For sports handicappers, there is a lot of appeal in betting on major soccer tournaments like the World Cup, European Championships, or Confederations Cup. However, for a lot of casual soccer fans, these major tournaments not only mark the only times that they bet on the sport, but the only times that they actually pay any attention to it at all. These bettors need to be able to quickly get up to speed with what they need to know about the sport if they want to have any chance at all of long term success. For casual fans looking to become informed in a hurry and make smart, winning soccer bets here are six ways to help learn what you need to know with minimal effort:
Qualification process – Soccer teams typically qualify for major international events about a year before the tournament itself. For sports handicappers it is a dream. The teams play a large number of games during the process, they typically use close to their best possible lineup during those games and they play opponents who are as motivated as they are to play their best and make the field. In short, it’s a good chance to see teams perform in somewhat similar conditions to what they will face in the tournament. You need to be careful because sometimes things can change between qualification and the tournament – a key player can be hurt, or a coaching change can be made, for example. Still, it’s one of the best ways for bettors to get a good snapshot of what the team is capable of at this moment.
Most recent friendlies – Once qualification ends the soccer teams will attempt to stay fresh and ready by playing a series of friendly matches with other opponents. These can also be a good indicator of current form although these aren’t nearly as good as the qualification games for a number of reasons. First, the level of competition isn’t as strong. Teams will rarely schedule a friendly against a team they could face again in the tournament so they don’t give away any secrets. Often times that means that they will play outclassed or unprepared teams. They also may not play their best roster if they want to rest key players with nagging injuries or if they want to use the games to give backups a chance to perform and get comfortable. Finally, the games just do not matter that much, so teams rarely approach them with anywhere near the intensity they will approach a tournament game. Smart soccer handicappers know that it is not uncommon to see a tournament favorite lose a friendly against an overmatched opponent, but that doesn’t mean that the team can’t still shine in the tournament.
Compare the roster to the last major tournament – A lot of soccer bettors make the mistake of looking what happened in the last major tournament and assuming that it has a lot to do with what will happen now even if that tournament was two or four years earlier. This is only useful, and only mildly useful in the best case, if there hasn’t been a lot of change in the rosters between the soccer tournaments. If the same basic players are playing then what happened before could be informative. If they have made changes, or if players are older and more or less effective, though, then history isn’t likely to repeat itself, and smart sports handicappers shouldn’t dwell on it.
Coaching – There always seems to be a lot of drama around coaching in major international soccer. Coaches will regularly move on to a different squad. Sometimes this is planned; the coach is just looking for a new challenge. Other times, it wasn’t the coach’s idea and the timing is less than ideal. It is important for soccer bettors to get a sense of how the coaching situation has changed, how smooth the transition was if there was one and how prepared the new coach is likely to be for the challenge facing him.
Look for drama – We looked at the potential for drama in the coaching ranks, but winning soccer handicappers know to look further. More than other sports, there can be drama in soccer that can entirely derail a team in a tournament. Is a player suspended or injured? Is there controversy because a former star was left off the team? Is there big debate over who deserves to start? Is there a scandal surrounding the team or the domestic league that most players play in? The more soccer handicappers can understand about what distractions the teams face, the better the chances that they can take advantage of a lack of preparation, using it to make winning bets.
What’s the average expectation? – When a major tournament rolls around you can find endless numbers of previews and predictions from all sorts of sources online. Everyone from the most significant media outlets to the most obscure blogger has an opinion and will use that opinion to try to draw attention to themselves at a time when interest in soccer is high. Smart handicappers will use those opinions to overcome a lack of their own knowledge. You can get in trouble by just trusting one or two predictions because you never know how extensive their knowledge is. By looking at a wide range of predictions, though, you can start to see trends that emerge and opinions that are commonly held. The more you see something the better the chances that it is a relevant idea and one that can be profitable for you. Reading what others think heading into a major tournament can be the best way to use limited time for bettors.