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2nd Leg Pointers and Pitfalls

I want to discuss some things to look for when betting the 2nd leg of two-legged matches in soccer/world football.  In many tournaments such as UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, as well as the later rounds and/or finals of many countries’ domestic cup tournaments, teams often play a home and away set of matches with the aggregate result deciding which team advances (or lifts the trophy in a final).   

Before anything else, it is important to understand the advancement rules for a match on which you are considering placing your hard-earned money down.  In many tournaments, if two teams are tied in aggregate score after the two legs, the team to advance is the team with more Away goals.  If Away goals are also even after both legs, then extra time and eventually penalty shots are often employed.  Remember that with soccer sides and totals, most bets are only graded for 90 minutes of play plus injury time.  Certain tournaments don’t factor in Away goals, but it is important to know which they are, so you can properly assess a team’s motivations.

Now that you have researched how advancement takes place for the game you are considering, it is imperative to understand what happens to the two teams after the two legs.  Is this the final of a tournament or a Super Cup, where the winner takes home the trophy?  If so, then in the second leg, the trailing team may take extraordinary risks late in the game if trailing in aggregate by a goal or two, leading to improved odds of hitting an Overs play or an Asian handicapped goal line for a favorite.

Is one team eliminated after the two legs or do both teams have more matches to play?  Similar to above, if the second leg will leave one team advancing and one heading home, then the trailing team may take exorbitant risks you likely would not see in a non-elimination game.  However, in group stage rounds of tournaments like the Champions and Europa Leagues, teams may play several two-legged sets of matches in a kind of round-robin format where the top 2 teams in a 4 team group advance.  Thus, in these matches, just beating your foe on aggregate over two legs alone does not secure advancement.  In these situations, teams’ late game style and motivation can be different and often more conservative.

A bettor should always consider what a team needs and likely is looking to achieve in each match.  It helps explain a lot of otherwise “easy” or “fishy” lines you may encounter while shopping through the soccer betting options each day.  A team up 5-0 after the first leg in the middle of their club season may rest some key players in the second leg to have them available for domestic battles.  A team who draws 2-2 or wins 1-0 on the road in the first leg will know that a low-scoring draw at home will be enough to advance and may play accordingly.  As with any bet, do your research and try to get into the mind of the coaches and players.  There are amazing opportunities to find winners in second-leg cup ties if you understand the whole picture.

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