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 normal Saturday, but there should be some opportunities.

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

Has the FA Cup lost it’s ‘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 end up talking 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 for smaller teams.

Prize money is interesting 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 and it rises from there. If you are in the top two tiers of the football league in England. 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 one 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 on the key football matches.

FA Cup shock results

You may find that some bookmakers are offering special offers on FA Cup matches. It’s a good chance to get a few more sign-ups. So if you are into matched betting this can throw up a few opportunities. But the fixture list can throw up other opportunities.

Looking for a ‘shock’ defeat is more a betting than a trading strategy. But its also something that can easily be worked into a trading strategy. 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’.

Most traditional sports betting is limited something like backing an outsider for a ‘shock’, some people may be familiar with placing a lay bet. But if you are a regular user of betting exchanges then you have an opportunity to trade that opportunity as well.

Betfair football trading strategy – Trading team news

Given that so much can be on the line for the big clubs, they will often put out weaker teams for cup matches. Rather than risk key 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 key players will start on the bench and only be called into action if needed.

If it’s a much weaker team or if there is some fixture congestion or potential injury issues then 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 was watching 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. I tweeted: –

My thought process was that with additional injuries Liverpool would have to change their team even more than expected. Liverpool were already suffering a number of injuries and intended to rest quite a few for this match, now they had to really seriously think about whether playing in the third round of the FA Cup away at Exeter was really worth it. A Lay of Liverpool seemed like a low-risk proposition so I jumped into the market in the middle of the 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 you are playing a weaker team, you want a quick goal to deflate your opponents and control the game.

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

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

If a team has an incentive 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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