What did we learn from Barcelona this week?
Obviously the starstudded and beloved Barcelona side, guided by Pep Guardiola, is a fantastic football side. To watch them play brings joy to this middle-aged football beating heart. As a bettor, however, would you agree? We are willing to bet that many a leisure punter and even possibly a professional or two went bonkers after Barcelona failed to beat Chelsea with 1-0 and the visitors down to ten men. Guess what, that's life. Learn from it!
When the odds on offer are as low as they were vs a top english side like Chelsea, or even in the game before vs Real Madrid, and like they will be vs Athletic Club in the spanish cup final - are there value to be had? You do the math. Go through these games and the odds. Then try to use a little empiric probability to get to some conclusions. It is a good drill.
It's the anchor bias stupid
We do know that Barcelona will dominate pretty much every game they play in terms of possession and chances. We know they will win more than a fair amount of games both home and away. That said, is the title "best team in the world" or "Messi, the best player in the world" label just leading into a betting trap? Is this anchor bias material? It is very tempting to say yes. It is easy to overlook that Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Athletic Club have fantastic teams. If that is not enough: There is this wonderful thing called randomness. Yes, you can call it luck factor if you like, we are okay with that. You simply can't predict every action and movement on the pitch. The game is far too dynamic for that. When very good teams play each other, randomness still exists. Even if Barcelona is the best team in the world, let's assume that: their opponents might be classy too when it comes to the things that actually decide football games, like scoring goals and defending well. We saw this when Barca played Chelsea for the rights to go to Munich and play the 2012 Champions League Final.
A note on the betting odds
The betting odds available when Barcelona play often reflect averages found in statistics, and their flowing, attacking style of play. Yes, bookmakers can be blinded too, and not only that - they know people are running into the anchoring bias issue. They price the Barca games just as much based on expected turnover as anything else. It is simple, isn't it? The principle is: Why sell a price at 1.8 (4/5) when you can sell it at 1.5 (1/2)? Of course the bookmakers go for the moneygrab. Don't blame them, you probably would do it too :)
The last word
This little write up was put together to make you stop up for a second and go hmmm. Even semi-professional punters are guilty of a number of betting biases. Don't go there, the failure to remind cool, calm and collected will cost you and your bankroll dearly. Try to see all the trees in the forrest. Don't fall for the headline statement, dig deeper.