One thing sports bettors can be sure of is that every time there is a major international soccer tournament (the World Cup, Euro, Confederations Cup, etc.) is that there are going to be some shocking results. It won’t happen often, but in every tournament an elite team will lose against an outmatched team that had no business being on the same field, never mind winning. This can be particularly frustrating for bettors who looked to capitalize on the apparent mismatch. It also presents a real challenge for bettors that are trying to figure out what the loss meant and how to deal with the team in their next game. Here are six factors to consider when determining your next move as a soccer handicapper:
Why did they lose? – This is the first and most important question for sports bettors to ask. You need to look back at the game to see what happened and whether the risk of it happening again is high. Most significantly, you want to look at whether a soccer team lost because the opponent was able to exploit a weakness or play a particular style of play that the team had no answer for. It is also important to look at whether or not the team just wasn’t focused or motivated, or if there was just a whole lot of luck involved. If the winning team was able to spot weaknesses and figure out how to exploit them, then the next opponent will be able to learn from that. If the next opponent is more talented than the one that pulled off the upset then it could be a real issue. On the other hand, if it was more of an issue of lack of focus or bad bounces then those things are less likely to be a problem again.
Are they healthy? – As experienced soccer bettors know, nothing can derail a soccer team faster in a short, intense tournament than issues with health. When a team loses, it makes sense to look closely at their health situation. Are there key players that are unable to be in the lineup because of injuries? Are players in action but not at their best? Was there an unexpected and unexplained substitution during the game that could have injury implications?
How is the media responding? – In a major soccer tournament the media attention is intense, and what the media has to say about a given situation will have a big impact on how the casual betting public reacts. Given that the casual public action is significantly higher in these tournaments than it would be in normal soccer action, bettors need to be particularly aware of the public sentiment and the opportunities for value that it can create. It’s possible, for example, that the media will react very harshly to the loss and suggest that it is a sign that the team is doomed. That could create value in betting on the team if you don’t agree. Conversely, if the media seems to just dismiss the loss but you think it is more significant, then the value for the smart soccer bettor could be in betting against them.
What impact did the loss have on their chances? – International soccer tournaments don’t offer a lot of margin for error. Sometimes, but not always, just a single loss can be extremely costly or even fatal to a team’s chances. If the loss occurred in the round-robin portion of the tournament, then it is very important for bettors to get a sense of what impact it will have going forward. If it puts them in danger of not advancing, or makes it hard for them to advance, then the team could be either particularly motivated or particularly panicked, and that could have a significant impact on their performance in their next game. If the game had little real impact on their chances though, then it will be much easier for them to get over the loss without too much concern and move on to their next game.
Who do they play next? – As a soccer handicapper, you need to be aware that the next opponent could be a big factor in how ready they are. Is the opponent similar to the one they lost to or significantly different? Is it an established rival or a team they are not familiar with? Was the team likely to be favored in the game before the loss or were they going to be challenged by the game? The more you can understand about the next opponent the better off you will be when making your next soccer picks.
How have they handled adversity in the recent past? – Sports handicappers know that whenever you are playing in international soccer action you are going to face adversity, that’s inevitable. The test isn’t if you can avoid that adversity but how well you can deal with it when you encounter it. Some teams will bounce back strong from the loss, motivated to gain revenge and show what they are really capable of. Other teams will wilt and pout after the loss, and will never really recover. As a soccer bettor, you can get a sense of how tough a team is and how they are likely to respond by looking back at what they have faced recently, being careful not to go too far back. Did they suffer a setback in qualification? Did they lose a friendly that they had no business losing? Did they suffer a bad loss in their last major tournament?