Card count likely to stay on low side in Bernabeu showdown
Only one team in La Liga have received more cards this season than Malaga. Only two arbiters have shown more cards per game than Jesus Gil Manzano. Using bet365’s scoring system of one for a yellow and two for a red, his average is 7.0.
Put Malaga and Gil Manzano together and what have you got? An opportunity for a value-for-money bet with bet365 on under 6.5 cards at 1.7. Yes, under not over. Because Gil Manzano will referee Malaga at Real Madrid, who have received fewer cards than everyone except Villarreal.
The biggest influence on the number of cards shown is the difference in ability between the teams. The greater the difference, the greater the likelihood of a low card count.
And when Madrid play, especially at home, there can be a huge difference in skill between them and their opponents.
Since Zinedine Zidane became Madrid’s coach, 13 of their 19 La Liga home games have produced card make-ups lower than 6.5 – 68 per cent. Decimal odds of 1.7, fractional odds of 7-10, imply a 59 per cent chance of a bet being successful.
Madrid began to compete with Barcelona again in 2009-10 after a splurge on transfers by president Florentino Perez. In the seven and a half seasons since, there have been card counts below 6.5 in 70 per cent of Madrid’s home games.
What is the chance of fewer than 6.5 cards at the Bernabeu today? It is nowhere near as high as 70 per cent, even though Malaga are slightly worse than average opponents in La Liga. But it might not be as low as 59 per cent.
Over four and a half seasons in La Liga, Gil Manzano has averaged approximately one more card every other game than a typical colleague. But he has officiated at the Bernabeu seven times before and six times he flashed fewer than 6.5 cards. One of those was in a Clasico betweeen Madrid and Barcelona.
Malaga have received more cards than we should have anticipated for three and a half seasons. During that time, however, there were total cards make-ups below 6.5 on two of their three visits to the Bernabeu.
There are grounds for thinking that the chance of another low make-up today, while not as high as 70 per cent, might still be higher than 59 per cent.
Under 6.5 Asian total cards in Real Madrid v Malaga
1pt 7-10 bet365