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Optimus Time: Find out the best moment to back World Cup goals if you’re betting in-running

We crunched the numbers and bring you the results you need to know if you're having a cheeky in-play punt

by Josh Powell | June 13, 2014

The biggest advantage of Brazil hosting this year’s World Cup is the ideal kick-off times we can enjoy in the UK and Ireland. When you roll out of work at 5.00pm the first game of the day is just kicking off and ahead of you, eight hours of footballing entertainment without interruption. Heaven.

This is also an excellent time for some in-running punting, free from the distractions of work or Emmerdale. Either in the pub or on the couch, the evening kick-offs present the perfect opportunity for a little dabble in-play to spice up even the dullest looking group game – Iran v Nigeria we’re looking at you. The Paddy Power Blog have gone stats mental already this year on slow starters, England’s penalty woes and boring group games, to name a few. Now we’ve cracked open the history books to find the ideal time to start backing goals in-play, and the top line is patience.


When Gary Barlow and co. mused the line ‘try and have a little patience’, it’s unlikely that they were thinking about backing six European powerhouses in-running. However if they were, they’ve immediately gone up in our estimations and we might just consider going for a pint with them. Maybe. Anyway, it appears that biding your time is the way to go in-running if you’re backing any of the above six teams to score.

We’ve looked at World Cup 2010 games, Euro 2012 games and 2014 Qualifying games and the trend is simply, back second half goals – particularly if you’re France or Spain. 77 per cent of France’s 22 goals came in the second half and Spain weren’t too dissimilar with 64 per cent of their scores coming after the break. The stats suggest that if you’re backing either of these sides in-play you should resist the temptation to steam in on goals early. Very much like on the dating scene, bide your time. Nobody reacts well to a marriage proposal on the second date, trust us.

England and, somewhat surprisingly, Italy were the only sides to have score more first half goals than second half goals, but the difference was marginal. We look at the key minutes and the stats that suggest that game will be decided just before half time, over here.


If you’re betting in-running on either the French, Spanish or Dutch however, there are some key trends that keep popping up. A lot like Panini football stickers, these trends have lasted the years and so we felt we should share them with you in a bit more detail.

  • Almost a third of France’s goals have come between the 60th and 75th minute so this would be the prime time to back them to score in-running. Alternatively 59 per cent of their goals come between half time and the 75th minute, so that half an hour spell is key for the French and could be very profitable for you. In all the games we analysed they scored just once in the opening 15 minutes so swerve an early goal for the lads just across the pond
  • The Spanish also like to score late on as more than 50 per cent of their goals came in the last half an hour of each game. Although they are at their least threatening in the 15 minutes before the break, they did rack up a fifth of their scores between the 15th and 30th minute. La Roja are at their most deadly in the final spell of the game though and that presents a great in-running opportunity.
  • Of the three sides the Dutch are most likely to score early, with 15 per cent of their goals in the first quarter of an hour. Whatever the gaffer says at half-time does the trick because they peak in front of goal in the 15 minutes after the break as well. The worst time to back the Dutch to score, like the Spanish, is in the 15 minute spell before the oranges come out. Handy if you need to pop out for any prawn sandwiches, or simply just to put the kettle on.

Unless you’re still one of the few die-hards rocking a Nokia 3210, you probably own a smart phone in your pocket that can get you on in-running whether you’re in the pub, on the couch, or even if you’re stuck in work during the World Cup group games. Just remember to show a bit of tact and stay patient if you’re backing those European giants and the goals. The stats suggest that’s the best way to empty Paddy’s pockets and wipe that cheeky smug grin off his chops.

  • Time it right and get stuck into the latest World Cup match betting here: Desktop | Mobile

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