Against the Odds

Football betting markets are priced by odds compilers, who initially set the odds for a football match. The primary goal is to make sure the odds accurately reflect the probability a particular outcome is going to happen. Their calculations are largely based on statistics, but a certain amount of sports knowledge is applied as well.

As an event comes closer, and more people are placing their wagers, prices are adapted to keep a balanced book. If no big upsets are coming down the road, the initial odds will not change drastically. (Price volatility is caused by team news, usually given an hour before kick-off.)

Match previews are written by reporters who have specific knowledge about an upcoming match, while using statistics to underpin their stories. It is often seen that reporters are advertising the same story, in line with the odds, because they are all based on the same statistics.

A recent example is the UEFA Nations League fixture between Wales and Ireland. Match odds are 1.85 for a Home win, 3.20 for a Draw, and 5.75 for an Away win. In front of their own fans, as expected, Wales is the favourite. And given the team news that the Ireland squad is without a few important players, there are no signs that these odds are out of range.

A look at the goal markets shows:


Both Teams to Score               2.65

Over 2.5                                  3.00

Home team to score                1.26

Away team to score                1.98


Ireland have failed to score in any of their last three matches away from home and, in fact, there have been goals at both ends in just two of their last seven games on their travels.

There have been goals at both ends in just one of Wales’ last nine matches and the 6-0 win against China is the only fixture to have featured more than two goals in Wales’ last 13 outings.

The preview conclusion stated that there are no more than two goals expected in this match, and all previews agree that either side will fail to find the net. A 1-0 or 2-0 victory for Wales is tip of choice.


What if they are wrong?


Scoring a goal may involve more luck than experts would like to admit. Ball redirections, lucky bounces and blocks that return right into a striker are examples of goals that were created by pure chance. A goal in football is often a random event. We all know that it can make the outcome of a match terribly unfair.

Betting is all about value, we all get the concept about the chance of happening versus the price paid. On the other hand, there will always be goals developed out of some sort of fortunate occurrence in the play. It is up to our own judgement to take the risk.

In the example above, I placed a bet against the odds. Since the Match Odds (1X2) did not show a heavy favourite (with odds <1.5), I did not see any reason why Ireland could not score a goal. To me, a price of 1.98 shows a lot of value, given the percentage of luck that is evidently involved in the beautiful game of football.


(Wales vs Ireland ended in a 4-1 victory for the Welshmen.)