CARD king Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) is eyeing up his ‘cards bet of the season’ on Sunday in Serie A.
Bologna v Cagliari | Sunday 11.30 | BT Sport Europe
Well the day has finally arrived – my cards bets of the season.
In truth I wasn’t expecting it until January or February due to the way referee appointments work in Serie A. However, on Sunday morning Cagliari will travel to Bologna for what appears a pretty unremarkable fixture.
It won’t be unremarkable to me however as, to cut to the chase, I will be lumping on. So what’s all the fuss about?
Well little known Italian referee Rosario Abisso has been given a game at Serie A level. He typically operates at the Serie B level but I don’t know of any bookmakers who offer the cards market on those matches so he has effectively been out of reach and I’ve had to wait for him to be given a top-flight game again.
The 30-year-old from Palermo is a prolific card issuer (145 yellows and 15 reds in 22 matches last season) and in the summer I analysed his 2015/16 season match-by-match.
That painstaking process threw up some very clear patterns – basically Abisso likes to get his cards out very early and heavily books the away team.
His time of first cards were 11-14-5-15-7-17-3-10-20-35-7-18-24-25-15-15-25- 2 – that’s an average of 14.8 minutes. Incredibly low!
To put that in some sort of context, nobody else I covered was below 20 minutes on average. Other top Italian officials such as Luca Banti (30.1), Nicola Rizzoli (24.9) and the mad Paolo Valeri (21.7) were nowhere near Abisso’s stats.
Michael Oliver’s first card usually appears in the 40th minute, Mark Clattenburg gives his first typically in the 45th – you get the picture.
I have been further encouraged to see the time of first card in the last five head-to-head meetings between Bologna and Cagliari. They read as 15-11-14-43-14 – that is an average of 19.4 minutes.
When the game is played in Bologna, as this one will be, the average drops to 14.3 minutes.
I don’t care who gets the first card but it looks likely to be Cagliari.
The visitors’ average 3.00 cards-per-game compared to 1.5 cards-per-game for Bologna so far this season. Cagliari collected the first card in the 11th minute in their trip to Genoa and in the 21st minute in the home match against Roma.
The odds on this bet aren’t going to result in the ability to retire overnight but, statistically, it does look a fabulous bet. I’m backing ‘a card before & including 23rd minute’ with Paddy Power at 10/11.
An early kick-off is a slight concern and I can’t ignore Abisso’s record against away teams, and in particular Cagliari, so I’m going to recommend a second bet too.
I looked at Abisso’s career games covering Cagliari and in just four matches he has shown them 19 cards at an average of 4.75 cards-per-game.
Furthermore, he showed a very high 4.94 cards-per-game to ‘away’ teams in 2015/16 -14/18 matches he covered had 4+ cards going to the visitors.
There is also history in this fixture. Cagliari have had a player sent off in their last three games against Bologna. With this referee there is a great chance of that becoming 4/4.
The Sardinians have collected 5-7-5 cards in their last three encounters with Bologna irrespective of the venue. When the game in played in northern Italy, the cards are also very high at 5-5-5.
Given these stats I’m also backing Over 3 Cagliari Cards at 10/11 with William Hill.
Bologna v Cagliari – A card before & including 23rd minute (10/11 Paddy Power)
Bologna v Cagliari – Over 3 Cagliari Cards (10/11 William Hill)