed team in Germany, Bayern Munich, is also the dominant one at the moment, with the team having swept to the past three league titles, having won the Bundesliga 25 times in total, a record. Other clubs struggle to compete with Bayern both on the pitch and for transfer targets - the lure of such a successful club has proved too great for a succession of young players from other clubs, like Robert Lewandowski, the striker who joined from Borussia Dortmund.

There is strength throughout the Bundesliga, with Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen all presenting strong squads, although not quite a regular match for that of the top club.

Spain - La Liga

Spanish football has, at various points in its history, been interwoven with the politics of Spain as a whole; during the military dictatorship of General Franco, the leader supported Real Madrid, which was the dominant club for decades, but particularly in the 1950s and '60s, when it also became the most successful club in the new European Cup competition.

These days, the top division could be said to be dominated by two clubs - Real Madrid and Barcelona, the Catalan club playing at Camp Nou having won the most recent league title, along with the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey) and Champions League. Both clubs have awesome playing and financial resources, and are owned by the fans, who purchase membership of the clubs and elect the club president.

A third club, Atletico Madrid, which has a deep antipathy with Real, has emerged as a serious challenger to the "big two" in recent years; Atletico may not have the extreme wealth of Real or Barcelona, but it is still willing to buy talented players at a premium, and under current coach Diego Simeone, the club won La Liga in 2013/14.

Italy - Serie A

Italian football was the place every European player wanted to go in the mid-1990s, when the financial wealth of top clubs like Milan, Inter, Juventus, Roma and Lazio, plus the chance to play alongside a galaxy of superstars, made it an essential stop in everyone's football career.

These days Serie A might not be as strong as previously, but that is due to the economic troubles experienced by Italy since the global financial crisis hit Europe, and due to a series of damaging corruption and match-fixing scandals, which damaged the international reputation of Italian football.

Nonetheless, Italian clubs remain among the most attractive to watch, thanks to the way most teams are instructed to keep possession of the ball and pass it around, and there is evidence Serie A is getting stronger again, not least because European giants Juventus, hailing from Turin, reached the Champions League final in 2015.

Juve is the most successful and currently dominant Italian club, and while that does not look like changing in the short term, Roma, Napoli and Lazio are also improving clubs. Football is an obsession in Italy, and it's possible to get news on teams and players 24/7, thanks to a series of dedicated sports newspapers and websites.

France - Ligue 1

Less well-regarded than the other European leagues we have mentioned, Ligue 1 is however strengthening financially, a result in part of foreign investment in some of the leading clubs. Paris Saint Germain is not the traditional powerhouse of French football, but investment from Qatar has turned it into one of Europe's biggest spenders, capable of buying almost any player it wants.

Not to be beaten at the bank, south-coast rivals Monaco, who, thanks to its tiny state's laws, does not need its players to pay any tax, has tried to attract global superstars to its team, and while it is not as successful on the pitch as PSG, it is also in the Champions League, and Russian owner Dimitri Rybovlev has big plans for the club.

Further down, Marseille, the most recent European Cup or Champions League winner from France, isn't challenging for titles at the moment, but is still a major club, while Lyon, Lille and, for a while, Montpellier were all successful in recent years. This makes Ligue 1 a competitive league to bet on, though perhaps not with the diversity of outcomes you would see in some other championships.

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