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Champions set for a clean contest

Cards tally could be low on Juve trip

Referee Luca Banti should have a trouble-free game
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Serie A: Genoa v Juventus
BT Sport Extra, 5pm Saturday

Bet365 may have underestimated the possibility of a low card count in the televised Serie A game between Genoa and Juventus. Back under 5.5 Asian total cards at decimal odds of 1.825 – equivalent to slightly better than fractional odds of 4-5. Each yellow will count as one and each red as two.

Anything that can happen in a football match is influenced by everything else. The number of cards in a match varies with the difference in ability between the teams. The greater the difference in ability between two teams, other things being equal, the greater the chance of a low card count.

Juventus won Serie A in the last six seasons and are meaningfully better than most of their opponents, even away from home.

During those last six seasons Juve scored 70 per cent of the goals in their Serie A away games. The score-related markets for today’s game at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris suggest there is about a 73 per cent chance of Juventus scoring each goal that is scored, and that seems about right.

In games with similar goals expectations in previous seasons the chance of fewer than 5.5 cards being shown was about 63 per cent. Decimal odds of 1.825 imply a 55 per cent chance of a bet being successful. There is not an eight per cent edge in our favour but there might be some edge.

Across the last six seasons card make-ups in Juventus’s games varied from campaign to campaign, but overall they were roughly what we should have anticipated from their results.

During the same period card counts in Genoa’s games were higher than we should have associated with their results. The chance of fewer than 5.5 cards being shown today is smaller than it would have been if Juventus were playing away to different opponents with a comparable playing strength to Genoa. But it might still be larger than 55 per cent.

Referee Luca Banti is an experienced official who has presided at nearly 200 Serie A games over 14 seasons. His bookings make-ups have been typical for the competition, so his presence should not affect in any way the prospect of a winning bet.

Only three of Juve’s last six games at Genoa finished with fewer than 5.5 cards, and each of those times the make-up was five. So none of the last half dozen make-ups was lower than five and this time we need a make-up under 5.5. But it is possible that the chance is not only better than 50 per cent but even better than 55 per cent.

Recommendation
Under 5.5 Asian total cards in Genoa v Juventus
1pt 1.825 bet365


Thought for the day
Last Saturday in the Premier League game between Burnley and West Brom the ball was in play for 47 minutes 30 seconds and out of play for 44 minutes 50 seconds.

In a typical Premier League game the odds of the ball being out of play at any randomly chosen moment are 11-8. At Turf Moor seven days ago they shrunk to 21-20.

That was probably just the natural consequence of a match between teams who both play in a way that can produce a lot of stoppages. More common is the sight of a team who do not want any more goals to be scored wasting time by delaying restarts.

It is ridiculous that a team who want the match to end with the current score can improve the chance of getting what they want by declining to play.

If they walked off the pitch the referee would abandon the match and in most circumstances the organisers would award three points to the other team.

But if they stay on the pitch they can reduce playing time in the rest of the match by dilly-dallying before restarts whenever possible and for as long as possible.

In a book called Basketball On Paper author Dean Oliver said NBA underdogs who were leading could increase their chance of winning by reducing the favourites’ opportunities to score.

They could do that by reducing the number of times the favourites gained possession, which they could do by making each of their own possessions last close to the maximum allowance of 24 seconds.

That is comparable in some ways to a football team passing the ball to run down the clock, and it is a legitimate tactic. So at the moment in football is the practice of keeping the ball dead. It should not be.

Anything that can happen in a match is influenced by everything else. The number of cards varies with the difference in ability between the teams
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