John Duncan

World Cup 2018, Final Post

Well it has been a fantastic run for England and we can’t really look back at this in my opinion with anything other than a bit of pride for how far they went. It was sad to watch the second half of the game and beyond yesterday evening as I guess I had built up the belief in my mind that we could go all the way but I couldn’t feel bad about what they had achieved. Maybe next time…

Looking ahead we now have the 3rd and 4th place play-off and the final to come. Belgium v England on Saturday 14th July and France v Croatia on Sunday 15th. I’m really not sure if I will watch the play-off game as they always seem a little light-weight compared to the games leading up to them. The final is different and I feel sure I will be watching that one.

As far as ASP and trading is concerned. The 3rd and 4th play-off does stack up for ASP (albeit with a high set of 0-0 odds – that could come down of course) but the problem with this game (this type of game) is that they don’t really mean anything and therefore the motivation to give it their best isn’t always inherent in the players. The market expects Belgium to win and it also expects more than 2.5 goals. However, that is now and much can change in the market over the next two days. I see no trading opportunities personally in this type of game. It is very similar in circumstance to the games you get in the Champions League between teams that can no longer qualify. Literally, anything could happen as they often totally lack any passion.

The final is a different prospect of course and, currently, it is very nearly an ASP game (albeit a little on the high side with AO odds). France are clear favourites and the expectation (currently) is for less than 3 goals. It probably doesn’t pay to read too much into past data and history but it probably would be wise to note that in 5 previous meetings, Croatia have never beaten France. But also worthy of note is that, in their last two meetings, both games ended in a draw (2-2 and 0-0). Of course, neither of those then went on to extra time. The 2-2 draw from Euro 2004 was a group stage game and the 0-0 draw in 2011 was a friendly.

Every one of Croatia’s knock out games in this tournament have gone into extra time and they looked very tired after the England game and also a little bruised and battered. France will also have had an extra day of rest and didn’t appear to be carrying any injuries at the end of their game against Belgium which, of course, got decided in the regular 90 minutes.

All of these factors point to a likely win for France and tell me that it will require a colossal effort for Croatia to overcome the enthusiastic French. I find it hard to believe that they will be able to cope with the pace and raw enthusiasm of the likes of Mbeppe and Greismann. Surely, if they continue to persist with him, Giroud of France has to finally score and if you are going to break a goal duck, when better than in the World Cup final. I’m not even going to try to predict a result but I don’t see extra time and I only see a win for France and I have (no more than) gut feeling that Giroud will finally score and reward the faith the French coach has had in him.

Will I trade it? Probably not. I am put off by the possibility of a brick wall of utter determination getting erected by Croatia. Maybe, just maybe, even with all the weariness and nagging little injuries, they just have the passion after all to want it more than the French.

I’ve enjoyed my little blogging period and I will do my best to find some time to pop in here again in the not too distant future.

World Cup 2018, The England Semi-Final

I wasn’t far out with my analysis yesterday of the France v Belgium semi-final. The bit I did get wrong was the team that came through. I predicted 0-1 to Belgium and we ended up with 1-0 to France. Given that I rarely do a match winner bet (and yesterday was no exception) this had no impact on me of course. I did trade the game some in the end although, once again, not in the “traditional” ASP sense. And that is a good time to make a very important point (not for the first time). ASP is not, has never been a strict, step 1, step 2, step 3 process that has to be followed without exception. It allows for some imagination, scope and flexibility.

If you want a loose explanation of how it works then it is simple enough. Subject to odds and (here’s the bit people forget) also subject to your analysis of what is most likely in the game based on any available data, the plan is to use both extreme ends of the correct score market to make a profit on any outcome. This means, generally, laying AO at appropriate (acceptable) odds and 0-0 at appropriate (acceptable) odds. The “acceptable” aspect can only be interpreted by the user. One user is happy to risk several hundreds, whilst others are happy to lose a few pounds/euros. The whole thing, in play, is then very largely dependent on your initial reading of the game and your ability to act and move towards profit as the game develops.

During my testing period back in 2010/2011 I often layed for £200 or even £300 so that I could seriously stress test the market liquidity and so on. I often lost quite large amounts but, more often, won nice chunky sums. For our public tests (which can still be viewed today of course) we had Geoff running with stakes that we felt most people would use and that test ran for the best part of two years.

People often accuse system designers of “back testing” and manipulation. Our testing was live, real and happening day to day. I mention these facts because often people forget the long term nature of ASP as a profit producing program and the amount of work that went into it. Yes, it’s simple, but it absolutely works. Not on every game and, like most good things, it will have periods when it bites you and you can get frustrated but if you keep the faith, it will look after you if you don’t do crazy things.

So back to “ASP is not, has never been a strict, step 1, step 2, step 3 process”. Yesterday I watched a match that was developing into a table tennis game, attack after attack. The pressure on both goal mouths (especially the French goal mouth in the first half), was immense. A goal seemed as inevitable as a goal can ever seem. At half time I decided that, although it was still 0-0, that a 0-0 lay seemed as safe as houses but I didn’t want to make the lay until I could get under 4. A £30 (roughly) liability was acceptable for a £10 profit on any other result.

Very shortly after the game kicked off for the second half, I got my wish and layed for £11 at odds of 3.9. The luck of the brave maybe? Or was it simply good planning and good reading? It didn’t feel like luck. It never does when you have a plan and simply follow it through. Either way, I had to wait no more than 5 minutes for the only goal of the game. Much to my annoyance and, to be fair to Belgium, against the flow of the play (Belgium at this stage had 60% of the possession compared to France at 40%) it was France who scored (slight evidence there that the last man to make contact before it went in was Belgium’s Fellaini).

Being true to my fear/assumption that it could be a one goal decides all result. I didn’t contemplate laying 1-0 and sat back to enjoy the rest of the game, taking a nice £10.45 profit in the end. Not strictly ASP? Well, we’re about laying extreme ends of the market to get a profit elsewhere. That was achieved. There was no way on earth I was ever getting an AO lay in. The starting odds on the AOHW were 28 in the end and from there, they just got huge. So I very much still see this as a bit of ASP trading. If you aren’t looking for the opportunities you are never going to see them and, yes, you do need to take some risks. The elusive zero risk football system still hasn’t been discovered. That said, I do have something very close I’ve been quietly working on – on and off-  for the last couple of years (that’s another story for another time).

Now, as I move on to the Croatia v England game today I think you can probably guess what I am about to say. Yes, that’s right, pub time again! If I wasn’t going to the pub to enjoy it, I wouldn’t trade this anyway. The market is screaming 0-0 and there is no attractive trading opportunity I can see here. I have a feeling (is it optimism?) that England could score a couple against Croatia. I don’t think the Croatian defence is brilliant and I do believe we have more potential strike power.

Here’s hoping for an England World Cup Final for the first time in 52 years!

World Cup 2018, France v Belgium

Not an ASP trader really because of high AO however, it might be worth doing all the same because who is to say that Belgium will not score first? Any Other Home Win (France) is available at 23/24 to lay – if I were to lay that and then Belgium score first that could lead to easy profit. The problem of course is that to win £10 I would need to risk £220/£230 – not so good. Because of that, I will be leaving it alone for trading unless there is an early goal that leads to a serious drop in AO odds.

Another cautionary note on the trading front is that under 2.5 goals is only marginally favourite here so if we combine that with the high end AO it makes for a potentially uncomfortable trading game.

As to who will win? The market marginally fancies France and I marginally fancy Belgium. I think I’d prefer England to have to meet Belgium in the final (of course we’re going to beat Croatia tomorrow!). In truth these two teams are hard to separate. Both have exciting, talented players and I think it really will come down to who scores first and contrary to the under 2.5 goals odds, I think that first goal could be the only goal. So, 0-1 Belgium is my call.

Enjoy the game.



World Cup 2018 – Quarter Final – England!

Well I was pretty accurate in my assessment of yesterdays offerings. I correctly predicted Belgium over Brazil and a two goal win by France (which I saw no opportunity to trade). I traded the Brazil game and it turned out to be an absolute gem for ASP. My only problem with it was that I didn’t do more as it really was easy money. I started with conservative £3 lays on AOHW and 0-0 with the intention of laying more on 0-0 but, of course, a 13 minute goal hadn’t seen enough drop in the 0-0 odds to get more on there. I immediately layed 0-1 for another £3, again thinking that I would return and lay more here.

The beauty in this game, of course, was that the goal had gone to the (according to the market) “outsider”. These are always the best ASP games because the pressure isn’t on the AO you’ve layed. Within another 15 minutes, Belgium were two up before I managed any other 0-1 lay. Now at this point you have to make an assessment for the rest of the game. Laying 0-2 was simply not necessary. Even if Belgium had gone to 4, I was fire-proof having layed the Brazil AO. As it transpired, with a goal eventually going in for Brazil, I would have got away with a 0-2 lay but when you are sitting on a nice little profit with no pressure because both goals have gone in against your AO lay, then I think it is always better to leave it there. Job done for a little ASP trade and a nice little £8 plus. You can see the odds acquired in the image below.

Looking at today briefly, I am certainly not going to even think about trading the Sweden v England game (yes you guessed it, pub again for that one!) and even if I were so inclined, I wouldn’t be rushing into an AOAW at 20/21. That said, it would have to be seen as a pretty safe lay. 0-0, not so much. The Swedes are inclined to be a little defensive and no conclusion in normal time is very much a possibility.

Moving on, Russia v Croatia doesn’t do much for my trading appetite either. AOAW at around 25 is too heavy for my tastes and, whilst I do not see a goal-less normal time, the market is leaning very much that way. So for me, today it is an afternoon in the pub and maybe a nice nap to follow. For the record I do think England are going into the Semi-finals and they should be joined by Croatia but don’t be surprised if the Russians play out of their skins to cause an upset.

Footnote: This now means the World Cup is staying in Europe and will have stayed here for 4 consecutive World Cup tournaments, not something I ever thought I would see.

World Cup 2018, 6th July

I was pretty accurate with my assessment of the last two games (on Tuesday 3rd) and I did no trading. I enjoyed the England game in the pub and what a ride that was. I could not believe the sheer stress level during the penalty shoot out and the euphoria when we won it. What is this thing that gets inside grown men and turns them into well, frankly, a frenzied horde (OK, maybe a little over the top). It really must be close to what happens on the battlefield but never having experienced that I can only surmise. Anyway, we are through to the quarter finals and why not think now in terms of going all the way!

So, today we have Uruguay v France and Brazil v Belgium and the prospect of two very exciting games.

Looking at Uruguay v France let’s deal with the basics. France are match favourites and given their line up of super stars or potential super stars that is no surprise. Whilst they are clear favourites with odds around 2 versus Uruguay’s 4, the market is heavily in favour of less than 2.5 goals. The 0-0 outcome is seen as very high probability and AO odds are well out of range. You could take a flutter on laying AOAW but at odds of aorund 23 you wouldn’t get much in the pot without substantial risk.

0-1 to France is the absolute favourite scoreline in the market and all makes perfect sense to me that 0-1 and 0-0 seem to be the prevalent predictions. However, there are rumours that not only will Edison Cavani not be fit enough to play for Uruguay against France but also that there may even be question marks over Suarez playing. Realistically, they need both of these guys to beat France and even the absence of Cavani makes their task too difficult in my opinion because of the way Suarez and Cavanni link up to cause problems.

So assessing this game is hard without all the facts. If either of those guys are out (and especially if both are out) this game is a one-way street and a French win. I also think that it is then open wide for a French domination. Uruguay probably have the best defence in the tournament from what I have seen and that could be the only thing to give them real hope but even then you have to look at the fire power in the French side. No question Mbappe is one serious talent and the first teenager to score 3 goals in a World Cup. But how will he fair against a seriously good defence? How much attention do we pay to one particularly onerous statistic concerning France against Uruguay? The French have won only 1 of the last 8 meetings between these two and have never beaten them in World Cup matches. 3 of the 8 games have been Uruguay wins and 4 of them draws.

That last statistic is in such contrast to another, that is, France are unbeaten in the last 9 games they’ve played against South American sides (won 5 and drawn 4) so – pick the bones out of that – as they say. In the end I am never much of an observer of long term statistics (let’s face it, if we focused only on that, how would England have ever won a penalty shoot out?). I think that this will a) end in a draw if Cavanni and Suarez play and are both at least almost fully fit but could just as easily end with a goal up to Uruguay- extra time? Penalties? Who knows…

Or b) in the absence of even one of those guys, I go mostly with the market but I think if France can penetrate the Uruguayan defence once, they can do it twice or even 3 times. My prediction with b) is 0-2 to France as I believe mentally, Uruguay will find the absence of even one of their match winners a big hurdle.

Brazil v Belgium is a game that I am really looking forward to. I still very much believe that Belgium have not been fully tested even though Japan did surprisingly well against them and I think Brazil will be the team to finally open them up and show us their weaknesses. As a team Brazil seem more together but there is no denying that Belgium have some extremely good individual players especially Eden Hazard, De Bruyne and Lukaku. The striker, Lukaku seems more clinical as a finisher at the moment than Neymar does for Brazil but then I do not believe we’ve seen Neymar at his best and there is a reason why he is the world’s most expensive player currently. If only he’d stop falling over…

In defence I believe Belgium are the slightly stronger team and they should also have the midfield edge as Brazil are without Casemiro in this game which will give De Bruyne of Belgium, perhaps, a little more room than expected. So I am slightly against the market in favour of Belgium. That said, it should be close and I do expect normal time goals.

It’s very hard to separate these teams overall as they both have such a vast pool of talent to call on so we have to let the market help us as best it can. Sadly, though, the market doesn’t help us much at all except that leans towards Brazil. That is always going to be the easier option though because no other team has their World Cup pedigree after all.

The market is marginally in favour of under 2.5 goals and the favourite scoreline prediction is 1-1.  That pretty much instantly tells us that no-one is really sure about which side is best here. It is an ASP trader based upon the starting odds and the danger would be, as is always the case in World Cup knockout games, that there isn’t an early enough breakthrough goal and thus it is undecided at full time with both teams believing they can go on to win in extra time.

One other notable fact before I finish is this:

European teams have won the last 3 World Cups. If the Brazilians are beaten in this game by Belgium, and if my belief that France will beat Uruguay is correct, then the last South American hope for the first World Cup win since 2002 will fade and the Europeans will dominate again. The trophy being retained three times in a row by European teams is already a record (previously only two World Cup wins by either South American teams or European teams without it crossing the Atlantic again had been achieved and even that had only occurred twice). Until recently, it was pretty normal for it to cross the Atlantic again after each tournament. I mention that only as food for thought. Could European teams really be looking at 4 World Cup finals without the trophy going back to South America? And now the total tally is South America 9, Europe 11 – could it really go to 12?



World Cup 2018, 3rd July Spotlight

I did actually trade both games yesterday in the end but I didn’t do anything you could call “ASP” so it probably isn’t helpful to go into detail here other than I won £4.55 on the Brazil game and £15.20 on the Belgium game. Just in the interest of fair play, here is the proof below:

Moving on to today, we have Sweden v Switzerland and, of course, Colombia v England. Needless to say, I will not be looking to do a thing on the England game as I will be watching it in the pub and looking to enjoy the atmosphere.

Sweden v Switzerland.

The market wants us to believe that this will be a low goal-scoring affair with 0-0 the the correct score market favourite. Given how easy it is for these teams to find themselves defending over attacking, that is probably a fair and accurate assumption but I don’t see a 0-0 outcome here.

ASP will not work on this because AO odds are huge and you’d need an early goal in the game to allow for any subsequent trading which, given the market odds leaning heavily towards 0-0, seems unlikely.

Overall you have to think Switzerland are the better side on paper but they only managed one win in their three group games. Sweden in contrast managed two including a very impressive 3-0 against Mexico. The Swedes did also lose against a 10 man German team though but that was probably the most determined game Germany played. Switzerland held Brazil to a 1-1 draw and beat Serbia. The surprise was their 2-2 result against Costa Rica. If Serbia had just managed to squeeze a victory against Brazil (as unlikely as that ever seemed) Switzerland would be out.

The conclusion for me has to be that, although Switzerland are the market match odds favourites, Sweden could pull this off. From what I’ve seen, they are at least as good as the Swiss and possibly a little more determined. We could argue all day long that Mexico didn’t really turn up for their game against Sweden but the fact is the Swedes looked impressive and determined either way. I can’t argue with the 1.5 under 2.5 goals odds I see on Betfair. If this is decided in normal time I believe it’ll be with one goal. The most likely result for me at the end of normal time is 1-1 but 0-0 is also very much on the cards here even if I don’t see that happening.

Colombia v England

There isn’t much I can say. We have to win, we can win but Colombia are a tricky side to beat. We need to take charge early and harass them from the get go. If we play too cautiously we could get hit on the break. What gives me confidence above all else is that we have got pace, young legs and plenty of enthusiasm and we are going to need that against a fast and furious team like Colombia who have now got the wind in their sails. Two goals to nil for our lads would do nicely.

If you are thinking of trading this (you shouldn’t with such high AO odds) then read the market carefully. It is another 1.5 under 2.5 goals market, 0-0 and 0-1 odds are pretty much the same so it is a dice roll as to how the market will respond to a period of no goals. 0-0 will drop pretty easily and 0-1 (even if there is an early goal) cold easily be the end result so don’t get trapped there. My advice is to leave it alone. Two quick observations that might be useful:

  1. We have a good record against Colombia with 3 wins and two draws from the last 5 meetings.
  2. Jamés Rodriguez may be unfit if he plays at all and is, without a doubt, Colombia’s best player.

World Cup 2018, 2nd July Games

I didn’t trade yesterday in the end but I was sorely tempted to trade the the Croatia game based on the very early goal. Well, of course, that almost immediately became “goals” as it went to 1-1 within 5 minutes. That threw me and I decided to leave it be. I jokingly turned to my partner after the equaliser and said “Given what can happen in these knock out games, we’ll probably see this one stay there and go to penalties” – I WAS JOKING! But that is of course exactly what happened.

I hate the extra time process in these big competitions. As far as I am concerned, they should play the 90 minutes and go straight to penalties, the extra 30 minutes is pointless in my view and it allows the players to think they have all the time in the world and, of course, they use that to stifle the game. I saw Croatia go from one of the most exciting teams in the tournament in their 3 group games, to being a totally boring spectacle in this game. No team really wants penalties, no team can honestly say they want to have their future progress decided on the penalty spot and so removing extra time puts them under pressure to finish up in normal time. Croatia didn’t so much win the penalty shoot out, it was more a case of Denmark losing it.

Anyway, all in all, it didn’t matter, I didn’t trade it because of the two quick goals, but not, I should stress, because I really thought it would stay 1-1 – no, I didn’t trade it on the pure logic that any game that produces 2 goals in five minutes can produce 4 to one side in 90. Boy oh boy did I get that wrong!

Two games yesterday decided on penalty shoot outs after they both produced both of their normal time goals within the first half of the game proper. When you think about it, that tells you all you need to know about the World Cup. In the knockout stages, the fear of losing vastly outweighs the drive to win in most cases. I hope that Gareth Southgate drills his team into focusing entirely on beating the Colombians in 90 minutes and doesn’t allow this idea that they have a full 120 minutes to decide it. All due respect to Harry Kane, we do not want to take a chance on another England penalty shoot out!

There was no trading prospect for me in the Spain game either. AO started out looking too much like a threat. I (and I guess many) didn’t expect Russia to do much with this game and to see Spain beaten on penalties in the end was a shocker but it is good for the tournament. The hosts bring most of the noise with them and that keeps the  tournament buzzing into the quarter finals. Again I have to say that the Spanish were not a joy to watch, they looked and played as if they had all the time in the world and that Russia couldn’t possibly win.

Moving on to today we have two games that should be predictable (dangerous assumption) as Brazil take on Mexico and Belgium take on Japan.

Brazil v Mexico

The filters stack up for trading in this game if you ignore a) Brazil being very hot favourites at around 1.5 and b) AOHW sitting at around 8 so, in other words, the odds do not bode well for a trader. The market is almost in contradiction, not for the first time. The favourite scoreline, based on odds is 1-0 at around 7. The market also sees under 2.5 goals as more likely than over even though the second favourite scoreline in the Correct Score market is AOHW. This tells me, based on experience, that it is a 2-0 outcome that really is the key scoreline here. Generally, the over/under 2.5 goals market is the one that the rest of the market forms around. That isn’t a scientific fact or anything it is just based on years of observation.

Having said that, Mexico were superb until they played Sweden and are capable of scoring. You could put that last game all down to a decision to rest key players with Sweden playing their full strength team. It’s hard to say. Instinctively, I can’t believe Mexico will simply lay down and die at the feet of Brazil and they are more than capable of harassing the Brazilian defence (and they have shown moments of defensive uncertainty). Contrary to the market, I definitely feel like this game shapes up to be quite a lively attacking affair and my favourite scoreline here would be 3-1. Any game that you perceive could be 3-1 can also easily be 4-1 as we know only too well.

The plan with ASP is to only take on games where you believe that the scoreline is unlikely to go past 2 goals to one side. I don’t confidently feel that here and so I will be leaving it alone for trading purposes.

Belgium v Japan

As spunky as Japan have proven to be in this tournament they are up against it here. Whatever happens, they have at least already achieved what any Japanese team has previously achieved in the World Cup. They’ve played against the best of the best in International Football and not been found wanting and qualified to the knockout stages. They will want to go further and may even believe that they can go further but I don’t think that they will go further. Belgium have finally looked like the team that everyone has been expecting to turn up this time around.

They were seen as potential winners in 2014 and disappointed. They were not overly impressive in the 2016 Euros with some up and down performances and then went out in a shock defeat against Wales in the quarter finals (it’ll be a long time until the Welsh forget that one). This time Belgium look like the complete package and they will be, in my opinion, nigh on impossible for the Japanese to contain. This game has an AOHW end result written all over it and the market supports that by making the AOHW scoreline the favourite. I must contain my enthusiasm again for another day even though I really want to trade both of today’s games, I will just sit back and try to enjoy them for the game alone if I can.

I expect to see both Brazil and Belgium advance to the quarter finals even though we all know how easily the World Cup can throw up shock results.


World Cup 2018, 1st July Catch Up

I haven’t had a lot of time on my hands over the last two days although I have been doing some (not strictly by the book) trading. In my last post on 28th June I mentioned that I thought the Senegal v Colombia game was the only real trader for me and I predicted a draw in this game. I was fairly confident that I had read that game correctly before it started and so I was a bit surprised at the outcome.

Nevertheless I was very confident about an AOAW lay and my plan was to do no more in-play trading unless I got a chance to lay an early goal. I was a little less confident about the 0-0 lay and, at first I was going to lay just the £2 but, on further reflection, I figured that if I settled for another £2 on 0-0 and another £2 on AO that would give me a reasonable little earner without any need for further in play action.

As you can see, I layed AOAW for £7 at odds of 14 and layed 0-0 for £4 at odds of 12.50. The game went on some without a goal and I have to confess that I had started to consider taking a cash out option and locking in a loss whatever the outcome of (I believe) around £10. So -£10 if no goal came in before I clicked the cash out button and +£10 if it did. Just before clicking the button, Colombia scored. I still expected an equaliser after that but the game ended 0-1. A bit of a gamble in the end but if you watched the game you’d know that it was a miracle that no goal had gone in earlier.

Moving on to yesterday and resisting the urge to discuss the tactical defeat that England suffered on Thursday, I was away during the day yesterday. And I was driving when the France v Argentina game was on so I couldn’t even have told you what the odds before kick off were had it not been shown to me in an email that one of our ASP users sent me. They were, indeed very high odds and the market (and I) absolutely wasn’t expecting a 4-3 outcome.

As for the evening game, Uruguay v Portugal, I walked through the door and had just fired the computer up in time to see Uruguay score. That left me with but a few options to consider not having had time to study the game and see the first few minutes (always important to get a feel for who’s up for it and who just wants to defend). I didn’t feel comfortable at that stage with an AO lay so I opted for a lay on 1-0. Ten minutes into the second half, Portugal equalised and then, less than 10 minutes after that, Uruguay scored again and that proved to be the final goal of the game.

A fortuitous win for me? Profit is profit and I had plenty of time to consider cash out or reducing/killing off my 1-0 liability when the second goal of the game went in so it wasn’t too much of a gamble really. I had been expecting that we might see the first game to go into extra time and maybe even penalties as I had judged these two sides to be pretty equal. In the end though, as the game developed, you had to say that Uruguay were worthy winners and the Suarez, Cavani partnership looked particularly impressive.

And now a quick look at today’s two games…

Spain v Russia. If you judge Spain to be vastly superior to Russia then AOHW is a big threat. Given that Portugal and Spain ended 3-3 and Uruguay easily beat Russia, you have to say that is a big threat so I will not be trading this one. If Russia were to win here, this could easily be the biggest shock of the tournament and as good as they looked in their first two games I think we now know that Russia excelled against poor opposition. So I have to go with a Spain win here. I don’t think they will beat them with 4 goals or more as we should take account of Russia losing a man to a red card in the game against Uruguay with more than half the game to go.

Croatia v Denmark. The Croatians have looked very impressive and you have to expect a win for them here but Denmark will not make it easy. They hardly seem like a goal scoring side with a grand total of two goals in total from their 3 games but they will defend like crazy and hope to score on the break or from the penalty spot. Can you trade this one? The AOHW is a little too high for my taste and the market is all out adamant about sub 2.5 goals. So a 1-0 scoreline is, unsurprisingly, the markets favourite choice. I can’t see much point in disagreeing with that but having watched the Croatians through the group stages I definitely think they could score more. Again, I have to declare that, for me, short of an early goal tempting me into an AOHW lay (even then highly unlikely) I will be watching only.


World Cup 2018, 28th June Round-Up

At the end, I will share what I did yesterday but, first of all, let’s take a look at today and, of course, we all know what the big game today is for those of us backing England…

Japan v Poland looks a little bit like a damp squid in terms of trading. There’s nothing to be done there unless you wanted a very speculative lay on 0-0. There’s no trading here for me. On paper, given Poland’s poor performances so far, it seems to me like a Japan win is on the cards here even with the market leaning very firmly towards a draw. It is true that a draw would be enough to secure Japan’s movement into the next round but let us not forget the impact of pride on the game. This could be an historic world cup for Japan. They have only ever won two games in the big tournament on two previous occasions and they will want to, at least, equal that achievement. That said, you can never entirely ignore the market.

I am going out on a limb and I am going to lean towards a Japan win. Continuing with the pride theme, if Poland are up for a bit of pride themselves and they come at Japan with a will to win they might well surprise us but then that may create opportunities for Japan on the break and, let’s be clear, the Polish defence has been appalling. If Japan were to lose to Poland, a draw in the other final group game in H could see Japan out of it. Hence my choice of outcome.

With Senegal v Colombia, the market swings heavily towards a win for Colombia. This is largely based on their 3-0 domination of Poland in their last game and, of course the historical results from previous big international tournaments. The market is largely writing off their loss to Japan in the opener because of them playing most of the game with 10 men and conceding an early penalty. All of this might be logical and certainly makes sense but it doesn’t do justice to Japan. They beat Colombia, penalty or not and were not undeserving. Let us not forget that, generally, to get a penalty you need to put the defence under pressure in the penalty area and with the new VAR set up to back up or question refereeing decisions, a penalty now is more likely to be genuine.

Japan were also very resilient against Senegal (2-2) who have been impressive themselves and so it isn’t so cut and dry for me and, whilst I do marginally favour a Colombia win over a Senegal win, I actually think a draw is more likely in this game than it is in the other group H game. From a trading perspective, this game very much stacks up if we look at odds and filters alone.

Panama v Tunisia doesn’t quite stack up for ASP. Although I can’t see this turning into a high scoring affair, the market slightly favours over 2.5 goals and that does surprise me some. That must, predominantly be based on Panama’s goals conceded record so far and Tunisia aren’t far behind them but it may largely ignore the glaring fact that neither side really have goal scorers. Yes, Tunisia did stick two past Belgium and one past England but the goal against England came from the penalty spot. Panama have scored just one goal and that was almost a consolation prize in the England game. So to me, this game is a small margin, low scoreline win for Tunisia. Whatever the outcome, I don’t fancy it as a trader because it could end up being a kick around in the park type of affair and who knows what could happen.

And that leads us on to the big one today and the game that decides who gets to go through first and who gets to go through second in group G. With England v Belgium the first thing to declare is that it isn’t a trader and even if it was, I wouldn’t want to trade it. Besides, I am going to enjoy it in the best way possible (short of being at the game) and that is in the pub with a pint in my hand. The market leans towards under 2.5 goals and England as favourites (not very often you’ll see that against a class side like Belgium). Has English international football really and finally turned the corner?

What is obvious to me, and most observers I assume, is that for the first time I can remember since the 1970 World Cup finals, England have come into this without pressure, without any real expectation and, most importantly, without the normal 50% or more of the squad that have already experienced big tournament disappointment. Add that to the “be yourself” attitude that Gareth Southgate seems to be encouraging, and we have to believe, at long last, that we can win this. And let’s be clear, given what we have seen so far, if we can beat Belgium we can most definitely go the whole way.

I am not being biased when I say that these two teams are the best two teams so far for me in the contest. A lot of people are saying that the game doesn’t really matter because we’re through anyway. But it does matter, we need to beat Belgium if we really believe we can win the World Cup and surely, it has to be our turn again? Now the problem for me in terms of being able to sensibly assess this is that I don’t know who is being played, rested etc.

Are Lingard, Trippier and Kane playing? Because those 3, along with Dele Alli (who we understand is now fit again) seem to be the real new core of England. If 3 out of those 4 take to the field this evening then it will look like Gareth sees the importance of a win here to set the scene for the rest of the tournament. A win against Belgium would give them so much confidence I think. Having said all that, people will understand if he wants to simply rest some or all of those key players. Obviously I want to see England win. Realistically, it will not be easy and the market is leaning very much towards a draw. The team selection will dictate the result for certain. Surely Gareth will give Harry Kane a chance to add to his Golden Boot challenge at the very least even if he rests the others?

I am going for an England win by a small margin. Belgium need to know that, whatever else might happen, they are going to be up against it if they meet us again later on in the contest.

Finally, a very brief catch up on what I did yesterday, and I do mean brief (betting images at the end) and you see how easy it is to make profit if you are alert to the opportunities…

Mexico v Sweden.

I wasn’t going to trade this one and I certainly didn’t do a normal ASP trade. My expectation was that Mexico would win. When I saw Sweden go 1-0 up early into the second half, I had to grab some action so I layed 1-0 with the expectation of Mexico equalising. That’s all I did (all I needed to do in the end) and I took a very simple £10.45 profit. I was able to lay 1-0 for odds of 4.1.

South Korea v Germany

I did say that the temptation to lay AOAW in this game was, for me, huge and I have to confess that I did succumb although only as half time approached. So, I didn’t go straight in and, as a result, I could have layed for much lower odds. I waited until a mere few minutes from half time and then layed for £5 at 10.5. Eight or ten minutes before I did that, I also layed 0-0. My thinking was very much that Germany would score, they’d have to score and, like everyone else on planet football, the idea of Germany not scoring (and qualifying) wasn’t really in my head. I could have lost around £13 on the 0-0 lay but I didn’t feel like it was much of a gamble. Boy, was I surprised when it was Korea and not Germany that scored in added time and then went on to score a second ridiculous goal when the German keeper decided to go all out on attack!

Switzerland v Costa Rica

This was pretty straight forward in the end with the game doing pretty much what was expected from the market. I did a £6 AOHW lay before kick off with a very small 0-0 lay. That was it, I did nothing else in the end as 0-0 odds just didn’t drop fast enough for me to put on my second intended 0-0 lay (I was waiting at odds of 7 for that and then decided to drop it to 5) and goal one went in at around 30 minutes. A simple profit as the game ended 2-2. Had I been paying more attention I could have traded this for some much better profits but I was actually watching the Brazil game and very much enjoying it too. I would normally have run the second game with reference to my in-play scanner but I just let the TV commentators and the Betfair site guide me.



World Cup 2018, 27th June Games

We almost started the rest of the World Cup today without Argentina. I was desperately sad to see the efforts that Nigeria made come to nothing and I so nearly got my 1-1! We also got our first 0-0 of the tournament as two teams, France and Denmark, decided to just have a kick about instead of a world class international game. I guess taking an easy point each was a lot easier than trying to win for heavens sake! That of course made the Australia v Peru game irrelevant and so we’ll leave that one there. Iceland v Croatia went exactly as I thought it would and how nice to see at least one team play (Croatia) as if they wanted to win and, of course, win they did to take the full (deserved) 9 points from the group stage. Now let’s look at today:

Mexico v Sweden almost qualifies as an ASP trader but the AO odds take it off the menu for me. Mathematically, this group is intriguing as, even though Mexico have 6 points, they could still not qualify if Sweden were to beat them with a 3 goal difference (technically 2 may be possible but I don’t known the standings in yellow card/fair play results so far). I don’t think that will happen, based on seeing Sweden’s first two games, and I expect Mexico to win this. Of course, even if Sweden were to win with a 3 goal margin, it would still require the same from Germany (i.e. a 3 goal margin win for them). A draw or defeat for Sweden would see them likely go out unless South Korea beat Germany (and even then, the second place may still need to be settled under the fair play rules).

South Korea v Germany. The Germans pretty much came back from the dead against Sweden and turned an early exit probability into a “how far will they go now” conundrum. They were outclassed by Mexico in game one and simply didn’t look good enough to be contenders at that stage. But now, of course, many are simply putting that down to a jittery start. The easiest game for them in this group was always going to be game three and the expectation was (at the beginning of the tournament) that it would be a formality just to rubber stamp the group supremacy. The fact that they could, given a poor performance today, still go out would have been hard to imagine before it all started.

The reality though is that anything other than a win for the Germans in this game now seems unlikely. It isn’t an ASP trader, the over 2.5 goals odds kill that possibility and so it is a watch only for me even though the temptation to simply lay AOAW is huge.

Serbia v Brazil. A draw would see Brazil through to the next stage but they showed moments of class against Costa Rica in their second game that showed us that, when they need to, Brazil can still play. And I think they will win but I have some minor concerns. The opening game against Switzerland now seems hard to fathom as I think the Swiss were a bit lucky to take 3 points from Serbia in the second game. And of course that’s the thing about the World Cup, even if you watch all the games you simply can’t really evaluate one team against another with accuracy based on the scoreline alone in a game. To explain that further, Brazil looked poor against Switzerland and managed a draw. Serbia looked good against Switzerland and yet they lost.

Switzerland are a team that grind away at their opponents and they obviously did something to earn world rankings of 6 before the tournament started. Even though you conclude that they may have stifled Brazil in game one, they did score and you would have expected them to at least hold that lead. That tells you that, when they really need to, the Swiss can score and pull games back from the brink. They have now turned a game that looked like a defeat into a draw and a game that looked locked on as a draw into a win. This tells me that their style is all about get ahead and keep the lead but their defence just lets them down a shade. They could be a surprise handful in the later stages.

Brazil and Switzerland were expected to be the qualifiers from this group pre-tournament and they still are so, maybe, their drawn game was simply what should have happened.  I sort of think that Serbia could pull off a shock here but am I over estimating Serbia as a team? The odds in the market show a resounding expectation of Brazil winning and a game with 3 goals or more. Once more that declares this a no-go for ASP. I’m happy to speculate on the first two games in the group stage but game 3, when there is often so much at stake, is a whole different ball game. The only thing we know for certain about group E is that Costa Rica are going home whatever happens.

And so, my view on Switzerland v Costa Rica has to go with the market and Switzerland are clear favourites to win but the expectation is a low scoring affair. This game stacks up as an ASP trader and, given what these two teams have done so far, it’s hard to see beyond a goal from Switzerland followed by a brick wall defending game thereafter. 1-0 is the most fancied outcome in the correct score market with 2-0 coming in second. That said, the AOHW odds at 11 show a little uncertainty about whether Costa Rica are good enough to stop more goals than 1 or 2. Serbia only put one goal past Costa Rica and a much more alive Brazil (than the one showing against Switzerland) got 2 past them. Can you see Switzerland putting 4 past them? I don’t think so. But if you do trade this one, know the risks, it is the World Cup after all and Costa Rica only have pride to play for now.





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