Gold Cup Soccer Handicapping: a Tutorial
by Trevor Whenham - 6/17/2011
The Gold Cup — the CONCACAF soccer championship that takes place every two years — is currently underway at sites around the country. While it doesn’t have nearly the appeal or the quality of the European Championship, it’s one of several regional events that are held around the world. These events can offer a wide range of betting opportunities for soccer handicappers that are willing to get creative and put in some effort. Here are four types of betting opportunities that are frequently available in these tournaments:
Mismatches — When you bring together all of the teams from any continent you are obviously going to have some total and utter mismatches. There are teams that will have a much more significant commitment to soccer than others — more resources, a better youth program and player development system, deeper talent, better coaching, and a history of success.
When programs at the top of the world soccer heap match up against teams that are just trying to establish themselves, or ones that stand no chance of ever really being relevant, then the outcome is all but certain before the match starts. These mismatches, of course, will have very lopsided odds assigned to them. That can be unattractive in isolation, but creative bettors can find ways to use these games in a way that makes sense because of the relatively low risk.
Teams the public knows little about — There are some teams that are very much in the public eye, and others that get no respect or coverage at all. Often times the obscure teams deserve what they get, but from time to time there are teams that are actually pretty talented that the public doesn’t know or care about.
If you are willing to do some homework before a tournament starts you can spot these teams and be well positioned to take advantage of the lack of knowledge and incorrect perceptions about the team. This can be particularly useful when a little-known team matches up favorably with a team the public is sure to embrace. The chances of getting value in a case like that are very high.
Teams with roster less than their potential — When the public thinks about a team they tend to think about their best possible roster — the one they would ideally send to the World Cup. In these lesser tournaments, though, some countries cannot or will not send those best rosters to compete. Injuries, other commitments or a desire to change the makeup and chemistry of a team could affect the players that are made available. Players often retire after major events like the World Cup, so the current roster could be weaker because the new players are not yet fully comfortable with their role. Sometimes established players just aren’t interested in playing in lesser tournaments if they know their roster spot is secure for more major events, so they will step aside and let someone else play.
Whatever the situation, the fact s that there are many times when a team that is on the field is actually significantly less than what the country is capable of fielding. More significantly, that means that the roster will be far less than what the public will perceive them to be. That means that there could be value in betting against them until the public adjusts their perception.
On the flip side, there could be value in betting on a team if the roster they are fielding is significantly better than people have grown to expect from the country because players have returned from injury or suspension, or because the key players have developed rapidly and significantly in their league play.
Teams with different goals — At a tournament like the Gold Cup it is dangerous to assume that every team shows up with the same goal. Some teams are there focused on making a statement and doing the best that they possibly can. Other teams, though, will be attaching at least as much significance to trying out new players, introducing new philosophies, acclimating to a new coach and a new system, or assessing where they are at and what they need to work on as they do to trying to win the tournament.
That’s not to say that they are expressly not trying to win, but rather that they may not be putting themselves in position to do their very best. If you can get a sense if the motivation and priorities of teams you may be able to find favorable matchups in which one team will be more focused and more effectively positioned to succeed than their opponent.
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