Underneath all the speculation surrounding the fitness and mental fortitude of the world’s top strikers, a valuable World Cup betting market is being neglected.
Any gambler who’s seriously considered betting on the tournament top scorer market will have examined the groups for weak links, and written off teams as cannon fodder. This analysis takes you halfway to a valuable insight into a potentially more lucrative market: the lowest scoring team.
A quick glance at the odds at bet365 shows that Australia (4/1), Costa Rica (5/1) and Honduras (5/1) are currently the most backed to struggle in front of goal. Next up, serious punters must seek out leaky defences in these small nations’ tough groups.
For example, The Netherlands look like fearsome opponents for Australia. Despite that, they let in two against Estonia in qualifying, and conceded in friendly matches against Ecuador and Japan, which suggests that they can let their guard down against weaker opposition. This means Australia may not be as solid a choice as they seem.
Another important consideration is consistency. Mexico may look like long-shots to scuff their chances, particularly against lower-ranked opposition like Cameroon in Group A. But a 0-0 draw with Nigeria back in March and a blank against Bosnia just two weeks before the World Cup begins tells us that they might not have the firepower when it’s really needed. And with odds of 25/1, they’re good value too.
One final thing all players dabbling in the lowest scoring team market must know is the dead-heat rule applied by bookies. That is, how the payouts are calculated in the probable event that more than one side draws a blank in Brazil. This has a big effect on how you’ll bet.
When there’s a dead-heat, your odds stay the same but your stake is divided by the number of teams in the tie. So if, for example, a £10 bet was placed on Australia at 4/1, and both the Aussies and Iran failed to score, while everyone else bagged a goal, the return would be (£10/2) * 4 = £20, plus the £5 stake returned, totaling £25.
This means that there’s extra incentive to look for big odds when it’s likely several teams will struggle. So Mexico remain good value, whichever way you look at it, as do long shots like England (40/1) and Switzerland (40/1). It also means that differences which seem big now, may be less when the group stages finishes. So don’t let a small increase in odds persuade you from a carefully-considered bet.