CARD KING Gavin Murphy (GamePlanGavin) has analysed the bookings markets ahead of Saturday's 2018 World Cup clash between France and Argentina at the Last 16 stage in Kazan.
France v Argentina | Saturday 30th June 2018, 15:00 | BBC
The World Cup knockout stage begins on Saturday when France take on Lionel Messi and Argentina in a blockbuster clash in Kazan. Argentina scraped into the Last 16 stages thanks to a dramatic late win in their final Group D game against Nigeria.
For France, progress was more serene as they topped Group C with two wins and a draw in their three games – although many question whether their uninspiring performances so far might mean they are undercooked?
Iranian whistler Alireza Faghani gets the nod for this match. He showed an average of 3.50 cards per-game in his two group stage matches (Serbia v Brazilian and Germany v Mexico). He averages 3.72 cards over his career but hasn’t covered either of these countries previously.
In perhaps a more appropriate measurement of his authority in important matches, Alireza Faghani showed 7 cards in the play off bruiser between Syria and Australia.
The card count generally increased during the group phase and that trend is expected to continue as the knockout stages get underway.
Hot-headed South Americans
Reverting back to this game and what is clear is that the South Americans have collected more cards of the two sides in the competition. Even Messi has been getting in on the act as far as ill discipline is concerned – a few of you benefited from the 22/1 I tweeted about him in running v Nigeria.
After an opening match bore draw against Iceland (zero cards), Argentina have collected three cards in each of their two subsequent two matches against Croatia and Nigeria. Arguably it could have been even more if not for lenient officiating.
In contrast, Les Bleus collected 1 card v Australia, two versus Peru and zero against Denmark.
Therefore, we can see that Argentina have accumulated precisely double the amount of cards to France.
The betting angles
I expect that to continue in this battle. If they lose then Argentina can be relied upon to get the hump as seen against Croatia, if they win they will do whatever is necessary to advance and that is likely to include cheap bookings.
Argentina to receive Most Cards is even-money with Skybet and that looks a solid bet given the history of the two countries.
In terms of specific players who might get a card, I always like backing Argentina mad dog Gabriel Mercado. He really is a loose cannon and quite reckless at times (33/1 to see red with Skybet).
He was carded nine times in 26 La Liga matches for Sevilla this season. He was also booked in the group stages versus Croatia. In fact in the last five times he’s played 90minutes, he has been cautioned four times. He’s 11/4 with Bet365 and that’s worth taking.
More generally, SkyBet also offer 5/1 on either goalkeeper getting carded. With stakes now significantly increased that market is worth considering in every match and not just this one. It could happen during the regulation time but specifically it is a play on time wasting when one team is ahead going into the final moments of a game.