How important are penalties in football regarding betting?


We have written several times that football is a low-scoring sport, which means that some parameters may eventually have much greater significance in the outcome of a match than we imagine. Of course, we know and we all accept that penalties are of great importance and can make the difference between victory and defeat. Penalties are extremely valuable to football teams, but are they equally important in terms of betting? Can bettors use statistical and other data and information to determine the value of a penalty?

How often does a football penalty occur?

If we want to look at how a penalty can affect our game as bettors, the first step is to see how often this penalty is given in football matches. Of course, not all football tournaments and leagues are the same, so the number of penalties per season may vary. In addition to looking at how often a penalty occurs in a match, it is equally important to analyze the percentage of goals scored after the shot is made. A shot eleven steps in front of the goalie l seems to be an excellent deal for a goal, but penalties are lost more often than you probably think.
The table below shows how many penalties are given in each of the top five European football leagues and the average success rate in the last three seasons:

League Average penalties per match Average Success Rate
Serie A 0.32 75%
La Liga 0.28 73%
Bundesliga 0.27 76%
Ligue 1 0.27 75%
Premier League 0.23 80%


Which teams benefit most from penalties?

Each football team does not win a penalty at the same rate as it gets a penalty kicks against it, so knowing which teams win more penalties than they are charged against, can ultimately be very useful for bettors. The table below shows the top 10 teams with the most penalty is in favor and penalty ratio in the top five football leagues:


Club Penalties For Penalties Against Penalty Ratio
Barcelona 88 30 2.93
Bayern Munich 79 30 2.63
Bournemouth 43 17 2.53
Chelsea 79 37 2.14
Napoli 76 36 2.11
Real Madrid 91 44 2.07
Manchester City 74 36 2.06
Paris Saint Germain 67 34 1.97
Borussia Dortmund 48 25 1.92
Leicester 37 20 1.85


Advanced penalty strategy

Although it is difficult for bettors to predict whether and when a penalty will be given, it is much easier to calculate the probability to be converted to a goal.
By applying Game Theory in this case, bettors can begin to understand the mathematics behind scoring a penalty. The shooter must adopt a strategy that will make it difficult for the goalkeeper to predict where the ball will go, and this is a so-called “mixed strategy”.
A remarkable difference between a penalty during a match and the a penalty in shoot-out phase after extra time is that the goal score percentage drops significantly from 75.8% to 70%.
The “preferred” foot of the player who executes the penalty, exposes his “strong side” in the execution of the penalty shootout (right-footed players find it natural to send the ball to the left and vice versa). For maximum success, the choice of the player who takes the shot should be entirely random – Game Theory says in this case that they choose their “strong side” in 61.5% of cases.
That’s why players who use a mixed strategy with no apparent pattern (such as Premier League players like, Yaya Toure, Harry Kane and Mark Noble) have been successful at higher percentages than average odds – these players score more than 85%, compared to the average of this particular league that is close to 80%).
Although Game Theory can be used to analyze a penalty more deeply, there are also limitations found here. This approach does not take into account shot made at the center of goalpost or the technique by which the performer waits for the goalkeeper to make the first move before making the shoot – a strategy used by Eden Hazard, Christian Bendeke and Mario Balotelli.

Penalties during 90 minutes and after extra time

Besides the penalties during the 90 minutes of a match, there is of course the penalty shoot-outs that come after extra time in cup competitions. Penalties of this kind affect betting much less, since bets close normally after the end of the second half, regardless if extra time is required. Of course, there are also cases of long-term bets and bets on the qualification of teams where the significance of penalties is clearly greater.
In any case, it is interesting to look at the differences between a penalty shootout that takes place during the regular duration of a match and during a penalty shootout. The remarkable difference is that the goal success rate drops from 75.8% to about 70%.
The reasons for this lower percentage include the use of inexperienced players in the penalty shootout and, of course, the added pressure and anxiety of the players, because the final win usually leads to a valuable qualification or to a trophy.


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