Whether it is worth drawing any conclusions about the form of teams based on pre-season football matches, and whether their results are food for thought when predicting the starting games of the calendar – the topic of our today’s article.
In recent years, football clubs, including leading ones, have played many pre-season matches – both in the format of friendly matches and in the framework of all kinds of tournaments, sometimes with a very solid prize fund. Betters quite rightly ask themselves what is more in such games – a thirst to win or just to earn extra money? Accordingly, the next question begs itself: how seriously should the results of these fights be taken, and should they be taken into account when placing bets on the official matches of the new season?
Many bettors underestimate the importance of the “preseason”, and they have their own, quite reasonable reasons. Obviously, many football clubs sometimes go to the far corners of our planet for advertising and commercial purposes, and the main thing in such tours is to attract the attention of new fans. Do not forget that the players themselves in such matches are unlikely to go to hard joints and creep down the slopes, risking injury that will make them miss the beginning of the season.
On the other hand, there is some reason to believe that the good shape of the players in the pre-season meetings directly affects their condition at least at the start of the season. In turn, experts have long noticed that based on the results of the first six official matches, one can judge how one or another team will perform throughout the entire calendar cycle.
Positive impact of preseason
The following information is interesting. Leicester City have won four wins and one draw in five friendlies ahead of the 2015/16 season, while the previous season’s English champion Chelsea failed to win any of their four friendlies. We remember the results of that season well – the modest Leicester won gold medals for the first time in its history, and the aristocrats slipped to tenth place, and even survived the replacement of the head coach on the eve of Christmas. But are all these events interconnected?
Do not forget that Leicester played mainly against minor teams, while Jose Mourinho’s charges were opposed by such giants as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona (as part of an off-season tournament called the International Cup Champions “). By the way, when a year later, Leicester played at this tournament against all the same PSG and Barça, he lost to both super clubs: as a result, his results in the 2016/17 season were no longer in any comparison with the championship (12- e final place).
The conclusion suggests itself: confident play in pre-season matches against an opponent of any level, and above all big clubs, testifies to the good shape of the team as a whole and most of its players, and this team is unlikely to overwhelm the start of the season (with all the consequences ).
This study was done about three years ago, so the figures and statistical facts we cite relate to this period, but one should not think that the information is outdated – the same trends are traced in subsequent seasons. So in 2016/17, nine English Premier League (Premier League) teams scored more points than in the previous season. At the same time, seven of them had much better results in their preseason in the summer of 2016 than a year earlier.
In particular, Crystal Palace, lacking stars from the sky for many years, was among the middle peasants in the 2016/17 season, but he started it just great, taking seventh place after six starting matches (1.67 points in average per game versus 1.11 a season earlier). This is not surprising: in eight preseason games, the club won five times and suffered only one defeat.
But it’s worth throwing a fly in the ointment. In the same summer of 2016, another underdog, Sunderland, also had a more than successful preseason (four wins and two draws in the freight trains), but after six starting calendar games he managed to score only one point, and at the end of the season, taking last place, relegated to the Championship.
The examples we have indicated show that the supporters of the concept of using the results of the “preseason” in predicting the starting games of the calendar have arguments “for”, but no less arguments “against”. Indeed, there are more indirect factors influencing the results of teams in preseason matches than in official ones – there is a possible desire to “save your legs”, and the distance of flights, and acclimatization, and the running of new players, and completely different levels of opponents.
Therefore, our advice is to completely rely on the results of the “freight trains” before the start of the season, but you still need to look at them: this information will certainly not be useless.