When should you trade corners?

The corner kick is a staple event of a football match, with regular occurrences of it seemingly regardless of the action or momentum.

Many teams still utilise corners as a big part of their attacking plan. Some, like FC Midtjylland of Denmark, have mastered them in recent seasons and reaped the rewards.

However, for analysts and traders it can be quite difficult to judge games that are likely to have a high number of corners, especially pre-match. In this piece we will investigate a few standard ways of predicting corners.

Later, we will use an Asian Handicap model to see if games where one team is expected to dominate produce more corners. For now, let’s just look at the average corners per game across 7 leagues in 2014/15:


Nothing too startling here, although it is perhaps surprising that in the Bundesliga, a league renowned for attacking and with a high goal average (as shown below), there are comparatively few corners:


Getting into the Asian Handicap model, it is important to note that while some leagues had teams with much more dominance (such as Spain, where Barcelona and Real Madrid occasionally had a -3.5 handicap), most games fell between -0.5 and +0.5 for the home team:


Logic dictates that if one team is expected to dominate then they will attack more, and also that a team who attacks more will win more corners. I looked at the numbers to see if this was true, combining the far-reaching dominances, so that there was more data to look at (anything beyond +/- 1 either way are combined):


While the average corners for a handicap of -3.5 through to -1 and -0.75 are slightly higher than the overall of 10.33 per game, it is not statistically significant and well within 1 standard deviation (3.49).

However, it is very interesting that in games where the home team were handicapped greater than +0.75, the number of corners drops dramatically. There is a roughly linear curve going upwards away from 0 supremacy for all other levels.

So, while there may be a slightly higher chance of getting more corners, particularly when the home team is thought to be dominant, there is nothing that really stands out.

There is one more area to look at, though, what if the team that was expected to dominate do not? I looked at games where the team with a handicap greater than -0.75 did not win:


Fewer games fall into this category and this makes it more volatile, but it does show that teams that are at home with a greater than -0.75 handicap tend to create more corners when they don’t win. Though this is not significant it is still a hike from the average by 1.11 corners per game (11.44 to the average of 10.33 across all games).

Observing things at league level increases the volatility of the data due to the reduction in the number of games, but still offers some more interesting findings.

The English Championship in particular shows a further increase in the number of corners when the dominant team doesn’t win. The average is close to 2 corners per game greater in this case, although it is worth noting that the number of corners in this league is above the average for all leagues to begin with:


Game state will play a large part in this and it may be that the earlier the non-dominant team goes ahead that more corners are created as the home team tries to get back into the game.

If this occurs it could well be worth backing more corners if the away team takes an early lead and then laying this off if the home team equalises and market value persists.

StrataBet now contains detailed data on how corners are won and lost, so in a future blog I will look to explore how and where they are created. I will also see if any players stand out who could be useful for trading purposes.

Dave Willoughby