BOOKINGS boff Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) returns with a view from Wednesday night’s Champions League qualifier between Celtic and Astana.
Celtic v Astana | Wednesday 19.45
The Champions League qualification stage heats up significantly on Wednesday night and my eyes were instantly drawn to Celtic Park.
Brendan Rodgers’s Hoops tackle Astana fresh from a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Kazakhstan a week ago.
There were four cards issued in that game (two per team) but with the stakes raised we can expect a lot more in this battle…
Romanian whisteblower Ivan Kovacs is in charge and I’m very excited about that.
If you follow me on Twitter you will know I was desperate for a firm to price up the Romanian Super Cup as he was in charge that day. He gave 10 yellows!
He has flashed 108 red cards in 231 career games and he averages 6.30 total cards per-career-appearance. He has yet to officiate a Champions League qualification game but in previous Europa League qualifiers he averaged 6.38 cards-per-game.
In short a fantastic appointment!
I’ve considered the corresponding second leg matches from last season and they produced total card numbers of 5-7-6-6-5-7-3-5-9-5-8-8-2-6-3 – an average of 5.67 cards-per-game.
This tie is nicely poised and with a raucous atmosphere in Glasgow and a favourable referee appointed, I’m expecting cards.
I want to get with Astana here. This referee handed 4+ cards to the away team in all of his three Europa League qualifiers last season, which bodes well.
Also a year ago, Astana managed two yellows and a red in a 4-3 home victory over Finnish outfit HJK at this stage in the qualification phase. I would expect something similar here.
This official averages a red every two games over his career and I think that is also a big runner. SkyBet are offering 7/2 on a second half sending off and that has chances.
However, as it is my opening tip of the season I’ll be slightly more cautious and back 40 or more Booking Points for Astana at 11/8 with SkyBet.
If you’re new to Bookings Points, a yellow card earns 10 points and a red card earns 25 points. If a player receives two yellow cards and is consequently shown a red card, he receives a total of 35 Booking Points.
Celtic v Astana – Astana to receive 40+ Booking Points (11/8 SkyBet)