football goal

Over / Under 2.5 Goals Explained

Most regular football punters will have heard of the term “over 2.5 goals” or “under 2.5 goals”, but what exactly does this mean?

Basically, you are betting on whether the total goals scored in a match (excluding any extra time that may be played) will be above or below the level of 2.5 goals.

Below we explain how it works in more detail and look at some strategies for betting and trading the over/under 2.5 market.



So let’s have a look at what over/under 2.5 goals means in practice.

Firstly, here are the scores that would be “under 2.5 goals:”

0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-1, 2-0 and 0-2 would all be under 2.5 goals – i.e. because the total goals in the match have been two or less.

2-1, 1-2, 3-0, 0-3, 2-2, 3-2, 2-3, 4-0, 4-1 and so on would all be over 2.5 goals – as there have been three or more goals in the match.


But why have .5?

The reason the market is structured at over/under 2.5 rather than just over/under 2 is so that you can only have two outcomes – you either win or you lose.

Since there cannot be half a goal in a football match, you can never have a drawn bet. If the market was over/under 2 goals, you would have a void bet if the match finished 1-1 or 2-0, for example.

So this ensures that it is a simple win or lose market.


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The Special Nature of 2.5 goals

The particularly interesting thing about 2.5 goals is that it is the exact average number of goals scored in football matches across the world.

Footballer CelebratingSo we are talking about a very even market in general and something that should provide a nice 50/50 bet.

Now of course it depends very much on the teams and their styles of playing as to what odds you will actually get.

In matches where the teams are defensively-minded and tend to produce low scoring matches, then you will tend to get below evens – or 2.0 in decimal terms – for there to be under 2.5 goals.

In low-scoring leagues such as the French, Greek and Portuguese leagues, you will often get under 2.5 goals to be as low 1.6 or 1.5 – so a strong likelihood that there will be less than 2.5 goals.

But in high scoring leagues such as the Dutch leagues and German Bundesliga, the odds for under 2.5 goals will often be 2.3 or above.

And then if you look at teams like Barcelona or Real Madrid, the under 2.5 goals will often be 5.0 or above. Let’s face it – how many games involving either of those teams have two goals or less? Not many!


Top Bookmakers for Over/Under and Match Betting 

Here we have a look at some of the top bookmakers for football betting where you can get good deals and good value for your over/unders betting.

  • Bet 365 – £200 bonus for all new customers. Bet 365 also have fantastic regular “free £50 in-play bet” offers on football matches, as well as accumulator bonuses and 0-0 insurance. A great bookie in terms of value and being punter-friendly on football.
  • Ladbrokes – £50 free bet for new customers. Ladbrokes have not only their £50 free bet offer, but also an acca refund of £25 if one leg of your acca loses (must be minimum 5 fold). Also do regular “reload bonuses” of £25 if both teams score in selected matches.
  • Betfair – £30 free bet for new customers (Sportsbook). Of course the main exchange with great liquidity on the over/under markets plus the Sportsbook has regular football offers.
  • 10 Bet – £200 free bet for new customers. A great new kid on the block, 10 Bet’s new customer is one of the best and they also have a £50 acca refund if one leg loses (min. 5 fold). 


Strategies for Betting on the Over / Under 2.5 Goals Market

The over/under 2.5 goals market is one of the most bet on the markets in the world – in fact it is second only to the match odds markets.

That means there is great liquidity in the market for top European leagues and even some lower leagues.

Football, Taking CornerIt is a market people love to bet on, perhaps partly because you don’t have to worry about who will win a game, just how many goals there will be.

If you have backed the over 2.5 goals, it can be a lot of fun cheering on goals and not minding which team actually scores them!

In terms of strategies for betting on the over/under 2.5 goals market, here are some approaches you might want to consider:

  • Injured Strikers – perhaps one of the teams has their main striker injured or numerous attacking players out and they are likely to struggle to score goals.
  • Defenders missing – conversely, if key defenders are missing then it might make the chances of over 2.5 goals increase. For example, Vincent Kompany’s absence at Manchester City has made them vulnerable to concede a lot more goals than normal in the 2015/16 season.
  • Late-stage tournaments – big tournaments like World Cups and Euros become notoriously low-scoring in latter stages as teams tighten up and the rewards for winning increase. It would generally pay to bet on unders in these circumstances.
  • Mismatches – markets tend to assume that big teams who are strong favourites will thrash teams at the bottom of the leagues – but the stats don’t back this up and there is only a slightly higher goal average in these games than evenly-matched teams. So when a lower-table side that is strong defensively plays a top team, it may be worth backing under 2.5 goals.


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Strategies for Trading the Over/Under 2.5 goals Market

As well as betting on the over/under markets, there are a large number of people who like to trade the market instead.

Betting DecisionThis means using an exchange like Betfair to back and lay in the market, or vice versa, to hopefully make a profit from the movement in odds.

As the over/under markets are some of the most liquid on Betfair, there are great opportunities for trading.

Here are some possible strategies for trading the over/under 2.5 market:


  • Trading the first 10 minutes – the over/unders market tends to move down very quickly if there is not a goal early on in a match. So the strategy here would be to back the unders before kick off and then lay it off (or cash out) after 10 minutes to make a profit. 
  • Trading for a first half goal – this is based on a similar principle to the one above. Basically you are using the fact that the unders market will move in very fast over the first half to secure a profit if there is a goal after around 20 minutes of the match. So you would back under 2.5 goals for say 100 units and then lay the HT 0-0 for 40 units at 3.0. If there is no goal by half time, your losses on the HT 0-0 market are covered by the unders bet. But if there is a goal after 20 minutes you will make a profit.
  • Trading after a goal – the unders market often shoots up after there has been a goal – understandably – but can then move very quickly downwards again. So there is the potential to trade this market for a short period of 5 to 10 minutes after a goal to secure a profit.


Conclusion – a Big Market with Big Potential

The over-under 2.5 goals market is one of the most profitable markets to bet on in football and huge amounts are wagered on it across the world. 

The beautiful simplicity of it being a win or lose market, plus the appeal of cheering for goals (or none) makes it an attractive market to bet in for many people.

There are lots of different methods of betting and trading the market, so there is real potential for finding a profitable angle on the over/unders. 

Whichever method you use, good luck – and please let us know if you have any of your own methods not mentioned above in the comments below. 




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