Data Update: How Often Do Scoreless Draws Occur In Football?


How often do a football matches end without a goal scored for either club? Do scoreless matches happen more often is some leagues than others? And can the odds for a match tell us something about the likelihood of a particular match ending nil-all? Today Andrew Brocker review and supplements his previous analysis.

This article was originally published in August 2011, and has been updated with further data and analysis January 2015.

No matter which club you support, one thing we as football fans all have in common, is that we love to see goals scored. But as punters there's no doubt times when a goal is the last thing we want to see. And for those who like to back a 0-0 result, a match ending without a goal scored is as thrilling as a 4-4 scorcher.

But how often do matches end without a goal scored? 

With this in mind I decided to open up the spreadsheets, flip them around and see what the occurrence rates of 0-0 results have been across eight of the major leagues of Europe in recent seasons.

Do 0-0 results occur at a similar rate across most major leagues, or do particular leagues see a significantly higher or lower rate of scoreless draws?

In this piece we will be firstly looking at the occurence of 0-0 results over the last 10 seasons, from the start of the 2004/05 season to the conclusion of the 2013/14 season across eight of the major leagues across Europe:

  • English Premier League.
  • Spanish Primera.
  • German Bundesliga.
  • Italian Serie A.
  • Scottish Premier League.
  • Dutch Eredivisie.
  • French Ligue 1.
  • Portugal Liga


Further, we will be taking a look at the likelihood of a 0-0 result based on the pre-match bookmaker odds for Under 2.5 goals. And lastly we will look at the likelihood of a 0-0 result based on goal totals for the competing clubs across their previous 19 matches.

Across The Major Leagues

Firstly, let's take a simple look at the occurrence of 0-0 results across eight of the major leagues of European football.

We see below, as many of you may have expected, that the French Ligue 1 has had the highest occurrence of scoreless matches since 2004/05.

Scoreless Match Stats

Over that span, just over 11% of Ligue 1 matches ended without a goal. This number was 2.3% greater than the league in second place, Portugal Liga with 9.7% of its matches ending without a score, just ahead of Serie A with 8.4%.

The Premier League is in fourth place with8.2% of matches without a goal,  while the Spanish Primera and Scottish Premier League were middle of the pack with 7.6% of matches going goalless. The German Bundesliga saw a 0-0 result strike rate of 6.4% while the high-scoring Dutch Eredivisie holds down the final place on our list with 5.4% of its matches ending nil-all since 2004/05.

Chances Of A Match Ending Without A Goal

Now let's turn to take a look at how likely a match is to end without a goal scored based on the pre-match Under 2.5 odds goal expectation.

Chances Of Scoreless Match

The chart above shows the chances of a match ending without a goal based on the average pre-match odds for Under 2.5 goals being scored. It can be calculated using the following equation:

= 1 / (1 + EXP(-(-5.35095276553411+5.40906429303874 * (Under 2.5 goal odds implied probability / (Under 2.5 goal odds implied probability + Over 2.5 goal odds implied probability)))))

So let's say for example we have a match where the Under 2.5 goal odds are 2.25 and the Over 2.5 goals odds are 1.70. First we would convert the odds to their implied probabilities:

Over 2.5 goals at 1.70 = 1 / 1.70 = implied probability of 58.82%.

Under 2.5 goals at 2.25 = 1 / 2.25 = implied probability of 44.44%.

We then plug these implied probabilities into our equation and we get:

= 1 / (1 + EXP(-(-5.35095276553411+5.40906429303874 * (44.44% / (58.82% + 44.44%)))))

The result is that the likelihood of theis particular match finishing 0-0 is 4.64%.

This equation is not based on pure math but rather a statistical analysis of our eight leagues of study across near on 24,000 matches played the last 10 seasons, but it should provide readers with a genuine idea of the chances of a football match ending without a goal given the pre-match Under 2.5 goal odds.

Another Approach

Finally let's use a rather simple model for assessing the chances of a match finishing scoreless.

Chances Of Match Ending without a goal

The chart above shows the likelihood of a match ending without a goal based on the occurrence rates of matches ending Over 2.5 goals in each of the competing clubs' last 19 matches.

So how does this work? Well we simply add up the number of times a match ended Over 2.5 goals in each of the competing clubs previous 19 matches in the league. Let's look at an example.

Let's say that Team A had 10 of their last 19 league matches conclude with over 2.5 goals scored while Team B had 8 of their last 19 league matches end with over 2.5 goals scored. Combined this gives us 18 of 38 matches ending over 2.5 goals, a combined occurrence rate of 47.37%.

We then plug that figure into the following equation, which has been developed based on the last 10 seasons of our 8 major European Leagues:

= 1 / (1 + EXP(-(-1.43368731448625-2.0872350274069 * Combined Over 2.5 Goal Occurrence Rate Last 19 Matches)))

Doing so gives us a likelihood of a scoreless match at 8.15%, or odds of 12.27.

Now this approach is a rather simplistic method of assessing the chances of a scoreless match taking place (and given its simplicity and rather narrow graph curve likely not particularly accurrate in comparison to bookmaker odds and other more sophisticated methods). But it's hoped it may inspire readers to develop their own models. Tell us about your own methods in the comments section below.

Concluding Thoughts

Betting on a scoreless match can prove to a profitable exercise, particularly if you have developed a keen method or model for identifying value. It's hoped that this article has both informed and encouraged readers to create their own novel approaches to find opportunities to profit in the 0-0 result betting market.

Good luck.



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