Friday 4 April 2014

Weekly Draw Down

Over the last five full rounds of matches, I’ll actually include Wednesday’s AS Roma 4:2 Parma game to make a nice round 50 matches and easier percentage calculations, just 13 (26%) ended as draws. Exclude France, and the numbers drop to 8 draws from 40 (20%), as France saw five of Saturday’s six matches end all-square for at least something of a mini-tsunami.

In the midst of something of a draw-drought, I thought it might be interesting to look at where the actual draws fall each week, if time permits.

First the season numbers across the big five, led as usual by France with 29%, then followed by Serie A at 25%, with the EPL, La Liga and the Bundesliga all at 22%.


In alphabetical league order then, we will start with the English Premier League where the two draws last weekend fell at West Bromwich Albion v Cardiff City (3.82) followed by Arsenal v Manchester City (3.64) and neither of these two results was too shocking. The game at WBA was a high-scoring 3:3, with a dramatic finish seeing the hosts take a late 3:2 lead only for the visitors to score an even later equaliser. A six goal game ending even is always something of a fluke, but West Bromwich Albion are the top drawers in the EPL so far, having now drawn 14 of their 31 games. The Arsenal v Manchester City game was a more traditional low-scoring 1:1 affair, with a slightly weaker side (based on current rating and not league position) hosting a stronger side – conventional wisdom being that home advantage makes up the short coming in home team strength.


Ligue 1 was the pièce de résistance for the weekend, or more specifically Saturday’s six fixtures were, with no less than five resulting in draws. Europe’s current King of the Draws club Montpellier were of course featured (0:0 at home to Valenciennes at 3.44), as were Ajaccio 2:2 Toulouse (3.52), Nantes 0:0 Bordeaux (3.07), Reims 1:1 Lorient (3.21) and Sochaux 1:1 Olympique Marseille (3.23). Ajaccio , Reims, Toulouse and Bordeaux have all drawn at last 10 of their 31 matches to date, so it was more of a surprise that Evian Thonon Gaillard v Monaco (3.39) didn’t finish level! (ETG won 1:0) Unfortunately with a strike rate of 29%, selecting draws in this league is rather easier than most, and the prices reflect this.


In Germany, the two draws were both something of a surprise, although anyone who follows my Bundeslayga system won’t have been totally shocked to see Bayer Leverkusen fail to beat Eintracht Braunschweig and those who correctly value the motivational component of games may well have considered crowned champions Bayern Munich to be rather short to win a now rather meaningless game at home to a mid-table Hoffenheim.

While an understanding of human nature might have suggested a sub-par performance was in prospect for a game sandwiched between the highs of winning the Bundesliga in Berlin on Tuesday and the importance of a Champions League Quarter Final first leg at Arsenal a week later, few would have would have expected a previously 100% at home Bayern Munich and having with a goals for / against margin of 39 to 7, to come up with a 3:3 draw. The Pinnacle Sports price was 8.61 for the draw (the 13th longest in this league so far this season).

The slightly more predictable draw at Bayer Leverkusen was priced at 5.42. Bottom placed opponents Eintracht Braunschweig did win the home encounter, and picked up 6 points in their last 5 games, but with Leverkusen motivated by a possible Champions League spot, a draw wasn’t too many peoples expected outcome.


Serie A’s two draws were Samdoria v Fiorentina which finished 0:0 (3.34), Samdoria’s first such result of the season, and Livorno drawing 2:2 (3.58) with Internazionale - Fiorentina’s rivals for a Champions League spot and the current top-drawing side in Italy who thus missed an opportunity to close the three point gap.


Finally La Liga, where there were yet another two draws with the games at Osasuna (1:1 v Real Sociedad 3.44) and Villareal (1:1 v Elche) finishing level at 4.48. Villareal and Elche were both promoted last season, but with Villareal failing to live up to their nickname (Yellow Submarine) and playing anything like relegation candidates they might have been expected to gain three points from Elche, although the latter have been in draw form of late with four from their previous eight matches as they attempt to claw their way to safety. Aside from doomed Real Betis, nine teams are within six points of relegation. 11 draws from 31 matches puts Elche second in La Liga behind fellow strugglers Real Valladolid. Levante are actually the team with the most 0:0 / 1:1 draws as five of Real Valladolid’s draws have been 2:2.

Top Drawers Per League
With April here, there will be the inevitable odds-on draws in Serie A (and B) and an increasing number of matches where motivation is a factor. We’ve already seen the Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim game generate a result that would have been unlikely just a couple of weeks ago, and so their remaining fixtures will be interesting to monitor. As each week passes, more and more teams will find themselves with nothing to play for, sometimes opposing teams with something to play for and sometimes teams that are similarly not too concerned about the outcome, and maybe taking the opportunity to try out new players and combinations.

I haven’t seen this to be an issue in previous seasons, and with my rating based system an objective one, I am not inclined to make subjective changes. I would rather make a note that one or two teams don’t ‘need’ the win and review the results at the end of the season. I hasten to add that if you are planning on investing your retirement savings on such games, don’t.

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