CARD KING Gavin Murphy (@GamePlanGavin) shares his bookings verdict on the La Liga curtain-closer between Sporting Gijon and Real Betis.
Sporting Gijon v Real Betis | Saturday 16:00 | Sky Sports
The Spanish season draws to a close with plenty of meaningless matches such as the game between relegated Sporting Gijon and mid-table Real Betis.
I've observed the behaviour of referees in these end of season encounters and it’s remarkable. Effectively, their number of cards drop significantly. Perhaps that is why Bet365 in particular haven't been pricing up all matches in Spain lately?
As some examples, Fernandez Borbalan has given zero cards in 2/3 of his last matches of the season in recent years. Zero cards in Spain!
This weekend he is doing the derby between Valencia and Villarreal or else I'd tip him.
Cerro Grande averages 3.25 per-match in end of season games in the past four years. He's officiating Sevilla v Osasuna this weekend.
Moonpig in the spotlight
Senor Moonpig though really grabs my attention. Ignacio Villanueva, to give him his real name, averages just 2.80 cards per-game for his last game of the year over the past five seasons.
In 2015/6, he gave three cards as Levante played Bilbao. His season average that year was 7.20.
In 2014/15, he gave seven in the derby between Malaga and Sevilla. This is the anomaly but it's understandable given the nature of the fixture.
The last game of 2013/14 saw Villanueva give just one card as Espanyol and Osasuna locked horns. His average that season was 6.30.
2012/13 saw one of my favourite refs give zero cards as Barcelona beat Valladolid. His average that year was 5.90.
Finally, in 2011/12 he gave four cards as Mallorca and Levante clashed. This compares to his season average of 6.50.
The betting angle
In short then we have a good sample size of Villanueva showing less interest than normal in reaching for his cards when the season finishes.
He may make me look silly here but with a nothing game between two sides keen for the beach, Under 45 Booking Points at 3/4 with William Hill looks worth backing.
It would have won in 4/5 years with this official.
If you’re new to Booking Points – a yellow card earns 10 points and a red card earns 25 points. If a player receives 2 yellow cards and is consequently shown a red card, he receives a total of 35 Booking Points.
Sporting Gijon v Real Betis – Under 45 Bookings Points (3/4 William Hill)