Penalties in Soccer Betting
That critical twelve yards. The longest walk. But can you really take advantage of penalties in soccer betting?
The top teams tend to get most of the penalties that are awarded. Yet this is because they are the better teams with more skilful players, not because there is any particular bias towards them, as some fans would suggest! Also, the top teams tend to adopt a more attacking style of football, especially if they are playing weaker teams from lower in the table / league. Simple logic dictates that better teams will take the ball into the penalty area more frequently than the opposing weaker side.
There is a close correlation between the number of goals ‘for’ and ‘against’ and the number of penalties ‘awarded’ and ‘given away’ by teams. This correlation exists for good teams as well as bad teams.
The chances of a penalty being awarded in a game does not really vary much from season to season or game to game, regardless of how ‘high profile’ the match might be. Penalties are awarded around 20% of the time which equates to odds of around 4/1 or 5.0 decimal.
You won’t find many sportsbooks offering odds better than 5/2 (or 3.5 decimal) or sometimes higher on the betting exchanges – so value is hard to come by.
Often the best markets relating to soccer betting are those offering odds on penalties not being given. Check out Sporting Index for some decent ‘penalty’ markets.
The Importance of Penalties
Soccer is a low scoring game and so a penalty awarded to a team can of course make the difference between winning and losing. Penalties are therefore invaluable to teams.
Around 76% of penalties are successfully converted and this figure does not really vary based on the quality of the teams in the game. The advantage is firmly with the penalty kick taker.
One noticeable difference between a penalty taken in the ‘reguular’ ninety minutes and one taken during a shoot-out, is that the average conversion rate drops from 76% to 70%. The reasons for the reduced CR are ‘nerves’ or the added pressure that an important tournament or competition brings, inexperienced players being forced to take penalties, following on from which there is a lack of randomness in shot placement.
Aveage Penalties Per Game & Average Conversion Rate.
(League, Average Penalties Per Game, Average Conversion Rate)
League APPG ACR
Serie A 0.32 75%
La Liga 0.28 73%
Bund’a 0.27 76%
Ligue 1 0.27 75%
PLeague 0.23 80%
Which teams benefit the most?
For soccer betting it is worth knowing which teams are winning penalties and which teams are giving them away. Below you can see the top ten teams, with the best for/against ratio, for penalties awarded – across the big five European leagues:
Which teams benefit from penalties the most?
(Team, Penalties For, Penalties Against, Penalty Ration).
Team Pfor. Pag. Penalty ratio
Barcelona 88 30 2.93
Bayern 79 30 2.63
Bournm’th 43 17 2.53
Chelsea 79 37 2.14
Napoli 76 36 2.11
Real Madrid 91 44 2.07
Man City 74 36 2.06
PSG 67 34 1.97
Bor. Dort 48 25 1.92
Leicester 37 20 1.85
Penalty Taking Strategy for Players
Players tend to naturally strike the ball across their body (right-footed players to the left and vice versa). Stats suggest penalty takers will choose their ‘strong side’ 62% of the time. Yet for the best chance of success, the penalty taker’s choice of shot placement should be totally random.
Players who mix up their penalty placement (e.g. Harry Kane and Mark Noble in the Premier League) have a better than average penalty conversion rate. These players are successful with over 85% of their penalties, compared to the league average conversion rate of 80%. Yet the sample available is still relatively small.
One of the best penalty takers to grace the game was Matt Le Tissier. He has the best penalty conversion rate of anyone who has twenty plus penalties in their career – scoring 48/49 (98%).
Good luck with any of your niche betting.