The sports betting industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world and it is offering a huge opportunity for both sportsbooks and bettors. New technology provides massive help to the dynamic changes in the betting markets and regulations. Soccer, Horse Racing, NFL,MLB,NBA and NHL receive, by far, the greatest betting volume. E-sports betting is now on the rise and it generates a significant betting turnover around the world.
Here we will have a look at different components that are used by professional gamblers and betting syndicates to find value in soccer betting. We will explain factors such as team ratings, expected goals, team news, odds movement, past matches videos that can add value to your betting decisions. The intention of this article is to show you the professional steps and efforts that companies and bettors are taking in order to beat the bookmakers.
Each team can be assigned an offensive or defensive rating based on the number of goals it would score or concede. If you have such calculated ratings for any two teams, you can make a prediction on a team’s match and league performance. Team ratings are updated after each match based on their performance. Using this logic, you can simulate an entire season for a team and find its probability in winning the league.
Team ratings can evaluate matches based on different criteria: lineups, a friendly match or a historic rival, preparation for a tournament or chasing a league position, expected goals. Before a match, you can compare the offense and defense ratings for both clubs and decide on the quality and number of chances in that match.
Team ratings are a good pointer when deciding on team’s quality and ability for the next match.
We do have to mention the ELO rating system, which was initially applied to rank chess players. Nowadays, it is used with many other sports, including basketball, baseball and soccer. The ELO rating system can be used to show the winning probability of a team and therefore a prediction of a match outcome. It is an exchange of rating points when players or teams compete against each other. The winner of the match receives points according to its previous rating and the opponent’s rating.
We have already described in detail expected goals in the Football modelling and expected goals article.
In a nutshell, it is a statistical model that assigns every shot attempt a probability of being converted into a goal. That probability is derived from the shot location and angel, along with other attributes such as type of assist, pattern of play, body part etc. This is an extremely important factor to consider when evaluating teams and looking for value in bets.
An interesting addition here is the expected goals chains, which is a metric that looks at passing sequences that lead to a shot. All players involved in that sequence will receive part of the total expected goals. The logic behind this is that, usually forwards and midfields take credit for the expected goals and now with the expected goal chains, defenders and all players involved in the creation of that shot will be benefited.
Compile your own odds
Nowadays, most of the bookmakers look forward to copy or line up their odds from major Asian bookmakers or industry leaders. There are still some that use complicated algorithms and compile their own odds. It is much easier for bookies to line up their odds with odds comparison services and acknowledge every odds movement.
If you have move forward with expected goals and have a working model, you can use the Poisson Distribution to calculate the probabilities of various outcomes in a match, by finding the probability of each team to score a fixed amount of goals. The expected goals averages can be translated into a probability for variable outcomes across a distribution. Having all score-line probabilities calculated using Poisson Distribution, allow you to create the home, draw and away odds for a certain match. For example, to find the chance of a draw occurring in a match, you will need to calculate the probability of all different draw score lines (0-0,1-1,2-2,3-3,4-4 etc.) and add these together.
Having your own odds as a comparison is important on lower leagues selections and we strongly recommend it.
We have to point out that the odds at market closure provide the most accurate home/draw/away probabilities. The closing odds reflect all stats, news and betting activity. If you keep beating the closing odds, you can assume that you will be making profit long-term.
The opening odds of a match are calculated based on statistical analysis such as expected goals and team ratings. Moreover, any other relevant piece of information such as injuries and match importance are considered as well. Once the opening odds are available, professional players, syndicates and automated betting systems place bets if they consider that there is value in the selection. This is reflected instantly on the odds and bookmakers adjust these odds to maintain a balanced book.
There are odds comparison websites that show the opening and closing odds for matches. One useful website is www.nowgoal.com that collect odds from top Asian bookmakers along with other European ones. When choosing a selection, making a note of the market adjustments on the opening odds is very important. SBO and IBC usually are the first to publish the opening odds on their platforms and you can see how pro bettors take advantage of wrong lines and odds.
Another good time to look for odds drops is one hour before match starts. This is the time when teams announce the starting line-ups for the match and betting syndicates, with strong betting models based on players, try to be the first to take advantage of the odds and handicap lines.
It is very important to note here that the odds movement doesn’t always show the pro punters and betting syndicates positions on a certain match. Sometimes, these moves can be triggered by arbitrage or hedging trades. In spite of that, odds movements are important in confirming your betting selection.
News about injured and suspended players are very important when placing a bet. The overall strength and strategy of a team changes with missing players. Sometimes, depending on the state of the match or the number of matches per week, the coach can decide to rest players. All this will directly reflect on your pre-match statistical analysis and usually this is what triggers a hedging trade on a placed bet. For this reason, it is extremely important to check team news and again to confirm your bet.
Professional bettors and traders usually have the official twitter account of every team and they follow these closely. The usual sources for team news are Twitter, private forums, dedicates websites and local tipsters.
When you start watching recent matches for a club, you will begin to see patterns of play and interesting details about players and team’s tactics. Team and opposition analysis are extremely important if you have the time to watch past matches. You can easily spot valuable connections between players, the most important player of the team or certain tactics that work most of the time.
Usually you will have time to watch and analyze the past 3-4 matches and this will take about 10-20 hours of your time per match. This is very time-consuming and that is why pro bettors are focusing to place bets on a single league, where they can watch and analyze each match and easily find recent strengths and weaknesses.
In general, when you are watching a match, the teams can be involved in four phases: attacking, defensive, transition from attack to defense and the opposite. Being able to analyze and categorize an event when watching a football match is very important. For example, is the main midfielder out of position when his team regains possession, is anyone playing in an odd position in relation to their team-mates or previous match, is a player getting pressured too much at a certain position. Making note of all this can greatly help you evaluate the form and tactical understanding of the players.
Another factor is the beginning and ending of teams attacking and defensive phases. Finding out where teams lose possession when pressured can show you their weakness. On the other hand, drawing your opponent into your own half and creating space for your forwards is strategy applied by many counter-attacking teams. Such teams take advantage of the few seconds offered by the transitional phase and move into positions that are impossible to defend. This kind of counter-attacking teams usually have a talented player, who is able to provide key and through balls very quickly and accurately.
Analyzing matches is much easier if you have access to the entire football pitch. Having full view lets you get an accurate picture of a team’s approach and how players are positioning themselves in relation to one another. Skysports is offering this chance with a wide-angled camera view, allowing you to clearly see each players’ movement on the pitch.
The following questions are important when watching and analyzing a football match. These will help you understand better the team and opposition:
- Which are the players that provide the engine of both teams?
- Which players have the most valuable touches?
- Which players should be the potential pressing triggers?
- Which players are lacking when transitioning from one phase to the other?
- Who are the hybrid players? (players that are in one position in defensive phases but different ones in attacking phases)
- Where do overloads occur? (An overload is when there are more players from one team in one area than the other team)
If you haven’t done such match analysis before, I would recommend you use the start and stop video technique. This will help you to find out what player is where, see the game at much slower pace, decide on the offensive and defensive shape of each team.
One of the problems here is to find quality video replays for as many leagues as possible. To our aid comes a company called Wyscout – a platform that provides the toolset specifically designed for football professionals. They have access to video replays from loads of leagues and each match has a report and sliced video clips of each player’s performance on the pitch. Moreover, they upload more than 2000 new football games every week. This is certainly a must if you take match analysis seriously!
Combining your video analysis with additional detailed stats can help you create a better measurement for each team. There are websites like www.whoscored.com and www.squawka.com which offer very detailed match reports. These websites use OPTA data – a company that has taken soccer stats far beyond goals and saves.
Whoscored’s chalkboard page is available in the match report section and it provides access to all the actions recorded during a match and their pitch location. This allows you to check players’ performance in different sections of the football pitch.
A good example here is passing accuracy. A defender might have higher accuracy rate than a midfielder or forward, but his passes might be in the defensive third where usually defenders are under less pressure. There are other important metrics to make a note of: Key Passes and Big Chances. A key pass is the final pass leading to a player who attempts a shot at goal without scoring. This can show you which player is generating opportunities for his teammates. Big Chance is the situation where the player should reasonably be expected to score. Such metrics along with successful dribbles, interceptions, aerial duels, errors can help you judge a player or a team’s form. It is a good idea to write these metrics and their timing before watching the match replay. In this way, you will have a better understanding of the match and it will be easier for you to spot highs and lows in form.
In-play betting allows you to assess the match before placing the bet. All the above mentioned can provide you with an idea how the match might progress, but not a confirmed selection. In this kind of situations, it is a good idea to watch the first ten to fifteen minutes of the match. This will help you gain a comprehensive overview of how each team is set out and a much better insight into which betting market you should focus on.
All the above can be summed up in a planned process that will guide you when you are placing a bet. Having access to team ratings and expected goal is a great opportunity to improve your betting patterns and profit. Team ratings and expected goals can be used to create your own prices via the Poisson Distribution and define the number of goals for each team. If you have the xG metric pre-match and the number of shots during in-play, you can make an educated live trade decision. If a team has an expected goal metric of 1.4 for example and are losing 0-1 at half-time, with more than 7-8 shots on target, it will be a good in-play trade to back overs, team overs and team handicap. That kind of decisions require you to carefully evaluate the above-mentioned topics. Odds movement and closing price, as explained above, is a good indicator on the market position that pro bettors and syndicates are leaning to. That kind of odds analysis can be easily done with the help of odds comparing websites.
News about injuries and suspension need to be considered, due to the fact that a key player might be missing.
At last but not least, watching video replays is probably the best way to evaluate players/teams’ form. If you focus at a single league and put an effort to watch most of the games, you will have a better understanding of players and their performance.
Georgie has been in the industry for over 11 years, working as a trader and a broker for some of the largest syndicates in the world. Georgie has focused his model development on international soccer leagues.
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