2014 World Cup Betting Props: Scoring Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 6/11/2014
On the eve of the World Cup here is a look at some of the more interesting World Cup scoring props available at Bovada:
Total tournament goals - "over/under" 154.5: On the surface the under would be the clear play here. In 2010 there were a total of 145 goals scored, and that was just two fewer than the 147 in 2006. The one thing that can elevate the totals, though, are a large number of lopsided blowouts in the opening round. So, are there enough of those to justify an over bet? In 2006 there were seven games decided by a margin of three goals or more in the opening round. There were five in 2010. At first glance there are 14 games this year that could end up as blowouts. They obviously won't all end up that way, and there could be an unexpected one or two as well, so it doesn't seem likely that we will see significantly more blowout games than in the past. The under seems like the safer play here, though it isn't packed with value.
Total number of hat tricks - over/under 0.5: So, will there be a hat trick (three goals by one player in one game) in this tournament? It's a decent bet that there will be. In the last 10 World Cups, which stretches back to 1974, there have been 20 World Cup hat tricks scored - an average of two per year. The only year that there wasn't at least one was in 2006. In 1982 and 1986 there were four hat tricks scored each time. The bad news, though, is that the over is priced at -275 here, so while the value exists it isn't enough to get excited about.
Total tournament red cards - over/under 17.5: In 2010 there were 17 red cards handed out. Four years later the hooligans were out in full force, earning an impressive 28 red cards. There were 17 again in 2002 and 22 in 1998. The average over the last four World Cups, then, sits at 21, but only two of the four tournaments have gone over this total. It is a true coin flip. Both sides sit at -115, so you can take whichever side fits your fancy - as long as you don't love tons of value in your bets.
Total tournament African goals - over/under 14.5: There are five African teams in this tournament - Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. None of them are likely to advance out of the first round, so it all comes down to how many goals they can combine to score in their 15 total first-round games. Algeria, Cameron and Ivory Coast just aren't very good, and they are in tough positions in their group. Nigeria is better but still a long way from good - though they should be able to score against Iran with some ease. Ghana is the best of the teams and has the best offense, but they are still in tough to advance and play in a very tough group with games against the Americans, Germany and Portugal. Despite their talent it is going to be tough to score a lot. They need to average a goal per game to go over this total. In 2010 the six African teams scored only 14 in their 18 first round games, with Ghana adding three more in their two elimination round games. That's 0.85 goals per game over 20 games, and that group was slightly stronger than this group is. The under is the correct play.
Total tournament South American goals - over/under 43.5: The starting point here, since this collection of teams is so much stronger than the Africans, is to assess how many games the South Americans are likely to play. There are six teams - Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay. That means that they are guaranteed at least 18 games. Brazil and Argentina are the two favorites in the tournament, so it seems likely that they will combine to play at least six more games. Colombia is in a very good position to advance, even without their best player - Falcao. Chile is in a tough battle with Spain and Netherlands but are certainly good enough to advance. It's reasonable to think that those two will average one elimination game each. Ecuador almost certainly isn't advancing, but Uruguay is in good position to do so and perhaps even win a game or two. To be conservative we'll just add one extra game from them. That's an estimated total of 27 games. 43.5 goals over that many games is just over 1.6 per team per game.
In 2010 Brazil averaged just 1.8 but didn't have a particularly good tournament. They should be much more explosive this time around. Argentina averaged two goals per game in their five games, including a frustrating shutout loss in the quarterfinals. Chile had only three goals in four games, but they had the bad fortune of running into - and getting run over by - Brazil in their first playoff game. Despite Uruguay's great run they scored only 11 goals in their seven games - just 1.55 per game. Colombia and Ecuador didn't play in 2010. So two teams averaged above what they require now, another team just about hit the total, and the fourth fell short.
This year all four teams that played last year should be improved, but Colombia is limited without Falcao, and Ecuador isn't very good. Add it all up, and while it's certainly conceivable that they could go over, they could easily fall short if a team or two underperforms. On the other hand, Brazil plays Cameroon, Chile faces Australia, Colombia gets Ivory Coast, Uruguay faces Costa Rica, and Argentina gets Iran and Nigeria, so there are plenty of chances to add a lot of goals in one game. I'd take the over, but more to have something to root for than because it is a good bet.
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