How To Find Value In The Over / Under Goals Market

Football is all about goals, and punters love backing their favourite team scoring. As traders, this is something we can take advantage of.

In this guide, we will look at the over and under goals markets from a football trading perspective. 

What Is The Over / Under Goals Market?

We will mostly be talking about the over 2.5 or under 2.5 goals markets in this guide, as they tend to be the most popular.

In football trading, popular is good because popular = more liquidity. The more money moving through a market, the quicker your bet should be matched, and the less chance you have of not getting a bet matched.

We will also be using Betfair as our trading platform, for the same reason. There are other betting exchanges, such as Smarkets, which can offer good liquidity at times, but Betfair tends to be the most reliable for now.

This is what the over/under goals market looks like on Betfair. As you can see, there are quite a few different options to bet on.

Some beginners get confused by the whole 0.5 thing. Bookmakers use it to clear up any confusion when bets are being settled. If 3 goals are scored in a match, that is over 2.5, and under 3.5.

As usual, there is the option to both back and lay for each individual market. This is the reason we are using a betting exchange. Being able to back and then lay (or vice-versa) allows us to trade out of our original position when the time is right.

How Does The Over / Under Goals Market Work?

For punters, the over goals markets tend to be more popular than the under goals markets, because everyone loves to see goals.

As traders, we can take advantage of this, but first, it helps to understand how the markets work.

The Under Goals Market

We can predict the way the market will move for both the over and under goals markets. This is due to the fact that a football match is a fixed-time market, and will end after 90 minutes + stoppage time.

Let’s consider the under 2.5 goals market. In a goalless match, the odds for under 2.5 goals will slowly drop over the course of the game until they reach 1.0 at the end of the match. As time passes with nobody scoring, the likelihood of there being less than 3 goals increases.

This is known as the time decay for a sporting event. We can take advantage of this effect to trade for a quick profit, but we will discuss trading tactics later on.

The Over Goals Market

Just as with the under goals market, we can predict the way the over goals market will move over the course of a game. 

Unlike the under goals market, in a goalless match, the odds for over 2.5 goals will do the opposite and increase over the course of the game.

However, whenever a goal does go in, the odds will drop sharply before they begin rising again. For the over 2.5 goals market, the odds will drop twice, and each time start rising again, but then of course once a third goal goes in, the market is closed.

The rate at which the odds will fall and rise depends on the time at which goals are scored, which team is favoured in the match, and any injuries or red cards.

Now we have an idea of how the markets will move, we can start to think about how we will approach the market from a trading perspective.

Should You Trade Pre-Match Or In-Play?

There are advantages and disadvantages of both trading pre-match and in-play. The most important factor is whether or not you can confidently predict the direction that a given price will move.

Most trading for the over/under goals markets is done in-play. However, if an opportunity to find value arises pre-match, it should definitely be taken.

Let’s say you hear a tip-off that Leo Messi is moving gingerly in training. Depending on Barcelona’s opponent for the game, the match odds may not change or may change by only a very small margin. However, you may be able to find value in the goals markets.

As soon as most people realise that he may be injured, the price for over 2.5 goals in the next Barcelona match will probably shorten. 

If you can get in before the price moves, you can make a quick profit by trading out after the price move.

Under 2.5 Goals Trading Strategy

 A common tactic is to back under 2.5 goals before the start of the match (or right after the first whistle) and then trade out of your position by laying under 2.5 goals after around 10-15 mins. 

This tactic, of course, relies on no goals being scored in the first 10-15 minutes of the game.

If no goals are scored, then the odds should have shortened due to the time decay. This means you can lock in a profit no matter what the actual outcome is.

If a goal is scored early on, then it is often better to trade out immediately and take the loss. Being able to take a smaller loss rather than lose your entire stake is a key part of trading that you need to get used to.

You can also trade around goals. As discussed earlier, whenever we can predict the way the market will move, there is profit to be made.

Another common tactic is to look for games where a goal is scored early on. As soon as the goal goes in, back under 2.5 goals for the highest odds available. Due to the early nature of the goal, the odds should increase by a decent margin.

Wait for around 5 minutes while the time decay takes effect. You should then be able to safely trade out by laying under 2.5 goals, looking to make around 5% of your stake as profit.

Again, if another goal goes in before you trade out, you should close out of your position and take the partial loss.

Of course, there are other strategies you can use instead of immediately closing out of your position. Many traders will close out of their position, which means you can take advantage of the price movement caused by traders leaving the market.

The most successful traders make their money by predicting what the majority of other traders will do in a given situation.

Any tactic that involves extending your exposure is, by definition, more risky. Only try this when you have more experience with the goals markets, and we recommend never staking more than 10% of your bank.

Over 2.5 Goals Trading Strategy

As we discussed previously, the price for over 2.5 goals trends upwards over the course of a game.

Whenever a goal goes in, the price will drop sharply. Therefore, the ideal situation for us to be in is to enter the market right before a goal is scored by backing over 2.5 goals.

When the price then drops, we can exit our position by laying over 2.5 goals at the new lower price. We can also take this opportunity to hedge our position by laying a slightly higher stake than our original back stake.

As you can see, we would make around £3 whatever the outcome.

How can we make sure we enter the market right before a goal is scored?

Unfortunately, we can never know for sure when a goal is going to be scored. There are, however, a few different tactics we can use to make a good prediction.

Stats are always your friend when it comes to successful trading.

Important stats to look for when trading the over 2.5 goals market include the home and away recent form, any injuries to key players, and what is the average timing of the opening goal for both sides.

For this strategy, we will avoid placing our opening bet before kick-off. We need to wait as long as we can to try for the highest odds possible.

Stake-splitting is particularly useful here. Slowly drip your stake into the game whenever a goal starts looking likely. Try and use stats to your advantage. 

Finally, make sure you stick to a predefined exit point. If no goal is scored, you will lose your bet.

You can minimise your losses by selecting an exit point (60 minutes is common for 2.5 goals, and 75 minutes is common for 1.5 goals) and cutting your losses at this point.

Final Tips

As always, start with small stakes until you get a feel for the market. Don’t get sucked into betting on the big matches unless you have done your homework and have the stats to support any trading you do.

About the Author

This post was written by Andy Beggs. Andy is a keen sports fan and has been writing for Beating Betting from his home in Australia since August 2019.

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