Unbelievable Jeff – Trading comebacks in football

On the opening day of the premier league season in 2017 we were treated to an epic upset on the first day. A poorly rated Burnley shocked the champions, Chelsea, at their home ground. While it would be nice to think the whole season will be packed full of action of this kind, with remarkable comebacks and sterling fightbacks,  it’s unlikely. But it’s worth examining how you can back a team to win while they are losing and still profit, even if they lose.

Trading opportunities

From a top-level, this sort of trade is all about understanding what impact a goal or scoreline has on a football match and what chance a team has of scoring within a certain timeframe. The Chelsea match hadn’t caught my eye before the kickoff but did as they headed into half-time three goals down.

Comeback kids

As they headed for the tunnel at half time a few thoughts were in my head. The key one was what price are Chelsea and what impact would a Chelsea comeback have on their price in the second half.

There are only 45 minutes of standard time in half a match, so if Chelsea scored early in the second half the chance of getting something from the match would be high. However, if they scored first in the 80th minute then the chance of getting at least three goals would be somewhat less to say the least. So an early goal would be key, but just what impact would this have?

Chelsea headed into half time, 0-3 down and at odds of 65 from their starting odds of 1.29. Burnley started the match at 15 to back for the win and had now shortened to 1.06 to lay.

At 1.06 to lay you could risk £1000 for a £60 loss if Burnley ran out to be winners, a quite likely outcome. But £1000 if they didn’t! The key difference here between trading and outright betting is that when betting, you are only going to get that money if the result turns out exactly as you expect. When trading you can profit even if that remarkable comeback doesn’t happen.

Win without winning

Our setup for this particular trade wasn’t whether Chelsea would win the match, but more if they would come back into it at some point. When I looked at historical premier league stats for this type of match that made sense. There were 263 matches in my database where the away team scored the first three goals and only 10 ended up with the home team winning or just 0.38%. Those are not great odds to bet on, but a trade will give you a better chance of a profit.

In effect, we were saying that Chelsea would score at some point during the second half and the odds on Burnley would increase in response and we could cash out for a profit. You would be giving yourself a 45-minute for this to happen. That’s a simplistic view however as if they hadn’t scored by a certain point, then there wouldn’t be enough time for them to score enough goals to make a significant shift in the odds.

To get a sense of what we are trying to do, let’s look at a team at with starting odds of 2.00. If they were two goals down after 40 minutes the odds would be around 14’s versus just 5’s when one goal down. The trading opportunity comes from the shift in odds between these two game states. If the game shifts from two goals down to one then as long as that goal occurs in a reasonable window, you will profit.

It’s a game of two halves

The Chelsea vs Burnley match looked fairly dull when the fixture list was announced and most people would have put a home win down as their ‘banker’. But by half time they were 0-3 down and hadn’t had a shot on target.

As they say in football, it’s a game of two halves. All the research I’ve done bears that out and it was also true in this match. Burnley had four shots on target in the first half and scored with three of them. In the second half, they could only muster one additional shot and Chelsea were much better ending with a total of 18 shots or which six were on target.

By half time and three goals down Chelsea’s odds had drifted to 60. Burnley, on the other hand, were now 1.06 to win. By all accounts that those odds were not entirely unrealistic. Burnley could sit back and defend deep and frustrate Chelsea to pull off the shock win. But we were not betting, we were just looking for a Chelsea goal and as quickly as possible.

Things didn’t go quite to plan as the Chelsea only broke the Burnley resistance on 68 minutes. But despite this, it was still a profitable trade from a trading situation as Burnley’s odds crept out to 1.09. On 87 minutes another Chelsea goal set up a frenetic finish.

What this match showed you was that by opposing Burnely at half-time you gave yourself a decent window of 45 minutes for Chelsea to score. Some of that was dependant on WHEN they would score. Two early goals would have sent the price rocketing out, but despite taking some time to score the trading opportunity still existed at 68 and 87 minutes.

Trading out part or all of your stake at these two moments produced a good profit and it was possible to put yourself in a no lose position with a potential bumper pay off if Chelsea managed to win or bring the match back to a level score. Alas, it wasn’t to be, but most people managed to grab some sort of profit from the match.

Finding the fulcrum

The key to profiting from these sort of events in a match is to figure out where that key point is. You would look to see how goals affect the odds, when and how long you can hold a position before the chance of it becoming a losing one occurs.

This is exactly what Soccer Mystic was designed to do. You can play around with various scenario’s, especially at half time to see what the odds are likely to be and how future goals will affect those odds. If a team is a goal or more down at half time you can assess the match and see if you feel it’s likely they will come back into the match over a defined time period with that vital goal.

When that goal occurs you will great a nice bit of green and that will allow you to either cash out at that point or hold the position for longer while waiting for another goal.

Even if the team you are looking at doesn’t produce a comeback, you can still profit from it potentially happening and that’s the joy of trading a match by using a bit of insight and intelligence.

1 Comment
  1. Ian 6 years ago

    This is one of the best ways to trade footy imo. Looking for opportunities to present it self to you, I do this often. One thing I have found is to let it run until the 55th min or so, it’s not often teams score straight after h/t and with this you eek out that little bit more value.

    Another great read peter

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