The 2018 World Cup was one of the tournament’s most exciting editions, with numerous underdogs claiming victories. We analyse the profitability of placing bets on the different options within the 1×2 market.
Which bets won most frequently?
Based on previous World Cups, it’s wise to expect the unexpected. But the question remains; how many of the 64 matches resulted in a win for the favorite, the underdog, or a draw?
Note that these are the results after standard time. Extra time and penalty shootouts are not included. The 64 matches played in the 2018 World Cup resulted in:
- Favorite wins: 36 = 56% at average odds of 1.97.
- Underdog wins: 14 = 22% at average odds of 5.15.
- Draws: 14 = 22% at average odds of 3.68.
Croatia generated the highest average betting turnover per match
The World Cup drives significant turnover for sportsbooks, and the growth is dramatic. A betting behavior analysis by FIFA and its service provider Sportradar revealed that $155 billion was bet on the 2018 FIFA World Cup worldwide.
An average World Cup match contributed $2.4 billion in turnover. The team whose games drew the most bets was the tournament highest achieving underdogs, Croatia.
But why was that? One reason is that Croatia was one of the only 2 teams who made it to the final, which drew a massive $8.2 billion in betting turnover. But then why did Croatia matches get to bet on more than France matches?
It’s not because people were betting on the underdog Croatia, it was the opposite. One-eyed fans of their opponents, which were some of the biggest betting markets in the world, were betting on their teams to beat Croatia, usually as the favorites, those opponents included.
What led the underdogs to win?
There were 3 own goals which ensured underdog victories:
- Iran beat Morocco 0-1 thanks to an own goal
- Senegal beat Poland 2-1 thanks to an own goal
- Belgium beat Brazil 2-1 thanks to an own goal
There were also 3 matches where the underdogs scored a penalty, which ensured their victory.
9 of the 14 (64%) underdog victories saw the underdogs only score in the second half. Throughout the tournament, 63% of goals were scored in the second half. Most were in the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes of the second half.
During the 2018 World Cup, the first team to score a goal actually won 71% of the time. The underdogs scored first in 11 of the 14 underdog victories (79%).
Underdogs Offered Better Value
If you were to place a 1 mBTC bet on every single World Cup match on the favorite, draw and underdog, you’d get the following results:
Your return on investment would be as follows:
- Favorite bets: 0.42/64 x 100 = profit of 0.66%.
- Draw bets: 12.58/64 x 100 = loss of 19.66%.
- Underdog bets: 8.12/64 x 100 = profit of 12.69%.
The underdog bets proved to be the most profitable of the 1×2 bets.