Parking the bus

In 1984 England beat Turkey 8-0 in a World Cup qualifier, a game I remember well as I had £25 @ 100/1 on the Correct Score. It was a lot of money to me in those days. It was also a huge scoreline, one that is rarely replicated in the modern age in which we often hear the phrase "there are no easy games any more".

I was reflecting on this after the Spurs v Swansea match at the weekend which ended 0-0 and I suffered a full 100% loss on a trade in which I had backed several high scorelines, 3-0 & 3-1, to the heavy odds-on favs Spurs. Swansea had come to White Hart, er sorry, Wembley, with the sole intention of parking the bus, i.e basically not playing.

As one of our resident pro traders, Ian, wrote in a email to me after that game, "....... there are so many instances of sides being prepared to concede massive percentages of possession and territory and do nothing other than set up to dig in and hold on".  He continued in a slightly more emotive vein that "Personally, I found Swansea's performance disgusting.  As a supporter of a lower ranked premiership team myself, I can honestly say that I would rather see my team make some attempt at active involvement in a game even if that was a tier lower, than watch them adopt this nihilistic destructive attitude that makes a farce of the beautiful game".

As traders we know the dangers of becoming too emotional can lead to lack of focus, poor decision making, a loss of rational persepctive. Ian recognised this and correctly reflected on how we, as traders, can take advantage: 

"What it does do - I think - is create trading opportunities from a completely different angle.  Where as traditional thinking has us looking to trade on the assumption that goals will come (a) fairly early and (b) in reasonable number, it should be possible to identify matches where the imbalance of ability is so great that it reduces the favourite's chances of winning rather than enhancing them.

Stats may have had Spurs ready to put 3 or 4 past Swansea, but Swansea's immediate and obvious lack of any desire to win changes the perspective.  What I am looking at is the fact that possession is no longer a factor in games where it is conceded so readily. Swansea held out specifically because they didn't have possession. They didn't have to force things. They didn't have to do anything other than position themselves and react.   In those types of games trading on the fact that the favourite will have to work specifically very hard to get a goal in front, we perhaps look at a trade which lays the AOHW initially with a view to securing some profit in the first half which we can leverage".

With those wise words in mind I looked at the PSG v Lyon game on Sunday evening.  Pre match Over 2.5 was trading @ 1.24, PSG in Match Odds @ 1.19, AOHWIN @ 2.32. A quick bit of research showed that of the 19 goals PSG have scored in the league so far this season, 15 have come after the HT interval (79%), with just four (21%) netted in the opening 45 minutes of matches. As James Eastham, a pundit with betting.betfair puts it: "This is partly down to the way PSG and their opponents play: while Neymar and co. dominate possession from the start of matches, the opposition focus almost exclusively on putting up resistance, and do so successfully for some time, only to eventually be ground down by PSG's relentlessly superior technical skills".
The game mirrored these thoughts exactly with the score at HT 0-0 and PSG ending up eventual winners 2-0.

So next time you see those skinny prices in games involving the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich don`t think a goalfest, consider the opposition. Think contrary!

Good luck



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