Mark Stinchcombe: “The price on Man City is ridiculous and if Pep plays anything near a full strength side they have to be backed”

13 min

I’m a firm believer in the more value in a bet the more money you should stake.

Last weekend that meant that one win, one loss and one half loss resulted in a 2.5 point loss, but I’m happy with my analysis and have no regrets on my staking. Sometimes you need to bet bigger, it just happened that last weekend the bigger ones didn’t win.

The luck was maybe not with us in Bilbao, where before a ball had even been kicked Jose Angel Ziganda decided against starting 19 goal top scorer Aritz Aduriz, and it got worse after just eight minutes with Raul Garcia missing a glorious chance (0.62 xG) to put the hosts ahead. In the end it finished 1-1 with a last minute Celta Vigo strike meaning we got half our stake back having backed over 2.25 goals.

The absence of Aritz Aduriz (leading scorer for Bilbao this year) was a bitter pill for Mark to swallow last weekend.

With the match finishing with a 2.87 xG total, it was unlucky the whole bet didn’t win given the pre-match expectancy of just 2.40. And fortune wasn’t with us in our over 2.25 bet in Braga v Sporting. In value terms this was a fantastic bet. With a goal expectancy of just 2.45, we were able to back the overs at 1.99 and come kick-off this was just 1.70 with the goal line moving a quarter of a goal! But things didn’t go to plan.

The luck goes against us but Spurs offer some reward

Braga won with a late goal, but it was disappointing there weren’t at least two goals to get half our stake back and reward value hunters. The game was surmised perfectly in Stratabets post-match goal line review, which stated “the match tempo was impaired several times by fouls and delays”. This was epitomized when on the stroke of halftime Jeremy Mathieu scored an own-goal to seemingly get things started only for the ref to consult the infamous VAR and pull back play for a free-kick.

VAR in its current guise does not work. It is still massively open to interpretation, isn’t just used for ‘clear and obvious errors’ and doesn’t always have a definitive answer. Besides from that it hugely disrupts play which generally is not good for a pro-goals bet.

VAR had a major impact on Braga v Sporting last weekend.

The final bet of the weekend won easily as Tottenham won 3-1 at Chelsea. This was another great bet as the odds on over 2.25 went off at 1.67, and we backed it at 1.86. The xG returned 1.18 – 1.82 (3.0 in total) and it was pleasing to see my confidence in Spurs’ attacking output without Harry Kane rewarded.

The price on City this weekend is just ridiculous

Onto this weekend and I have to start with the Manchester derby and the ridiculous Man City price of 1.96.

This is presumably due to the assumption Pep Guardiola will rotate his side ahead of the Champions League second leg despite it being a derby, the players only just coming back from an international break and the fact they can win the league at home against United.

To put this 1.96 City price into perspective, they were 1.53 at home to Chelsea and 1.67 at home to Spurs. The market rates United as worse than both these sides, which was emphasised by their price of 3.28 at home to Liverpool and 2.43 at home to Chelsea. Based on those odds, the market rates Chelsea around about 0.10 goals better than United and based on City’s price at home to Chelsea, that would make them 1.49 here.

The Jose Mourinho factor will be expected to be at play once again on Saturday with Man Utd’s defensive set up.

It’s difficult to argue with that price. United are overachieving statistically, with expected points having them +14 more than they should with a true position of sixth. A couple of models have City at 1.48 and 1.59 further giving credit to the raw data. The fact is if Guardiola plays anywhere near a strong side then City have to be backed. City have won seven of eight encounters with top-six sides and a win here gives them the title.

The way the match plays out should also reflect the estimated price. City had 61% of the possession when they won 2-1 at Old Trafford earlier in the season. It was a similar story a year ago when they drew 0-0 here which the ‘Cityzens’ dominated and outshot Utd 19-3 with the xG finishing 1.63 – 0.41. It’s also worth noting City have won 26 of their last 29 league matches and their last 14 at home.

I’m having a 2.5 point bet on City here, although I’d wait until team news before going in. Team dependant, I would also consider backing 0-0 in a typical Mourinho-esque away performance as well as the derby factor. David de Gea is having another fine season emphasised by the fact only Burnley are overachieving more defensively, with expected goals rating that he should have conceded 12 more goals.

The market is still underrating Dortmund

Next up it’s a return to the Westfalenstadion on Sunday where 1.63 faves Dortmund host Stuttgart. Two seasons ago BVB were 1.23 in this fixture and they haven’t regressed as much as the price here suggests. Stuttgart have scored just 26 goals in 28 games this season, losing 9 of their 14 away games. Their matches against the top six don’t make particularly good reading either with P10 W2 D1 L7 and those wins coming against Dortmund and Frankfurt.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that over the last 12 months BVB’s average price is 1.53, which includes matches against the likes of Bayern, Leipzig and Schalke. Since that win they’ve also defeated Hannover at home when 1.40 and Marco Reus is back fit. Although Stuttgart won the reverse fixture 2-1, Dortmund created the better chances winning the xG count 1.79 – 1.14.

Stuttgart have the 4th worst shots-per-game and this looks to be a similar case of attack v defence and a question of whether Dortmund have the quality to break them down. The long-term answer should be yes and I am having one point on the Asian handicap line of -0.75 here.

Hala Madrid! Let’s end the week with a win

Finally on Sunday it’s the Madrid derby at the Santiago Bernebeu. I talked about this fixture on the podcast last season in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final where Real won 3-0. They dominated the match outshooting Atleti 17-4, winning the xG 3.05 – 0.17. Since then they met at the Wanda in a 0-0 draw when Real again dominated with 62% possession, 14 -7 shots and 1.44 – 0.89 xG. Atletico meanwhile failed to register a shot-on-target in front of their home fans.

Fresh from yet another Champions League masterclass Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo will look to torment Atletico’s Defence once again this weekend.

I’ve spoken about Madrid’s underachievement this season (although that has nearly regressed to the mean) and about Atletico overachieving, but that isn’t quite reflected in the odds. Madrid are four points behind their neighbours in the table but expected points has a 20 point swing with Atleti overachieving by a huge 17pts!

I’ve spoken previously about how good Madrid are at creating high quality chances, including against very good defences such as Juventus, Bayern and in this case Atletico. Real have won 10 of their last 12 La Liga matches and a couple of models have them 1.68 and 1.65 making the current odds of 1.79 a good value bet.

Madrid also played on Tuesday whereas Atletico played on Thursday meaning they have an extra two days rest. So I think a bet on the 1X2 on Real Madrid at around 1.79 is a great way to end the weekend.

Recommended bets:

  • Man City ~1.96 – 2.5 points (wait for lineups, decrease stake according to strength of team)
  • Man City 0-0 Man Utd ~15.0 – 0.25points
  • Dortmund -0.75 ~1.85 – 1 point
  • Real Madrid ~1.79 – 1 point

Click here for Matchbook’s latest soccer markets.