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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Signs point to Rennes taking more corners

The Soccer Boffin has another crafty bet

Young Rennes midfielder Benjamin Bourigeaud
1 of 1

Rennes v Saint-Etienne
7pm Saturday

Back Rennes on a corners handicap of -1 in their Ligue 1 game at home to Saint-Etienne.

The bet will succeed if Rennes take at least two corners more than Saint-Etienne. And the chance of that happening may be better than implied by odds of 7-5, which are offered by Betfair and Paddy Power.

Over the last 12 seasons – from the start of 2006-07 up until now – home teams in Ligue 1 have beaten a corners handicap of -1 in 46 per cent of games. The chance of Rennes doing so is smaller but may not be as small as the 42 per cent implied by odds of 7-5.

During those 12 campaigns home teams in Ligue 1 scored 58 per cent of all goals. They won 45 per cent of games, drew 28 per cent and lost 27 per cent.

Result-related markets for the Roazhon Park fixture – with which I agree – suggest a 55 per cent chance of Rennes scoring each goal that is scored. They also indicate a 41 per cent chance of a home win, a 30 per cent chance of a draw and a 29 per cent chance of an away win.

So Rennes are less likely than most home teams to do well. But not by much. The more likely a team are to score goals and win, generally speaking, the longer they are likely to spend attacking, and therefore the more corners they are likely to gain.

Rennes this season have performed better in corner-handicap markets than we should have anticipated from the number of games they have won, drawn and lost, but mostly because of what happened before the arrival in November of coach Sabri Lamouchi.

Saint-Etienne have overachieved in corners handicap markets away from home since they appointed Jean-Louis Gasset as their third coach of the season in December. During that time they have played only five away games. However, the same curiosity was evident in the second half of last season when Gasset managed Montpellier.

So there are signs pointing in different directions. After reading all of them, though, there still seem to be grounds for thinking that the chance of Rennes taking at least two corners more than Saint-Etienne may be better than 7-5.

Rennes -1 on corners handicap
1pt 7-5 Betfair, Paddy Power

Ligue 1 standings

Bet on this game at

Thought for the day

Last Sunday Manchester City completed 902 passes, the most by a team in a Premier League match anyone has ever counted. On Wednesday City completed even more passes and broke the Champions League record with 1,014.

On Sunday City beat Chelsea 1-0. On Wednesday they lost 2-1 to Basel. How come they completed more passes but got a worse result?

The reason is that what matters is not how many passes succeed but how many fail. The telling stat is not good passes but bad ones.

There are six ways a possession can end without an attempt on goal. The commonest is a bad pass. Both teams in a match have the same number of possessions. So, other things being equal, fewer bad passes means more shots.

City made 15 fewer bad passes than Chelsea (74 v 89) and 15 more bad passes than Basel (82 v 67). City had ten more shots than Chelsea and the same number as Basel. So in both matches others things must have been unequal – City must have lost the ball in different ways (such as through miscontrol or being tackled) more often than Chelsea and less often than Basel.

Generally, though, the team in a match with fewer bad passes will have more shots – and therefore more opportunities to score.

City have averaged 83 bad passes per match this season in the Premier League, the lowest number.

Why are City so good? Not because their possessions include so many successful passes but because so few of their possessions end without an attempt on goal.

What matters is not how many passes a possession contains but whether, sooner or later, it culminates in a shot. Pep Guardiola, City’s manager, would agree.

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Generally, though, the team in a match with fewest bad passes will have most shots – and therefore most opportunities to score
E.W. Terms
Sky bet