There were many questions that needed to be answered from a betting perspective as the Bundesliga resumed this past weekend. While we potentially did find some answers, perhaps more questions have been raised after the first batch of results.
It was a bit weird watching games in empty stadiums, but joyous at the same time. Football is back and even though crowd atmosphere is a BIG part of the Bundesliga, it felt like a bit of normalcy had returned to the sports world.
One other thing to note is that the league is now allowing five substitutions. While not all clubs took full advantage of this, it is useful knowledge from a capping perspective.
Clubs with a strong bench certainly maintain a large advantage here. Bayer Leverkusen was able to bring on the likes of Leon Bailey, Karim Bellarabi, Julian Baumgartlinger, Paulinho and Lucas Alario to really finish off the game and keep their foot on Werder Bremen’s throat.
Also, this will become incredibly useful as the fixture list becomes a bit more congested. For example, there are midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday after this upcoming slate of matches.
Also, check out the latest in the world of Bundesliga futures odds in what looks to be a pretty exciting title race.
Scoring Doesn’t Seem to Have Been Impacted
The Bundesliga is the top-scoring league among Europe’s “big five” (alongside La Liga, Premier League, Serie A and Ligue 1) with an average of over three goals per game and the empty stadiums didn’t seem to hinder that much.
Twenty-seven goals were scored across the first nine games upon the league’s return for an average of 3.0 per game. OVER bets went 6-3 in nine games but we did see a 0-0 in the Fortune Düsseldorf-Paderborn game.
After a quick manual count (probability of an error high, knowing my counting), that was just the 10th 0-0 in the Bundesliga all season.
Does Home Field Even Matter?
Perhaps an even bigger takeaway was the fact that only one home team, Borussia Dortmund, managed a win. Sure, Dortmund closed around -180 in the Revierderby against Schalke, but not even the week’s biggest home fave was able to cash.
Leipzig closed at around -300 at home against Freiburg and even though they statistically dominated the game to the tune of 66.8 percent possession and outshot their opponents 22-6, they could only muster a 1-1 draw after going down in the first half.
Road teams won five while there were three draws so if you’d blindly bet $100 on each road team, you’d have turned a profit, albeit a relatively modest one as Bayern Munich was -555 at Union Berlin.
So does home field matter? In my opinion, after the sample size we’ve collected at this point, perhaps not as much. No massive crowd singing and chanting for 90 minutes in an attempt to rally the troops was sorely missed. Teams like Eintracht Frankfurt, Köln, Augsburg and the aforementioned Leipzig sorely missed their home fans.
It did not bother Dortmund one bit as they battered a completely overmatched Schalke team that looked intimidated from the outset in an empty Signal Iduna Park.
Will books react?
“We do not want to overreact to an extremely small sample size of games and will not be making any changes to our soccer forecasting model,” Bovada told me Tuesday morning.
“However, if this trend continues, we will have to make adjustments to the ‘home-field advantage’ data points in the model to make our numbers more accurate for these games played in empty stadiums.”
The Public Got Paid
According to Bovada, books got stung by three games in particular. Sixty percent of all bets in the Dortmund-Schalke game were on Dortmund while 79 percent came in on Borussia Monchengladbach.
That was nothing compared to the whopping 90 percent of bets that backed Bayer Leverkusen, making that one the biggest loser for books.
Over at BookMaker, they had a rough day as well.
“We took it on the chin in each of those games,” the book told me. “Sixty-five percent of the action was on Dortmund, 73 percent on Leverkusen and 59 percent on Monchengladbach. Those three games alone cost us in the low six figures.”
Strong work by the public.
The Good Teams Still Play Good Football
Home or away, the good teams are still able to play their game. Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen were easily the big winners of the week and bettors that invested in these spots reaped the rewards.
Dortmund’s 4-0 win, Gladbach’s 3-1 win and Leverkusen’s 4-1 win certainly caught the eye esthetically. Despite the long layoff, three of Germany’s top teams were still able to dominate their games and cruise to relatively easy wins with Gladbach and Leverkusen playing on the road.
Bayern Munich Wasn’t As Convincing
The league leaders looked half asleep at times on the road against Union Berlin despite winning 2-0.
While Dortmund, Gladbach and Leverkusen played sublime football for the most part, Bayern lacked that spark and dominance in their first game back, although Joshua Kimmich and Thiago put in incredibly strong performances.
For their efforts, I thought Union played a pretty strong defensive game and if Neven Subotic doesn’t concede a penalty courtesy some lazy defending, maybe this result is different. Maybe.
Perhaps it’s just a case of Bayern looking TWO games ahead to the midweek clash against Dortmund? Maybe it’s a case of Union Berlin being an organized defensive unit on the day?
Whatever the case may be, despite a 2-0 win, I thought Bayern lacked what was eye-popping when watching Dortmund, Gladbach and Leverkusen. Still, impressive that they can win a top-flight game 2-0 and not even leave first gear.
Massive In-Game Spots
While hindsight is 20/20, there were a couple of gigantic in-game betting spots this past weekend.
Down 2-0, Mainz battled back and deservedly shared the points on the road to Köln as Pierre Kunde equalized in the 72nd minute.
Down 2-0, the longest odds of Mainz battling back to eke out a draw were a whopping +3400.
Another spot was the Augsburg-Wolfsburg game. Level at 1-1 heading into injury time, Daniel Ginczek put home the winner in the first minute of injury time. Wolfsburg’s price to win the game? Well, it reached +2900.
The Wolfsburg game was perhaps a bit “easier” to predict considering they piled on the pressure later in the game to earn that win.
Just goes to show you that if you’re watching and you feel like a late winner is coming, take a stab.
There Were Plenty of Bookings
I’m not one to bet on bookings during a game, but I know some of you out there will take a kick at the can in this sort of prop market.
There were 35 yellow cards shown for an average of 3.9 per game. Leipzig was the only team to not be booked while Frankfurt saw the most with five in their loss against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Referee Felix Brych generally shows the most yellow cards in the league with 56 yellows to date (although I’ve seen conflicting numbers) in his 14 games. He was working the Augsburg-Wolfsburg game which had four bookings so that number is pretty on-brand for him.
Just something to note moving forward if you’re into this sort of thing.
The biggest takeaway, however, is that football is back. It’s not the same without the supporters but we have to make due in this ever-strange 2020. Being able to watch meaningful games on my sofa and admire the very attack-oriented German Bundesliga was refreshing.
Winning some bets didn’t hurt either.
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