In the professional game, it generally doesn’t matter when you score so long as you score enough to beat the opposition. Whether the goals flow in the first half or the second, the three points are what matter in the grand scheme of things. However, for those who can score in both halves with regularity, success is a great deal more likely. This metric can tell us, with a fair degree of accuracy, who the most dominant sides are, and who spreads their goals out in a game to ensure that they don’t tail off or start slowly.
Here, we will look at leagues and tournaments from around the world to uncover the truth behind winning both halves, which teams do it most often – and why some manage it more than others. For the betters amongst you, this will hopefully give you a much better idea of when to expect a side to win both halves. For those who just enjoy watching the beautiful game, this will offer a fascinating glimpse into the secrets behind prolific teams and how the data varies around the globe.
The frequency with which teams score in both halves has become a great deal more scrutinised over the past decade, thanks to the rise in online betting. Put simply, a market has been created around the concept of a team winning both halves of a football match, whereby bookmakers will pay out if the home or away outscores their opponent in both 45-minute halves.
However, its application isn’t only in betting. In the statistical world of football, where every player’s action and tactical tweak is documented down to microscopic detail, winning both halves can tell us a great deal about a side. For instance, a team which does so regularly can be regarded as possessing an attacking threat throughout a match rather than just in one period of it.
By the same token, if a side concedes in both halves, it’s a sign that there is something fundamentally wrong in the way they set up. Indeed, it can tell us with greater accuracy how good or bad a team really is. After all, it’s one thing to be dominant in spells, but if a side can manage to score at will in any phase of the game, they are on course for success.
Factors That Impact Ability To Win Both Halves
A number of football teams have crucial players who score a high percentage of their goals. If these players are missing from the squad due to injury, international duty or other, then there is less chance that the team will net. As such, when considering whether a team will be able to win/score in both halves, it’s always prudent to check the starting line-ups first and foremost. You should start your research in the days leading up to the match to assess if any key players are injured or likely to be left out of the squad for other reasons.
The starting lineup is important as these are the players likely to score the goals, but just as important sometimes is who is sitting on the respective benches. Some sides possess players who would be considered ‘super-subs’ who are often brought off the bench with the aim of scoring a winner. Tore Andre Flo made 169 appearances for Chelsea, with 69 of them from coming off the bench. He scored 13 goals from those 69 appearances, which is a good record considering his limited time on the pitch.
Javier Hernandez was also used as a super-sub for Manchester United as was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who may perhaps be considered the best super-sub of all-time. Solskjaer scored 28 of his 126 goals for United when coming off the bench with his most famous being his stoppage time winner against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final.
As well as the players which are included in the lineup, it’s also important to consider the tactics teams will be deploying in any given match. This is often something that has to be observed in the game, as managers tend to keep their cards close to their chests for understandable reasons. However, if you’re knowledgeable about the team and the manager, you can often get a good idea of what the tactics will be based on the lineup, the formation and the opposition team.
Another factor which massively impacts the likelihood of a side winning both halves is whether they are playing at home or away from home. Although it is no guarantee, most teams tend to play better when on home soil. Historically, they score more and concede fewer goals on home turf compared to playing away, and so – if your team is at home – their chances of winning both halves should be increased.
Home Vs Away Records – Premier League Sides Who Won Both Halves Of Games In 2021/22
|Club||Final league position||Both half wins/home games played||Both half win %|
|Club||Final league position||Both half wins/away games played||Both half win %|
When looking at recent data for the Premier League, a clear picture emerges when it comes to scoring in both halves. Indeed, in both 2021/22 and this current campaign (the first half of 2022/23), the teams who have scored in both halves most frequently are the teams with the most wins to their name. This season that would be Manchester City and Arsenal, the top two sides in the Premier League.
Interestingly, City leads the way in the ‘winning both halves’ table, having done so in five out of their 14 games so far. Arsenal, meanwhile, are one behind on four, where they are rather curiously joined by Leicester City – in spite of the East Midland side’s struggles for form. With that being said, Leicester do score a fair few goals, which helps explain why they are near the top of this table.
At the opposite end of the scale are Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace and Southampton. None of them have won both halves of a game yet this season, and as you might expect, all four are in the bottom half of the Premier League table as a result. A gaggle of teams have only achieved the feat once this season, including Manchester United and Liverpool.
Last season’s statistics tell a very similar tale. Once again, the side that ended up finishing second also won both halves of matches most frequently. That was Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who did so in 16 out of their 38 games (42.11%) en route to earning 92 points. Eventual champions Man City won both halves 13 times, with Spurs managing the feat on 11 occasions.
Interestingly, every side managed to do so at least once in the season, with Newcastle United, Watford, Norwich City and Burnley all only doing it a single time. Once again, these are all sides who ended up in the bottom half of the table, and indeed in the case of Watford Norwich and Burnley, all would subsequently be relegated at the end of the season. Overall, in 2021/22, the average number of games in which a side won both halves (across all teams) was 5.4 – or 13.5% of all games played.
The Champions League brings together the best of the best in terms of European club football, and as such you might expect that we’d see teams win both halves with more frequency. However, quite the opposite appears to be true, if we look at recent data. Last season, 15 of the 32 teams who took place from the Group Stage onwards didn’t win both halves of any game at all. Even the eventual finalists Liverpool and Real Madrid, who ended up playing 13 games each, only did so five times between them (Real earning four of those).
Bayern Munich had the best return of any team, winning both halves in 50% of their UCL matches in 2021/22 (five out of 10). Just below were Real, Chelsea and Ajax, who each played a different number of games in reaching their final tallies of four and three respectively.
Contrastingly, so far this season we’ve seen a higher percentage of teams winning both halves of games – although that is likely because we’ve only reached the knockout stages as of the time of writing (12/12/22). Bayern once again lead the way, having won both halves in four of their six group stage matches in 2022/23, with AC Milan second on three out of six, while Porto’s Man City, Napoli, Club Brugge, RBL, Liverpool and Inter are all on two. So far, 14 of the 32 sides haven’t yet won both halves of a game, a figure which mirrors that of last season.
2021/22 Champions League Data
|Club||Games played||Won both halves||% of games where both halves won||Stage reached|
How Do Domestic European Leagues Compare?
It’s now time to see how Premier League sides stack up to their European counterparts in terms of winning both halves. In order to find out, we’ve gathered data from last season’s La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga competitions to compare and contrast the figures.
In Germany’s top-flight last season, it was Bayern Munich who led the way in terms of winning both halves. The Bavarian giants, under Julian Nagelsmann, won both halves of a Bundesliga game 11 times in total – with only Bayer Leverkusen managing to equal that. RB Leipzig managed it ten times in 2021/22 on their way to finishing third, with Arminia Bielefeld and newly-promoted Greuter Furth the only sides to draw a blank in this regard. All in all, the average number of games where a side won both halves was 5.8, only a little bit more than the Premier League average for the same time period.
The 2021/22 La Liga season saw Champions League Semi-finalists Villarreal win both halves ten times – once more than UCL and La Liga champions for that season, Real Madrid. Real Betis were third with seven games out of 38, with Atletico Madrid one shy of that in fourth place. Only one side (Mallorca) didn’t win both halves of a game at all in 2021/22, which gave the league an average of 5.3 (13%) for the season.
In Serie A, meanwhile, ten also proved to be the highest amount recorded by a club – this time Inter. Napoli were second, having won both halves in nine of their 38 games, with eventual champions AC Milan well short with just six. Curiously, Serie A had the fewest number of sides to win both halves of a game, with four ending the season on zero (Venezia, Salernitana, Spezia and Genoa). As you might expect, almost all clubs who failed to achieve the feat at least once struggled and were near the bottom of their respective divisions.
European Clubs With The Highest ‘won Both Halves’ Percentage During 2021/22
|Club||Nation||Won both halves/games played||Won both halves %|
International tournaments like the FIFA World Cup and the European Championships are somewhat harder to establish trends in, given the relatively few number of games that teams play in. However, we have compiled some data from the two most previous tournaments to give us a greater idea as to how it differs from the club game.
At this winter’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, it’s curious to note that just two sides have won both halves on more than one occasion (as of the time of writing – 12/12/22). As of the Quarter-final stage, only England and France have done so. England managed to do it against Iran and Senegal, winning 6-2 and 3-0, respectively. France were similarly impressive in beating Australia 4-1 and Poland 3-1 in the Round of 16. For both England and France, that means they have each managed to win both halves in 2/5 of their matches (so far) in Qatar. Elsewhere, only seven other sides have done it once, with the rest of the 32 nations at the tournament failing altogether.
For a direct comparison, let’s look at Euro 2020. At the competition, there were 11 instances of a side winning both halves out of the 51 matches played. Wales, Italy, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, Germany and England all did it once. However, much like the 2022 World Cup, two nations managed to do it twice – Denmark and the Netherlands. A total of 15 teams didn’t win both halves of a game at all during the tournament, which was a unique edition for several reasons. Firstly, it took place amid the pandemic, but also, it was staged in several different stadiums around Europe. For instance, both Denmark and the Netherlands played on home soil, which might explain why they were dominant in both halves on two occasions despite not being eventual finalists.
As we’ve shown, winning both halves of a game isn’t easy by any metric. Even those sides who dominate a division or a cup competition struggle to exceed an average of over 50% when upwards of 30 matches are played. It does continue to be a good indicator of how a team will do in a campaign across all competitions, as the data shows a clear correlation between the frequency of both half wins and silverware.