As the world’s most popular sport, football has no shortage of self-proclaimed experts who are confident in backing the right teams on a weekly basis.
Most of these bettors will base their wagers on a weekly consumption of football-related news and views across various media, of which there is an exuberant amount given the saturated coverage of the sport.
But the advantage in football betting lies with those who take the time to do more in-depth research and find a way to read between the lines.
Certain insights are not always available through media coverage and this guide will show you what you can do to find an edge.
Specific Betting Tips
If you’re looking for specific football betting advice, you may want to read one of the following guides:
- Premier League Betting Tips
- League One Betting Tips, League Two Betting Tips & Conference Betting Tips
- MLS Betting Tips
- Challenge Betting Guide
- Best Betting Tipsters
- In-Play Betting Tips
Also, remember to check out our form tool, The Informer.
How to Bet, What to Bet on
The standard starting point in football betting is the head-to-head decision, whereby it is simply a matter of choosing one team over the other, or the draw, and this is known as the win-draw-win market.
For security, many football bettors will take the ‘Win or Draw’ option in the head-to-head market. Here, the bettor is basically getting extra insurance, albeit in exchange for significantly lower odds, whereby if the selected team either wins or draws, the bet is won.
However, there often isn’t long-term value in the double chance market, because of how low the odds are and how often upsets can happen in football.
In order to make the most of value in this market, look to mid-table or lower sides who are enjoying a form revival or, at the very least, proving difficult to beat. These are the sides that are best considered for this bet.
If they are not losing, you are winning.
Wagering on the amount of goals scored in a match is also a popular choice. The Over/Under line, in which you select whether the amount of goals in a game will exceed a certain amount or not, is generally set at 2.5.
A person wagering on the over option saluting here would need three goals to be scored in a game, while someone betting under can win their bet when two goals or less are scored.
There are higher or lower lines to be taken as well, generally at better odds. Regardless of which line you select, studying teams’ goalscoring and defensive records is your first port of call when considering this bet.
Other proposition bets, where wagers are not related to who wins or loses the game, are also popular.
Exact scoreline betting is an example.
It is difficult to predict the exact score of a match, which is why you are rewarded with larger odds and winnings if you get it right.
But one way to approach this bet is looking for patterns in certain teams’ results.
A defensive team who avoid conceding goals and focus on protecting their leads when they earn them, can often win games by the 1-0 scoreline.
There are other patterns to take note of, and you will spot them the more thorough your analysis of past results is.
Your choices may slightly differ, or you may want to be slightly riskier, if you’re using a free bet when compared to using your own money. CompareTheBets are a great way of finding free bets.
The betting options open up further when you are betting on a match live.
There are plenty of in-play scenarios that can lead you to change your mind about the outcome of a match, or the outcomes during it.
An example is the sending off of a player. If someone from the favoured team gets a red card, there is good reason for you to jump on the underdog.
By the same token, if a team is justifying their favouritism by dominating play, you can bet on the time of the first, or the next, goal, as well as which team will be winning at half-time.
In-play betting is particularly valuable for proposition bets that are hard to predict before the first whistle, such as the amount of corners that will take place during a match.
This is typically a hard selection to get right as the type of match that ensues often determines the corner tally.
If you notice that one team is under all sorts of pressure, they are likely to be conceding corners, if not goals. By contrast, if it is a dull match with little attacking endeavour from both sides, a lower corner tally is likely.
The formations that teams play and the tactics that they employ also play a large part in this. Look for teams that play fast, flowing football with wingers that don’t look to cut inside often.
Be it the result of the match or the corners in it, the in-play betting options are plentiful.
And just like any sport, the form guide doesn’t always add up, so by betting live you are giving yourself the opportunity to adjust accordingly.
A League of Your Own
There are no shortage of competitions to bet on in football, so narrowing down the list is crucial in a successful football betting strategy.
Given the multi-tiered set up of football competitions across the globe, there are several leagues to bet on in each country, making it crucial to focus on ones that you have a sound knowledge of and are easy to follow rather than betting across a wide spread.
Covering a large amount of leagues internationally would require an excessive amount of time to do your research properly. That time and effort could be better spent on developing expert knowledge of a small list of leagues, as opposed to a general understanding of a wider spread.
You might already have a good understanding of a particular league by account of supporting a certain team, so that is a good starting point.
Most football fans will also keep a keen eye on other competitions, particularly those that garner international attention.
Generally the top divisions across Spain, England, Germany and Italy fall into that category, so that is another foundation on which you can build your strategy on.
Yet if you happen to have a sound knowledge of less popular leagues, do not hesitate to bet on them. You will find plenty of value in a market that is not as hotly contested as the others.
Pick Your Teams Carefully
The common denominator in making any betting selection on a football match is a belief that a particular team will perform in one way or another, which in turn opens up numerous betting options.
Researching a team’s recent form, head-to-head record against their opponent and performances at home or on the road are good, albeit common, starting points.
Then there are other considerations to be made, such as a team’s proficiency in front of goal, ability to keep clean sheets and certain players’ form.
Given you are able to bet on a particular player scoring in a match, taking note of individual form and performances against certain teams is key.
But football isn’t science and the best team doesn’t always win, which is why there are other factors to be alert to, not just form.
Statistics do not always tell the full story and taking them at face value can lead to an oversight of the reasons for a team or player enduring a form slump.
One of the reasons that the statistics don’t always add up is scheduling, the importance of which is commonly overlooked.
Researching a given team or league’s schedule is crucial as it will help you spot tough runs or busy periods where fatigue could come into play.
Many of the top teams face hectic schedules due to continental club competitions such as the Champions League, and these same teams can play over 50 games during the course of the season when domestic cup competitions are also taken into account.
Midweek fixtures for these sides are quickly followed up by weekend fixtures, and a busy schedule can open the door for an upset, particularly when teams have to endure a lot of travel within a short period of time.
Opportunities to bet based on schedules can also be league-specific.
In the English Premier League, for example, there is no Christmas break, rather an abundance of fixtures for each team to negotiate across the end of December and start of January.
It is no surprise that certain teams falter during this period while others enjoy a spike in form.
There are plenty of upsets, too, so the informed and savvy bettor should spot the value and wager accordingly.
Given the sport’s global reach, it’s no surprise that football enjoys great support from the betting public.
This doesn’t have to translate to extra earnings for the bookmaker, instead it should mean more opportunities for you.
From researching teams, leagues and schedules, to being aware of how events during the match can create in-play betting opportunities, your strategy should be based on staying informed and alert.
And remember to go the extra length to find the information that is not always shared publicly by the indulgent media coverage.
Soon, you will spot patterns that other may not see, and find numerous avenues that lead to profit.
Remember, by betting on exchanges like Betfair, you’ll ensure better odds than betting with traditional bookmakers which guarantees significantly larger long-term profits.