Whenever a major soccer tournament like the World Cup or European Championship starts, sports bettors and fans are automatically looking forward to the final game. This is where every team dreams of getting to and where all the hardware is handed out. For bettors, the finals are very exciting as well. Theoretically, they feature two great teams playing at their best. Bettors need to be careful though, because in a few subtle ways the finals of a tournament are different than all of the games that came before them, If bettors are aware of those differences they can avoid mistakes and capitalize on the opportunities that are presented. For soccer handicappers here are five ways in which the finals are unique:
Bettor attention is focused on one game – At every point up to the finals there is more than one game on the horizon, and that means that bettor attention is divided between more than one game. Bettors could be more interested in one game than another and they have to determine how they will spread their bankroll between games. When the soccer finals roll around, there is only one game and there are several days before the game during which all the attention is focused. When all the attention is focused on one game, you know that the betting volume is going to be particularly high and you will need to be aware of the impact that that will have on how the lines are set and how they will move. Bettors will also be looking to chase losses or invest their profits, so the average bet size is likely to be higher in this game than at any other point. That can be very good news for sports bettors who are prepared for it, especially if the large majority of bets aren’t on the same side as you.
Casual attention is highest yet – The media will be more focused on the final game of the soccer tournament than at any other point. That means that casual bettors who haven’t been paying attention to the tournament up to this point will throw their money on the tournament. They will likely rely on the media to make their picks, so they will be heavily invested on the favorite. The more public action there is on a game, the more potential there is for value, but the more careful soccer handicappers need to be to make sure they are making a bet that is as attractive as they think it is.
Teams have been through a lot – Experienced sports bettors know that in order to make the finals soccer teams will have had to played a lot of games and play the games at a very high intensity. It is all but impossible for teams to come through all of that without some issues. They will have players who are banged up, quite possibly some that are out of the lineup entirely, and potentially players who have faced issues because of penalties. Before you make a bet on any team, you need to make sure you are betting on the actual roster that they are putting on the field, not the one that they had in the first game when they were at full strength.
Pressure is a factor – Teams feel intense pressure from the start of a major tournament, and that pressure has amplified in each game as they have advanced. By the time they have reached the finals, they will face pressure that is dramatically more intense than what they have seen before. The world will be watching them and they will know it. Some soccer teams thrive under pressure, others survive it and then there are some teams that will just wilt. There is perhaps no single factor that will have a bigger impact on the outcome of the game than this, so the better the sense a soccer handicapper can get of a team’s ability to handle pressure the better their chances of success.
Teams no longer holding anything back – Even for smart sports bettors, one of the frustrating things about international soccer is that soccer teams that are very good will often appear not to play to their potential through the round-robin and even the early rounds of the elimination rounds. Spain at Euro 2012 is a great example. They were the favorites heading into the tournament, and though they won their group they didn’t look great in round-robin play. They got tested in their two elimination games heading into the final as well. It was easy to doubt their focus and readiness, though there was no doubting their talent. In the finals they finally looked like they were serious about playing like up to their potential and the 4-0 final score against Italy shows their dominance. It would be a strange situation to see a soccer team that clearly has another gear not shift into it for the last game. That makes it easier to handicap these teams than it has been at any other point.