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What is xG Good for in Sports Betting?

xG stats were a hot-topic when they started to make it into mainstream media. "What is this futuristic stat?" many asked themselves. Why should you even care? Well, xG is useful, and it is a great stat that paints a clearer picture of a teams performance in a game, that the scoreline just fails to do sometimes. xG has also proven to be a valuable stat among handicappers who use it to back their bets. In this article, we'll cover the basics of what xG is, but we will focus on how to use it to your advantage against the bookies.

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xG stands for "Expected Goals", it is a stat that measures the number of goals that a team was expected to make in a game based on the likelihood of that shot going in. Shots get a different xG score depending on a number of factors like angle, distance, etc. The score ranges from 0 to 1, with 1 representing a shot that had an 100% likelihood of going in.

Key Takeaways

  • xG is short for "Expected Goals".
  • Expected goals is the total number of goals a team was expected to make based on the likelihood of their shots going in.
  • xG is a more fair representation of how a team performed, because things happen and goals don't always go in.
  • It is used in betting to more accurately tell a teams form and to evaluate the goal-scoring ability of a team or both teams.
  • It is a great stat to use for goal lines such as O/U goal totals.

How to Use xG to Evaluate a Game?

Through xG we can derive a more clear picture of how a team is performing. It's soccer after all, and anything can happen. We all know that a team can have an amazing game and just be plain unlucky in front of goal despite the chances. This is where xG has an advantage, it doesn't matter if the ball went in the net, or if the other team won, blah blah. When you look at xG you see the pure attacking performance of a team, you can see just how well they played by the quality of the shots they created,

How to Use it to Tell a Teams Form?

When it comes to form, we do believe xG is one of the best indicators. But to get the best reading, what you have to do is not only look at xG, but also look at the scoreline. There are a number of scenarios that can be projected when looking at this data together, and they all tell a different story for a team. Below, we cover how to read these stats and tell a teams performance :

  • High avg. xG, but a lot of losses and maybe low goals : The team is generating good chances (high xG), they are playing well, and not completely suffering against their opponents, but their scorelines are not reflecting that. They are possibly going through a period of bad efficiency in front of goal. You will want to look at more historical data (let's say the five games before these five), to see if this is just a bad time for them. If you see in this historical data that the team has consistently struggled to get results, then you may be looking at a team that is wasteful, and will most likely continue to be.

    You may also want to look at who they have faced in this period, they may be losing because they have played stronger teams that they couldn't beat even with a lot of chances. Compare also their xG to their allowed xG over this period, if they have a high xG but so do their opponents on average against them, then they play a very open game on both sides of the pitch. Unfortunately for them, though, if that is the case and they haven't gotten a lot of wins, then their defense needs work.

  • High avg. xG, lots of wins, and lots of goals : This is what you want to see from your favorite team, or the team that you are backing to win on the moneyline. This is the perfect picture of fantastic form. The team is generating stellar chances, they are converting them efficiently into goals, and they are being solid enough defensively or dominating the opposition enough to get the Ws.

  • Low avg. xG, lots of losses, and not a lot of goals : The opposite of the above. This is the perfect picture of bad form. The team is not generating a lot of chances meaning they cannot compete. The team is losing, so their opponents are getting through on them and scoring. They are making very few goals with the chances they do get. This is what you want to see on the other side of your moneyline bet for example.
When reading stats for the five latest games

Techniques for Evaluating Bets

  • Hidden value : Sometimes a team will have had a string of bad results, but not bad performances. Meaning they may have a few losses and draws in their most recent games, but if you look at the xG for those games, you may find that they have not played bad, because they have managed to create chances. A bookie may write off this team or give them a little bit more love on the lines because of their results. Depending on the rest of your analysis of the game, this team may have some hidden value.

  • Two high avg. xG teams : This is a recipe for a high scoring game, but you will also want to look at the allowed xG by both teams to back your analysis a bit more. A good indicator that a game can go over on the total lines, we usually go for an o/2.5.

  • Two low scoring avg. xG teams : Same as above, but flipped on it's head, a good indicator a game could go under on a totals line. Again, we usually like the u/2.5 line at full-time.