World Cup Favourites v World Cup Underdogs

17th June 2010 | World Cup Betting category: World Cup Betting & Odds
World Cup Betting & Odds

Profit and Loss on World Cup Betting Strategy

Here we take a look at the values of the most simple of World Cup betting systems, backing the favourite in a match. Now, there are differing degrees of favourites in a two horse race, such as World Cup football betting. There are the outright favourites such as Spain over Switzerland, which offer very little in the way of odds, and there are the closely matched teams squaring off against each other, say Algeria v Slovenia, where the favourite will only be marginally better priced than the other one. Still, when browsing around the best bookmakers for World Cup betting, you can generally draw a fair idea of who is expected to win, without even going into any in depth study of matches, such as looking over stats, form, injuries, history and that kind of thing. The first round of group matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, rarely caught fire in terms of goals, but that is because this is the biggest and most important football tournament on the planet, and teams are always a little more cautious in their opening matches. With only three group matches, losing your first one can leave you with a real uphill struggle to qualify. So naturally sides tend to err on the side of caution, while getting used to the atmosphere, the conditions and of course, shaking off those first match nerves.

So how did the favourites get on in the first round of matches at South Africa 2010? How safe would your money have been if you had simply backed each one of them to win. Not great, would be the answer to that. The thing is, with backing strong favourites, you really need to lay a bigger wager down in order to get returns, so there often is more to lose. The way to play World Cup betting on favourites, is usually best done in building accumulators and exploring multi-bet options to increase your returns. Anyway, let’s take a look over the facts and figures from the opening group matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. All of the favourites in betting are in bold with prices listed on this site in match previews.

Favourites in Bold, assuming £10 bet on each match (= shows profit & stake return)
South Africa v Mexico, 1-1 (lost)
Uruguay v France, 0-0 (lost)
Argentina v Nigeria, 1-0 (won at 1/2) = £15
Korea Republic v Greece, 2-0 (won at 2/1) = £30
England v USA, 1-1 (lost)
Algeria v Slovenia, 0-1 (lost)
Germany v Australia, 4-0 (won at 8/15) = £15.33
Serbia v Ghana, 0-1 (lost)
Holland v Denmark, 2-0 (won at 8/15) = £15.33
Japan v Cameroon, 1-0 (lost)
Italy v Paraguay, 1-1 (lost)
New Zealand v Slovakia, 1-1 (lost)
Ivory Coast v Portugal, 0-0 (lost)
Brazil v Korea DPR, 2-1 (won at 1/9) = £11.11
Chile v Honduras, 1-0 (won at 4/6) = £16.67
Spain v Switzerland, 0-1 (lost)

£160 staked, £103.44 returns = loss of £56.56

If you had backed all of those sixteen favourites then you would have bombed out on ten of those bets. That is a high percentage of losses. To put it into figures, you would have won just 37.5% of your bets, had you simply decided to back the favourites in each match. The six bets you would have won on were Argentina, Korea Republic, Germany, Holland, Brazil and Chile. You’ll probably notice something about the names in that pack. Four of those teams are the top four shortest priced nations win the World Cup outright, so they were strong favourites in their matches, and therefore did not offer such great value. So even your winnings would not have been great in relation to the stakes wagered on all of this. Where did it all go wrong? Well, the aforementioned cautiousness of opening tournament matches to start with, forcing some of the favourites into hard fought drawn matches, teams like England, France and Italy. Plus, who foresaw Switzerland beating Spain, or New Zealand holding Slovakia?

Let’s flip this on its head and look at betting on the underdog. What would have happened if you had played all underdogs in the opening round of matches? You would have won even less bets, but that is not the whole story, for you would have won a healthy profit. Only four underdogs actually won out of the sixteen matches, giving you only a 25% win rate. But, here is the rub. Take Switzerland for example. They were fantastic odds of 15/1 to beat the European Champions and that equates into big profit. In the example below, looking at these first sixteen results, it was only Switzerland’s out-of-the-blue, literally against-the-odds-win, which made a profit here. So there is profit to be made, but of course, it is at a higher risk. In this summary, the better option would have been to bet on all the underdogs, as you would have come up with a profit, as opposed to taking a loss on all of the favourites.

Favourites in Bold, assuming £10 bet on each match (= shows profit & stake return)
South Africa v Mexico, 1-1 (lost)
Uruguay v France, 0-0 (lost)
Argentina v Nigeria, 1-0 (lost)
Korea Republic v Greece, 2-0 (lost)
England v USA, 1-1 (lost)
Algeria v Slovenia, 0-1 (won at 13/10) = £23
Germany v Australia, 4-0 (lost)
Serbia v Ghana, 0-1 (won at 14/5) = £38
Holland v Denmark, 2-0 (lost)
Japan v Cameroon, 1-0 (won at 11/4) = £37.50
Italy v Paraguay, 1-1 (lost)
New Zealand v Slovakia, 1-1 (lost)
Ivory Coast v Portugal, 0-0 (lost)
Brazil v Korea DPR, 2-1 (lost)
Chile v Honduras, 1-0 (lost)
Spain v Switzerland, 0-1 (won at 16/1) = £170

£160 stakes, £268.50 returns = profit of £108.50

Before you go planning your World Cup betting strategy for the rest of the tournament, there is something which needs to be considered. The nature of the games will change for the rest of the group matches. Teams will be settled, and experience does count for a great deal in tight situations, as it usually only takes a flash of inspiration from a star player to make all the difference. Teams which are favourites have more of these stars in their teams, naturally, and therefore more of a chance of pulling through. Tournament football is heartbreaking, exhilarating and rewarding all at the same time. As you can see, winning upsets do not happen all that often, but they do. At the World Cup, you will usually see the same old faces in the latter stages of the tournament. But can you spot a dark horse ready to cause more upsets at South Africa 2010?

One other betting option to consider, is the Draw No Bet option. Six of the matches which ended in drawn matches would have lost your outright bet on the favourite, but if you consider the Draw No Bet, then you will have had some coverage. Although the odds would have been shorter, you would have at least got your stakes returned for them being held to a draw. This is a good option to consider for the rest of the group stage betting, as underdog teams will still be scrapping for all of their worth in the second batch of group stage matches.


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* All mentioned odds were valid at the time of writing. Betting odds are subject to fluctuations. Please check the current odds with the respective bookmaker!

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