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The Final 5 Minutes

Juventus

Fortunes can be turned within the last five minutes of a soccer match. It is no wonder why they call Extra Time, ‘The most prolific minute in Sports.” There is no shortage of soccer stats to compliment this sporting oddity either. Roughly around 22% of all goals scored in soccer come between the 76th and 90th minute, including added time. The second most prolific 15 minutes is the 31st to 45th minute, added time included there as well. I understand the added time at the end of a half or game is what skews those stats against the other 15 minute quadrants but if you watch enough soccer, you can attest, the air gets a little funny when the clock strikes those magical minutes. Besides the player with the ball the Fourth Official is the most watched person on the pitch in the closing minutes.

The frequency of golden goals is well documented. The freak appearances of last minute goals is less of a surprise to soccer punters than it is too casual fans. As many handicappers have trained themselves to see it as an expected result. Learning a team’s propensity for the last minute show stopping heroics can be harnessed as a benefit to the astute sports trader. Arsenal, for instance, has scored over 100 goals in Injury time. The most in Premiere league history, so when Live Betting hands me advantageous odds on them heading into the 90th minute. I take a flyer and pull the trigger.

The term bad beat gets thrown around as an explanatory cliché when it comes to the burns of a gambling loss. In my opinion no other sport compares to soccer when comparing the swings of gambling fortune a bad beat represents. Sure there may be some truly jaw dropping finishes that leave you wondering what stole your money. Taking a bath when riding a big moneyline favorite in any sport hurts. I’ve been there. I’ve also received gifts in the form of huge underdogs cashing on last second Hail Mary’s and grand slams. That feeling is euphoric. Those situations are more of an exception to the rule though since most American sports betting is done via spread betting and run lines. Back door covers, bad beats on Over/Unders and last second heroics are usually played and paid to the tune of -110 on both sides.

The goal lines in soccer are the most comparable to the spread betting in American sports. The 3 way lines soccer offers because of the draw. Provide the bettor a chance to capitalize on ripe money lines that have realistic chances of happening. This is why I say there is nothing more brutal than the swing of betting fortune a soccer match can give you. The difference between a ball hitting the crossbar or finding the back of the net swings an outcome from -130 to +320 in an instant. This is only amplified in the final five minutes.

The obsession with the Fourth Officials timekeeping is directly correlated with the climax of the bettors anxiety when taking in a match. With the approach of the 90 minute mark, the end game is near. As traders, we’ve carried with us the prospect of making money the whole game and are moments from collecting. Towards the 88 minute mark, if I’m ahead, the seconds on the clock start to feel like they’re dripping. At this point my only focus is on the Fourth official and hearing the ref blow the final whistle. It’s within these most prolific minutes I’ve seen -227 favorites turn sour, giving way to a +400 ticket cashing one too many times. Better yet, when it’s the other way around.
I was on the wrong end of Aaron Rodgers last second playoff Hail Mary against the Arizona Cardinals last season. Yet losing in that spectacular fashion pales in comparison to the pain I feel when I watch the replay of the save Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel made on Andreas Cornelius of F.C Copenhagen in the 90th minute during recent Champions League action. Schmeichels finger tips kept the +230 Draw from cashing while securing an even money pay day for the Leicester bettor. I had the Draw.

This past Saturday, a 90th minute, converted penalty kick, in the 4th minute of Extra Time by Lionel Messi closed the match and handed Barcelona the win. The Fourth Official signaled 2 minutes of additional time. With the foul being committed on the cusp of the conclusion of the second minute the penalty was awarded and the outcome swung from a +450 Draw to a -278 chalk special. The draw looked good from the 62nd minute on, when Luis Suarez knotted it up. Over a half an hour went by, then came the final five minutes.
So next time you’re browsing box scores check out the game commentary. For all the last second goals that keep us fixated on coming back for more there are just as many missed headers, squandered corners, and offside flags that are just as important as that golden goal. It all just depends what you need going into the final five minutes.

Article by Christian Cianci @CCCianci

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