THE Madrid derby looks one of the highlights of the weekend and Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) has found a card angle to exploit.
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid | Saturday 19:45 | Sky Sport 5
La Liga takes centre stage on Saturday night as bitter local rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid lock horns at the Vicente Calderon. Zinedine Zidane's troops are currently top of the table with their Madrid neighbours faltering in fifth position.
Sensational pattern to exploit
Normally in these articles I highlight recent encounters and the total cards in them. However, in all my years covering referees and cards I'm yet to see a fixture with as clear a pattern as this.
Essentially, the cards flow after half-time. 13/13 recent matches have had four or more given out after the interval.
Borbalan fits the trend
The whisteblower on this occasion, Fernandez Borbalan, will try and do what every other official who referees this fixture does every season – keep his cards in his pocket for as long as possible. He will only be able to do that for so long before the tension gets too much, the theatrics and simulation start and the game opens up.
So far in 2016/17, Borbalan gives 65% of his cards out after the half-time oranges. He has dished out second half cards of 4-6-5-4-1. It’s also worth noting that in domestic action, Real collect 65% of their cards after the interval and Atletico 73%.
In 2015/16, referee Borbalan averaged 4.26 cards in the second half. Indeed 13/19 La Liga games he covered had at least four cards shown after the break.
In the past 13 meetings between these two teams the ‘Over 3 Cards’ in the second-half has won every occasion with totals of 5-7-5-5-5-7-8-7-9-4-5-5-5.
Borbalan also took charge of this season’s match between Atletico and Barcelona and he gave six cards in the second-half after none in the first half.
He has also taken charge of this fixture before. In February 2015, he issued five cards after the interval as Atletico romped to a 4-0 victory. In August 2014, Borbalan waved nine second half cards in the second leg of the Super Copa Final.
The 43 year old official has history in this fixture and will expect plenty of passion, simulation and time wasting given the culture of Spanish teams. It’s not to everyone’s taste but I love it.
I don’t want to put the hooters on it but I’m really struggling to see how this bet won’t win.With exceptional stats, I am taking Over 3 Cards in the second-half with William Hill at a surprisingly generous 7/10.
A couple of other things to look out for this week in Spain. El Classico is in a fortnight. Sergio Ramos is a card away from missing that game so look for him to definitely collect a card versus Atletico. That will mean he misses next week's match against Sporting Gijon and will be free to face Barcelona.
Along the same lines, Barcelona's Neymar is vulnerable so might also pick up a card this weekend against Malaga. I haven't seen either priced up yet but worth checking around.
Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid – Over 3 Second Half Cards (7/10 William Hill)