CARD KING Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) highlights the bookings value in Saturday's Lisbon derby.
Benfica v Sporting Lisbon | Sunday 18:00 | BT Sport ESPN
The Lisbon derby takes place on Sunday evening at the Estadio da Luz. It is the most important fixture in Portuguese football and is contested by the two Lisbon giants Benfica and Sporting.
City rivals lock horns
The rivalry originated back in 1907 when eight Benfica players moved to Sporting, before the first derby. The match is followed worldwide especially in former Portuguese colonies.
In 298 previous meetings, Benfica have the edge with 129 wins to 108 for Sporting.
The combustible Sporting coach Jorge Jesus was previously the Benfica coach between 2009-15 and he is sure to stir the pot. The 62 year-old won 10 titles at Benfica including the treble in his final season in charge.
The past four league meetings between these two clubs have seen total card figures of 8-9-6-6 at an average of 7.25 cards per-game. Perhaps not as high as you might expect but I put that down to referee leniency…
Sousa in the spotlight
Forty-one year-old Jorge Sousa is in charge this time around and he averages 6.40 per-game in the Portuguese top-flight so far this season.
In career games officiating Benfica he typically gives them 3.25 cards per game and 3.87 to Sporting – that suggests that 7.12 cards could be expected in this battle. Of course being a derby it has the potential to be far higher!
A history of cards
Sousa has a rich track record in this fixture too – he refereed the Cup final between these two clubs in August 2015 and gave eight cards that day.
In November 2015, he dished out 14 cards in a fourth round Cup meeting. He has also gave total cards of 6-8-9 in three other encounters. Overall, Sousa averages 9.00 cards per-game in this fixture.
Plenty of passion
This season Benfica occupy top position in the league and Sporting are second. Just two points separate them and when you consider that this is a derby match too, there should be plenty of cards.
Don't panic if there are few cards in the first-half. Of the 29 cards given in the past four league meetings 22 have arrived after the half-time interval.
I'm confident that the cards will come. There will be plenty of passion as these two truly hate each other. Accordingly, I'm backing Over 5.5 cards at 4/6 with 888.
Benfica v Sporting Lisbon – Over 5.5 Cards (4/6 888)