Home vs. Away: The impact of location on football betting

There are several advantages location gives teams in football matches, which is why most leagues have the teams play both home and away over the course of a season to level the playing field. Some of these advantages are physical. Others are environmental or even psychological, but they have an effect altogether on performance and on how bookmakers calculate their odds. Let's dive into this crucial stat to uncover its nuances and effects on a matchup.

Home crowd supporting its team

Understanding the home advantage

The location of football matches has always played a huge role in football betting. Online football platforms have understood this and generally adjust the odds and lines accordingly. More often than not, the home team is awarded shorter odds than they would if they were playing an away match. The reason is simple - the home advantage.

Effects of location in a match

Here are the major ways a home-field game differs from an away match for any squad:

Supporters crowd

Popularly referred to as the 12th man, this is the most obvious advantage a home team has over an away team is the number of supporters in the stands. Home team fans always greatly outnumber the away team counterparts, which means more support and cheers for the home team and boos, jeers and whistles for the away side. This tends to give the home players more motivation, increased morale and better performance and can be disruptive and intimidating for the away side. Studies have also shown that crowd noise can sometimes influence decisions in favor of the home team, especially with inexperienced referees.

Travel fatigue

Distance is also a factor that can affect football matches and bets. The home team players are less exposed to fatigue as they live in the city and close to the stadium. This gives them the edge of arriving fresh and in good condition. On the other hand, away team players are exposed to long travel hours just before the game, especially in continental matches like the UCL.

Environmental conditions

The weather conditions of a particular location can also affect both sets of teams differently. Home teams are used to the harsh conditions, e.g., intense heat, freezing temperature, or high altitude of their geography. In contrast, the away team might struggle to perform as a result of unfamiliar conditions.

Stadium and playing surface familiarity

The home team also enjoys the benefit of playing in a familiar environment and ground surfaces they've become accustomed to over time. Meanwhile, the away team has to navigate a strange and hostile environment. They also have to deal with playing on a surface that they aren't used to or affects their playing style. This can reduce team effectiveness and hand the advantage to the home team who are more comfortable.

Familiarity of location, heavy support, and zero travel fatigue offer significant benefits for the home team. The opposite is the case for the away side who tend to face adverse effects. Just like previous head-to-heads and player injuries are crucial stats for betting, the match location will likely have a say in the outcome at the final whistle.