Live Soccer Betting – How bookings can affect the outcome of a soccer game? – Part Two

How cards impact on a manager’s tactics

When a team loses a player to a red card, the manager must react to the situation and change his tactics accordingly. Like a manager, a bettor should judge how important the player sent off is to the team, how the card impacts the shape of the team, what can be done to mitigate the situation and what bearing the sending off will have on the opposition.

A perfect example of how a red card affects the game can be seen when analysing the last 16 Champions League second-leg game between Manchester United and Real Madridin 2013.

The Reds were controlling the game – United nullified Madrid’s potent attack by using Danny Welbeck to restrict Madrid’s most creative player Xabi Alonso – after Sergio Ramos had scored an own goal to give Alex Ferguson’s team a 2-1 aggregate lead.

However, the game turned when United winger Nani was sent off for a dangerous challenge on 56 minutes. Not only did United have a man less, but they also had to move Welbeck to left midfield, in order to preserve their second bank of four – allowing Alonso to roam free and become more creative.

Known for reacting to situations quickly, it took Madrid’s manager Jose Mourinho just four minutes to make a substitution – replacing Alvaro Arbeloa with Luka Modric, and swapping Sami Khedira to right back.

The change turned the game as Modric controlled the centre of midfield with intricate passing sequences, and scored the equaliser with a long-range strike. After equalising, Real were in theascendency and retained the ball superbly, scoring their second goal within 13 minutes of Nani’s red card.

Ferguson had the better of Mourinho when it was 11 vs. 11, however the red card changed the game and after the sending off Mourinho reacted both immediately and intelligently.
Are away teams at a disadvantage?

It is known that teams playing at home perform better than away – read about Home Field Advantage here – but how much help do they get from the referee?

Studies highlight that the probability of receiving a red card is different between home and away teams. Data collected from the Champions League from 2002-2007 showed that in only 24.3% of games did the home team incur more yellow cards than the away team.

In that period home teams received a red card in 6.42% of games, while the away teams received them in 11.82% of games. This means that away teams picked up red cards 84% more often than home sides. Interestingly, in 82.89% of games there were no red cards.

Research on the Bundesliga (Anders & Rotthoff) from 2004 to 2009 highlighted that the effect of cards on the home team is different to that of the away side.

Titman et al. (2012) found that a home red card increases an away teams’ scoring rate by 60% and decreases the home sides’ scoring rate by 17%.

In comparison, a red card for the away team sees the home team’s chances of scoring increase by 69% and the away team’s chances decrease by a massive 42%, which shows the handicap for away teams is more severe.

Final thoughts

This article contradicts the repeated soccer cliché that playing against ten men is more difficult than eleven. Unlike a goal, a red card merely presents an opportunity and a challenge to the respective teams.

Over many games a team will benefit from facing a team with fewer players, but in a one-off game the team need to exploit their advantage, which may require a different tactical approach. Basically, a red card is a potential game changer, but the game still has to change.

The data on the impact of red cards to goal probability should be of special interest to live soccer bettors, as this can be used in conjunction with subject analysis of specific game dynamics to help gainanin-play advantage.

With the knowledge that referees tend to favour home teams when disciplining players, it is important to look at influences on the referee. Because of inconsistencies across individual referees’ tendency for cards, profiling referees is important, however this is more than likely accounted for in the bookmaker’s prices, so investigating influences on the referee themselves could be profitable.

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