CARD KING Gavin Murphy (GamePlanGavin) has analysed the bookings markets ahead of Sunday's World Cup final clash between France and Croatia.
France v Croatia| Sunday 15th July 2018, 16:00 | BBC/ITV
The 2018 World Cup draws to a close on Sunday with a mouth watering battle between France and Croatia.
What a tournament it has been! So many talking points and fabulous matches.
There are a few subplots in this final such as who might win Player of the tournament with Kylian Mbappe and Luka Modric the market favourites. Hugo Lloris and Danijel Subisic have their own battle for the Golden Glove award.
Pitana to keep a low profile
Argentina’s Nestor Pitana follows his compatriot Horacio Elizondo in 2006 by refereeing the World Cup opening match and the the final too.
Pitana has been shown cards of 2,1,5 and 4 in the tournament so far. That’s an average of 3 per game.
He also covered Les Bleus’ 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Uruguay showing cards to France’s Kylian Mbappe and Lucas Hernandez in the process.
I would expect another steady performance from the 43-year-old whistleblower in this final. He will be keen to keep a low profile and avoid controversy.
What to expect
Recent World Cup finals have seen a mixed bag of cards. Nicola Rizzoli gave 4 cards in the 2014 battle between Argentina and Germany.
Howard Webb lost the plot when issuing 9 cards in regulation time (14 including extra time) when Spain triumphed over Holland in 2010.
In 2006, Elizondo showed 3 cards as France and Italy played out a 1-1 draw. He later famously sent off Zidane for head butting Marco Materazzi in extra time.
What can we expect this time? Well, the line is around 3.5 total match cards. That looks about right. Rather than try and pick over or under, playing the middle spread appeals at odds against.
I’m recommending 25-45 bookings points at 13/8 with Skybet. That would have won in 2/3 recent finals and is consistent with Pitana’s tournament average.
Croatian duo the value
For a bit more juice I’m also recommending a couple of players to get carded.
Rabic is a loose cannon. SkyBet originally chalked him up at even money so 15/8 looks good value for a guy who has already been booked in this competition against Argentina and England.
My thinking with left-back Strinic is that he has the impossible task of trying to stop right-winger, Mbappe. The Croat looks slow and awkward whenever I’ve seen him and he will surely be tested to the limit by France’s dangerman.
From memory, Mbappe has drawn yellow cards in this tournament from at least Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen and Argentina’s Marcos Rojo.
I expect Sampdoria’s Strinic to join that list and 11/4 is very backable.
This has been a glorious tournament and a very profitable for card punters. Let’s hope we can sign off in style. Enjoy the game!