This xG Core Spreadsheet Guide covers the fundamentals of using the data.  There are a thousand different possibilities on how to use the spreadsheets but below are some key areas to think about.  First, I want to cover the important area of what the spreadsheet does not cover.

Areas not covered

The spreadsheet does not incorporate current team news, head-to-head history, manager changes, weather, psychological impacts of players saving themselves for a more important game next week etc etc.
The reason I am emphasising this first is to make the point that the spreadsheet is a great starting point for identifying games to bet on but is not the end point.

xG Core

Importance of Value

The next point to mention is the importance of value. Most people will know the concept well.  If ‘value’ is new to you, there are a thousand articles on the internet to provide more details. In simple terms, to make money consistently you should only bet where the odds being offered are greater than the chance of it happening e.g. if you’re offered 2.1 on a coin toss, you’d take it. If you’re offered 1.9 you shouldn’t bet. If you’re offered 2.0 (i.e. true odds of 50%) you should be indifferent as in the long-run you’ll break even.

Importance of Closing Line

The closing line (odds at kick-off) are deemed the most accurate and fairest prediction of each game.  Aligned to the concept above, you should avoid betting at kick-off time as all the value will have gone (i.e. if you bet at kick-off prices, you will not be be obtaining value and will unlikely to be profitable long-term).  Always bet as early as possible and try to beat the closing price wherever possible.  The Pinnacle closing price is deemed the most accurate price.

In-Play Value

A point often overlooked by most is that in-play bets should be treated no differently to pre-game.  Always obtain prices better than the true chance of the event happening.  Knowing fair odds in-play is difficult – an in-play tool is provided with all xG Core and Pro subscriptions.

Realistic Expectations

I cannot emphasis this enough, football trading is hard.  If you have been lured in by websites/e-books/courses suggesting you’ll be earning thousands of dollars through additional income with little effort, you have been lied to.  You are battling against large overrounds and very efficient markets.   Even the pros are mostly making single digit ROIs.

To be profitable long-term it is simple – obtain value on every bet.  How to achieve this is the difficult part.  I’ll emphasise again:

  • The spreadsheets should be the starting point and not the end point.
  • Identify games that appear to have value, and then dig deeper and deeper and deeper.
  • Always look for a reason not to bet – bank preservation is key.
  • Get on as early as possible – at kick-off, the odds are deemed fair (excluding the bookmaker overround).

Overview of the spreadsheet

Each column in the spreadsheet is described in the ‘fields’ tab.  A few sections to provide further clarity on:

Data Fields

  • xG Predict

This is the the goals expected from the game based off historical data.  A key caveat that this is not a correct score prediction to back – the xG Predict  is a prediction based on the historical xG form (short to medium term with adjustments for strength of opposition).  If the game was played a hundred times, on average this is what we expect the chances created to be i.e. the expected goals.  However, every game is unique and history may not turn out to be a great prediction of the future.  Additionally, in football, due to be being low scoring, luck can play a massive part e.g. a team may dominate in chances and xG but still lose 1-0.

  • Odds vs Poisson:

This shows the current bookmaker odds at the time the spreadsheet was produced converted to a % and then compared to the Poisson output of the Xg predict (the poisson model converts the xG predict into a % chance of each outcome occurring).   For value greater than zero percent the colour will be green which suggests there is value in the odds.

For the example below, Hearts are showing 14% value (this is calculated as the Poisson model percentage of  34% shown on the far right of the spreadsheet (column IH) minus the odds percentage of 20% (=1 divided by the odds of 4.9).

  • Historical Stats:

Other sections of the spreadsheets include a full range of historical statistics:

  • Averages are shown separately for the last 10, 5, 3 games and season-to-date).
  • The averages are based on home results for the team at home, and away results for the away team.
  • Statistics are further separated into 1st half, 2nd half and Full game.
  • The fields tab provide more details (largely the data is shown in terms of xG (expected goals based on the quality of chances) and GS/GA (actual goals scored and against) and overs (>x goals).

How to use the spreadsheet

I suggest three ways:

  • Validate your opinions:

    • For example, you have a strong belief a certain outcome will occur (e.g. Bayern will beat Dortmund) but you are not sure if the odds represent value. By looking at the spreadsheet you can quickly gain a good understanding if the odds being offered appear to show value.  If not, the outcome may still occur but if you consistently bet without value you will lose money over the long term.
  • Start with the spreadsheet:

    • Look at the spreadsheet and identify which games have a positive value in the ‘value vs poisson’ section i.e. the Poisson model % (vs) the bookmaker odds % shows a positive number. These are games which appear to show value in the odds.  I suggest to look for a minimum of 10%.  Similar, a value of less then -10% could be a laying opportunity.
    • Consider what your risk appetite is for taking on high odds (i.e. there can be value in a 10/1 away team if the true odds are 7/1, but this still suggests the team will lose every 7 games). Make sure you are comfortable with this (please search the internet for articles on bank management and stake sizes i.e. you can still bet with value and go broke).
    • For each of these games, consider the areas mentioned in the ‘areas not covered’ section above (Top tip: always look for a reason not to place a bet).
    • Keep records of your bets – monitor how often you beat the closing price and look to achieve single digit ROIs over the course of the season.
  • In play trades:

    • Use the in-play section of the spreadsheet to look for in-play opportunities.  For example:
      • Team A and B both score a 2nd Half Goal in 90% of their games. If it’s half-way through the second half, and the game looks open, then it could be a good time to back the overs.
      • Team A conceded first.  In the last 10 games, once conceding first they only win 10% of their games (NB: these stats are within xG Pro only).  This could be a good opportunity to lay team A if the odds are remain value.  Conversely, you may have backed team A before the goal – the stats can provide insight that it may be a good time to exit the trade.
    • The key thing to note is that in-play trades should be treated no differently to pre-game trades (only enter the trade when the odds are showing value).  An in-play odds tool is provided as part of the xG Core subscription.

High Risk

Finally, sports betting/trading is high risk and even if you are doing every perfectly you can still hit a bad run (variance can be tough to deal with).  As such, only ever bet what you can afford to lose.

The usual caveats: this website aims to help you make better betting/trading decisions, but all decisions are made at your own risk and takes no responsibility for any decisions you make based on data and information provided on the website.

This concludes the xG Core spreadsheet guide.  Any questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter or via the Contact form.  More guidance and videos will be launched over the coming season.