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Head over heart in football

Every year, football fans attempt to correctly predict everything from the outcome of individual football matches to the winners of leagues and cups. However, as the Premier League victory of Leicester City last season and the equally stunning moment when Iceland dumped England out of the European Championships show, betting on football is never simple. This article will examine whether you are better off relying on your head or heart when it comes to placing bets on football.

Most people would assume that the answer to this is a simple one: your head and the stats are the best option if you want to make the smartest bets. Certainly betting on which team will win a match or a tournament without paying any attention to relevant statistical information such as current form, past history against the opponents/in the tournament, injuries to key players etc. is a recipe for disaster. Successful sports' betting requires you to do your research before putting your money down – a point which would seem to be common sense. So why do so many football fans ignore this and make bets that appear to go against every stat? The simple reason for this is that football is a game that stirs up the emotions and trying to disregard this and bet solely with the head is remarkably difficult for a dedicated fan.

This is why it is arguably a bad idea to place bets on the outcomes of games involving your team. Taking matches that you have no particular emotional stake in will allow you to look coolly at data. For example, if the home team has a 60 percent record of winning and 40 percent record of drawing at home, while the away team has a 10 percent record of winning, 30 percent record of drawing and 60 percent record of losing on the road, this suggest betting on a home win or draw gives you the best shot at a payout. This is certainly information that should be relevant to any bet you make – as the likes of Napoleon and Arthur Conan Doyle recognised the folly of ignoring the available information. However with football, as with many other areas of life, data can only take you so far, which is why 73 percent of people trust their gut in making decisions. All of the available information suggested that Leicester City had next to no chance of winning the Premier League title, but some people still bet on them.

Of course, many of those were fans who got lucky having made purely emotional bets, while others were those who rejected the common betting strategy of putting their cash on one of the hot favourites. The reason most people simply bet on the favourites is because it carries less risk, but the greater risk and equally greater potential reward, is precisely why some make a calculated decision to pick an outsider. Leicester City was an extreme example of this, but given England's history of failure in major tournaments, there was a lot to recommend an intuitive bet on Iceland to come out on top.

Essentially, looking at all of the available data and then also listening to what your gut tells you in response to it may be the best football betting strategy.

Carlos Volcano
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Carlos Volcano

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