Finding opportunities in the FA Cup

It’s the FA Cup third round this weekend and marks just over halfway point in the season. There won’t be as much liquidity as a typical Saturday, but there should be some opportunities.

Whether you are just betting on football or Betfair trading. The FA Cup can throw up some good Betfair trading strategies or just plain betting strategies. That is because these are relatively unique markets.

Has the FA Cup lost its ‘magic’?

Ah, the magic of the FA Cup! The pride of English football and all those other things said about this famous cup competition.

‘Magic’ if you talk about a smaller club meeting up with a goliath. But it may be that the smaller club faces a diminished version of said goliath. As they say, Money talks, and it doesn’t say much in the FA Cup, apart from smaller teams.

Prize money is attractive in this competition. If you win a game in the second round, you will get prize money of £27k. In the third round, you receive prize money of £67k, which rises from there. If you are in England’s top two tiers of the football league. If you win in the semi-final or five rounds in the FA Cup. You finally reach the same amount of money that you get for playing a premiership match.

Ultimately, you would get somewhere in the region of £1m for a live TV match in the premier league. If you include prize money and a share of TV revenue. The figure more than doubles the total for an average match.

But that spells opportunity if you know where to look for it in the pivotal football matches.

FA Cup shock results

Looking for a ‘shock’ defeat is a common betting strategy for me. You will already be looking for teams that are fielding weakened teams. This will help, but you also need to look for teams that are low on confidence.

If a premier league team is playing away to a lower division then, if they are low on confidence, can’t score or can’t defend. There is potential for the home team to perform well. Ideally, the home team will be full of confidence, enough to give the match a real go and throw caution to the wind.

Another factor at the start of January is the transfer window. Teams unsettled by transfer news may be lower on confidence and are worth a second look for a ‘shock’.

Betfair football trading strategy – Trading team news

Given that so much can be on the line for the big clubs, they often put out weaker teams for cup matches. Rather than risk critical players getting injured, fielding a much-weakened team that should win against weaker opposition is a sensible move. If there is any doubt about whether a win is possible, then crucial players will start on the bench and only be called into action if needed.

If it’s a much weaker team or there is some fixture congestion or potential injury issues, you may see a significantly weaker starting line-up.

I have talked about trading team news often. But here is a specific summary of an FA Cup trade.

FA Cup team news

Betfair traders accept that trading often carries a fair amount of risk with it. But using a bit of trading software and this simple football strategy you should be able to lock in a profit at low risk.

In 2016, I watched Liverpool play in a match before their third-round fixture against Exeter. As the match was underway, something interesting happened. There were two forced substitutions in the match.

My thought process was that with additional injuries, Liverpool would have to change their team even more than expected. Liverpool were already suffering many injuries and intended to rest quite a few for this match; now they had to seriously think about whether playing in the third round of the FA Cup away at Exeter was worth it. A Lay of Liverpool seemed like a low-risk proposition, so I jumped into the market mid-match before the FA Cup tie.

Quickly, the market started discounting a lower chance of Liverpool winning the away match with Exeter, and their price started drifting. At market open, Liverpool were at decimal odds of 1.30 to win, but the price drifted persistently to just short of 1.70 on the day of the match.

When the team sheet was announced an hour before the start, it featured only one player who had played more than four times for the first team. At that point, the market jumped again to trade at a high of 1.81 before settling at a slightly lower price at kick-off. Liverpool went on to scrape a 2-2 draw.

Incentive to score in a cup competitions

In a knock-out competition, there is a big incentive to score. When playing a weaker team, you want a quick goal to deflate your opponents and control the game.

If the weaker team takes the lead, the stronger team will be expected to score to save face. Some teams may want to avoid a replay when the match is a draw. If a team is losing late on, they have little to lose by throwing everybody upfield to salvage something.

This varies from match to match, depending on the specific circumstances, but it is something to look out for. Last year, the average time of the last goal was 71 minutes, which includes matches that ended 0-0. 60% of the time, goals arrived in the final 15 minutes of the game. Another way of saying that, 60% of the time a goal came in the last 16% of time left in the match.

If a team is incentivised to score, it’s worth trying a trade that will exploit that.

Hopefully, the FA Cup will provide a few opportunities this year.

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