Sep 29, 2010

Estudiantes - Gimnasia

Argentina Primera Division, Apertura

This will be another encounter of El Clasico Platense, and as usually in recent years, both teams come into this match with opposite objectives. Estudiantes is once again fighting for the title, while Gimnasia is again near the bottom of the table, and in the fight to avoid another relegation play-off. Despite being already knocked-out of Sudamericana, Estudiantes has been in great form in the league, winning 5 out of 7 matches, and another win in El Clasico will see them take over the lead in the Apertura. Boselli's departure can still be felt in their scarce goal-scoring abilities, but they make it up by team-force. Especially impressive they have been at the back, as they received only 3 goals, despite facing some teams that tend to score (Banfield, Godoy, Boca). For today, they be pretty much with a full squad, and all the regulars are expected to start.

Gimnasia didn't seem to change since last season, as they have the same issues. They seem incapable to attack properly, so they resort to bulking up the defense, and in such an important match, I expect the same approach. In their away games, they have lost all 3 of them, without scoring a single goal, so I really doubt they will be able to do so against such a well organized defense as Estudiantes has. Two important absences for them also make them sure victims, as they won't be able to count on their two forwards Graf and Neira, so it's hard to see them scoring against a team that hasn't yet conceded a single goal in 3 home games. Moreover, Estudiantes has won all the Clasicos that they hosted since 2005, and I strongly believe they can record a solid victory today. GL!

Estudiantes (-1 AH) @ 1.98, 4/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Deportivo Saprissa - Monterrey

CONCACAF Champions League

Monterrey is practically qualified already for the knock-out rounds, as even if they lose both games, they have to lose it by a big difference (and I doubt Marathon can beat them by more than 2 goals), and their followers must win both remaining matches, which seems a bit of a stretch to me. That is why the Mexicans have traveled to Costa Rica without some of their main players: FW Humberto Suazo, MF Nery Cardozo, GK Orozco, DF Davino, FW Arellano and MF Ayovi are all key pieces of the team, and none of them has made the trip. Even more, neither the coach Vucetich traveled to Costa Rica, so the team will be commanded by assistant Barra. This pretty much says a lot about how the Mexicans are treating their remaining games.

Saprissa might not have had the best start of the season, neither in their local league, neither in the Champions League, but at home, they are a real force, not a losing a single game so far, and having quite a nice goal difference. Another advantage for them should be the fact that they had to postpone their league match against Puntarenas last weekend, due to heavy rains, so that leaves the entire squad fresh and fit for this game. They will surely use their strongest line-up, and top scorer Sequeira is also expected to return to first-team action. I'm expecting an all-in performance from the Costa Ricans, and I think we have nice chances of witnessing the first defeat for Monterrey in the CL. GL!

Deportivo Saprissa DNB @ 1.71, 4/10
Result: 2-2, VOID

Cruz Azul - Arabe Unido

CONCACAF Champions League

I had quite a shock when I saw the handicap lines for this match, as it's way higher than I expected, and with lower odds, so I had to lower my stakes a bit. However, the line seems fair, and it's still very much possible to pass it. That is because, even though the starting line-up will probably be a mix of regulars and reserves, this time, Cruz Azul is forced to win the match, otherwise they could be having some serious troubles in qualifying, as their away game at Real Salt Lake will be far from a piece of cake. And if Toronto wins against Real tonight, they will fight this qualification till the end. And I don't see Cruz Azul failing to win tonight, and anything than a blow-over will be another fail for them. Regulars or reserves, they still have at least twice the quality of the Panama team, and that can also be seen in this year's meetings between the two, with Cruz Azul winning all 3 matches played. Two weeks ago, there was a 6-0 in Panama for the Mexicans, and they were also playing with a mixed squad, so that pretty much says it all. Altitude should also play in favor of 'La Maquina', and if you don't expect Arabe Unido to score, that the handicap choice is much better than the over (and I certainly don't expect them to score). However, had to lower the stakes, as I was planning a big stake bet on -1.5. GL!

Cruz Azul (-2 AH) @ 1.82, 5/10
Result: 2-0, VOID

Sep 27, 2010

River - Quilmes

Argentina Primera Division, Apertura 2010

River is suffering from the 'South American team syndrome', or, how I like to call it, the 'Peruvian team syndrome', when a team that plays at high altitude wins their home matches, but fails to do the same in away games. However, this is most unusual in Argentina, and I don't see the reason behind it... maybe at home they get pushed from behind by the supporters, or maybe they have a complex when playing on other stadiums... who knows. The fact is that they have won all 3 of their home matches, against much better opposition than Quilmes (they've beaten Tigre, Independiente and Arsenal), and I expect them to continue their form. No reason to question their motivation, as they are threatened by relegation, and they should get the maximum against direct rivals, especially at home. That is why coach Cappa decided to go with an offensive trident, consisting of Pavone (Betis player on loan, who is highly expected to burst and finally start scoring some goals), highly rated Buonanotte and team top scorer Funes Mori. They haven't played together too much this season, but the coach expects this formula to work, and so do I.
Newly promoted team Quilmes looks set to go back from where they came from, as they are still winless after 7 rounds, with only 4 draws, but only one of them away from home. They are very poor, that's a fact, and individual quality is certainly on River's side. The reports are saying Quilmes won't stay at the back and defend tonight, and if that is the case, their strategy will likely be suicidal, as River has enough ability to torture them on the counter attack. The only way for them to leave with something from El Monumental is to defend, but they have to do it perfectly, otherwise, this could get ugly. Either way, this should go as a win for River, and the -1 looks quite safe. GL!

River (-1 AH) @ 2.00, 5/10
Result: 1-1, LOST

Cerro Porteno - Sport Colombia

Paraguay Primera Division, Clausura

After an unexpected elimination from Copa Sudamericana, where earlier this week they couldn't win at home against Bolivian side Universitario Sucre, Cerro now has the opportunity to wash away their shame, and take a big and decisive step towards winning the Clausura. That is because their main (and by the looks of it, their only) rival, Libertad, surprisingly lost last night at lowly 3 de Febrero, so now, Cerro has the opportunity to get 3 points clear, halfway through the tournament. They will most likely repeat the line-up that acted in Sudamericana, meaning that all their key pieces will play: Villareal, Nunez, dos Santos, Nanni and Zeballos, and after a poor match mid-week, I'm expecting them to make amends.

Sport Colombia might have gathered a few points when playing away from home, but don't be fooled by that, as it all happened against some of the worst teams in the league (won against 3 de Febrero and Sol de America, and they drew with Luqueno), and when they play against the big guns, they are sure victims. Another interesting thing is that they are usually sparring partners for Cerro, losing by quite a big goal difference when playing at El Ciclon. And with Cerro still undefeated in the tournament, I'm counting on them to continue their good form, and put in a performance that will make people forget about the Sudamericana elimination. GL!

Cerro Porteno (-1 AH) @ 1.92, 3/10
Result: 0-0, LOST