CARD king Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) is eyeing up the opening night of La Liga action for his latest bookings bet.
Deportivo La Coruna v Eibar | Friday 21:00 | Sky Sports Extra
Whilst most people’s eyes will be on the circus at Old Trafford on Friday night, my attention will be firmly fixed on Spain – La Liga is back and little Eibar will travel to the Riazor to take on Deportivo La Coruna.
I’m revising the strategy for Spanish tips this season by focusing only on above average referees. ‘Above average’ means they have dished out more cards over the past three seasons than the league average (5.65 cards-per-game in 2015/16).
Mario Malero Lopez falls into this select group of officials. The 37–year-old from Malaga averaged 6.90 cards-per-game in 2015/16, which was a significant increase on his 2014/15 average of 5.65 cards-per-game.
However, what is striking about this whisteblower is his penchant for second-half cards. The general average number of second-half cards in Spain is around 4.10 per-match. Lopez is a full card higher at 5.10.
Seven of the nine games that Lopez covered last year had four or more cards shown after the interval. That’s a 78% probability.
His nine league matches last season had total second-half cards numbers of 8-5-6-4-6-3-5-1-8.
Lopez covered a meeting between these two in the Basque country in 2014 that Deportivo won 1-0 and he gave four second-half cards that day.
Last term Depor typically collected 69% of their cards after the half-time oranges were shared and the visitors, Eibar an even higher 74%.
The hosts were poor for cards last year. Only Barcelona and Real Madrid collected fewer cautions. However, they have changed coach and now under Gaizka Garitano, perhaps will adopt a more aggressive approach.
Both teams ended the last campaign in poor form. La Coruna won just 2/22 La Liga encounters and Eibar lost 8/10 away league games. It seems almost silly to be saying this about a season opening match but both teams will surely be targeting maximum points from this fixture, knowing the importance of matches against expected fellow strugglers.
With compelling stats from the referee, I’m backing Over 3 Second-Half Cards at 10/11 with William Hill.
This is a quirky market so just be aware of William Hill rules on this:
Only one card will count for a second bookable offence. If a yellow card shown is immediately followed by a red card, the total number of cards shown will count as one. Therefore the maximum number of cards issued to any one player in a match will be two.
My second pick in this match is the time the first card is issued.
This referee has a very high average time of first card by Spanish standards (33.9 minutes).
Anything can happen in these types of bets such as a bad tackle which forces the official to take action but the earliest this referee gave a card last year was the 19th minute.
Bet365 are offering a ‘no card before 22.00’ and that must be the bet at 5/6 given that Lopez gave a card after that time in 7/9 matches last season.
Deportivo La Coruna v Eibar – Over 3 Second-Half Cards (10/11 William Hill)
Deportivo La Coruna v Eibar – No Card Before 22.00 (5/6 Bet365)