Advanced Guides

Football Trading Series: Pre-match betting

Bet in play
Learn how to bet in-play on the Betfair Exchange

Exchange trader Alex Ong explains how arming yourself pre-match with some simple information on how teams perform can help you trade to a profit depending on how a game pans out...

There is a common misconception that football trading is all about what takes place during the game, and there is little that needs to be done before the game kicks off. For some simply watching the game and executing trades based on what they see is enough, to make them a little money and have some fun.

However, as a professional I firmly believe in taking every little advantage that I can, and that means putting in the work pre-match.

Fortunately, this does not mean hours and hours of research just to find a single trade for a single game. I look at a few key statistics for each game to decide whether or not there is an opportunity to make some money.

Goal Times

Most of my strategies centre around whether or not goals are going to be scored and when they will be scored. Believe it or not many teams have very recognisable patterns in their goal scoring statistics and we as football traders are able to profit from this.

Let's take Atletico Madrid as an example. The following image shows the goals scored and conceded by Atletico this season in La Liga. They are split up into 15-minute increments.

Goal Times.JPG

Although their games are not exactly goal fests, we can see a very definite pattern in their goal scoring statistics. Less than 10% of their goals scored or conceded occur within the first 15 minutes of the game.

That there is an opportunity. You see if we know that they tend to start their games slowly, we can build a trade idea around that.

One of my favourite trades is to back the Under 2.5 goals market at kick off and then trade out for a profit within the first 15 minutes of a game. This allows us to make profit simply by the fact that no goals are scored.

If the above stats showed that Atletico scored most of their goals towards the end of a game, we could build a strategy that would profit from a late goal being scored. The point is that the goal time stats are an absolute gold mine, and while it is true that goals can be scored at any time, we can build strategies that are robust enough to make sure that we win more than we lose, and that in the long run generate profits.


Form is another big one to look at and I am not just referring to the final result. Most of the time if I am going to back a particular team to win a game, it will not be from kick off. I prefer to get involved at half-time if the favourite is not performing as expected. You will typically find higher odds at this time, allowing you to take trades with a better risk to reward ratio.

Let's look at Manchester City's home form this season.


Obviously, they are strong, and they win the vast majority of their games, but what I find more interesting is how they perform in the second half. In all but one of their games there have been goals in the second half. When trading on an exchange you could build a trade around the very idea that there will be goals in the second half of a Manchester City game and nothing else.

But that is not where the fun ends. If we take a closer look, we can see that if City are not winning the game, they will come out in the second half and try to change the result. If they are losing, they will look for at least the draw, and if they are tied, they will look for the win. So building a trade around the idea that City will either go on to win the game or at least get back into it from a losing position, will bear fruit.


The point I am trying to make is that while you can simply watch a game and trade based on the action you see in-play, you stand a much better chance of success by arming yourself with simple information like what we have discussed in this article. At least that way you go into a game with an idea of what can take place.