The Magic of the FA Cup

When it comes to soccer, any fan in the world will enjoy watching the action from some of the top leagues in Spain, England, Italy and Germany, but many do not give the credit deserved to cup competitions. And for fans of soccer betting, cup matches often throw up some interesting and unexpected results that are there to be capitalized upon. Any legal online sports betting site offers match odds on cup matches and you’d be surprised by some of the great value you can get when placing a bet.

Wigan Athletic's Dan Burn

League vs Cup

For many teams, particularly in England, winning the league is seen as a much more prestigious victory than winning the cup. In order to win the league, you need to be the best team over 38 matches, which is quite an achievement, whereas to win the FA Cup you only need to win six games. Any team can win six games though, can’t they? In theory, yes, but you will often see underdogs raising their game and making it difficult for some of the country’s top sides.

The Cup Dream

England’s FA Cup is the oldest knock-out competition in the world. The first year it was played was 1871 and an amateur side from London, Wanderers, and with the exception of World Wars it has been played every season since.

In recent times it has mostly been won by times in the Premier League and it is rare that a team outside of the top six is victorious. Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic are the only two non-top six sides to win the competition in the last 20 years. Wigan also made history as the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season when they beat Manchester City 1-0 in 2013.

Shocks in the Cup

Wigan Athletic recently played against Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup and few people anticipated a repeat of the 2013 final result. Wigan are now two divisions and approximately 45 league places lower than big-spending City and pre-kickoff odds of 20/1 on a victory were seen in places. Wigan won 1-0 once again, despite having only 20% possession during the game and despite Man City having around 40 shots on goal the entire match. It proved once more that the cup can be quite magical, and profitable for soccer fans who like to back an outsider.

Major shocks like this aren’t uncommon either. In 2015 league leaders Chelsea found themselves 2-0 up at home against League One’s Bradford City and somehow managed to lose the match 4-2. Non-league Hereford managed a 2-2 draw against high-flying Newcastle United at St James’ Park in 1972, which was quite a sensation, before beating them 2-1 on their own ground in a replay. Arsenal were reigning champions in 1992 and lowly Wrexham were bottom of the Football League – a whopping 91 positions separating them – but that didn’t stop the underdogs winning 2-1 at the Racecourse Ground.

Wigan are likely to be the lowest ranked team still in the competition when the quarter finals are played, and they’ve got a home tie against Southampton to look forward to. They couldn’t go all the way and win it again, could they?