Group Betting

The group stage at the European Championships might not be as glamorous as the knockout stage but over half of the games at the European Championships are group games and often some of the best games are played in the groups. There are also some strong trends that have developed in the group stage and they can help highlight what should be some bets to follow during the European Championship Group stage.

The best European Championships to study are the five since 1996 as they all followed the same schedule, although it should be noted that some of these figures will have to be adapted for Euro 2016 as those finals will contain 24 teams rather than the previous 16.

GOALS IN THE GROUP STAGE

Number Of Goals In The Group Stage

Year Total Group Goals Average Goals Per Group Average Goals Per Game
2012 60 15.00 2.50
2008 57 14.25 2.38
2004 64 16.00 2.67
2000 65 16.25 2.71
1996 55 13.75 2.29

Analysis

The amount of goals in the groups has fluctuated up and down in recent European Championships making it difficult to predict the exact amount of goals at the next European Championships but we should expect between 55 and 65 goals in the groups and around 15 goals in most groups, although there are usually some very high scoring and low scoring groups.

The highest scoring group since 1996 was in Euro 2004’s Group B which contained 20 goals, there were two games with four goals in that group and one game with six goals. The lowest scoring group since 1996 was Group B at Euro 2008 where just ten goals were scored, that group had just one game that finished with over 2.5 goals.

At Euro 2016 we expect there to be a few more goals than 2008 and 2012 but we are unlikely to see a record number of goals go in during the group stage (there will obviously be more goals as there are more games but in terms of average goals per game). A few years ago many teams were playing with quite negative tactics but in the past couple of seasons teams seem to be taking a few more risks again meaning more goals are being scored.

Recommendation: Expect around 93 goals in the group stage with a top scoring group of around 18 and a lowest scoring group of around 12.

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Total Goals In Each Round Of Matches

Year Goals In Round One Goals In Round Two Goals In Round Three
2012 20 26 14
2008 16 23 18
2004 17 20 27
2000 24 14 27
1996 13 17 25

Under/Over 2.5 Goals In Each Round Of Matches

Year Under 2.5 In Round One Over 2.5 In Round One Under 2.5 In Round Two Over 2.5 In Round Two Under 2.5 In Round Three Over 2.5 In Round Three
2012 5 3 3 5 6 2
2008 6 2 3 5 6 2
2004 4 4 5 3 1 7
2000 3 5 5 3 3 5
1996 7 1 5 3 2 6

 

Analysis

In three out of the last five European Championships less goals have been scored in the first round of group games as opposed to the second and the third and in three of the last five tournaments there were also more goals scored in the third round of matches than the previous two. This means we should be expecting the amount of goals to increase in each round of games in most years. The main exception to this was in 2012 when there was a very low scoring final round of matches, that looks to just be a bit of a blip.

Backers of under 2.5 goals have had some great results in the first round of matches in 1996 and 2008 when results were massively in their favour but there wasn’t much in it in 2000 and 2004. From recent results we can see there is very little edge to be had in the second round of matches with under 2.5 backers often slightly having the edge but there is no clear trend here. It often pays to start backing over 2.5 goals in the final round of matches, the only times in the last five tournaments that a loss would have been made following this strategy was in 2008 when there were six under 2.5 goals game (but it is worth noting that many of those contained exactly two goals) and also in 2012 when the final games were much tighter than usual for some reason. Generally though this is a strong trend so should still be followed.

Recommendation: Lean towards under 2.5 goals in the first round of group games and back over 2.5 goals in the last round of group matches.

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When To Back The Draw In Groups

Number Of Draws In Each Round Of Matches

Year Draws In Round One Draws In Round Two Draws In Round Three
2012 3 2 0
2008 1 2 0
2004 3 4 1
2000 2 1 2
1996 4 1 2

Analysis

The stats are not hugely persuasive for following draws in a particular round of matches but it seems the first round of matches are most likely to end in a draw with teams not wanting to lose their first game resulting in many closely matched, low scoring games. This is backed up by the stats with thirteen draws in the first round of the last five tournaments. In the same period there were ten draws in the second round out of a possible thirty draws meaning one in three of the second round matches end in a draw. There were just five draws in the past five European Championships in the final round of group games which is remarkably low and this shows that sides are often desperate for points with a draw often not enough for most teams.

Recommendation: The first and second round of matches look much more likely to contain draws and draws should only be backed in the third round of games if extremely confident.

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Clean Sheets During The Group Stage

Year Teams Who Didn't Concede A Goal In The Group
2012 No Teams Kept Clean Sheets In All Three Games
2008 No Teams Kept Clean Sheets In All Three Games
2004 No Teams Kept Clean Sheets In All Three Games
2000 No Teams Kept Clean Sheets In All Three Games
1996 Germany

Analysis

With only one team in the past five European Championships managing to go the entire group stage without conceding a goal (Germany who were the eventual winners of Euro ’96) it seems best to expect teams to concede at least one goal in the group stage. In fact, only a further five teams in the same tournaments managed to go the entire group stage without conceding more than one goal (and one of those teams was eliminated) so most teams, even the qualifiers, will concede two or more goals.

The most goals a team has conceded whilst still qualifying for the knockout stages since Euro ’96 was Yugoslavia who conceded seven goals before finishing runners up in Group C in 2000 whilst Czech Republic were ‘next best’ when they went on to reach the final despite conceding six goals in Group C in 1996.

Recommendation: When backing correct scores or goals conceded for likely qualifiers in the group stage expect teams to concede at least one goal but more likely two or more.

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The Best Group Performers

Teams To Get Maximum Points

Year Teams Who Got Nine Points In The Group
2012 Germany
2008 Croatia, Holland, Spain
2004 Czech Republic
2000 Portugal, Italy, Holland
1996 No Teams Gained Maximum Points

Analysis

In 1996 no team qualified with maximum points (all four group winners gained seven points) but since then at least one team has qualified with three wins in the group stage, and on two occasions three teams have all managed to get maximum points so we should probably expect at least two teams to pick up nine points in the group stage this time around out of the six groups.

The amount of teams that have managed to pick up maximum points is perhaps a little surprising as the groups at the European Championships are often quite a bit more competitive than they are at the World Cup where more ‘minnows’ qualify. The quality of the groups should go down as of 2016 though with 24 teams now qualifying.

It is worth noting that the teams that have picked up maximum points have mostly been household names (Holland, Spain, Italy, Portugal) but Croatia and Czech Republic have also managed to gain nine points in a group stage in recent years so you shouldn’t completely rule out the teams that are in the next tier down from getting maximum points, although predicting which ones will might prove difficult.

Recommendation: Look to back two or three of the five or six favourites to pick up maximum points in their group.

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The Poorest Group Performers

Teams To Get Zero Points

Year Teams Who Got No Points In The Group
2012 Holland, Republic Of Ireland
2008 Greece
2004 Bulgaria
2000 Denmark
1996 Turkey, Romania

Analysis

It is not uncommon to assume the worst teams in the group will lose all three of their matches and will go home with zero points but there are very few ‘bad’ sides that qualify for the European Championships and recent evidence suggests that there will always be a team who goes home with no points but in most tournaments there will only be one team that doesn’t get any points and if it is more than one, it certainly should only be a maximum of two.

The teams that have picked up zero points in the group stages of recent European Championships would mostly be considered the weaker sides at the European Championships, of the teams above Holland would easily be considered the biggest nation but they were drawn in the group of death and a poor performance is just about forgivable.

Recommendation: Back just one or two teams at the European Championships to gain zero points at the group stage. This team should be one of the smaller nations and should be in a very tough group that contains no other ‘minnows’.

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Points For Each Group Finishing Position

Group Winners' Points Total

Year Group A Points Group B Points Group C Points Group D Points
2012 6 9 7 7
2008 6 9 9 9
2004 6 7 5 9
2000 9 9 6 9
1996 7 7 7 7

Group Runners Up Points Total

Year Group A Points Group B Points Group C Points Group D Points
2012 4 6 5 4
2008 6 6 4 6
2004 4 6 5 4
2000 4 4 4 6
1996 4 5 4 6

Group Third Place Points Total

Year Group A Points Group B Points Group C Points Group D Points
2012 4 3 4 3
2008 3 1 2 3
2004 4 2 5 2
2000 3 3 4 3
1996 4 4 4 4

Group Fourth Place Points Total

Year Group A Points Group B Points Group C Points Group D Points
2012 2 0 0 3
2008 3 1 1 0
2004 3 1 0 1
2000 1 1 2 0
1996 1 0 1 0

Analysis

You can nearly always expect at least one team to pick up maximum points when winning their European Championships group and it is not uncommon for three teams to pick up nine points in their group. You shouldn’t be put off backing a second favourite to pick up nine points if you really fancy them, in 2008 Croatia picked up nine points despite the presence of Germany in their group, in 2004 Czech Republic gained maximum points despite group games against both Germany and Holland whilst in 2000 Portugal got nine points from a group containing England and Germany.

The group runners up are always going to pick up between four and six points and judging by previous European Championships it looks a bad idea to back teams to pick up exactly five points. In the last five European Championships only four teams have gained five points, three of them finished second and one of them finished third. This means that all teams who finish second are almost certain to get four points or six points and there should be a bit of value in backing the team you fancy to come second in the group to gain four or six points (depending on the strength in depth in their group).

In 1996 all of the teams who finished third in the groups picked up four points but since then just seven out of the twenty third placed teams have picked up four points. Just one team in five European Championships has failed to qualify after picking up five points which means the team that finishes third in the group are most likely to get three points or less. In recent European Championships only Austria in 2008 came third with one point, they came third on goal difference and that eventuality looks very rare so expect third placed teams to get two or three points with perhaps one team gaining four points, but only in a group where the bottom team will get one or no points.

It is easy to assume the bottom placed team will lose all their games, in the last five European Championships seven out of twenty bottom placed teams have failed to pick up a point. It is worth noting that the most common return from a bottom placed team is one point, that has happened on eight occasions in the last five European Championships and for four the past five tournaments exactly two teams each tournament has gained one point. This means you should be looking at two bottom placed teams getting one point, at least one getting no points and the other most likely getting three, if not getting two or zero.

Recommendation: Don’t be put off backing second favourites to get maximum points and don’t back more than one team to get six points.

Recommendation: Back the most likely runners up in stronger groups to get four points and weaker groups to get six points.

Recommendation: Back the most likely third placed teams to pick up two or three points, only backing one of them to get four points if the group contains a ‘whipping boy’.

Recommendation: Back two of the most likely bottom placed teams to get two points, at least one team to get no points and the other most likely bottom team to probably get three points, if not two or no points.

 

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