Soccer Betting Articles

Soccer Gambling Guide: World Cup Total Goals Over/Under

There have now been 48 games finished in the group stage and 14 knock-out games played at the 2006 World Cup. As the tournament reaches its conclusion in Berlin this weekend, handicappers and sharp bettors have more and more information available for analysis.

Many punters were surprised that the Italy vs. France total opened at 1.5 goals. For diehard handicappers betting at the Pinnacle Sports book, this was expected. How did they know? Many tipsters use a universal handicapping system that can be used to set lines for any sport and requires only minimal adjustments for injuries and other situational factors.

Whether you are analysing a total in baseball or soccer, the first step in any sport is to set a baseline figure for an average game. In other words, how many goals are scored in an average game during regular time?

In the group stage, there were 117 goals scored in 48 games, for an average goal production (and defence allowed) of 2.44 goals per game resulting in 1.22 goals per team per match.

In the knockout stages, there have been 21 goals scored in 14 matches during regulation time, for an average of 0.75 goals per team per game (excluding extra time played or penalty kicks). If you combined the two, your “baseline” is 1.11 goals per team per match (138 goals in 62 games). The next step in setting your baseline is comparing each team’s offence and defence against this average.

France have scored 8 goals while conceding 2 goals in their 6 games played so far. Les Bleus’ defence was 0.78 goals per game better than average (1.11 – 2/6), while their offence was 0.22 goals better than average (8/6-1.11). France’s offensive “power rating” would be +0.22, while their defensive rating would be -0.78 (negative numbers are good for defensive ratings).

Meanwhile Italy have scored 9 goals in regular time while conceding just 1 (count the own goal against the USA as a goal conceded). Italy’s offensive rating would be (9/6 – 1.11) = +0.39, while their defensive rating would be (1/6 – 1.1) = -0.94.

The Azzurri’s offensive rating might be slightly understated though, since we did not include the 2 goals they scored in extra time against Germany in the semi-final. The reason for this is that only goals scored during regular time count for betting purposes when wagering on total goals.

With these raw numbers, you can now create an estimate of how much each team will score in regular time. How many goals might we expect Italy to score? Just start with your league average (1.11 goals per team per game), then add Italy’s offensive rating (+0.39) and France’s defensive rating (-0.78). This suggests that we can expect Italy to score about 0.72 goals, but remember that all teams tend to revert to the mean/average.

I “revert to the mean” by averaging that with the league average of 1.11 goals, for 0.92 expected goals (1.11+0.72/2 = 0.92). For France, we can initially expect (1.11 + 0.22 – 0.94) = 0.39 goals. Averaging this with the league average 1.11 goals per match, we expect 0.75 goals.

If you want to convert these expected goals to money line odds for “Italy to win the World Cup”, simply take Italy’s expected goals, divide by France’s expected goals, and multiply by -100. In this case, it would be (0.92 / 0.75 * -100) = -123, which is pretty close to the current wagering odds for Italy.

If you want to convert these numbers to an over/under total, simply add the team expected goals, and using probability theory check a Poisson distribution for the odds you want to set. For example, if you wanted a price on over 1.5 goals, look at the Poisson function for (.92 + .75 = 1.67). Oddly enough, this goes under 1.5 50.3% of the time, and over 49.7% (the exact market price).

There are a few additional things you can add in to gain more precision. The first is an adjustment for “strength of schedule” by just comparing how a team’s previous opponents did against the league/tournament average. While this becomes less important when many matches are played, it can be extremely important in short tournaments or when it is early in the season.

Before placing your bet, you should also consider situational factors. For example, France’s striker Louis Saha will miss the final game due to a suspension for receiving two yellow cards in the knock out stages. While you may decide that this shouldn’t have an impact on the match, you must ALWAYS check the teams for injuries and suspensions in any sport. Failing to account for missing players is one of the quickest ways to the poor house.

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Other Articles About Soccer Betting:

» Soccer Wagering: Point Spread or Money Line?
» UEFA Champions League Prediction: Group Stage
» World Cup Qualifiers 2006: European Zone
» Carling Cup Prediction: Second Round Preview
» Italian Soccer Prediction: Serie A Preview 2004/2005
» French Soccer Prediction: Singing Les Bleus
» Spanish Soccer Prediction: Primera Liga Preview 2004
» German Soccer Prediction: Bundesliga Preview 2004
» English Premier League Prediction 2004/2005
» Olympics Soccer: Redemption Time
» Copa America Prediction: Samba or Last Tango in Peru?
» Asian Cup Prediction: Here We Go Again
» Copa America Betting: At the Copa...
» Betting Euro 2004: The Final Four
» Euro 2004 Gambling: Propaholics and Rooney-Mania
» Euro 2004 Predictions: Handicapping Secrets Revealed
» Euro 2004 Tips: Props - Part 1
» Euro 2004 Bets: Props - Part 2
» International Friendlies: How to Cash In
» Road Dogs and Big Profits: How to Find Both
» Uefa Champions League Betting Tips: The Final Four
» Man Utd v Arsenal Prediction: Clash of the Titans
» Premiership Predictions: EPL Roundup
» UK Bookmakers: Where the Action Is
» Legal Betting: A Gambler's Paradise
» Cup Competitions: Where the Money is
» Profit from Home Field Advantage

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