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Football betting for beginners: Things to consider before placing your bet

Football betting guide part 3

Once you’ve got to grips with the plethora of football betting options out there and are aware of football betting terms, you are ready to attack the bookmakers. But, this is never a good idea if you don’t have enough knowledge about the betting options.

Not all of us can be professional punters, but to avoid a total ‘gamble’ when betting on football we should at least take the bookies on with a little know how to help us out.  Here are some of the basic things we can look at before deciding on a football bet:

Check the odds

Unlike with horse racing, the favourites will win a particularly high percentage of football matches. Each game, from a betting point of view at least, is a three horse race.

There can only be a home win, away win or draw and so the odds on a likely winner are never going to be massive.

That said, by the bookies making a team favourite to win they have essentially done the first piece of work for you.  There is no deceit here; a team will be favourites usually because they genuinely have the best chance of winning the game so looking at favourites, particularly at home, is often a good place to start for a novice football punter.

Each bookmaker will have their own odds as usual, but comparing them on will give you an idea of which teams people think will do well.

Check the stats

A myriad of statistics are available on football games and we never stop learning which are the best to use.  An obvious starting point is the league table – is Team A in a higher position than Team B?

However the league table isn’t totally reliable until the end of the season when every team has played each other home and away, by which time the game won’t even be taking place!  Use it as a loose guide only.

Another useful stat is to check, say for the last 6 games, how many points the home side has earned at home versus how many their opposition has earned away from home.

If there is quite a large difference, it may be that the home side will be appreciably stronger on the day.  Around 45% of all games are won by the home side, with the other 55% being shared between away winners and draws.

Checking the transfer value using the Transfermarkt website can give a loose idea of how valuable a squad is.  Given the above stat about home wins though, remember to give the away side only 70-80% of their value as teams will usually be weaker away from home.

Head to head record

Many websites give you a chance to check one team’s record against another and this can be a very useful tool.  Sometimes it will show that, generally speaking, a certain team may have a fabulous record against their latest opposition and it may be that they typically have a stronger squad.

On the other hand, if a certain side hasn’t beaten their opposition for a long time you may employ the law of averages – it may well be that the team you choose is finally due a win against their current foes.

Team news

Checking the team news before betting on a game is crucial and you shouldn’t underestimate its value.  Many websites, say a couple of days before a game, will give a quick preview and may inform you of any injuries or suspensions a team may be suffering.

Although football is a team game, some of the top players add so much value to a squad that their presence (or otherwise) makes a huge difference to the overall ability of the side.

Some teams have many players playing at a very high level; Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and the likes can cope with injuries to even their top stars.

The difference made to a team when a certain player is missing is especially prevalent though when a team has one outstanding player.  Imagine Manchester United without Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Everton without Romelu Lukaku.

These players missing a game means the makeup of the whole side has changed and it should definitely affect your thinking when contemplating a bet.

Given the phenomenon of online betting, lots of punters prefer not to read advance team news which can be inaccurate.  The final line-ups for a game will be released to the public via the media and social media one hour before kick-off, allowing you to know for certain who is playing before placing your bet.


Predicting a team’s motivation, or lack of, is also crucial.  Just when you think a team is statistically likely to beat their opposition or seem to be of a higher value than them, they can let you down if not properly motivated and therefore not playing up to their usual standard.

This has been in evidence lately with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho stating publicly that, if he had his way, he wouldn’t have any more league games to play.  His team can’t make the top 4 now anyway and he doesn’t wish to risk his top stars before they play their big European final.

He may well rest players and those who are picked may not put in the required effort because of the risk of getting injured before the final.

Teams who are aiming for a title, a European place or maybe fighting relegation will naturally have the required motivation and are always likely to play up to their expected level. This gives us a better chance of predicting the outcome of a game.


Many, many factors play a part in picking a football bet and it’s often hard not to simply back the team you support or only use your instinct.

Bookmakers though rely on what they call ‘mug punters’ betting blind and losing their money more often than not, so do go armed with some info into your battle with the bookies and give yourself the best chance of a return.