Expect goals on the final weekend of the season. Just don’t bet on it.
A reader of our blog recently asked if there was any value in flat betting ‘Over 2.5 goals’ on the final weekend of the Premier League season, seeing that goal totals tend to be higher on the last weekend of the domestic season. They wondered, could this lead to some easy profits?
With the final weekend of action for domestic leagues all over Europe quickly approaching, today we will be looking at what takes place in the concluding fixtures of the season and whether or not there is an opportunity to catch bookmakers napping as the football season comes to a close.
The data in this analysis considers results from the beginning of the 2002/2003 season to the conclusion of the 2011/2012 season for the following leagues:
- English Premier League
- German Bundesliga
- Spanish La Liga
- Italian Serie A
- French Ligue 1
- Dutch Eredivisie
- English Championship
- Scottish Premier League
Let’s begin by looking at simple goal total stats. The chart below shows the percentage of matches that finished over 2.5 goals for matches played on the final weekend of the season in comparison to matches played at any other time during the season.
As we can see and as our curious reader had correctly observed, every one of the leagues in our analysis saw a greater share of their matches finish over 2.5 goals in the final round of matches than were observed across the remainder of the season.
In combination, matches played on the final weekend of the season finished over 2.5 goals on 453 occasions, with matches finishing under 2.5 goals on 305 occasions giving matches finishing over 2.5 goals a collective winning percentage of 59.8% across the 10 seasons of this study.
Meanwhile, matches played during the remainder of the season went over 2.5 goals on 13,683 occasions, finishing under 2.5 goals 14,531 times, a winning strike rate for matches finishing over 2.5 goals of 48.5%.
It’s widely known that things can get a little wild on the final weekend of the domestic season when it comes to goal scoring. What we are concerning ourselves with here is whether or not such a trend is worth taking into consideration when it comes to our betting.
Yes, goal scoring has tended to be higher than average on the final weekend of the season, but have bookmakers adjusted their odds to account for this over the seasons?
‘Over 2.5 Goals’ Profitability
So let’s then look at even stakes profitability for the ‘Over 2.5 goals’ markets on the final weekend of the season in comparison with the remainder of the season.
What do we mean by ‘even stakes profitability’? Simply put, even stakes profitability refers to how much profit we would have made if we bet a single unit on that outcome on each occasion. For example, let’s say we bet £1 on over 2.5 goals for each of the 10 Premier League matches on the final weekend of the season. So we have bet £10 in total.
Let’s say at the conclusion of the 10 matches, we made a profit of £2, then our ‘even stakes profit’ is £2, for a return on our investment (ROI) of 20% on our total investment of £10.
The chart below shows the even stakes profitability for over 2.5 goals across each league in our study comparing final weekend profitability with the remainder of the season.
Here we can see that each of the leagues recorded a positive ROI% when betting over 2.5 goals at even stakes on the final weekend of the season, each league that is except for the Spanish La Liga. The typically low scoring Ligue 1 recorded the best result, with over 2.5 goals recording a ROI of +17.10% on the final weekend of the season over the course of the last 10 seasons.
All leagues combined, over 2.5 goals recorded a ROI of +6.4% for the last round of matches, compared to -6.7% for matches played in the remainder of the season.
At first glance this might suggest that betting the ‘Over 2.5 goals’ on the final weekend of the season would deliver us with quite a generous profit. But one thing is certain in this business – bookmakers ain’t that stupid. Yes, it appears that they’ve been caught out over the last decade when it comes to the over/under totals on the final weekend of the season, but will they continue to be?
The chart below shows the implied probability of average bookmaker odds for ‘Over 2.5 goals’ for each league on the final weekend of the season compared with the implied probability of average bookmaker odds for ‘Over 2.5 goals’ for matches played elsewhere in the season.
Ok so firstly, what do we mean by ‘implied probability’? Simply put, betting odds reflect a probability of an outcome occurring, an implied probability. So for example, odds of 1.50 have an implied probability of that outcome occurring of 66.7%. (Implied probability can be easily calculated as 1 divided by betting odds in decimal form).
So as the chart above shows, over the last 10 seasons, bookmakers have for each of our 8 leagues anticipated a greater rate of matches going over 2.5 goals than they have throughout the course of the season.
But as the profitability of betting over 2.5 goals has shown, even though bookmakers have anticipated a greater share of matches finishing over 2.5 goals than we may have seen throughout the season, they have still underestimated the eruption of goals that conclude the season.
‘Over 2.5 Goals’ Profitability Season To Season
Ok, so let’s then look at the even stakes profitability of betting ‘Over 2.5 goals’ on the final weekend of the season for each season in our study. The purpose of this is to see if the observed probability has been consistent over the course of the last 10 seasons.
Here is where we truly hear our first set of alarm bells. Over the first 6 seasons of our study, betting ‘Over 2.5 goals’ on the final weekend of the season would have delivered an even stakes profitability of 10.6%, with the first two seasons offering an outrageous ROI of +21.6%.
The 4 most recent seasons in our study however have returned a profit of just 0.02%. This is still of interest as betting ‘Over 2.5 goals’ is still over performing in comparison to market expectations, but the diminished profitability in recent seasons could very much suggest that bookmakers have now adjusted their expectations in the final weekend of the season.
Bookmaker ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ Expectations Season To Season
Lastly then, let’s look at the implied probability of average bookmaker odds for Over 2.5 goals for each season in our study. We will compare this implied probability to the percentage of games that did go over 2.5 goals in the final weekend of the season for each season.
Here we can see that the average bookmaker expectation for over 2.5 goals on the final weekend of the season have increased steadily from year to year. In fact, over the last 3 seasons, the implied probability of average over 2.5 goals has been 59.6%, odds of 1.68. In contrast, through the first 4 seasons of our study, the average bookmaker odds were 53.4%, odds of 1.87.
Much of this of course comes down to the particulars of final weekend matchups from season to season and the degree of variance that can occur over even a sample size in excess of 700 matches.
But what appears to be the case through this simple analysis is that bookmakers have now adjusted their odds over the course of the past decade now fully anticipating the final weekend of the domestic season to be full of goals.
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