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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Corner the market when Malaga take on Valencia

Wise words from the Soccer Boffin

Malaga's Luis Hernandez tussels with Barcelona's Sergi Roberto
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Malaga v Valencia
La Liga
Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Saturday

Bet on Malaga taking at least as many corners as Valencia in their televised La Liga game on Saturday. Sky Bet offer evens for Malaga +1 corners.

Valencia are back and Malaga are nearly gone. The score-related markets seem right but Sky Bet may have misjudged how the play is likely to develop and the consequences for possible spin-offs of attacks such as corners.

Valencia owner Peter Lim has got what he wanted – Valencia are back near the top of the table challenging for a Champions League spot. In the past Valencia were usually one of the better teams in Spain. Whatever happens in this match they will stay third.

Malaga are bottom with just 13 points from 20 games, seven fewer than the team immediately above the relegation line. New manager Jose Gonzalez oversaw draws in his first two games but Malaga have lost twice since then.

The score-related markets imply almost a 60 per cent chance of Valencia scoring each goal that is scored. In La Liga in other games with similar goals expectations the chance of the home team taking at least as many corners as the away team is usually higher than the 50 per cent implied by a price of evens.

Perhaps Valencia in away games this season have taken a slightly bigger share of corners than we should have anticipated from their results. And maybe Malaga in Gonzalez’s first four games have taken a slightly smaller share. But these are minor observations from modest or minute samples.

To understand why Malaga may be more likely than not to take as many or more corners than Valencia we should listen to Carlos Carvalhal, the manager of Premier League side Swansea. Carvalhal takes Swansea for a televised FA Cup tie at Sky Bet Championship Sheffield Wednesday, his previous club.

Carvalhal has revealed an admiration for 17th century thinker Rene Descartes in particular and an interest in philosophy in general. He knows the importance of recognising that all things are inter-connected.

He said: “Football is a complex phenomenon. If we understand the complexity, we will understand football a little better. Everything is connected.” Quite right, Carlos.

Presumably Malaga would think a draw was a good result at home to a top team such as Valencia. As long as scores are level we can expect them to be cautious, and during that time Valencia are likely to get most corners.

But if Valencia take the lead attitudes on both sides will change and then Malaga will attack more and become increasing likely to force flag-kicks.

And more likely than not Valencia will go in front at some stage. For us, the earlier the better.

Malaga +1 corners taken handicap
1pt Evens Sky Bet

Bet on this game at

La Liga standings

Thoughts for the day

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said: “We could have been here for ten hours and not scored a goal”. He was speaking last Sunday after United had lost 1-0 at Newcastle in the Premier League.

Mourinho was right to say United made more and better chances. They had more attempts – 13 compared with ten. And from those attempts they should have scored most goals, according to Opta’s expected goals stats.

So United deserved more than they got, but on other occasions this season they got more than they deserved.

United drew two Premier League games that expected goals stats say they should have won. However they have won eight games that expected goals stats say they should have drawn or lost, and drawn one they should have lost.

Altogether United have gained 12 points more than they were entitled to expect from the number and quality of chances created for and against.

Admittedly shots stats may not always give a fair impression of build-ups for and against. But the United manager mentioned scoring opportunities and overall this season they tell against United rather than for them.

Last season in the Premier League United deserved better results than they got from attempts for and against. This season it has been the other way round.

Will owners sack themselves?

West Bromwich’s owner has sacked the chairman and chief executive because of “poor results”. West Bromwich are bottom of the Premier League.

It is unusual, to say the least, for people on those levels to lose their job because the team are doing badly, even though they were involved in the recruitment of the manager and players.

Will accountability carry on rising? Will owners sack themselves? If they applied the same standard to themselves that they apply to others nearly all would have sacked themselves years ago. But they do not. And they should not.

There are many Premier League clubs who will be in danger of relegation if they have even a slightly below-par season, and one of those is West Brom.

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Football is a complex phenomenon. If we understand the complexity, we will understand football a little better. Everything is connected
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