Betting Against The Crowd In Champions League Group Stage Return Fixtures


Champions League group stage return fixtures commence this week. Today on the blog Andrew takes a look at how the markets have responded to emphatic opening round results in recent seasons.

This week sees the start of return fixtures in Champions League group stage action. While eleven clubs have their ticket all but stamped for the knockout stage, another eleven clubs remain in genuine contention for the next round.

But before the knockout rounds begin, let's consider a few angles for our betting over the final three group stage rounds. In particular, what we can learn from the opening three rounds and how those results can assist us in making a profit in the final rounds of the group stage. In this article we will look at group stage return fixtures for Champions Leagues 1998/99 to 2012/2013, a total of 15 seasons.

How often do clubs who win at home, win the return fixture away?

Since the 1998/99 Champions League season, clubs who won at home in the first group stage matchup, won the return fixture away 33% of the time, drawing in 25% of return fixtures and losing 42% of the time. Fairly straight forward results. Nothing to see here at first glance.

What is interesting however is that in the 404 of such matches played, the home club in the return fixture having coming off the first round away defeat, has offered punters a profit of just under 2% betting at even stakes. Betting at even stakes with typical bookmaker commission, we can expect to make a loss of around -4% to -5% over the long run betting with random luck.


How can we explain the profitable results? Well a simple explanation would be that the opening fixture win by the home club distorted the betting market in the return fixture with punters underestimating the home club in the return fixture coupled with the fact that clubs that had won the opening fixture, particularly by a large margin, may be comfortable and easily on the verge of progressing to the knockout stage.

When we break down the opening round results further, we see that this seems to be suitable explanation. When the home club in the opening round won the match by 3 goals or greater, a resounding victory, the profit at even stakes for that club in the return fixture has been almost -27%, while the profitability for a draw in the return match was almost +27% and the profitability for the home club in the return fixture almost +2%.


Matches to consider this season?

Given this analysis, the following home clubs are well worth your consideration when return fixtures begin, especially for the draw or with the assistance of a handicap:

  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Bayer Leverkusen - 5th November
  • Viktoria Plzen vs Bayern Munich - 5th November
  • Ajax vs Barcelona - 26th November
  • Steaua Bucuresti vs Schalke - 26th November
  • CSKA Moscow vs Bayern Munich - 27th November
  • Benfica vs PSG -10th December
  • Copenhagen vs Real Madrid - 10th December
  • Marsielle vs Dortmund - 11th December

As we can see, many of the home clubs in these return fixtures will be underdogs or slight favourites at best. If you're betting on these matches in the coming weeks, it's well worth keeping this analysis in mind.

So what happens when the home club loses the opening fixture?

In cases where the home club lost the opening fixture, backing the draw has been the overwhelming choice in the return fixture. Simply backing the draw at even stakes in the return fixture in this situation has generated a profit of just over +24% in matches since 1998/99, while backing the club that won the opening round matchup to win again in the return fixture has offered a loss at even stakes of -36%.


Why? Well of course, it could just be random dumb luck. Or again, a suitable explanation may be that the clubs that won away from home in the opening round are going to be heavily backed in the return fixture or will have perhaps taken their foot off the pedal with qualification for the next round an almost certainty by the time the return fixture comes around.

These results are even more striking when we again break down the opening round results further. When the away club in the opening fixture won the opening match by at least 2 goals, the profitability at even stakes for the draw in the return fixture is a huge +44% while backing the victorious club in the opening round to win again at home in the return fixture has delivered a ridiculous loss of -60%.


The analysis suggests it may be wise to stay away from backing clubs at home in return fixtures that won the opening round fixture by 2 goals or greater. Why? Well because every dumb shmuck chasing money at short odds will be betting on these clubs to win again because “There's no way they lose this game man!”.

On the other hand, while the away clubs in these fixtures may not inspire much hope, the odds for them to fight their way to a draw may well present a great opportunity.

Matches to consider this season?

  • PSG vs Anderlecht - 5th November
  • Atletico Madrid vs Austria Wien - 6th November
  • Chelsea vs Schalke - 6th November
  • Manchester City vs Viktoria Plzen - 27th November
  • PSG vs Olympiakos - 27th November
  • Real Madrid vs Galatasaray - 27th November
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Real Sociedad - 27th November
  • Bayern Munich vs Manchester City - 10th December
  • Olympiakos vs Anderlecht - 10th December
  • Chelsea vs Steaua Bucuresti - 11th December

Again, if you're betting on these matches in the coming weeks, it's well worth keeping this analysis in mind.



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