Trends that Predict a Team’s Performance

When you’re trying to determine a team’s chances of winning a particular match, there is an overwhelming amount of variables to consider. However, some factors are more important than others.

Let’s take a look at the biggest influences that your manual or automated models need to consider.


1. The Players

Before you analyse the micro, you need to start with the macro. The 22 players from each side have the biggest impact on the result. If you want to quantify players and give them a value, rather than subjective opinion, there are numerous resources that can help you.

Here are three options:

  • Champion Data have the most comprehensive player rating model but it’s not freely available
  • FinalSiren is easy to use, rich with history and contains a player comparison tool, however it’s primary rating model is dream team scoring, which is often criticised
  • Fan Footy is similarly dense, but also contains Supercoach scoring and extra player content
  • Footywire shows historic results and also has historic line and head to head prices

In addition to being able to rate a player, Fan Footy, Footywire and FinalSiren let you review past matches between the teams. You can use this information to predict defensive tactics. For example, if Adelaide are playing Melbourne, you may assume that Bernie Vince will reduce Rory Sloane’s impact.

Popular betting models use player data as their biggest influence. Every player is given a rating and when the teams are announced on Thursday these models will project a line. Betting markets often move at this time.

Similarly, player models put a tangible value on injuries.


2. The Venue

Home ground advantage is an obvious market influencer. However, the same value can’t be given to every match. For example, Carlton hosting Collingwood at the MCG has a smaller value than Fremantle hosting Brisbane in Perth.

Additionally, some teams are exceptional at travelling. Collingwood haven’t played finals for three years, yet they’ve won their last five out of seven trips to Sydney. They’re similarly dangerous in Adelaide. Less renowned are Richmond who have won four of their last five trips to Sydney.

Another example to stimulate your research is West Coast’s record at particular ovals. The Eagles, perennial finalists, are three from nine at the MCG, whereas they are five wins in six games at Adelaide Oval. One theory is that Adelaide Oval has very similar dimensions to their homeground, making it conducive to their game style, whereas the MCG is too wide for their defensive structures. Venue records are one variable that the market often undervalues, providing an opportunity for punters.


3. Historical Matchups

Similar to the venue data, recent historic results between two teams can help find an edge. The Betfair Model, like other automated rating systems, is heavily influenced by recent results between two sides. Player matchups or particular game styles may be favour one team in each meeting.

The obvious caution here is you don’t want to go too far back. The Brisbane Lions matchup data is going to be very different when Justin Leppitsch was playing to when he was coaching and different again in a few years time when Chris Fagan’s Lions are longer the youngest team in the competition.


4. The Weather

The weather, or lack of it in the case of Etihad Stadium, is another variable to consider. Professional punters will normally check weather websites like BoM every day looking for accurate information. Rain brings opportunity.

The most common application is punters pushing the total markets down in anticipation of a low scoring match. It’s also thought to make the margin tighter. Less expected points and tough conditions reduces the difference in class between two sides. The first punters to predict weather conditions are often rewarded.

You could also do deeper research into windy or stormy conditions. Potentially some teams are suited to these conditions where others aren’t. The data may show that elite uncontested possession teams with high profile tall forwards are significantly disadvantaged against competition leading contested teams in wet conditions.



5. Accumulated Fatigue

Another point of difference between two teams is their rest and preparation period. How do teams perform after six day breaks? What about after returning from long flights to Perth, Darwin, Cairns, or now, China?

As far as we’re aware there isn’t a database that has the information readily available. You might find an edge by building one.


6. Recent Form

This is one of the biggest influences on week to week prices. It’s also challenging to interpret. On the one hand, how a team has been playing is the most recent predictor for future success. A winning team that is high on confidence is easier to back than a team doing the opposite.

However, as the AFL becomes more competitive (right now, the 15th-17th place teams have a scoring percentage greater than 90%), overvaluing recent form can be dangerous. For example, the Adelaide Crows were 6-0 in 2017 and matched at $3.20 for the AFL Premiership before losing consecutive games at match odds of less than $1.20. The first loss was against the 1-5 Kangaroos. A similar fall happened to the Geelong Cats who had five wins in a row and then three losses.

Recent form is therefore important but it can’t be overlooked. If you can find indicators that show a team performing well but not getting favourable results, or vice versa, then your form data will be better than the markets.


7. Traditional Rivals

One variable often overlooked by the market is the motivation of local derbies and traditional rivals. Often the market is priced according to the quality of each team and recent form. However, the emotional significance of these games sees teams who are struggling for confidence find determination. They show intensity that defies their form.

While you research the recent results between two teams it may be useful to include the starting (or final) head to head prices. Is there somewhere on Betfair we can point them to? You may find that the outsider in Carlton vs Collingwood games with odds of $3-$3.30 wins every 2.8 games. Additionally, you might even find that the odds of the outsider come in during the week as punters acknowledge the history. If that’s the case, you’ll want to place your bets in the Betfair match odds at the start of the week, where there’s even greater value.


Conclusion

There are a lot of significant variables that help predict a team’s chances each weekend. Thankfully, most of that information is available online. Whether you have an automated or manual rating model, it pays to understand these influences and give them a priority. What you’ll find is that the market overvalues some factors and ignores others. That breeds opportunity.


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