Betting in ‘Must Win’ Team Games

Guest post written by Paul Micelli

As the summer draws to a close and the early signs of autumn foist themselves upon us, there are a number of sports that are enjoying a flurry of betting activity because of the importance of individual events. Football sees the start of the group stages of the Champion League while cricket, rugby and speedway also throw up a number of fixtures where at least one team finds itself in a ‘must win’ situation.

These vital occasions present a mixture of proposals for sports bettors; although maximum effort is always assured from the team with everything to play for, bookmakers have an uncanny habit of shaving prices on ‘must win’ games and genuine value becomes incredibly difficult to find. Sadly, bettors tend to find themselves at the end of some frustratingly short odds. In truth, there is no definable advantage to betting on teams that have to win a game to progress to the next stage of a major tournament or, at the tail end of a season, to simply maintain their current league or divisional status. However, there are a still a series of important factors that bettors should take into account when wagering on these events.

The comments of managers and coaches should be observed more closely than ever. In many instances, a team in a ‘must win’ situation may be playing against a side that has already been promoted or has qualified for the next phase of a round robin tournament. In many cases, players who are usually assured of a starting place in the line-up during the season find themselves being rested and second-string players come into the side instead. If bettors can gauge the type of team the opposition will field through the press interviews given by managers, a wager on the ‘must win’ team can suddenly become more attractive even if the odds are unreasonably short.

In some cases, a ‘must win’ side may be playing a team that it will be facing in another competition sometime in the near future. As an example, a football team that has already assured a Champions League slot may be playing a side desperately fighting against relegation. Normally, players of the qualified side might be rested but if the two sides are playing each other in another competition the following week (such as the FA Cup), the higher-placed side may want to send out a message of intent for the forthcoming fixture. Even if the qualified side sends out a second string side after half-time, these matches can provide profitable betting opportunities based on the first 45 minutes of play.

There will also be times when the ‘must win’ side plays against a team with absolutely nothing to compete for. However, what may look like a meaningless game for one of the two sides can ultimately transpire to be anything but! Some sides enjoy the role of the ‘party pooper’ (in their heydays, Watford and Wimbledon were notorious football ‘spoilers’) and actually excel in springing surprises when the other side has everything at stake. The recent form of the side with nothing to play for can often serve as an indication of their current playing mentality.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.

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