There are a couple of angles I like in Monday’s early La Liga kick-off.
First up, cards.
This game is a derby, while the referee is charge is the highest-carder in the Primera Division this season, Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez, who is averaging more than 7.5 cards per game – a huge number, even by Spanish standards.
For those concerned about the data sample (the figures above are across nine games), Hernandez was the second-strictest last season and top of the cards table in 2018/19 too.
With only two sides having picked up more cards than Levante, who are fighting for their top-flight lives, the focus is on the visitors and namely centre forward Roger Marti.
He’s averaging 2.4 fouls per game this term – the highest figure in La Liga – and he’s been booked in five of his last nine appearances in all competitions.
With only three sides having a batter defensive record than Villarreal, this could be a frustrating night for Marti and any high foul count is likely to be picked up upon by Senor Hernandez.
3/1 for a card looks a decent price.
I’m going to combine that with the second of my fancies which is a shots play.
Pau Torres is a threat from set plays for Villarreal and has regularly managed at least one shot in games this season. His current run has seen him manage 1+ shot in 10 of his last 13 matches for club and country.
Here he goes up against a team poor at defending set pieces – no side has conceded more from such situations this season than Levante.
The 6ft 3in centre-back looks sure to be a target for Villarreal balls into the box and adding this to the Marti card almost doubles the price to close to 11/2.
With Levante clearly vulnerable in such situations, I also can’t resist a punt on Torres in the anytime scorer market at 9/1.
He’s got just the one so far this season but managed three last term – not a bad return for a centre-back.
With Villarreal in the top six for corners won and Levante in the top three for fouls conceded, I’m envisaging opportunities for him to add to his tally so I’ll split stakes evenly across the two bets.