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Kevin Pullein: Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid offer great cards bet

West Bromwich Albion may have been too hasty to sack Darren Moore

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane
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Zinedine Zidane’s first game as Real Madrid manager was on January 6, 2016, in La Liga at home to Deportivo La Coruna. Madrid won 5-0. Only three yellow cards were shown.

On Saturday Zidane starts his second spell as Madrid boss at home to another Galician team, Celta Vigo. A repeat of the scoreline would delight him, his players and their fans.

A repeat of the card count would reward anyone who has backed under 5 Asian total cards with bet365. And a payout might be at least a bit more likely than the odds suggest.

Bet low at decimal odds of 1.9, equivalent to fractional odds of 9-10. Each yellow will count as one and each red as two. If the total is lower than five the bet will win, if it is five stakes will be refunded and if it is higher than five the bet will lose.

In Zidane’s first spell as manager Madrid played 48 games in La Liga at the Santiago Bernabeu. In 23 the card count was below five, in seven it was five and in 18 it was above five. The ratio of low makeups to high make-ups was 56 to 44, slightly better than implied by decimal odds of 1.9.

Madrid seem worse now than they were then. Cristiano Ronaldo has gone, to inspire Champions League heroics instead for Juventus, and has not been adequately replaced. No one player (apart from Lionel Messi) could have replaced Ronaldo but it might have been possible to compensate for his departure with a mixture of players.

Nonetheless the result-related odds for the match anticipate what would have been something close to a typical contest in Zidane’s earlier days. They imply an 80 per cent chance of a home win, a 13 per cent chance of a draw and a seven per cent chance of an away win. At home in La Liga under Zidane before, Madrid won 73 per cent of the time, drew 17 per cent and lost ten per cent.

So for our purposes stats from that first period may still be relevant.

Celta also have a new coach, their third of the season: Fran Escriba. He takes charge for the second time. Celta will not play at the Bernabeu in La Liga next season unless they move up the table. But they have been in or near the relegation zone for a while and their games have not produced high card counts more often than we should have anticipated from them.

Referee Juan Martinez Munuera is a middle-of-the-range card-issuer in La Liga. This is his sixth season. He has officiated at the Bernabeu six times before. Four times the card count was below five and twice it was above.

Under 5 Asian total cards Real Madrid v Celta Vigo
1pt 1.9 bet365

Thought for the week

Darren Moore was surpassing reasonable expectations as West Bromwich Albion manager. Last Saturday he was sacked.

West Bromwich were fourth in the Sky Bet Championship. This is their first season after relegation from the Premier League. The average finishing position in the Championship of teams relegated from the Premier is eighth.

When Moore was fired West Brom had played 36 games and won 61 points. This suggested they might have ended the 46-game season with about 78 points. The average number of points accumulated in the Championship by teams relegated from the Premier League has been 70.

Chief executive Mark Jenkins said: “After discussions with our owners, the difficult decision to make a change was taken… we must do everything we can to deliver the promotion we have targeted.”

The most telling words in his statement might have been the ones about the owners. Targeting promotion is all very well. It is something West Bromwich should have hoped for rather than expected.

Fewer than a third of teams relegated from the Premier League have won promotion in their first season in the Championship. West Bromwich looked fairly typical of clubs relegated from the Premier League.

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Fewer than a third of teams relegated from the Premier League have won promotion in their first season in the Championship
E.W. Terms
Sky bet