How important is the starting line-up when predicting games?

As I mentioned when doing the betting backtest for my Expected Goals model, my Monte Carlo game simulation is done on player level to account for missing players, which in theory would affect the game a lot. The simulation involves a very simple prediction of the starting line-up for each team in each game – but how would the backtest result look if I somehow could look into the future and actually know which players would be starting the game?

To test this I’ve simulated every game from the 2015 Allsvenskan season again, using my second model with more heavily weighted home field advantage – but this time used the actual line-ups instead of having the model guess. For the backtest I’ve again used odds from Pinnacle and Matchbook, but won’t bore you with the results from both as they’re much the same. Here’s the model’s results betting at Matchbook:


As expected, knowing the correct line-up really boosts the model’s predictions, as it now makes a profit pretty much across the board. Just like with the previous backtests, the 1X2 market looks ridiculously profitable as the model is very good at finding value in underdogs.

Let’s compare the results with that from Model 2:


The numbers in this table represent the net difference in results for the two models. In general, Model 3 makes fewer bets at lower odds, but has a much higher win percentage – hence the bigger profit. Remember, the only difference between these models is that Model 3 uses the actual line-up for each game, while Model 2 have to guess.

So could these results be used to develop a betting strategy? Using the actual line-ups for the simulation, the opening odds are of course not available to bet on since they are often posted a week or so before each game while the line-ups are released only an hour before kick-off. But as the game simulation only takes about a minute per game, it’s certainly possible to wait for the line-ups to be released before doing the simulation and then bet whatever the model deem as value.

How important is the starting line-up when predicting games?

4 thoughts on “How important is the starting line-up when predicting games?

  1. Jakub Dobias says:


    very good blog, very interesting! Why are you not betting all leagues in Europe with your model? You know that Pinnacle have api. Where did you get the data?


    1. Thank you Jakub!
      I bet the european leagues too and have models based on opta data, but this blog is dedicated to Swedish/Scandinavian football as there’s already been done so much work on the big leagues by other bloggers. The Allsvenskan/Superettan data come from the Swedish FA.


  2. Jakub Dobias says:

    We have model for betting as well. And big portfolio of money from our friends. But we just use model for Premier League (no expG model). Hot streak of 50% ROI over this season because market hugely underestimate underdogs. We will build another for next season. Would you be interested in some kind of cooperation? We will have position data for most of the European leagues.


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