CARD KING Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) earmarks the bookings value for European Championship debutants Wales and Slovakia’s meting on Saturday.
Wales v Slovakia | Saturday 17.00 | BBC1
Wales make their European Championship debut against Slovakia in Bordeaux, a game that will hold particular resonance for Gareth Bale.
The only fixtures played between the teams came in qualifying for Euro 2008 and produced two unlikely scorelines. Bale scored his first goal for Wales in the first meeting in Cardiff but Slovakia managed five – Dusan Svento getting the first and Robert Vittek the fifth.
That goal made Bale Wales’ youngest ever goalscorer, aged 17 years, two months and 22 days – a record that still stands.
I don’t usually bet on games involving my teams but I’ll make an exception here.
I had targeted this fixture for plenty of cards; that still may happen but the appointment of Norway’s Svein Odd Moen puts me off. He averaged 3.20 cards-per-game in the qualifiers, which is low.
The Dragons averaged 2.20 and Slovakia 2.40 cards-per-game.
I watched Slovakia play Northern Ireland in a friendly last week and they should have collected five or six cards. Unfortunately the Romanian referee didn’t want to know!
In particular, the centre-backs Martin Skrtel and Jan Durica were extremely fortunate to escape a caution.
In qualifying, Skrtel collected five yellows in eight matches. He averaged a yellow every 144 minutes or so. Durica, is the old man of the side at 34 and wasn’t so prolific collecting a solitary booking in five fixtures but he really struggled against Kyle Lafferty in the recent friendly.
Of course, it’s not Lafferty this week but Wales talisman Bale. He will run at them and cause no end of problems.
Skrtel is 3/1 to get booked and Durica 7/2, both with 888. An equal stake on each would mean around even-money that at least one gets a card. If both get one, we’ve creamed it in.