Assessing Potential Outcomes of Soccer Games
If you are looking to become a successful soccer bettor, you will most likely pick betting markets that are related to specific games.
Sure, there are some outrights and futures that are interesting. But betting on markets such as match results and the total number of goals in a game is where you can best achieve consistency.
The key to becoming a long-term winner is to learn how to assess the potential outcomes of soccer games by carefully analyzing both objective and subjective factors related to each one.
Contrary to what most people believe, that does NOT simply mean trying to predict (or guess) the winner.
It actually means evaluating the probability for each potential outcome and then comparing those probabilities to the odds offered by the bookmakers. Once you see a price that contains positive expected value, you can then go ahead and make a wager on that outcome.
The same logic applies to all forms of soccer betting and indeed to sports betting in general. This is why it’s vital for all sports bettors to understand the basic concept of value in sports betting.
If this is something you’re not yet familiar with, be sure to read the following page at some point very soon.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to what we can teach you about assessing the potential outcomes of soccer games.
Evaluating the State of Each Team
The logical first step in your assessment of any soccer game would be to take a closer look at each of the teams.
You should start with the rather objective analysis by exploring the following factors.
- Squad strength
- Manager and system
- Long-term results
- Short-term trends
You should know the squad of each of the teams and try to understand how strong the group of players is.
There are two main factors that must be considered here. The first one is related to the quality of the squad members expected to start most of the games.
Are there world-class players in key positions? Are there weak links that might be exploited by the opposition? Take a closer look at each potential role on the pitch and see if the team has a good player that can fulfill it.
Once you’re done with that, it’s time to take a look at the depth of the team. Having 14-15 decent players might be enough in some of the smaller leagues out there, but the top European competitions are so exhausting that each team needs a large group of players that can contribute.
If a team has a strong potential starting lineup but not enough quality squad members that can be part of the rotation, it will likely fade over the course of the season.
Make sure you are aware of such potential issues and take a close look at both teams. The second part of your analysis is especially important in the latter stages of the season when each squad is stretched to the limit and a lot of physical and mental fatigue is accumulated throughout the campaign.
Backbone of the Side
This criterion is a bit subjective, but anyone who knows the game of soccer well will tell you that each team has a “backbone” of key players.
These players play in the most important positions on the pitch and are the leaders. They’re typically the most experienced or most talented (or both) and are expected to lead the rest to success.
The most obvious example of such players would be the captain of the team. He and his lieutenants, usually appointed as vice-captains, are the players that everyone relies on in the toughest moments.
Usually, they play in the following positions: goalkeeper, center-back, central midfielder, and striker. Of course, anyone with enough experience and quality could be part of the core, but these are the most common roles, as they have the biggest influence on the pitch.
With a backbone of players who are strong and can motivate the rest, the whole of a team will be greater than the sum of its parts. Of course, the contrary can also be true, as the lack of natural leaders can hurt even the most talented soccer team out there.
If you are analyzing a game in which one of the sides seems much better, this aspect is not that important. However, it is crucial in close encounters and matches where the stakes are extremely high, like finals of important competitions, for example.
Manager and System
The good manager is sometimes worth more than the best players in the world. While this is not reflected in the salaries because managers don’t sell shirts, it is more than obvious on the pitch.
The essence of the job is to find the best system for the players you have, motivate them, prepare them for the season, and lead them to success. This includes practice sessions, making the necessary tweaks, and so much more.
The manager is the one who can improve the potential of the team with his decisions, or do the opposite and fail to find a solution that gets the best out of the players at his disposal.
One of the easiest ways to understand which one applies would be to check the system that the manager uses and try to figure out if he has the players for it to work.
For example, if a manager tends to build a team which relies on pace and counter attacks, he’ll need speedy forwards. If the system depends on a strong backline, there have to be enough quality defenders and a commanding goalkeeper.
The examples above are rather obvious, but you probably get the idea by now. It’s essential for each manager to carefully assess the strengths and weaknesses of his squad so that he can find the best strategy on the pitch.
The other important part would be to see if the manager is good at changing the course of the game from the touchline. Some of the best in history have earned their reputation by making the right subs and tactical adjustments in just the right moment.
A famous saying even claims that “the manager earns his salary at the half-time break.” While this is a bit far-fetched, and the preparation before the game is even more important, the ability to improvise and change things on the fly certainly is a huge advantage for a soccer manager.
The numbers and the previous results of the team are probably the most accurate data you have at your disposal. It’s no surprise that the bookmakers use that as a starting base for the odds you are offered for each soccer game.
We recommend you start with the big picture and take a look at the longer trends. It depends on the part of the season, of course, but it’s a good idea to explore the last 15-20 or even more matches of each team.
Don’t simply limit your research to wins, losses, and ties. Check the goals scored, the goals conceded, and the strong and the weak sides of the squad based on a large amount of data. Your subjective analysis and impressions of the group of players so far will be improved and reach a whole new level.
Once you have explored the results from the past couple of months, at least, it’s time to pay some attention to the most recent details. Take a look at the previous 3-5 games of each team in order to notice the latest trends.
How did each side perform in these? Are there signs of fatigue, or are some of the main players out of shape? Or is the team full of confidence and crushing the opposition?
Answer all these questions and try to understand how things are going right now.
This will help you get a better picture of what to expect from both opponents. Most of the time, there is a certain flow in soccer, and it takes time to turn it around. If a team is looking good, it will rarely become trash in a heartbeat and vice versa.
For more information and advice on evaluating the overall quality of a soccer team, please see the following page.
Evaluating the Match-Up
By this point, you should have a solid idea of each team, including the current form and the overall negative and positive sides of the squad.
The next step would be to actually combine your knowledge of the two sides by trying to assess what could happen when they meet on the pitch, based on the following.
- Styles, strengths, and weaknesses
- Previous meetings and matchup history
- Recent meetings with similar teams
Styles, Strengths, and Weaknesses
The first thing you need to check is how the styles of both sides would potentially interact.
For example, take a team that loves to play with a high press that puts the opposing defense under pressure to force mistakes. They won’t be too happy to face a side that simply plays long balls and doesn’t leave room for errors at the back. They’d much rather face a team that plays attacking soccer and creates space on the pitch to move into.
This is only one example, but there are certain systems that are more suitable for one opponent and can be exploited by another. Make sure that you go through both teams and the way they play, so you will be able to predict which one will have the advantage style-wise.
Once you’re done with that, it’s time to focus on the specific strengths and weaknesses of a team.
Does one of the teams have a lot of a pace in the side and the ability to hit fast on the counter-attack? Does one of the teams have a clinical goal-scorer that is likely to convert virtually any chance that comes his way? Is the defense of one of the teams so strong that it’s almost impenetrable?
Does one of the teams have an aging full-back that will have to somehow try to keep the star of the opponent quiet despite being slower and past their best? Is one of the clubs struggling to defend set pieces or being consistently ineffective in the opposition’s box?
We are once again working with examples, as this is the best way to understand what we mean. The point is to work hard on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each side and trying to evaluate if they will have a meaningful impact on the way the game will unfold.
Previous Meetings and Matchup History
The last point includes a fair bit of guessing, which is the reason it would be a good idea to complement it with some hard data. The best way to do so would be to check the previous meetings between those two teams and the overall history of the matchup.
Sometimes, the latter is barely there, but there are cases when there is a fierce rivalry that changes things. A fixture like the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham is a solid example of a match that has some special atmosphere.
The atmosphere in the North London Derby and other derby games can elevate the fans and the players to such an extent that the difference in the current form and quality of the teams can be almost irrelevant once they enter the pitch.
Of course, the North London Derby is an extreme example, but there are many clashes that have their own history and traditions. It’s a good idea to know and respect them when placing a bet on soccer.
The more objective and useful part would be to actually check the previous couple of meetings if they have been played in the past year or two. While the teams certainly are not exactly the same, the core of the squad and the style usually are similar.
You will be able to observe some specific trends that will help you understand what to expect. We would say that 3-4 games is enough, but there’s no harm in going even further.
Recent Meetings with Similar Teams
In every sport, there are some patterns, and soccer is not an exception. This is why you should learn how to find and exploit them. When it comes to assessing soccer games, there is one particular approach that can bring you a lot of success.
It’s quite simple, really, and it just relies on a bit of research. The idea is to look at the results each team has had against opposition that is similar to the team they’re about to face.
For example, if a big favorite is playing an underdog that is expected to defend deep and hope for a draw, take a look at what happened the last couple of times that favorite played underdogs with a comparable situation. This will give you invaluable information on how the team fares against such teams.
We recommend you take a look at the last 10 or even more games by each side and try to find some matchups that resemble their current opponent in some way, shape, or form.
Of course, you need do this for both sides. A lot of people say that no game is the same, and we agree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find certain trends and details that can give you an additional edge in the long run.
We’ve covered the fundamentals of the process of assessing soccer games, but there are a lot of little and some not so little details that can’t be avoided.
Here’s a list of the most important ones you need to consider.
- Home advantage
- Team news
- Weather and the pitch
These are what are referred to in the sports betting game as situational factors. They’re not directly related to the quality or ability of the competing teams or individuals, but rather they’re about the circumstances surrounding a specific event or game.
Let’s take a look at each of the above factors in some further detail.
The Home Advantage
As in many other sports, you should always consider the home advantage. Stats from all soccer leagues will show you that the hosts win significantly more games than the visitors.
Playing on their own pitch, in front of their own fans, gives the home side confidence and an advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Some teams are especially strong at home, so it’s a good idea to check if that’s the case and include it in your analysis. Of course, some teams can also struggle on their home field for one reason or another, so this is worth investigating, too.
Another crucial part of the process of assessing the potential outcomes of soccer games is to make sure you know the team news before the match. Players pick up injuries and suspensions throughout a season and may have to sit out games as a result.
As you could imagine, the team selection can dramatically affect games. Even one important absentee might make all the difference, so be sure to stay up to date on such things.
If you know, or even just suspect, that one or more first-choice players won’t take part, it’s a good idea to think about the potential replacements and what to expect from them.
Next in line would be the motivation of both sides. It depends on a couple of different factors.
For a start, the importance of the competition matters a lot. Is it high on the priority list of the club and the manager, or is it observed as an opportunity to give playing time to some youngsters?
Competitions like the English League Cup are exactly the latter, so you will often see many teams from the country’s elite division send weakened starting lineups. If that’s the case, it becomes a bit harder to predict what could happen.
It’s much easier to evaluate the situation if both teams are pursuing the victory at all costs because you know that you can expect the best of them.
If you are looking to place a bet on some of the top European leagues, you should always consider the schedule.
The teams in England, Spain, Germany, and France have busy schedules and regularly have to face strong competition. The leading five or six there also play in the UEFA competitions, which makes the situation even worse.
As a result, the managers are often forced to rotate their players in order to cope with the schedule.
Imagine if one of the teams involved in a game you’re exploring had a gruesome Champions League clash a couple days ago and has an important cup game a couple of days after the match. Naturally, the manager will have to rest some of his players and field a starting eleven that includes some fresh legs and/or rests some players for the next game.
You should always be aware of such situations and try to predict the actions of the teams involved.
The Weather and the Pitch
A lot of people underestimate the weather and the pitch, but they could make a huge difference. If the condition of the pitch is bad and/or there is rain or even snow, this could benefit the team that is trying to defend.
It’s much easier to destroy the opponent’s game than to create and play with the ball yourself when the conditions are bad. The games become more physical, and the teams that rely on smaller and more technical players are at a disadvantage.
This is why it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the weather and the potential condition of the pitch before you actually commit money and place a bet on the match.
The whole process of assessing soccer games is complex and takes some time. However, if you focus on a couple of competitions and start following them closely, it becomes much easier. You will have a solid idea about the players and the teams involved without spending time for every single match.
This will help you analyze the games faster and better. You should stick to one or two competitions, as this is the best way to go in the long run. Most soccer pros out there who are making money from betting are doing exactly that.
The proper evaluation of each soccer match is key to building a successful betting strategy for the sport, but there are many other things you can do to help you improve your soccer betting results. Check out the following page for some of the best ones.