CARD king Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) eyes up the value in Saturday's El Clasico encounter.
Barcelona v Real Madrid | Saturday 15:15
El Clasico returns on Saturday afternoon as Barcelona and Real Madrid clash at Camp Nou. Zinedine Zidane's troops hold a six points advantage over their great rivals and can perhaps put an unassailable margin between the two clubs with victory in the first encounter of the season.
Carlos Clos Gomez has been appointed for this showdown. Barcelona, are delighted that their “lucky charm” is in charge. Their record when he officiates them is W17 D3 L0. Conversely, Madrid are furious. His record covering Los Blancos reads W18 D5 L4.
The reaction in the Spanish capital has seen local media commenting phrases such as “The most anti-Madridista referee still active” and “The referee Real Madrid least like”. He is the only referee to send off Luka Modric in his 518 career games.
Gomez has taken charge of three previous Clasicos, although none were in the league. Barcelona won 3-2 in the Spanish Super Cup at Camp Nou in 2012. They also won 3-4 at the Bernabeu and drew 1-1 in the Copa Del Rey. This season he averages 5.6 cards per game in Spain's top flight.
Real Madrid have collected 27 yellow cards and Barcelona 29 yellows. Neither club has had a player sent off so far this term. As you can imagine there are lots of markets that are short prices such as second half cards being a 4/6 shot. I've looked for better value than that.
The past five league meetings between these two clubs have seen cards of 8-7-11-6-9, at an average of 8.2 per match. Sky Bet are offering 3/1 on 65-85 points. Given the recent average is 8.2 that looks good value as my first core selection.
Typically, Madrid receive the most with 4.4 cards compared to Barca's 3.8. Madrid have collected three red cards in the past five meetings compared to none for the Catalans.
That leads me onto my second bet. Sergio Ramos has been recipient of two of those three red cards. He is too short to back for a yellow card at 4/6 but the 11/1 with Sky Bet on him getting an early bath does appeal.
In 18 career games against Barcelona, the Madrid captain has seen red three times and yellow on 11 other occasions. This referee has also carded him in 9/22 career games.
Ramos is virtually guaranteed at least a yellow card. He represents great value given his history of picking up a red card with the Barcelona forwards causing him lots of problems.
I also like Dani Carvajal to receive a card. He has been shown one in 4/5 matches against Barca and in 2/6 matches officiated by Clos Gomez. Playing right back, he will have the MSN running at him all afternoon. At 10/11 with Sky Bet he is worth backing.
I did want to tip Isco to get a card at 11/4 with 888sport as he is the other player to be sent off in this fixture for a wild kick at Neymar at the Bernabeu last season. However, it appears that Casimeiro might return in his place and in this type of market you don't want to be backing a substitute.
Others worthy of consideration are undoubtedly the strikers at bigger odds. Ronaldo (four cards in last six meetings) is big at 3/1 with 888sport. Likewise, Luis Suarez (6/4 with Sky Bet) has two cards in four meetings and can be relied up to battle Ramos all afternoon.
Paddy Power are offering 8/1 that either Ramos or Suarez sees red and with two players going for you that is better value than the 11/1 on just Ramos getting sent off. This should be an absorbing battle between these heavyweights and it is reasonable to expect plenty of cards.
Barcelona v Real Madrid – Between 65-85 Bookings Points (3/1 Skybet)
Barcelona v Real Madrid – Ramos or Suarez to be sent off (8/1 Paddy Power)
Barcelona v Real Madrid – Carvajal to receive a card (10/11 Skybet)