The value of soccer stats for fans of the game cannot be overstated. This is especially true for punters – statistics and deep knowledge of the teams are crucial if you want to find success. However, beginners are often stumped by all the numbers, abbreviations, and strange terms. After all, most soccer statistics are not quite general knowledge.
Stats aggregators and football league tables often feature three common football terms – GF (Goals For), GA (Goals Agains) and GD (Goal Difference.) You may be able to guess what they mean, but a true soccer betting strategy is not about guessing. It’s about knowing.
No worries, though – it’s nothing complicated, and we can explain GA for beginners.
This simple soccer betting guide will explain GA, GF, and GD in soccer. We’ll completely cover what GD means in football, how to calculate it, and how it can be useful in betting.
Before we get to the meaning of GD, though, we’ll have to cover GF and GA first.
GF Meaning (Goals For)
In soccer, GF stands for Goals For displays how many goals a team has scored in a given season. That’s all there really is to it.
For example, a GF score of 45 means that the team has scored a total of 45 goals up to that moment. However, it’s important to note that only goals scored during the regular 90-minute full time count. This includes stoppage time. However, it does not include goals scored during extra time or penalty shootouts.
So how important is GF for football teams?
Well, obviously, the team that scores more goals than their opponents wins the match. As a general rule, the more goals a team scores, the more games they win. However, it’s not a hard rule by any means. For instance, some teams play a very aggressive style and end up scoring a lot, but conceding even more.
GF in football is a somewhat solid indicator of how the team is performing, though. Teams with the most goals scored in a season tend to be near the top of the table. However, you must resist the urge to overvalue GF as well.
Put it this way – in a typical association football league structure, a team gets 3 points for a win. However, it doesn’t matter whether that victory was a 1:0 close game or a 7:1 wipeout. Both results only get 3 points.
As such, it’s theoretically possible for a team to score a lot of goals but not win many games overall. We can safely say that such cases are not very common, though. Still, GF stats in football can be useful for betting markets like Goals Scored or BTTS.
GA Meaning (Goals Against)
GA is essentially the opposite of GF. That’s probably all the info you need, but we’ll elaborate anyway.
GA in soccer stands for Goals Against and shows the number of goals a team has conceded during a given season. Consider it a short-hand way of saying “goals scored against this team.” Every time an opposing team scores against a particular team, that team’s GA score goes up by one.
Pretty much everything we said about Goals For applies to Goals Against in soccer, only it’s reversed. Conceding many goals in-game tends to indicate that a team is not doing well. However, there have been squads that played aggressively and still saw success. In practice, this would mean that their GA score is big, but their GF score is even higher.
As a rule of thumb, a low GA score means that a team has a strong defence, but it has no real bearing on how well they’re doing offensively. So, for instance, a team that plays too conservatively might end up with many draws and not a lot of wins. Such a team is not likely to rank very highly on a typical season table.
All in all, GA stats in soccer are useful for markets such as Goals Scored (Under).
What Does GD Mean in Soccer?
In soccer, GD stands for Goal Difference and it shows the difference between how many goals a team has scored vs. how many they’ve conceded.
To calculate goal difference in soccer, simply take the Goals For number and subtract Goals Against.
Between these three stats, GD is perhaps the most helpful stat on a typical league table. There are two reasons for this.
The first one is obvious – scoring goals and not letting the other team do so is how you win a match. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out.
More importantly, however, Goal Difference is used as a tiebreaker if two teams happen to have the same number of match points in a league. For instance, if both teams have the same number of league points at the end of the season, the team with the bigger GD will place higher.
It wasn’t always like this, though. Up until 1970, standard UEFA rules used Goal Average in place of Goal Difference. Goal Average takes the number of goals scored and divides it by the number of concessions. The result was that teams could rank quite well by simply having a strong defence and conceding as little as possible.
Starting with the 1975 season, however, Goal Difference rules in soccer were introduced to promote a more aggressive style of play. It’s a good thing, too – football matches are generally more exciting to watch nowadays.
Note that this isn’t always the case. For example, the Italian Serie A league uses head-to-head stats as a tiebreaker.
Using GD in Soccer Betting Strategies
First of all, Goal Difference is a relatively helpful indicator of how well a team is performing. A high goal difference means that they’re attacking well, defending well, or a little bit of both. This translates to a strong form.
Conversely, a negative goal difference usually means they’re not doing so great. Measuring team form in soccer is not always as easy as looking at a few numbers, though. Many other things need to be considered, such as head-to-head stats. For example, a team may have a poor GD score simply because they only had terrible match-ups up to that point.
Moreover, consider things like player injuries and other soccer news. Such details may hold valuable info as to why a team is performing well (or not.)
As we have already glossed over, GF, GD, and GA are most useful for betting on markets like Goals Scored, otherwise known as over/under betting in football.
For example, a team with a high GF total can be a good candidate for something like an Over 2.5 Goals bet. Two teams with such totals are even better. Moreover, two teams that both score a lot and concede a lot can be a good opportunity for Both Teams to Score.
This also partially explains the downsides of not paying attention to all three values. For instance, a team with a low Goal Difference could be either very aggressive or very defensive. That’s why you need to look at all three numbers whenever you’re analyzing league tables.
We have pretty much covered the basics of how Goal Difference works in soccer. It’s an undeniably useful bit of data. However, beginners often get hung up on simple numbers and fail to see the bigger picture.
While soccer stats are important, don’t neglect to dig deeper. Look at the numbers, but also try to understand what the numbers indicate and why they are the way they are. Critical thinking like that is the best path to success with football betting.
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