Understanding How to Predict the Soccer Totals Market

Learn how to predict the soccer totals market.

Key Points

– There are a number of clues bettors can use to predict the soccer totals market.

– Smart bettors know how to find value in the soccer totals market.

Understanding How to Predict the Soccer Totals Market

Soccer bettors are increasingly looking for more profitable markets than 1X2. If you are unfamiliar with 1X2, it is easy to understand. The 1 refers to the home team winning. The 2 refers to the away team winning and the X represents the draw.

A late goal can deny even the best judgments of a smart soccer bettor. A pretty straightforward way to try and beat the bookies on the soccer front is in the soccer totals market. 

In this post, we offer a simple step-by-step guide on how to calculate probabilities for the expected number of goals in a match and convert them into odds, so that you know what to bet on and what to avoid in the soccer totals market.


Find Average Goals Per Game

In comparison to most sports, scoring in soccer is less frequent. It is common for matches to end with zero goals scored by either team. 

On the bookie side, oddsmakers study the average number of goals scored per match by the two teams involved. They are then able to develop odds in the Over/Under market for the given match. Keep in mind, you can become a sportsbook owner too!

If bookmakers are studying average goals per game, it makes sense that bettors should too. If the total for a Premier League match is set at 2.5 goals and the odds on the Under are -108 at one sportsbook and -125 at another, how do you figure out which bet to take?

You can begin by searching online. The amount of data available is astounding. For example, one can find that the average number of goals among several of the major soccer leagues over the past three seasons is between 2.5 and 3.0. 

These numbers can vary by league, so it’s important to dial it in as tight as possible. In the Hong Kong First Division last season, the average goals per game was 4.12. In El Salvador’s Premiera Division, the total was just 1.83.

Calculate Probabilities in the Soccer Totals Market

Goal scoring is very random in soccer and that enables statistical measures to follow a Poisson distribution, which is a simple model for predicting soccer totals. 

The idea stems from a book called “Taking Chances” by John Haigh who developed a table that calculates the probabilities of one team scoring 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4-plus goals in a given game. The calculation uses a team’s average number of goals per game as an indicator.

Take a look at the table below. Using it, we can determine the probability for Under 2.5 goals to be scored in a match.

Avg # of Goals01234+

First, you would determine all of the possible scoring combinations that would win the Under 2.5 bet. In this case, that would be 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 2-0, and 0-2. 

Then, you find the corresponding probabilities for each team – based on its average number of goals per game – from the table above and multiply them together. This gives you the probability of each different scoreline. 

For example, one team averages 1.2 goals per game and the other scores 0.8. The probability of a match between the two teams ending in a 0-0 draw is 45% x 30% which is equal to 13.5% We do this for each of the potential scoring outcomes that would give us the Under 2.5. 

We take the resulting probabilities of each scoring result and add them together. In this case that would be the following:

13.5% + 16.2% + 10.8% + 12.96% + 9.9% + 4.2% = 67.5%

There is a 67.5 percent likelihood of this match going Under 2.5 goals in the soccer totals market.

Determine What Odds Are Worth Betting

Once you have developed the statistical probability of ending in less than 2.5 goals, you can then determine what odds are worth betting. In essence, you will calculate the price at which a bet on the Under, in this case, makes sense. When you begin shopping for the best odds, consider America’s Bookie.

Bettors should know how to convert probability into decimal odds and into American odds. To convert to decimal odds, you use the following simple formula:

Decimal odds = 100 / probability

In our example, the 67.56 percent probability gives us decimal odds of 1.48. (100/67.56).

What this means is that bettors would only wager on the Under 2.5 if they could find a bookie offering odds better than 1.48. In American odds, 1.48 equates to -208. If you went to the soccer totals market at your sportsbook and found the Under 2.5 listed at -175, you would take the bet. 

Naturally, this approach does not guarantee a winning bet. However, it does provide an easy-to-apply betting strategy with positive expected value that should secure profits in the long run. 

If you are considering the soccer totals market for any match, do the research ahead of time. Use the statistical analysis and sit back and watch the action. You will have put yourself in a solid position to win. Good luck!