Soccer Betting Strategy: Pre-Season Betting Strategy
Summer may be a popular sport for many, but not for soccer fans. Why? Well, that's because it's the close season for most soccer leagues. These fans face several weeks without their favorite sport, and they simply can't wait for the next season to start. Some years there are international tournaments to partially fill the gap, which helps a little. Either way, it's still a lengthy season without competitive soccer.
A sizable percentage of those who bet on soccer feel the same about the close season, especially recreational bettors. They miss having plenty of matches to bet on, and they miss the excitement they get from their betting. Apart from that though, they don't really give much thought to their betting at all. They figure they'll just wait until the new season starts.
There are lots of smart bettors who think differently. They recognize the fact that the close season actually presents some useful opportunities. They use these periods to their advantage, which is something you should be doing too. There's a lot that can be done before a new season starts, and using this time wisely can be very effective.
Specifically, there are three activities that can be done in the pre-season. These are as follows.
- Research & analysis
- Ante post betting
- Pre-season friendly betting
We explore each of these three activities in detail below. If you follow the advice we have to offer, you'll never dread the pre-season again. Instead, you'll view it as a great time to get ready for an upcoming season. With the right preparation, you'll be in a good position to make solid betting decisions from the moment the action starts.
Research & Analysis
The pre-season period is the perfect opportunity to do some serious research and analysis. With few, if any, upcoming games to bet on, you can dedicate some of your spare time to studying and preparing for the following season. This may not be the most exciting way to spend your time, but you'll see the benefits of it when the season actually starts.
Here's a list of some of fives things you should consider studying.
- 1 Previous season's results and performances
- 2 Your betting records
- 3 Transfers
- 4 Managerial changes
- 5 The fixture list
Let's take a look at each one of these in detail.
Previous season's results and performances
During a season, soccer bettors tend to be focused on what is GOING to happen. They might spend a lot of time on making their predictions, but they don't actually lend much consideration to what has already happened.
For the best possible chance of success when betting on soccer, you need as much information at your disposal as possible. You should know everything these is to know about the teams and players that you're going to bet on. In particular, it really helps to have some comprehensive insight into how well the relevant teams have played in various different circumstances.
For example, it's useful to know if there's a team that does particularly well at home, but not so well on the road. This gives you another factor to consider when betting on their games. It's also useful to know if there are any teams that consistently struggle to perform in the big games. Bear these things in mind the next time there's a key game coming up. Then you can use that information to help form your opinion about who you think the winner will be.
These are just a couple of examples of how additional insight into teams can help you. It doesn't end there either. We could offer you plenty more. So it really is worth trying to gain this kind of insight if you can. The optimal way to do this, in our opinion, is to study each team's past results and performances in detail. Start by trying to answer the following questions.
- How was their home form versus their away form?
- How was their defense?
- How was their attack?
- How did they play when the pressure was on?
- Were they overly reliant on one or two star players
- What was their injury record like?
- Did their players get a lot of suspensions?
Past results aren't always clear indicators of future results by themselves. But if you understand more about the performances that led to past results, and the circumstances surrounding them, you've got some really valuable information to work with. This kind of study can prove extremely beneficial when it comes to assessing likely outcomes during a season.
Your betting records
Analyzing past betting records should be an ongoing process. It's something that a lot of bettors fail to find the time for though, as they're busy trying to spot opportunities to get their money down. This is understandable to some extent, as there are only so many hours in a day.
It's really very important that you analyze your records at some point though. It might seem like a drag, but it can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. This in turn should enable you to improve your betting performance in the future. So if you don't think you'll be able to find the time once a season is underway, be sure to find some time before it starts. There's no excuse at all for not doing at least some basic analysis during the pre-season. And this is the absolute bare minimum you should really do. It's a vital part of developing your overall skill and ability as a bettor.
Changes to the playing personnel can dramatically change the overall quality of a soccer team, for better or for worse. So it's advisable to keep track of all the transfers happening at teams that you bet on. This will help to shape your opinion of those teams for the coming season. Although it's impossible to ever know for sure what effect these transfers have, you should at least be able to make some informed judgements. Here's a couple of examples.
During the close season, a team transfers two of its best players to bigger clubs and fails to adequately replace them. How does this affect your opinion of this team? Other players might step up and fill the void, but it's surely reasonable to assume that the team isn't going to be as strong as it was.
Meanwhile, an already strong team buys three top players and sells none. These new players are specifically for areas where the team was lacking a little quality. What do you think about this team now? There's no guarantee that these players will fit in and perform well, but it's reasonable to assume that they're more likely to improve the team than not.
Managerial changes aren't limited to the close season, but there are usually a few managers taking on new jobs during this time. These are also important changes to keep track of. A new manager coming in can mean all kinds of adjustments to a team. He could be looking to completely change the style of play, for example, or make extensive changes to the roster.
Again, you can't know exactly what impact such adjustments will have, but you should assess their likely effect as best you can, as this will help you predict how teams are going to perform in the coming season.
The fixture list
Different leagues release their fixture lists at different times. It's usually well in advance of the upcoming season though. This is something that many soccer bettors pay little attention to until the season starts, but we recommend studying it as soon as it comes out. You should think about how a team's schedule is likely to affect them, as this is a useful factor to consider when making betting decisions.
The following are some specific things to look out for.
- Teams with an especially tough start to the season.
- Teams with an especially easy start to the season.
- Teams with several challenging fixtures during busy periods of the season.
A team with a tough start may struggle to get any momentum going, which could negatively impact their whole season.
A team with an easy start may generate lots of momentum and grow in confidence. This could have a positive impact on their whole season.
A run of hard games in quick succession puts extra pressure on players which can lead to a loss of form and even additional injuries and suspensions.
Ante Post Betting
There's a lot to be said for leaving ante post betting on a soccer season until right before it kicks off. That way you've got the maximum amount of information to work with. However, there are often some good opportunities for finding value in the ante-posts markets early on. Remember, the bookmakers are just as unsure as everybody else about how the season is likely to turn out. So it's possible to identify some good bets well before the season starts. You just need to be up to speed with all your research and analysis.
Here are some of the markets we recommend looking at.
- League winners
- Top scorer
Please note that we're not saying it's easy to find value in these markets during the close season. It's not. They're just the most sensible ones to focus on in our opinion. On the other hand, we suggest staying away from season handicap betting and betting on cup winners. These are just too hard to predict with any degree of accuracy.
Pre-Season Friendly Betting
Betting on pre-season friendly matches can be a minefield. A lot of soccer bettors avoid them completely, and we fully understand why this is. There's a usually a distinct lack of available information and relevant historic data. Then there's the fact that they often have very unexpected results.
However, these games can sometimes throw up interesting opportunities for finding value in the betting markets. It's certainly possible to gain an edge over the bookmaker if you're prepared to do the required level of research.
Now, we don't recommend spending a huge amount of time looking for these opportunities. Nor do we recommend risking big stakes. We do, however, believe that there's the potential for profit with the right approach. The key is to be very selective. Only bet when you feel that you can accurately predict a result with some degree of confidence.
You should also make sure that you take the following factors into consideration.
- 1 Reasons for game
- 2 Motivation
- 3 Game rules
Reasons for Game
Soccer teams play pre-season games for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes a game is purely for commercial reasons. It might be to expose the team's brand to new audiences in different parts of the world, or for the benefit of a sponsor. A game can also be just for getting some match fitness into players, or for trying out a new style of play.
The earlier pre-season games tend to be those that are for commercial reasons, match fitness, or experimenting. Generally speaking, these are the harder ones to predict. As such, it's probably best to avoid them. The usual strategies for predicting the results of soccer games just won't work very well.
As the season gets closer though, the games are likely to take on a more competitive edge. This is when a manager is likely to have a broad idea of which players will be in his first team and how he'll set them up. So the players are likely to be concentrating on making sure that they keep their places, and playing their way into good form for the start of the season. These games are more likely to play out as a normal competitive game might, so they can be worth betting on.
One of the best opportunities for finding value in pre-season friendlies is when there's a disparity in the stature of the two teams taking part. This is especially the case during the early pre-season. An early pre-season game is likely to mean very little to the players and manager at a big club if they're up against a much smaller club. They won't consider the result to be important at all. They'll basically view the game as a training exercise. But the players and manager at the smaller club will have a very different mentality. They may well be very motivated to try to claim a win over their illustrious opponents.
Imagine a scenario where a huge club such as Real Madrid is playing against a team that's in the second or third division of their league. It's very early in the pre-season, and the players have not long been back in training. Just how motivated do you think the Real Madrid players will be to get a result? They'll be far more concerned with getting their fitness and match sharpness back. And the manager won't care about the result either, he'll just be wanting to assess his players and maybe try out some new tactics.
Their opponents are likely to be very fired up for the game though. Even though it's just a friendly, it may represent one of the few opportunities they'll ever get to play against such a glamorous and prestigious club. So they might just put in the performance of their lives, and claim an unlikely victory.
Most bookmakers don't put too much thought into setting the odds for pre-season friendlies, as they don't take a lot of money on them. So in a scenario such as the one just outlined, they'd probably make the big club favorite. They'd do little more than look at the relative quality of the two teams, and set the odds accordingly. This is something you can take advantage of. Backing the underdog in these kind of games is often where the value lies.
It's worth bearing in in mind that the rules for friendlies can vary quite significantly from competitive games. The most common variation relates to substitutes. Teams can often make as many substitutions as they want in friendlies, sometimes taking players on and off for different periods of the game. This gives a game a very different dynamic than normal.
In our opinion it's best to avoid betting on games where unlimited substitutions are allowed. And, as a general rule, it's probably best to avoid any game where the rules are substantially different from a standard competitive game. It's simply too difficult to assess the likely impact those different rules may have.
It's a simple fact that the more time you dedicate to your betting, the more likely you are to be successful. During the soccer season, your time will be mostly taken up with considering all the various factors that can affect the matches you're looking to bet on. During the pre-season, however, there is more time to spend on other aspects of your betting such as research and analysis.