Nov 29, 2018
Nov 29, 2018

Finding an edge with cards betting in local soccer derbies

Why are local derbies intense?

Are there more cards in local derbies than normal fixtures?

Analysing card frequency data in derbies

How does the market adjust for local derbies?

Finding an edge with cards betting in local soccer derbies

Its widely accepted that local rivalries in soccer can become heated encounters, with both teams looking to claim bragging rights at the potential expense of discipline – but are there actually more cards in local derbies than regular games and can bettors profit from this knowledge? We analysed some of the fiercest rivalries in soccer over the last three years across England, Italy and Spain to find out.

Why are local derbies intense?

Local derbies in soccer are usually highly charged encounters, due to the historic rivalry that dates back over many years due to a number of factors such as geographical location, social class and a host of other reasons.

Given the highly passionate atmosphere that surrounds these fixtures, with the players battling for bragging rights for their supporters, it appears that the likelihood of cards within the game will increase as players will often lack composure when making tackles due to the intense pressure on them to retrieve the ball and win the game for their supporters – but is that an accurate conclusion to jump to?

We examined six local derbies from the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A over the last three seasons to investigate firstly if there are more cards in derbies compared to the average fixture and secondly if bettors can find an edge from the information that the data suggests.

Are there more cards in local derbies than normal fixtures?

The six local derbies chosen have been selected due to the close proximity between the two teams and the intensity of the ill feeling between the two clubs. Granted there are other local derbies that could’ve also been selected but for the sake of the experiment we have only selected two from each league.

In the Premier League, we have used the North London Derby (NLD) and the Merseyside Derby (MLD) which features Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool vs. Everton.

In La Liga, the Madrid Derby and the Basque Derby were selected which includes Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad vs. Athletic Bilbao.

Finally, for Serie A, the Derby della Madonnina and Derby della Capitale otherwise known as the Milan derby and the Rome Derby were the final two fixtures to be highlighted, which pit Inter Milan vs. AC Milan and Roma vs. Lazio.

Below is a table that highlights the average card per game in these fixtures compared to the league average over the last three seasons to determine whether the number of cards increases in these fixtures than in standard league matches.

Average cards per game - Derby vs. Non Derby fixture

EPL 2017/18 2016/17 2015/16 Averege over 3 years
- - -
Cards PG 3.16 3.77 3.28 3.40
North London Derby Cards PG 4.00 3.50 4.00 3.83
Mersyside Derby Cards PG 2.00 4.00 4.50 3.50
- - - - -
La Liga - - - -
- - - - -
Cards PG 5.02 5.34 5.58 5.31
Madrid Derby Cards PG 6.50 5.50 8.50 6.83
Baque Derby Cards PG 6.50 7.50 10.00 8.00
- - - - -
Serie A - - - -
- - - - -
Cards PG 4.09 4.66 5.20 4.65
Milan Derby Cards PG 6.50 5.50 4.50 5.50
Rome Derby Cards PG 6.00 6.50 7.50 6.67

Analysing card frequency data in derbies

Before we begin to analyse the data above in any detail, it is important to note that we are obviously dealing with a very small sample size here.

As shown in the table above, it appears that the number of cards do increase on average in derby fixtures compared to non-derby fixtures across the last three seasons. Only in three fixtures out of 18 did the number of cards fall below the league average for that season.

The two Spanish local derbies were the only games that consistently recorded a higher than average card per game compared to non-derby fixtures, with the Basque Derby in particular averaging not only as much as three cards more than the three-year average but also had the highest cards PG in all the fixtures selected in 2015/16 (10.00).

The data also suggests that card frequency appears to be on the decline, as the league averages consistently drop each year.

However, is their value to be had for bettors using this information in cards betting or does the market factor in these statistics into the odds?

How does the market adjust for local derbies?

Now that we’ve identified a trend in card frequency in soccer derbies, we need to investigate whether the Total Booking Points move as a result. As Pinnacle only started offering the Total Booking Points market for every fixture in the aforementioned league at the start of the 2015/16 seasons, the data sample is obviously very small. However, still provides interesting insight for bettors to consider

Total Booking Points

- League Total Booking Points Average Derby Total Booking Points Average Total Booking Points Difference Over Under Push
EPL 3.77 5 1.23 0.00% 87.50% 12.50%
Serie A 5.04 6.69 1.65 28.60% 71.40% 0%
La Liga 5.53 6.56 1.03 14.30% 71.40% 14.30%

After looking at Pinnacle’s closing line Total Booking Points from the last two years (the time it has been offered across every match for each of the leagues analysed in this article), we can begin to see how the market interprets the idea that there are more cards in derbies.

Unsurprisingly, we can see that the odds for Total Booking Points do react for a local derby. The average mark for all games in these leagues and the derbies specifically we have highlighted has more than one-point difference in each league (in Serie A it is even edging towards two).

While this shows the betting market is clearly aware that there are more cards in derbies, it becomes a lot more interesting when you compare the betting market's estimation to what actually happened in the game.

Looking at the derbies we have analysed above (which of course is a much smaller sample size than anyone seriously looking to identify an edge would be dealing with), we can see that an Over bet on the Total Booking Points market would have only won on four occasions out of these 24 fixtures (with two pushes and 18 losses).

The data suggests that card frequency appears to be on the decline, as the league averages consistently drop each year.

Interestingly, bettors may actually find that the true value lies in the Under market when betting on cards in derbies, especially in the EPL, where the under bet came in 88% of the time - the other two leagues still had a 72% success rate.

In short, this very basic study has shown us that theirs is a possible trend for more cards in local soccer derbies but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should bet on there being more cards.

Other bettors will likely over compensate for the notion that their will be more cards and thus, the value could potentially be on betting on less cards than the market expects.

To make the most of our best value odds make sure to read more of Pinnacle’s expert betting advice

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