PLoS One 2018 5;13(6):e0198668. Epub 2018 Jun 5.
Institute of Training and Computer Science in Sport, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.
Betting odds are frequently found to outperform mathematical models in sports related forecasting tasks, however the factors contributing to betting odds are not fully traceable and in contrast to rating-based forecasts no straightforward measure of team-specific quality is deducible from the betting odds. The present study investigates the approach of combining the methods of mathematical models and the information included in betting odds. A soccer forecasting model based on the well-known ELO rating system and taking advantage of betting odds as a source of information is presented. Data from almost 15.000 soccer matches (seasons 2007/2008 until 2016/2017) are used, including both domestic matches (English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Spanish Primera Division and Italian Serie A) and international matches (UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europe League). The novel betting odds based ELO model is shown to outperform classic ELO models, thus demonstrating that betting odds prior to a match contain more relevant information than the result of the match itself. It is shown how the novel model can help to gain valuable insights into the quality of soccer teams and its development over time, thus having a practical benefit in performance analysis. Moreover, it is argued that network based approaches might help in further improving rating and forecasting methods.