Handicapping and betting on soccer is not something that a lot of North American bettors do very often. When the major events roll around, such as the World Cup, Euro and Confederations Cup, the temptation to bet on the sport can be too much to exist. If you aren’t a regular soccer bettor but you want to succeed betting on the big tournaments then here are six handicapping tips to keep in mind:
Be comfortable with money ine betting – The large majority of soccer betting is done using the moneyline. This is not totally unfamiliar to North American bettors; it is how we bet on baseball after all, and how you can bet on any other major sport if you choose. For a lot of casual bettors, the point spread is how people do most of their betting, and how they think about sports as a result. If you remain in a point spread mindset while betting soccer then you are going to have trouble making a long term profit. The biggest adjustment people have to make with moneyline bets is that they have to look relentlessly for value. Because you merely have to bet on the winner and it doesn’t matter how much they win by as long as they win it can be very tempting just to bet on which team you think is likely to win. That won’t work out well for you. Instead, you need to look at whether the potential payoff adequately reflects the risk involved in betting on the team. If you think the team has a 70 percent chance of winning a game, then you would be very happy to bet on that team if the moneyline was +100, but over the long term you would lose money if you bet on them at -300. Moneyline betting is deceptively simple, but can be misleading if you aren’t careful.
Learn to love the draw – North American sports fans hate ties. We aren’t used to using them and we find them unnatural and just plain wrong. In the regular season the only major sport that will allow a game to end in a tie is the NFL, and they are very rare there. In soccer, though, a tie game in a round robin tournament is far from uncommon. In a regular tournament several games will end in a draw. That’s in part because the game is so low scoring, and partly because in a lot of situations a team will be content with a draw if they don’t really need a win. When you are betting on the moneyline in soccer the draw creates a unique situation because you can actually bet on it happening. When you are betting the total in soccer you also need to consider the draw because it makes it easier to hit some totals than you might think, like two for example.
Never assume both teams will try – A lot of criticism that non-fans of soccer direct towards the sport are not fair. One way in which they deserve all the criticism they get is in the effort they occasionally show in games. It is far more common in soccer than in other sports to see teams just not care about a game at all if they don’t need to. If the result means little to them then they will barely even bother to show up. It can be very frustrating for sports bettors who expect teams to be at their best because they are in a high pressure, high profile tournament.
Don’t let reputations blind you – In international soccer tournaments, it can be easy for sports bettors to be misled by the reputations of countries and their biggest stars. Because major tournaments only happen every couple of years it is possible and even likely that those reputations won’t be particularly current. What happened two years ago or over the last decade likely has little or no bearing on what will happen on the field now. When handicapping soccer, you need to make sure you are betting on the team you will see now, not the team you have seen in the past. There is a bright side to this though, if the reputation and hype surrounding a team doesn’t match your expectations for the team then there is a good chance that the public will create some nice betting value for you.
Look at style of play – As in any sport; the best team doesn’t always win a soccer game. Sometimes the upset is predictable if the styles of play don’t match. For example, if the favorite is a strong offensive team then they could be in trouble against an opponent that focuses relentlessly on defense. As a sports bettor, the more you can understand about how the teams will match up on the field the better off you’ll be.
Ask the experts – There is no reason to start from scratch and try and do everything for yourself when handicapping soccer if you don’t intend to do it all the time. You are much better off looking to see what the experts have to say; people who watch and analyze the sport all the time. You want to be careful what you trust, though because every media outlet will talk about the events when they are on, but most don’t cover the sport all the time and don’t particularly know what they are talking about. Thanks to the Internet it is easy to access information from anywhere in the world, so it makes sense to look at coverage from the parts of the world that care about the sport. New soccer handicappers can also learn a lot from looking at what the local media is saying about the teams.