Five feisty derbies that produce cards aplenty, including Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad

Random acts of violence, ref abuse and playacting may be a theme of derbies across the world but which ones also deliver when it comes to cards and booking points? Andy Schooler finds out.

There's nothing quite like watching a feisty derby unravel before your eyes - especially if you are a punter.

You know you shouldn't be cheering on seemingly random acts of violence, playacting and ref abuse but, hey, it does seem kind of fun.

It's particularly gripping if you've got money on a card total or a player to be booked so with that in mind, let's take a look at five derbies which have deservedly earned a reputation for being, shall we say, a bit sparky.

This weekend sees one such fixture - the Basque derby between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.

Basque derby - Athletic Bilbao vs Real Sociedad

Inigo Martinez Real Sociedad Athletic Bilbao Apr21

In terms of the derbies on this list, this is the only one which doesn't feature two teams from the same city.

Yet this is perhaps the outstanding example of local rivalry - a throwback to how things used to be before globalisation took over.

To this day, Athletic Club have an unwritten rule about only signing players born or bred in the Basque Country and while San Sebastian-based Real's similar policy has been eased somewhat in recent decades, they are still a club packed with locally raised talent.

Therefore the fervour in the stands is genuinely mirrored on the pitch and we should not be surprised by the fact that this game has regularly produced high card totals.

Ten of the last 16 have seen at least 60 booking points - that's 10 for a yellow card and 25 for a red. The last 10 make-ups have been: 40-30-90-65-50-20-110-105-30-90

Ten of those 16 games have also seen a card shown before 15 minutes have been played.

As for player cards, Athletic centre-back Inigo Martinez is a prime card candidate. He's played for both sides and that fact has undoubtedly helped him collect four cards in seven appearances in this fixture for his current employers. Overall, he's been carded in eight of his last 15 Basque derbies.

For Real, long-serving captain Asier Illaramendi has 10 cards in his last 13 derbies. In his last meeting with Athletic, the defensive midfielder sustained a serious injury and he didn't play again for more than a year.

Next meeting: October 31, 2021

Booking-points average (last 10 games): 63

El Gran Derbi - Sevilla vs Real Betis

Lucas Ocampos Sevilla Juan Miranda Real Betis

It gets hot in Seville - the average temperature tops 20C six months a year - but that's nothing compared to derby day in the Andalusian city.

This is regarded as one of Europe's fiercest rivalries and it's old school - more than 100 years old, played out across two different stadia (none of this shared-ground malarkey) and a classic backstory of one club having been formed as a breakaway from the other.

Is it therefore any wonder that 17 of the last 22 meetings have produced 70+ booking points?

The last 10 make-ups have been: 80-70-20-50-90-105-50-90-60-90.

A player to keep an eye on in this fixture is Real's defensive midfielder William Carvalho has two cards in his three appearances in this derby.

Next meeting: November 7, 2021

Booking-points average (last 10 games): 63

SuperClasico - River Plate vs Boca Juniors

River Plate Boca Juniors Oct19

If the rivalry is strong in Seville, it's Herculean in Buenos Aires.

This is a fixture which was postponed and moved thousands of miles away to Madrid when the Boca bus was attacked prior to a match in 2018, while three years earlier River players had to be escorted off the pitch by riot police after being tear-gassed by fans.

On the pitch it's always intense with even the lack of fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic failing to stop high card counts in this famous derby.

The last 10 meetings have produced booking points tallies of: 65-100-70-100-120-80-95-100-95-60. That's 70+ in eight of them.

The 20+ for each team has landed in all 10 and 30+ each team in nine.

In terms of SuperClasico bad boys, step forward Enzo Perez.

The River midfielder has been carded in eight of his 13 starts in this fixture, including five of the last six.

Boca full-back Frank Fabra is also a regular to trouble the SuperClasico referees, carded in four of his eight starts.

Next meeting: TBC

Booking-points average (last 10 games): 88.5

Lisbon derby - Benfica vs Sporting

Fabio Verissimo Lucas Verissimo Benfica vs Sporting Lisbon

The big games in Portugal have become renowned for their feistiness in recent times and there is none bigger than Benfica vs Sporting in the capital.

It averages more than 80 booking points (using the last 10 games as a yardstick) and there's potential for it to get even higher in forthcoming games.

Sporting have largely been the underdogs in recent years - they've won just two of the last 14 meetings - but they won their first title in 19 years in 2020/21 and now Benfica have something to prove against their cross-city rivals once more.

Those booking-points tallies in full: 100-80-70-80-125-70-80-95-90-40.

As for players, Sporting captain Sebastian Coates tends to lead from the front and the former Liverpool defender has been carded in five of the 12 derbies he's contested.

Benfica's naughty boy has often been Gabriel Pires (six cards in eight games) although he's currently out on loan so will miss December's fixture.

Next meeting: December 3, 2021

Booking-points average (last 10 games): 83

Rayo Vallecano vs Getafe

Randy Nteka Rayo Vallecano Nemanja Maksimovic Getafe

Not perhaps a match you'd expect to be on this list but it fully deserves its place.

It's not Real vs Atletico but these two are big rivals in Madrid, both residing on the south side of the city.

The booking points tallies make some reading with the last 10 unfolding thus: 130-30-115-60-50-115-80-80-90-90

Any thoughts that almost three years without a meeting would quell the rivalry were dispelled in September when the duo fought out a game which featured 13 yellow cards - seven before half-time.

As for a player who loves to get stuck in, look no further than Damian Suarez - the Getafe right-back has been carded in seven of his 11 games against Rayo.

Next meeting: May 8, 2022

Booking-points average (last 10 games): 84

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