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International profit could depend on spotting the difference; EURO 2008 TRENDS.

IN many small ways, international football is different from club football, and if you are aware of those subtle variations you might be able to make a profit betting on the 31 games at Euro 2008.

The number of matchrelated markets available will be greater than ever before.

In a nutshell, international football tends to be cagier than club football. You get closer, lower-scoring contests.

At the last seven European Championships - those since a modern finals format was adopted in 1980 - 32 per cent of games were drawn and 72 per cent finished with no more than one goal separating the teams.

One of the reasons so many games were so close is that there were so few goals.

The average number of goals per game scored in those previous tournaments was 2.3 - though it fluctuated significantly during and between the group stage and the knockout rounds, in a way that is explained on the opposite page.

Overall, 59 per cent of all fixtures finished with fewer than 2.5 goals.

In the Premier and Football Leagues, the average number of goals scored is 2.6, and 53 per cent of all fixtures finish with fewer than 2.5 goals.

Naturally enough, the low scores in international football have implications for all goalsconnected markets - for example, the always intriguing one on which half will produce the most goals.

In this market, the second half always represents very bad value - no doubt because it is the option on which most people bet.

There are circumstances, however, in which the two other options can become good bets. In games that are likely to be very high-scoring, the first half can occasionally represent value for money. And in games that are likely to be low-scoring - such as those at European Championships - the tie can occasionally represent value for money.

In 30 per cent of games played at previous European Championships, the first half produced the same number of goals as the second half. The corresponding figure for games played in the Premier and Football Leagues is 27 per cent. A small difference, to be sure, but successful betting often consists of being able to recognise and exploit small differences that others may not have noticed.

The increased number of games yielding the same number of goals in both halves occurred despite the distribution of goals being different in international football than it is in club football. Very briefly, the scoring starts later.

At previous European Championships, 40 per cent of all goals were scored in the first half and 60 per cent in the second half. In the Premier and Football Leagues, 44 per cent of all goals are scored in the first half and only 56 per cent in the second half.

IN games that produce very few goals during the opening 45 minutes, not surprisingly, the half-time draw becomes even more common.

In fully 51 per cent of games played at past European Championships, scores were level at the interval - as compared to just 43 per cent for games played in the Premier and Football Leagues.

A football fan can appreciate much more in a match than just the final score, and nowadays a football bettor can gamble on much more than simply who will win.

The choice has never been wider. When betting on any market, it is important to understand the context in which it is set. Simply knowing how one type of game differs from another can sometimes be enough to make the difference between a profit and a loss. Hopefully it will be at Euro 2008.

Figures quoted in both of these articles exclude extra-time and penalty shootouts, because most bets exclude extra-time and penalty shootouts.

CAPTION(S):

Czech Republic keeper Petr Cech can expect games to be lower-scoring than league contests
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 5, 2008
Words:636
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