The single largest sporting event in the world kicks off on Friday. Countries stop wars for it. Churches, Synagogues, temples and mosques devote entire services to it in many countries. Shops close. Countries come to complete standstills. It’s the World Cup, a competition we see just once every 4 years. An event that is so sacred in most countries, players and families alike devote their entire lives to playing in it or seeing a loved one get the chance. “I have waited my whole life for this month” German Forward Michael Ballack said after training Wednesday. “People devote their entire lives for just one chance to play in such an amazing event.”
The fanfare and celebrations continue throughout the month long tournament with the first match set to kick off June 9th at 12:00 EST in Germany, the host nation, culminating with the final match July 9th in Munich at 3:00EST. With all the anticipation from fans that goes along with this huge event, it’s the sportsbooks that are hungriest of all.
Betting on Soccer has become a huge industry in Europe the past 10 years with the introduction of the online offshore sportsbook. Handles from European bettors for this month can exceed what an entire season of NFL brings in for most European based books.
With that being said, bettors can flourish in this tournament. There is money to be made in this sport, but as is the case with all lined events, knowledge of the sport is key. Knowledge of HOW the World Cup tournament is to be played; rules, schedules and point systems make all the difference here.
The World Cup is divided into eight 4 team groups with a round robin system being used to determine the first round standings. A team receives 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. The top two clubs in each group advance to the second round of 16 where from there on out it is single elimination. Each group consists of a #1 seed, just like the 4 regions in the NCAA Basketball tournament. The only difference is the NCAA tourney has 4 regions; the World Cup has the aforementioned 8. This year the top 8 seeds in the Cup are Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Germany, England, Portugal, Spain and France.
The difference with soccer betting as compared to any other sport is the draw factor. Unlike all other lined sports, you can actually wager on a draw (tie) being the outcome of the contest. Most books will only allow money line wagers, but some select few books will allow goal line (like the puck line in hockey or run line in baseball) as methods of wagering as well.
So how do we know when a draw is the bet of choice? As we stated before, the goal for each club is to finish in the top 2 of your group. Therefore many clubs will be satisfied with a tie as it gains them a much needed 1 point. Let’s give some examples
The English are certainly the favorites of their group (Group B) with the second spot nearly lock for Sweden. With both clubs playing each other in the third and final match of group play with probably nothing at stake, a draw in this ballgame is awfully likely. With a spot assured in the second round, coaches of both squads will not risk injury to a key player or giving away team strategy in a meaningless game. At the same time, countries do not want to lose a ballgame strictly because of psyche. Therefore a tie is the best solution for both clubs.
Another example of when a draw may be the correct wager is with evenly matched groups aside from the #1 seed. Take group F with Brazil, Japan, Australia and Croatia. Brazil is clearly head and shoulders above everyone else. After that, Australia Japan and Croatia are awfully even. Australia and Japan meet in their first match of the group. A loss here for either team would mean devastation as both still have yet to play the world power in brazil, an almost certain defeat. Therefore a tie here does both clubs justice leaving the door open for a win vs. Croatia to put them through. Of course this is assuming Brazil beats everyone else.
The key thing to remember here is that the countries in this tournament know their limits; they know who they can and cannot compete with. Most countries main goal is to make it to the second round where group play stops and single elimination play begins. This is when anything can happen. Therefore when wagering on this wonderful event, knowing the groups the countries are in, their record up to the day of the match and their future matches still in store can make all the difference in winning or losing on the World’s most beautiful game.