Match Analysis

After opening accounts to several bookmakers, learning their rules and procedures and analyzing your risk and betting profile, it’s time to get down to doing your homework. And by that we mean:

  • Selecting the events
  • Sorting out the good bets
  • Sorting out the good odds
  • Getting a feeling on the markets
  • Gathering information on the opposing sides along with a number of other considerations.

Following the next simple steps should get you well on your way:

Step 1- Get an overview:

Find out who offers what. Do not just trust a name and use the internet to visit the bookmakers’ sites and get a feeling on what they offer. Use an excellent free service like Betbrain which compares the odds of most bookmakers.

Step 2: Offers for study:

Before making a selection on the event to bet on, it’s important to browse through the variety of the options given. If you are up to date on a specific event or a specific sport then you can recognize a good opportunity almost automatically. At that point you will not have to perform a thorough analysis to make a decision on whether you should place a bet or not. However, if the variety offered creates for you a need to make a thorough analysis of every match, then you either do not know as much on the subject as you thought, or the variety is not wide enough to cover your needs. Do not pay too much attention to the ratings offered during this phase. Just note the events that you feel they “must” have a certain result.

Step 3- True conviction:

Most bettors place bets on an event based in their authentic belief for a certain result. This is a sound policy. First make a choice that you truly believe it will have a certain outcome. Then check for the odds offered. It is also a fact that most punters have decided on where to bet long before they see the odds. At that point the final decision is based on a combination of their beliefs and what they stand to profit. What is important though at this time, is to define the “belief”. Sometimes it’s just a very strong hunch. Some other times it’s a derivation of the study of the numbers. And on other occasions it’s a result of the circumstances surrounding a certain event like the form of the opponents, the injured lists, the absences due to punishments and so on.

Step 4- Statistical analysis:

Certainly studying the numbers about a confrontation is an important step. Who has scored most, who has conceded the most, who is inconsistent and who is steady are critical things to know. However, and this must be strongly pointed out, the statistical analysis should not be the only criterion to use when placing a bet. It is an important one yes but it is additional information nevertheless. It may tilt the balance if you are in doubt or supplement your existing conviction. Other criteria, discussed further below, should also be taken into consideration.

Step 5 – Relevant criteria:

a) Injuries

Bookmakers present the odds according to their own study of the circumstances of an event. It is not a certainty that they are always aware of the injury situation of a team or a contestant. It is also an often occurrence that players get injured during the warm-up phase a few minutes before the match begins and after the bookmakers have locked their pre-match odds. It is one of the few things that a bettor has an advantage over a bookmaker so it is not only wise, but it is imperative to stay always informed on the subject. However, it is not the injuries themselves that count. What counts is the circumstances of an injury. And by injury we do not mean just a physical damage. We also mean sickness, epidemics, food poisoning, virus caused diarrheas and other conditions of the sort. If you run into such a situation and the betting event you opted for refers to a side with slim chances, then it is better to make another choice especially if the players involved are very important to the team.

b) Match attributes

The result of a match often depends on whether it is for:

  • an international competition
  • a local cup
  • the local league
  • preseason scrimmage
  • a mid-season friendly
  • other circumstances

Each of the above has different attributes. European Cups, especially Champions League, always bring the best out of the lesser teams playing (the big guns are just happy to make it to the next round before they get serious for the final stages) while it is a common practice to use younger and more inexperienced players in local cups. Local league games are a different story. Since it is a marathon, it is also a common practice for the coaches to use the first few games to tweak their teams or use a couple of young talents as an investment for the future. However, this is not the case when things get serious. At that point every coach wants to have his best players available for the critical matches that will determine the champion or the relegation, so predictions get harder.

What is also a different story are the cup finals. Unless the difference in class between the two finalists is huge then all outcomes are to be expected. The psychology of these confrontations is different and it is ONE match. Which means that the players of a better side may not be in the top of their form while the players of a lesser side may come out on the field filled with determination. Friendlies and scrimmage games are meant to test things. The only thing that counts here is pride. For example a match between England and Germany is always a fierce battle even if the coaches put babies in to play! A match between Real Madrid and Barcelona is always war!

c) Which league?

Depending on the sport, you have strong Leagues that are hard to predict and weaker Leagues that are actually easy pickings. England in football for example is always unpredictable regardless of the division. The matches for the Premiership, the Championship or even League One are battles to be fought with unpredictable outcomes. Hence there are many teams of equal potential for a title. A similar discussion pertains to the NBA.

The weaker the League the easier it becomes to predict an outcome. However, it is important to identify a strong to a weak League. Let’s see some examples:

  1. La Liga in Spain is considered as one of the best Leagues in Europe. Yet, only two teams begin a season as favorites for the title. While there are many other good teams it is rare that any of them may outplay either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
  2. Similarly in Portugal there are three teams that start off as favorites. Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. All the other teams, except Braga maybe, cannot compete at the same level.
  3. In basketball, in the Greek League it is quite doubtful that any team will manage to defeat either of the two sides that compete for the title (Olympiacos and Panathinaikos).
  4. In France PSG made some very impressive investments for top class players. Yet it is Monaco that is in front this year. It is Lyon at some other point. Marseille is always a force to keep in mind, while Bordeaux and Montpelier always lurk around the corner. It is very often that teams like Nice, Lille, Auxerre and Saint-Etienne determine the outcomes. And that makes it a very strong championship.
  5. Germany may look as a strong League but in reality it is a matter of Bayern Munich and maybe Dortmund. It is rare that other teams may break the duo especially in recent years. Stuttgart, Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg, Bayern Leverkusen usually shine for one or 2 years and then fall back to running behind the two main battle tanks.
  6. Italy is quite a different story. For some it is an easily predictable League. For others it is not. The key in this League is to let the first maybe 10 rounds pass. It usually takes this long to find out whether Juventus, Milan, Inter, Roma or Napoli are in good shape to run for the title all the way to the end. Fiorentina, Lazio, Torino and Bologna are always forces that can take advantage and grab the title out of nowhere.

Sometimes it is best not to bet on the big names of a League but at matches between lesser sides of equal strength. Therefore, it is imperative to study a League and determine which games are worth placing bets at.


d) Importance

The top teams play an impossible number of games per season. While they all start out to go for all the competitions they participate in, at some point they have to prioritize. Some teams opt to advance to a competition up to a stage and then drop out. Some others prefer to let some League games go by especially against teams that fight to avoid relegation. However, it is certain that they will choose to use all their big guns in the important games of the season. The importance of a game is determined by the conditions surrounding it. Is it a semi-final or a final for a cup? Is it a match to determine the last position for participation in an International competition for the next season? Is it a match that puts some distance between the first and the runners up? Is it a match between the already decided champion and a team with their backs on the wall to avoid relegation? Is it a confrontation between two sides in the middle of the board that have nothing to go for?

To make a choice on whether to bet on a game or not, you need to pay attention to the answers to the above questions. If you see a big name coming out on the field with youngsters to play against a team fighting for relegation, your mindset should be different than watching two big names coming out on the field with all their best players. And you should always count on pride and prestige. It doesn’t matter if Manchester City and Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton, Besiktas and Galata Saray, Greece and Turkey fight for different things. Any confrontation is a matter of pride and prestige. And it must be won at all costs.


e) Timing

In many an occasion teams have begun the season strong to run out of steam at the end of it and lose it all. The most experienced and organized teams play just as much as they need to at the beginning of the season to make sure that they have reserves at the end to tap into and achieve their goals. Teams that are considered as runners up, newcomers to a League or teams that have made many changes in their rosters may not play very well in the beginning of a season as they do not know the ins and outs or their players have not yet formed a coherent ensemble that acts as one. Teams from lesser Leagues that participate in European competitions may start a season playing for those competitions first and then play for their own league.

All of the above are factors to consider when placing bets. In fact the beginning of a season is the best time to place bets on sides that in the middle or at the end of the season would have very little chance to win the same confrontations if their opponents are very close to achieving their goals. Similarly the end of the season is the time to bet on lesser sides that face opponents that have either already achieved or have permanently lost their interest to further pursue any objective. In fact, the most unpredictable matches are those between teams that are no longer stressed as at that time it’s playing for the love of the game or to test players to use in the future. Therefore, you need to pay attention to how much pressure each side is under in order to make a decision for a bet.


f) Shape

The condition of the opponents of a confrontation is one of the major criteria used by bookmakers to determine the odds they will offer. This condition is usually determined by the results of the last 4 or 6 matches. A team that has won all of them is very rarely given good odds. However, it is possible to determine the shape of a team in the next game by observing a few simple parameters in the previous games. Such parameters are:

  1. Are they running more lately than what they used to or do they look tired?
  2. Have they been playing the same way without any new ideas to throw in? This means they are very predictable and easily defended against.
  3. Has there been a change in the coaching staff or a world class player added to the roster? Sometimes this is enough to boost a team psychologically and fight that much harder in the next game.
  4. Have the players been paid? Especially after a long period of financial difficulties, a payment of a salary is a psychological boost. The opposite is true when the players start filing law suits against their teams.
  5. Is there any infighting? This is always a major reason for a side to play poorly.

Observing these points and paying attention to the news may be the key to determining whether your choice can emerge victorious in their next confrontation before the bookmakers even realize the change of the situation.

g) History and Tradition

There are some instances where none of the above criteria matter. In the same manner as the “school bully” or the “boogeyman” where no matter what someone does they seem to always have the upper hand, there are teams that instill this kind of mindset upon their opponents. Spanish and Italian teams for example seem to have the upper hand against the English or the German teams in the European competitions. Liverpool may beat Chelsea today and lose at Stoke City tomorrow. Manchester United may look like an undefeatable train and lose at Sheffield Wednesday. This is the aftermath of re-occurring results. When a team defeats an opponent time and again, it instills fear. The more these results happen the more likely it is for the next confrontation to end in the same result. This is not a criterion to be taken for granted but it is indicative of a result that has the greatest chance to happen.


h) Special Circumstances

With the exception of the English teams who always play to win and are honest in this, in many other countries and leagues the results may be “fixed” legally. Should the case be and two sides get what they want with a draw, then the most likely result will be a draw as none of them will risk it. A very special circumstance is the home field advantage. There are many teams that seem very strong when they are playing at home. The best example on this is the French team Bastia which is one of the best teams in Europe as far as the home results are concerned.

A third special circumstance occurs in Leagues that get interrupted during the winter season. It is a frequent situation to watch a team that seemed undefeatable before the break to be completely out of form afterwards and vice versa. The same weather conditions have teams from the Scandinavian countries playing their Leagues during the summer which means that when it’s time to get into the European competitions at the end of the summer they are in full shape while their opponents may have just started the preparation for the season.

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