Aug 27, 2010

Libertad - Guarani

Paraguay Primera Division, Clausura

Things couldn't get any better for Libertad. They are on the first place in the league, won 5 out of 6 games, last week they trashed Trinidense 7-0, and their game-plan works perfect. Cunning attack, solid defense, good creativity. And unless they get complacent, they have a serious shot at the title, as both Cerro and Guarani look a bit off pace, not even worth mentioning Nacional and Olimpia. Libertad has one of the best squads in Paraguay, and has no injury or suspension problems for tonight's match, so they will pretty much repeat the same squad that score 7 goals last weekend. The only change in the team will see Vladimir Marin take the field in place of Jorge Gonzalez. And I don't expect complacency to be a problem here, as this is a derby, and a win here is very important for the standings.

For Guarani, things are also looking pretty good, being 3rd in the table, 4 points behind the leaders. But with their early participation in the Copa Sudamericana began the problems, and with a decisive match next week in Uruguay, they decided to give priority to the Internationl game, therefore they will rest some regulars for tonight. To be precise, it is expected that at least 8 regulars will left behind, in order to keep them fresh for the clash with River. Surely this must be a huge blow for them, making Libertad's victory pretty sure, as I doubt Guarani's reserves can rise to the Gumarelo standards. GL!

Libertad (-0.75) @ 1.90, Sbobet, 5/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Deportivo Quito - Olmedo

Ecuador Primera Division

Deportivo Quito is in good form, and they are looking better by the day, meaning that coach Sevilla really made a difference. 3 matches played since he arrived, and only 1 draw, but against the leaders from LDU. Both the other matches were won away from home. New striker double Gonzalez-Vigil and 'Zlatan' Fernandez are working good, and I only expect improvement from their part. They are pretty much out of any Libertadores race, but will still need some points for next year's Copa Sudamericana, and I guess that's on their agenda. Sevilla won't make any major changes in the line-up, and the only rotation will be in goal, where regular Ibarra is injured.

Olmedo's for is at the lowest, and so is morale. They carry 7 matches without a win, and couldn't do too much last week, but to keep a minimum difference against a second-string LDU team. So far, it looks like they will repeat the line-up that they fielded last week, and let's face it: their best players are average at their best. No clear idea in attack, poor finishing, and despite some usual solid defending, they can break easily under the pressure. And with the Vigil-Fernandez double working like charm (also helped a lot by Saritama and Minda), they will come under a lot of pressure. Deportivo to win by more than one goal looks tasty and realistical. GL!

Deportivo Quito (-1 AH) @ 2.02, bet365, 4/10
Result: 1-0, VOID

Aug 26, 2010

Cruz Azul - Real Salt Lake

CONCACAF Champions League

Finally found some info about Cruz Azul and their line-up for tonight. Don't know how reliable the info is, but apparently, they wll be sending on the field most of their regulars, and their squad looks much better than against Toronto. Torrado, Gimenez and Orozco should start the match. After one of their poorest performances I've ever seen (in the first half against the Canadians, they were nowhere to be found, and their defense seemed on drugs), they woke up a bit after some changes in the second half, and slowly started to take control of the match, but didn't do enough to secure at least a point. Now, they should be out in attack blazing, from the first minute, as with all the other teams having 3 points, anything but a win tonight could complicate the group a lot.

RSL is also reported to be using their strongest squad available, but I have my doubts regarding that, as after this match they will have to travel all the way to Canada, for an important match against Toronto on the weekend. So we may see some reserves on the field, but even if they go with their best team, they still have the second chance in this match. It's just a question of handicap, but with the market on the -1, I'll take it, as I don't think the time has come when a MLS team can win in Mexico. And with Cruz Azul probably learning from their mistake, I see them making a solid performance here. Small stakes only because of the questionable reliability of the line-up source. GL!

Cruz Azul (-1 AH) @ 1.98, Sbobet, 4/10
Result: 5-4, VOID

Aug 25, 2010

LDU Quito - Estudiantes

Recopa Sudamericana

I'm on the same train as pretty much everybody else who's betting on this game. LDU's home form is just great. They haven't lost a single game in Casa Blanca in 2010, and their last final, at the end of last year, ended in a thumping 5-1 against Fluminense. And their high altitude gives them a big advantage, especially against teams that aren't used at all to play at such heights, teams from Brazil and Argentina (home advantage helped them to win Libertadores in 2008, and the Recopa and Sudamericana in 2009 - and they were undefeated at home in all of those competitions). All regulars rested on the weekend, so they should all be fresh for this match, and their squad is at full power, only Ulises de la Cruz(27/2), who is suspended.

Estudiantes seems to be moving a bit slower than last season, and they pretty much had problems in all their matches so far (needed a penalty against Newell's, scored 2 late goals against Quilmes). And for today, as has been already said, they will miss a bunch of important players: GK Orion, DF Desabato and FWs Fernandez and Lopez. And I've looked through their matches in the last years, against teams that are playing at high altitude, and since 2006, Estudiantes has never won at high altitude: 2006 - 0-1 at Bolivar and 1-3 at Santa Fe; 2008 - 0-1 at Cuenca, 0-2 at LDU; 2009 - 0-1 at Depor Quito, 0-0 at Universitario Sucre; 2010 - 0-0 at Bolivar. LDU should be at the peak of their form, and if they take the Argies hard from start, the score could give them a nice advantage for the return leg. GL!

LDU (-0.5 AH) @ 1.80, Sbobet, 5/10
Result: 2-1, WON

Aug 24, 2010

Barcelona SC - Universidad Cesar Vallejo

Copa Sudamericana

I'm expecting a much more balanced game than suggested by the odds here. I still see these teams as being pretty much equal (perhaps even with a small advantage for Cesar Vallejo), despite the Ecuadorians winning the first leg, in Peru. They don't even have the altitude advantage that other Ecuadorian teams have (Guayaquil is a port city), so things will also be equal from this point of view. And morale isn't too good also, since they lost in the last round at home against Manta FC, a team that recorded it's first away win of the season.So, they could be coming under some pressure. Besides, they can qualify even with a draw, or a narrow 1-0 defeat, so I'm not expecting some suicidal all-in tactics.

Another things that gives me hope is the fact that Cesar Vallejo is the best away team in the Peruvian league, and it is known that they can perform better when playing away, so a good performance tonight wouldn't be much of a surprise. Both teams are pretty much at full strength, although in Cesar Vallejo there are some doubts regarding their strikers, as both Candelo and Hurtado are 'doubtful' (but I'm pretty sure that both will be match-fit in time, before the kick-off). So, with the Peruvians expected to take the initiative, anything could happen here (it's also Copa Sudamericana, where unexpected results happen on a weekly basis), and the +1 handicap seems safe enough, although personally I'm going to risk it a bit more with a +0.5. GL!

Cesar Vallejo (+1 AH) @ 1.99, Sbobet, 4/10
Result: 3-1, LOST

Santos Laguna - Columbus Crew

CONCACAF Champions League

Both teams will play for the position of leader in their group, as both have 3 points after the first match day. Santos Laguna, using an alternative squad, managed to destroy Joe Public with a 5-2, away, and it's likely that the same players will take the field today to face the Americans, as the coach already expressed his desire to use Concachampions to give some playing time to the less used players in the league. And while their previous result shouldn't count for much, as Joe Public is a very poor team, the fact that today play on their home ground should give them the advantage (because as we know, no MLS team has ever won in Mexico). And Santos' squad should have enough quality to win even with a second-string team.

The Crew will also mix it up a bit, and will miss some very big and important names, like Schelotto (top scorer with 6 goals), defender Chad Marshall (17/1), midfielder Danny O'Rourke (14/0), regular goalkeeper Hesmer and defender Gino Padula (12/0). All of them are important absences for the Americans, and it again settles the balance in the Mexicans favor, despite the alternative team that they will also use. However, some other important players (Eddie Gaven, Bryan Carroll, Eddie Gaven, Emilio Renteria) are expect to play a big role in today's game, and that makes me limit my stakes, as they are capable of causing some sweat to the Mexicans. But, normally, Santos shouldn't have much problems. GL!

Santos Laguna (-1.25 AH), Pinnacle, 3/10
Result: 1-0, HALF LOST

Aug 22, 2010

Deportivo Cuenca - CD Espoli

Ecuador Segunda Etapa

Low odds on this one, but I doubt Cuenca will let the win go past them. They seem to be the only ones capable of putting some pressure on the leaders at the moment, and with LDU's schedule getting more and more tight, Cuenca has some real chances to play the final again. Their recent form, especially on home ground, doesn't seem to be too encouraging, but you have to look against whom they played, because 2 draws, one against leaders LDU, and the other one against Emelec are always good results. And finally, they seem to have broken the drawing run, with a good performance this week at U Catolica. Full team for them today, with the exception of youngster Narvaez, who is injured.

Espoli still have a long road to pass in order to avoid relegation, and it's going to be very tough. Their hopes lie in their pretty solid home performances, because in away games, with only 2 victories, they can't expect too much, especially since every time they have visited one of the main contenders for the title, they have lost with a solid difference in goals. Cuenca has found it's form, and I expect them to unleash it against poor Espoli. Handicaps could also be tried, once they become available. GL!
Deportivo Cuenca @ 1.65, bet365, 6/10
Result: 2-1, WON

LDU Quito - Olmedo

 Ecuador Segunda Etapa

LDU will play in the Recopa next week, and with several matches already played, and a lot more on the horizon, they are starting to alternate their squads a bit. This is the reason why today, a lot of first team regulars will be rested. From the usual names, we can see only Ulises de la Cruz and Carlos Espinola in the probable line-up, while some of the players, like Espinoza, Luna or Estupinan, have barely played for the team. However, the quality is still on their side, but with these players not knowing each other too well on the field, as they have never played in this formation, Olmedo could take an advantage, as they will rely on team-play. Also, LDU's strikers today are a big unknown, as despite not having played enough time for me to make an opinion on them, on the short time spent on the field they didn't impress too much.

I think LDU still has the first chance to take the win here, but at the 'great' odds of 1.25 for their victory, there is absolutely no value, and I'll take an X2, as Olmedo surely has their chances not to lose. GL!

X2 @ 3.40, bet365, 2/10
Result: 1-0, LOST