A lot of casual sports bettors only bet on soccer when the big events such as World Cup, Euro and so on roll around. When you are only betting on the sport every year or two it can be easy to make costly mistakes that can put a big hole in your bankroll. Here are six big soccer betting mistakes bettors need to avoid:
Expecting offensive explosiveness – pretty much every other sport watched by North Americans is considerably higher scoring than soccer. That means that we get into a mindset of expectation when it comes to offense. In soccer though, a very explosive offense might be one that can regularly score just one or two goals per game. In comparison to other sports, that would be a non-existent level of production, but in soccer it is all relevant. When we see teams that have a strong offensive reputation or players who are seen as major snipers we can start to expect that they will score a pile of goals, especially if they are up against an outmatched opponent. Often times this just isn’t the case. It is important for bettors to keep their offensive expectations in check; whether they are betting totals, point spreads, or considering the likelihood of a draw when betting the money line.
Overvaluing a favorite – Experienced soccer bettors know that there can seem to be a massive gap between the best teams in a tournament and the worst. Often times the strongest teams will be in a group with at least one seemingly weak team, and bettors will assume that the game won’t be even remotely close. Quite often, though, they are actually quite competitive. There are a number of reasons for that; few goals in soccer means that a team can keep it close just by getting a lucky tally, teams with nothing to lose can get aggressive and creative in their tactics and sometimes good teams are more motivated to play other good teams than weaker ones. In short, there is no such thing as a sure thing in soccer no matter how strong the favorite is, especially in something like an international tournament when each game is so important.
Overvaluing an underdog – While it can be easy to give a favorite too much credit it can be just as easy to get too excited about the prospect of an upset. Some bettors have the habit of seeing upsets everywhere, especially when the money lines on the favorites can offer such low potential payoffs. Those low payoffs can actually represent good value if the favorite has a big skill advantage, is healthier, will be fully motivated, is well coached and matches up well against their opponent. It’s important not to swing to either extreme when considering whether to bet on or against a favorite.
Ignoring the draw – North American bettors hate ties. Only the NFL allows ties to happen and they are exceedingly rare and always frustrating there. In soccer, a draw is quite common especially when neither team is desperate for the win. We’re used to seeing intensity really amplify late in games when there is a tie, but in soccer that doesn’t always happen. Because ties are far more accepted in soccer they need to be factored into betting. When you are betting on the money line this is especially significant because you can actually bet on a draw. When you are evaluating whether there is a value in a money line bet you have to look not only at the chances that the team can lose their bet, but also at the possibilities that they can tie as well. In both cases you will lose your money line bet. If soccer bettors don’t factor in the draw then they can grossly underestimate your potential edge.
Being blinded by reputation – Sports bettors should understand that some teams in soccer have an almost mythical reputation. Teams like Brazil, Spain, England and Germany are always seen as strong and dangerous. Sometimes those reputations don’t adjust to the realities of a team nearly as quickly as they should. Since major tournaments only come along so often the betting public can assume that a team will still perform like we are used to seeing them play. If they have gone through significant changes since the last tournament (coaching changes, roster changes, aging players, and so on) then the reputation and the reality won’t necessarily match. It can be costly to buy into an inaccurate reputation. On the other hand, if the public is doing it then there can be the potential for strong value.
Trusting casual ‘experts’ – When major soccer tournaments come around everyone becomes a soccer expert in the hopes of drawing attention to their newspaper, website, or television program. A lot of these instant experts don’t pay any attention to soccer the rest of the year, so they don’t really know what they are talking about. When you are seeking out the experts to guide your soccer betting make sure that you are relying on people who have the depth of knowledge and insight required to really be valuable. Often times the easiest place for sports handicappers to find those experts is in Europe where following soccer is both easier and more common.