Like all sports, Vegas and the betting world have been analyzing soccer games and helping predict how a game will play out for a very long time. Also, like other sports, you can use the Vegas lines to help build your lineups. Vegas lines can be utilized in the following ways:
1) Identifying which games will have the greatest chance of goals being scored
2) Determining when a team is a huge favorite
3) Identifying closely fought games that should yield an even matchup, that may translate to more opportunities for saves by the keepers
The best games to target are usually when a team SEVERELY overmatches an opponent; or, when two middle of the table teams play each other with a large over/under.
The Heavy Favorites
The first thing to do when building your lineups is to look through the Vegas lines for the listed games to determine which teams are the biggest favorites – I can recommend using www.whoscored.com, as they provide the Vegas lines in a simple to use format. When a team is a heavy favorite, this can be viewed in one of two ways, either the team is an offensive juggernaut and is expected to absolutely thrash the opponent to the tune of four goals or more. Or, the opponent really has no attacking power and will be parking the bus all game and not attack at all. In either scenario, you can target different parts of the team.
In the first case, where a team is an offensive juggernaut and facing a weak opponent (think of Real Madrid or Barcelona against a weak Champions League opponent), you’ll expect that the team will play their star forwards at least 50-60 minutes and that those forwards will have a great chance at scoring a goal or two. Teams such as Bayern Munich have managed 6 and 7 goals against opponents this season (2015) just by dismantling the attack and breaking them down time after time.
The second scenario is when a weaker team is visiting the star-studded team and are severe underdogs. These games tend to go in 1 of 2 ways. Either the weaker team manages to hold the game to a goalless draw after playing in their own third the majority of the match (parking the bus), or the team concedes a single goal that leads to their loss, which, in turn, eliminates all value from the star-studded team. This is especially problematic because the star team players are usually very expensive and can thus set you back quite a bit if one or more of these expensive players fail to score goals. In this case, the safer option is to go with the defense/goalkeeper stack option, as that is the highest probability of the win bonus, as well as a clean sheet.
When targeting players from a team listed as a heavy underdog, it is recommended you stay far away from the goalkeeper on that team, as the expectation is that the keeper will concede more than one goal. However, there have been cases where a keeper was a severe underdog and managed to record enough saves to earn a positive score that more than covered the low salary. Keep in mind, these instances are few and far between, and they usually aren’t something that is worth chasing unless you’re playing the contrarian in a GPP or 2.
Beyond the goalkeeper, there is some merit in taking a lone forward who would be responsible for any counter attack opportunities. This could be a player who is a low-owned option with a very low floor, but a very high upside.
The Even Matchup
More often than not, you’ll find that two teams that are playing each other actually match up very well, and you may have a hard time separating them. These are the games that make the GPP options, as nobody is guaranteed a goal scoring opportunity, and the goalkeepers are typically low-owned. Target the keepers in these matchups, preferably the home team’s keeper. Also, the ownership level of one of the strikers or forwards should be low in a game such as this, due to the uncertainty of the matchup. A striker such as this may have a great chance to score given the game competitive matchup.
You’ll want to pay close attention to the Vegas lines on games. Using Vegas lines and supplementing them with some over-the-pond outfits that provide some more betting lines is a solid approach. Targeting the heavy favorites is actually a wise choice, as the teams tend to be heavily favored for a reason, and that reason is that they are good. While you may want to consider building a team full of heavy favorites for cash games, finding some gems in games that are more evenly matched might be the way to go in GPPs, as these games tend to produce more opportunities for a player to produce points while being under owned.