Sep 18, 2010

Leon de Huanuco - Juan Aurich

Peru Primera Division, Liguilla B

All the conditions are favorable for a home win here. First of all, Leon is practically one of the toughest teams to break at home, losing only one game so far, and recording 2 draws, winning the rest of their 12 matches, and with quite a serious goal difference (34 scored to 10 conceded). Then, they are unbeaten in the last 10 games, but even so they lost the lead in Group B of Liguilla, so expect some extra-motivation from them. And, of course, we have the altitude advantage for them, as well as the temperature advantage, as in Huanuco is very warm, totally different from the temperatures in Chiclayo. And we should add to all of this Juan Aurich's irregular form when playing away from home (only 3 matches won from 15 played) and we should have a solid bet on home win. Both teams should be having full squads, so I'm expecting no surprises from this point of view, as with a loss, Juan Aurich gets out of the title race for sure (even if they win, there are still very slim chances for that). The odds have risen a bit on the handicap for Leon, and now looks more tempting, but only small stakes for that, as Juan Aurich have proven several times they are no push-overs. GL!

Leon Huanuco (-0.75 AH) @ 1.84, 3/10
Result: 1-1, LOST

Sep 16, 2010

Arabe Unido - Cruz Azul

CONCACAF Champions League

This two teams will face each other in a group A fixture, certainly one of the tightest groups in the CCL history, where all 4 teams are equal on 3 points after the first two matches. That is why Cruz Azul can't afford a bad step in Panama, as they still have to travel to Salt Lake to face Real, and for sure that match is going to be tougher than this one. Arabe Unido had a good run last year in the group stages, being undefeated at home, and even trashing Isidro Metapan 6-0 and Toluca 4-1. However, the same opponent as today, Cruz Azul, ended their hopes in the quarter-finals, with a double victory. But their main advantage, the artificial turf, is gone now, as they will play this match on a new stadium, with a grass surface, and the Mexican players liked it during practice, and will probably do better on it than on the turf. Moreover, some players are questionable for them, so the line-up could see some surprises.

Cruz Azul went to Panama with everything they have, but I doubt we'll see a 100% team on the field. The line-up will be made public only before the match, but with the team in not a good situation in the group, I think we can count on a several regulars, especially Emanuel Villa, Javier Orozco and Christian Gimenez (scored 13 of the 18 goals in the Primera Division, and Orozco scored 4 in the groups with Gimenez close by with 2) should play some part in the match. Cruz Azul is also doing great in their league, being the overall leaders, 3 points ahead of Santos and Monterrey, so they will try to transfer their good form from the league to the CL. This bet looks good, because the handicap looks do-able, and a victory for the Mexicans shouldn't be a problem. GL!

Cruz Azul (-0.75 AH) @ 1.95, 2/10
Result: 0-6, WON

Toluca - Puerto Rico Islanders

CONCACAF Champions League

I'm going with yesterday's trend in the Concachampions, and I'm going to back a Mexican team to cover the handicap again. After a sloppy start in both competitions, Toluca has shown some improvements in the las couple of weeks, and since the 0-0 draw away with FAS, they went to win 3 matches (2 of them in the league) and make another draw, last week at Necaxa, moving to second place in the group in the Mexican league. In the Champions League, they share the top spot with the Islanders, and today will be an important match, that could decide who wins the group. No official line-up is available yet for the Mexicans, but most likely it will be a mixed team on the pitch, with some reserves among the regulars (as they usually do in this competition), but still, the quality advantage should still be in their favor. Moreover, Toluca is at over 2000 meters of altitude, and it will be hard for a team from Puerto Rico to play like they usually do. One more thing: today, Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence, so Toluca will be likely to start the celebrations early, with a nice game and a win against the Islanders.

Puerto Rico Islanders don't seem to be a force like in last years, finding themselves only around mid table in their league. They are still strong at home, and Toluca might have problems there, that is why this match should be a 'must-win' for the Mexicans. Despite being rather poor travelers, the Islanders also have to cope with a pretty long journey to Toluca, and one there, they will have to face the altitude and a very solid home team. Moreover, in the last month they had to play almost every 3 days (played 8 matches in August), and they will continue doing so in September as well (this will be the 5th match in 13 days), so either they will also mix their squad a bit, either they will be exhausted. Either way, advantage goes with the Mexicans, and they should win this one easy, especially from statistical point of view, the Islanders always losing with handicap in the CL in Mexico. GL!

Toluca (-1.5 AH) @ 1.95, 4/10
Result: 3-0, WON

Sep 15, 2010

Deportivo Saprissa - Seattle Sounders

CONCACAF Champions League

Seattle Sounders might have had 5 days of rest, which is a rarity for the MLS teams so late in the season, but I won't be expecting a full strength line-up today. Couldn't find any reports about who will play, but looking at their schedule (they will have 4 consecutive away games: at Saprissa, at Columbus Crew, at Monterrey and at Chicago), and knowing their priority is the MLS play-offs, I sure they will count on some of their fringe players. That won't necessarily change much of the team's face, but with their poor displays so far (losing both matches, at home with Monterrey and at Marathon) we shouldn't expect too much from them. Saprissa, on the other hand, is looking to have found their pace, having 4 games without losing, and it looks like they are going to repeat the line-up that trashed Perez Zeledon at the weekend with 4-1. Meaning that Centeno, Sequeira and their other 'big names' should start tonight. Confidence is high at Saprissa, and a win today will get them closer to the qualification. And with their good form showed recently on their home stadium (defeated Marathon with 4-1 in their last Concachampions match), I'm pretty sure they will be too good for the Sounders. GL!

Deportivo Saprissa @ 1.85, 4/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Columbus Crew - Joe Public

CONCACAF Champions League

It's never a good idea to trust American teams in this competition, but I'd give it a go for some small stakes here. They are coming after a tough match played on the coast, which they lost 1-3 against the Galaxy, so for sure they are going to rest some regulars here. But the reserves aren't that bad (not a huge quality gap between the starters and the back-up players), and they always relish the opportunity of playing some matches. And all the MLS teams seem like having improved a bit since last years, and this was very visible in their matches against the Mexicans, when Sal Lake gave Cruz Azuk a good run for their money,  losing 4-5 in the last seconds; the Crew also lost in the last minute at Santos Laguna, while Toronto FC actually managed to win against Monterrey. Anyway, the main bet here is against Joe Public. Having watched them against Santos Laguna, I can say they are one of the poorest teams in the competition, and their defense can be easily broken down, and put a few goals behind them. What's more, they will only bring 16 players with them for this match, as a the rest (including some regulars) are either having suspension problems, or visa problems. So, the Crew should have more quality in their squad, and with Mendoza finally set to start (very good player for that level, playing for FC Brugge and Steaua Bucharest in the past), I'd bet he's going to score at least once. Small stakes though, as I've already said the MLS teams are far from trustworthy. GL!

Columbus Crew (-1.5 AH) @ 1.95, 3/10
Result: 3-0, WON

Monterrey - Marathon

CONCACAF Champions League

I'm also going for this matche in CONCACAF, as I really expect a day without surprises. Monterrey will, of course, mix their squad a bit, as they usually do, but I doubt that should be a problem for them, as even the reserves of the Mexican clubs are at least a class better than any other CONCACAF team. So far, they are undefeated this season, both in the league, as well as in the Champions League, and that is likely to continue after today. Marathon could be a tough nut to crack, but that's more truthful when they play at home. They have a strong physical game-style, and that helps a bit, but against such a technical team like Monterrey, this game-style will have some problems, as I doubt they'll get much of the ball. And when the Mexicans are passing the ball around, all you can do is wait for the moment they turn their possession into a vertical attack. As for Marathon's away play, they showed last match they can't cope with it too well, as they got pushed aside by Saprissa (even though they were a man down since 1-1, but I doubt they would have held on to the draw with all their man on the pitch). One more thing to remember is last year's 7-0 whooping by Toluca (also with an alternative team), a score that is maybe a bit exaggerated, but shows the real difference between Mexican and Honduran football. Small-medium stakes, as complacency of Mexican clubs is not out of the question. GL!

Monterrey (-1.5 AH) @ 1.95, 4/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Sep 13, 2010

Jose Galvez - Alianza Lima

Peru Primera Division, Liguilla A

At the first look, I didn’t like this match at all, but after some more thought into it, it started to look better and better. I mean, the class difference between the teams was more than obvious from the beginning, and their positions on the table and their objectives speak for themselves. Jose Galvez can be a decent team, but only when they are playing against other strugglers, and even then, they rarely win (from the last 10 games they’ve only won one, at Sporting Cristal, but they were missing a lot of first team regulars… otherwise, they lost against almost all of the big teams they have faced). Don’t see how they will save themselves from relegation, as in comparison to them, even Sport Boys and Total Chalaco look one class better.
Alianza is gunning the leader, and they need to pull all they can to get there, as they have a massive 7 points gap to cover. However, San Martin also plays in Sudamericana, and some slip-ups are expected, and that is on what Alianza is also counting. First tough match is today, and if San Martin loses at Cristal and Alianza wins, the gap shrinks to a more realistic 4 points. Besides, the run for the last Libertadores ticket is also wide open, after Leon’s stumble last night. MF Quinteros (10/2) and MF Joel Sanchez (21/3) won’t be able to play tonight, but otherwise, coach Costas has the best squad at his disposal, including Ovelar’s return (though it remains to be seen if he will be forced). Recent form and h-2-h are both in Alianza’s favor (they have won 9 of their last 14 encounters), and I’m pretty confident they will make it 10 tonight. GL!

Alianza Lima (-0.25 AH) @ 1.90, 4/10 
Result: 1-1, HALF LOST

Sporting Cristal - Universidad San Martin

Peru Primera Division, Liguilla A

Both teams are pretty much scoring machines (well, San Martin more than Cristal, but they can also turn the score loose when they get in gear), and with an important match ahead of both of them, I’m pretty sure we’ll see a nice match and a few goals. Sporting Cristal needs to put behind them their recent  bad run of results, if they are really serious about their Libertadores qualification objective (even though it’s almost impossible, being 13 points behind the 3rd place, but the Sudamericana spot is quite within reach). San Martin are likely to want to keep a hold on their 7 points advantage over Alianza Lima, especially now when they are going to fight on two ‘battlegrounds’, both in the Liguilla and in Copa Sudamericana. And with them being in the Liguilla A, with Alianza Lima and Universitario, any points are up for grabs, so they have to make the most out of every match. The goal scoring chances should also be boosted by the quality of the strikers, as the first two top-scorers in the league belong to this 2 teams: Ximenez from Cristal has 18 goals score, while Arriola from USM is close by, with 17 scored (Alemanno from USM is also worth mentioning, as he also has 10 goals scored), and all of them, along with Vitti (9 goals scored) are reported as starters tonight, so I’m expecting several goals from them, especially since the last 5 matches between this 2 teams have ended in overs.GL!

over 2.5 @ 2.04, 3/10 
Result: 0-1, LOST

Sep 12, 2010

Cienciano - FBC Melgar

Peru Primera Division, Liguilla B

Yesterday’s over bet didn’t go as planned, and it wasn’t even close to delivering, but today, I’m going to try it again, on two more matches. First of all, we have ‘El Clasico del Sur’, the Southern Derby. This thing alone adds some more spice on the match, as both teams will be extra-motivated to win the match. Cienciano’s financial problems have finally ended, and things are looking much better than before, and the players are almost up-to-date with their payment, so they can focus fully on playing football. Already said a while ago that they were more than impressive even when the financial crisis was at it’s deepest point, and they’ve won my biggest respect, so now it’s time for them to keep going. And with Ibarra as a coach, they looked very offensive (normal thing, as Ibarra is also their striker and top-scorer), and that shouldn’t change too much today.
Melgar is an irregular team, but one thing is certain: they are good at creating chances, but also good at conceding, and usually, their matches end with several goals. Their problem is more mentally, as if they concede first, there are only slim chances to turn the match around. So it’s really questionable who will win today, and what side of the bed will Melgar wake up, but one thing is pretty sure: both teams will attack. Cienciano because they are at home, and they transform into an attacking machine when they are in Cusco, and Melgar because they can’t rely on their back line (received 27 goals in away games, the same number of goals scored by Cienciano at home), and the best defense for them is the offense. GL!

over 2.5 @ 2.05, 3/10 
Result: 0-1, LOST

Universitario - Total Chalaco

Peru Primera Division, Liguilla A

Las Cremas’s objective to win the title again has taken a serious blow, as they failed to get into the Liguilla B, where Leon are leaders, so now they have to catch Universidad San Martin, who are 12 points clear at the top of the table. Pretty much an impossible job, but a Libertadores ticket (or at least one for Sudamericana) is still well within reach. Of course, for that they mustn’t make any bad steps, and any points lost at home will more or less end their dreams. That’s why they will count for today’s match on all their main players, despite a lot of them having to play some matches with the NT last weekend. Which means the line-up will be identical to the one that won 2 weeks ago in Callao, against Sport Boys. And with their current form and game play, I just can’t see past their win tonight. Chalaco are an irregular team, that could sometimes pull-off some surprises, but can also lose easily against the biggest mugs. But no matter what face they’ll show tonight, I doubt it will be enough to snatch some points on Monumental, and the -1 handicap should be worth some medium-high stakes, despite the very low odds. GL!

Universitario (-1 AH) @ 1.60, 6/10
Result: 1-0, VOID

Juan Aurich - Sport Boys

Peru Primera Division, Liguilla B

This one looks like a no-brainer, but although the home win shouldn’t be in doubt, the handicap should be 50-50, due to some doubtful players for Juan Aurich. It is said that Manco and Tejada will be rested, as they didn’t have a rest last week, being taken with their respective national teams, but I have some doubts about this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ll see them on the pitch tonight (at least one of them).  Another report that I don’t quite believe give Zuniga as a lone striker, but from a formation with 3 strikers to only 1 there is a long road, and that’s not the way Juan Aurich does it, and I’m expecting Ciciliano to start. Anyway, even without them, Zuniga, Ascoy and Chiroque should be enough to break Sport Boys defense.
Sport Boys are facing relegation, and although looking at their recent results might give you the impression that they are improving (as they lose with smaller margins than before), they are actually not, and their game still suck (last match lost 1-2 with Universitario, but the score could have easily been bigger). They are awfully poor in away games, not managing to win a single game so far, and their defense lack any type of quality, receiving a monster number of 38 goals in 15 matches. Juan Aurich is rarely mild and merciful at home, and few teams come out with points. The bet seems good, because as I said, home win shouldn’t be in discussion, and in case of just a one-goal win, half the stake comes back. GL!

Juan Aurich (-1.25 AH) @ 2.04, 4/10 
Result: 4-1, WON