Football League Playoffs Betting: Oppose home teams in the first leg
Ahead of the Football League playoffs, betting expert and professional trader Alan Thompson has taken a look at the statistics and best trading opportunities...
"In the first leg only two of the 10 games produced a result over 2.5 goals while the second leg was the exact opposite - eight of the 10 produced a result over the same amount. This suggests the opening games are very cagey and nervous affairs."
We may well be speeding towards the end of another incredible football season but I am sure there will be more twists, turns and drama to come in the shape of the Football League playoffs. Every year these end of season games - massive for the fans to move up a level and massive for the board in terms of finance - never fail to produce.
It is more the semi-finals than the finals that I prefer to get involved in as there are some definite trends that you can use to play the markets either pre-game or in-running on Betfair's Exchange.
The first thing I notice from looking at the stats for the Championship, is that the home team in the first legs have only won two of the 10 fixtures (20%). The average amount of home wins in the Championship for the past five seasons is approx 42%. So it appears in the first leg of the Championship playoffs the home wins are far below the average.
The reason for this is the way the playoffs are structured; the four teams involved are the ones that finish 3rd to 6th across the 46 game season. And the first leg fixtures are 6th v 3rd and 5th v 4th so the top two finishing teams play away first.
However, the home sides will not be priced at 4/1 ([5.0]) to win these games, they will be much shorter than that and with just a 20% success rate this suggest the value lies in opposing the home teams in the first leg of the Championship playoffs.
The next thing that caught my eye was the number of goals scored across the two games.
In the first leg only two of the 10 games produced a result over 2.5 goals while the second leg was the exact opposite - eight of the 10 produced a result over the same amount. This suggests the opening games are very cagey and nervous affairs. You can't secure a Wembley appearance at this stage but teams won't want to throw away any chance of getting there by playing open attacking football. Only the Cardiff v West Ham game in 2012 produced a winning margin of more than one goal.
For this reason I will be looking to side with low-scoring opening games and opposing the home side in the first leg.
Interestingly enough, the second legs are almost the total opposite of this, with goals much more on the agenda. Only two of the 10 second leg games were 0-0 at half time and none remained that way at full time. Also, an average of 3.4 goals per game is well above the norm for the Championship (average for this league is 2.74).
I will be looking to back over 2.5 goals as long as the odds are greater than 4/5 ([1.8]), but I also think it is an opportunity to throw some darts at some big priced correct scores like 3-0 and 3-1 which account for the full time result in 50% of the last 10 Championship second leg fixtures.
In-running opportunities also exist in that 100% of the games have produced at least one goal in the second half. I will be drip laying* on the Exchange the half time correct score until the goal comes.
Similar opportunities seem to exist in the League One playoffs as they follow a very similar pattern to the Championship, but bear in mind the League Two games seem to revert back to numbers you would expect from the normal league campaign.
Lay the home side in the first legs of both the Championship and League One playoff semi-finals
Back over 2.5 goals in the second legs at [1.8] or better
*Drip Laying - a term used to continually lay the selection as the price shortens. The current score will reduce in price over time until another goal is scored. This allows us to generate a better return-to-risk by laying the selection in stages.