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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.”

It is one of the most popular markets to bet on in football with huge liquidity. It can be an exciting market to be involved in as you follow the number of goals scored in a game rather than which team will win. But what exactly does over/under 2.5 goals mean?

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


What Does Over/Under 2.5 Goals Mean?

Basically in this market you are betting on whether there will be at least three goals scored in a football match or not. 

If there are two goals or less, it is under 2.5 goals. If there are three goals or more, it is over 2.5 goals.

You have to pick which of these you think a game will finish with.

These days there are numerous goal markets, from over/under 0.5 goals and 1.5 goals all the way up to over/under 8.5 goals. 

However, over/under 2.5 goals remains the most popular of these goal markets and is normally the most evenly balanced in terms of the starting odds.



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

It can be seen in table format below:


Scores Under or Over 2.5 goals
0-0, 0-1, 1-0, 1-1, 2-0 and 0-2 Under 2.5 goals
2-1, 1-2, 3-0, 0-3, 2-2, 3-2, 2-3, 4-0, 4-1 & any other score Over 2.5 goals


So as you can see, any game that has less than three goals in total is under 2.5 goals. Any score that has three goals or more is over 2.5 goals.

Some games will have six, seven or even eight goals – but you don’t win any more for extra goals – it’s just a case of hitting at least three goals and then it is over 2.5 goals.

Please note that extra time does not count towards the over/under markets – it is based on normal time only (90 minutes plus stoppage time).


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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Why over/under 2.5 goals is Such a Popular Market

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

Footballer Celebrating












So 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 more.

And then if you look at teams like Ajax or Bayern Munich, 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!


Getting the Most from Your Over/Under 2.5 Goals Bets

We would suggest utilising the betting exchanges for placing your over/under 2.5 goals selections, particularly if you are betting in-play. The exchanges are likely to have better odds on these markets than the bookmakers.

Sometimes it can be worth checking an odds comparison site like Oddsportal as well however, just to be sure you can’t get better odds at the bookies.  The Asian bookies sometimes offer comparable odds pre kick-off on the over/under 2.5 market, especially if it’s a match in an obscure league or a cup game where there isn’t much liquidity on the exchanges.

In general though and certainly for the big games, the exchanges will tend to offer the best odds. The Betfair exchange is normally the most liquid and covers the greatest number of matches, although Smarkets is catching up in terms of liquidity and is worth checking when placing your bets, particularly on the bigger leagues.


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 market.

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

It 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 – if one of the teams has their main goalscorer injured or unavailable, then it could affect the chances of there being over 2.5 goals. If Liverpool are missing Salah for instance they don’t seem to be quite the same team offensively.
  • Defenders missing – equally if key defenders are missing it can make a big difference to how how many goals a team might concede. To use the Liverpool example again, in the 2020/21 season when they were missing key defenders like Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip they were much more susceptible to conceding goals.
  • 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. The recent AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations) is an example of one of these low-scoring international tournaments, with a high proportion of under 2.5 goals.
  • 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.

This 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 no goal early on in a match. So you could for example place a bet on unders before the start of a game and then trade it out (or cash out) after the first ten minutes to make a profit. 
  • Backing overs late in the game – a popular strategy is to back over 2.5 goals late in a game, particularly if the score is 1-1. If you are watching a game and it is very open with lots of chances being created, or you are following the live stats on a site like Flashscores, it can pay to back overs in the last 15-20 minutes. A large proportion of goals are scored in the last 15 minutes of matches and at a scoreline of 1-1 teams will tend to be pressing for a winner.
  • Trading after a goal – the unders market often rockets upwards after a goal, but can then move downwards again quite quickly. So you can take advantage of this by backing unders after a goal and then trading out after five to ten minutes.


Conclusion – The Over/Under 2.5 Goals Market

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

The beautiful simplicity of it and not needing to worry about who will actually win a game, plus the appeal of cheering for goals (or none) makes it an attractive market to bet on 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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