CARD KING Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) highlights the bookings value in Sunday's Barcelona derby.
Barcelona v Espanyol | Sunday 19:45 | Sky Sports 1
The Barcelona derby takes place on Sunday evening as Espanyol travel the short distance to the Camp Nou to take on Barcelona.
This is the most played local derby in La Liga but also the most unbalanced with Barcelona heavily dominant – Espanyol have only finished above their neighbours three times in 70 years.
Espanyol, being one of the club granted royal patronage, was founded exclusively by Spanish football fans, unlike the multinational nature of Barcelona's primary board. The founding message of the club was to be anti-Barcelona and this disapprovingly saw FC Barcelona as a team of foreigners.
The rivalry was strengthened by what Catalonians saw as a provocative representative of Madrid. In recent years the rivalry has become less political as Espanyol translated its official name and anthem from Spanish to Catalan.
High card count in recent skirmishes
From a card perspective, the past five meetings between these two clubs have produced total card counts of 9-7-15-8-12 – an average of 10.20 cards per-game. Espanyol typically collected more than double the number of cards compared to Barca in that period.
This season, Barca have surprisingly collected the most yellow cards of the two (33 to 28) but Quique Sanchez Flores’ visitors have picked up two red cards to Barca's zero.
Lahoz the man in the middle
Probably Spain's top official, Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, is given the whistle. He averages 6.50 cards per-game in the league this season but I always feel his stats are misleading because he nearly always referees one of the ‘Big 3' clubs and therefore less cards are typically given, as the big teams tend to win easily.
In career games officiating the hosts he typically gives the Blaugrana 2.38 cards per-game compared to 3.06 to Espanyol.
Lahoz does have some recent history in this fixture, sending off Barcelona left back Jordi Alba and Espanyol's Hector Moreno back in April 2015. The referee issued 12 cards that day.
The betting angle
Normally I would say to back Espanyol cards but they have been uncharacteristically disciplined under their new manager.
With the average number of cards recently being 10.2 and referee Lahoz averaging 6.5 cards per-game then Over 65 Bookings Points with William Hill at 21/20 looks worth backing and gets the recommendation.
If you’re new to Bookings Points, a yellow card earns 10 Bookings Points and a red card earns 25 Bookings Points. If a player receives two yellow cards and is consequently shown a red card, he receives a total of 35 Bookings Points.
Barcelona v Espanyol – Over 65 Bookings Points (21/20 William Hill)