EURO 2016 kicks-off on Friday night as hosts France take on Romania in Paris. Card King Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) gives us his best bookings bet.
France v Romania | Friday 20.00 | ITV1
It’s finally here! The European Championships commence on Friday night as hosts France take on Romania.
Personally, I cannot wait because betting on cards in friendly matches has been a nonsense. All of the history and trends go out of the window.
Thankfully, Euro 2016 preparation has been completed and we can now look forward to a feast of competitive football.
Recent meetings between these two have been tight with four draws and a solitary French victory in October 2010. The previous five meetings between these two countries produced total card counts of 5-4-3-2-4 – that’s an average of 3.60 cards-per-game.
Over the 2008 and 2012 tournaments, the average first group-game matches had just 3.30 cards-per-game dished out. I’ve looked at the past three opening matches of each tournament and the truth is, that they don’t give any clear pattern.
In 2004, Switzerland played Croatia and Portuguese ref Lucillo Batista dished out an incredible 11 cards! 2008 was a much more tepid affair with just three cards flashed by Italian Roberto Rosetti as the Swiss faced Czech Republic.
Our old favourite Carlos Velasco Carballo of Spain was in charge in 2012 and he was true to form issuing eight cards in the encounter between Poland and Greece.
In qualification matches, Romania were the fourth dirtiest team collecting 2.80 cards-per-game. France, as hosts, didn’t need to qualify.
Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai gets the whistle for this one and he averaged 3.30 cards-per-game during the qualification phase.
In Champions League and Europa League action this season (a more appropriate measure in my opinion than domestic games) Kassai averaged 3.70 cards-per-game.
Kassai has never officiated France and gave two yellows to Romania in his only game covering them.
Referee supremo Pierluigi Collina is the official UEFA observer for this fixture and he will want a low-key performance from Kassai.
With historical data of group-stage games, head-to-heads records and the referee all averaging around 3.50 cards-per-game or so, I’m backing Under 4.5 Cards at 5/6 with 888.
France v Romania – Under 4.5 Cards (5/6 888)