Feb 3, 2011

Deportes Tolima - Corinthians

Copa Libertadores

Whoever watched the first leg knows that there is nice value in this bet, despite no goals being scored in Brazil. The Corinthians defense was tragic most of the times, with the Colombians breaking on the counter attack several times, creating very dangerous chances to score, including a wrongly disallowed goal. The entire Brazilian tactics was pretty much retarded, as they failed to put enough pressure in offense, so Tolima didn't pack their defense, giving them plenty of opportunities to challenge the high defensive line of Corinthians. And for this second leg, Timao has to take more chances, in order to find at least one away goal, that will make them favorites to qualify to the group stage. And Tolima also changes their style when playing in Ibague, going more in attack, and are known for scoring goals. So with both teams forced to attack, I'd have to give advantage to Tolima for this match, as they should take their chances on counter attacks, but if the Brazilian defense is as weak as last time, the goals could come even from positional attacks. Both teams should score, so the qualification will probably be decided by who scores that extra-goal. There is also a small altitude issue, but Ibague is just at 1000 meters of altitude, so I don't think that should be much of a problem for Corinthians. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 2.16, 3/10
Result: 2-0, LOST

Feb 2, 2011

Jaguares Chiapas - Alianza Lima

Copa Libertadores

Huge odds on Alianza in my opinion. Yes, they made a disastrous match in the first leg, but they can't possibly play any poorer than that. They are 0-2 behind in this qualifying leg, and they have to give all they got in order to maintain their hopes of reaching the group stages. It's going to be tough, as Jaguares showed some close-to-perfect tactics last week, but seriously, Alianza priced at 4.7... I was expecting the handicap lines to be at +0, and I probably still would have taken them, but with +0.75... Everyone at the club has expressed optimism, not necessarily for the qualification, but at least to change the image they left after the first game. And regardless of that first leg result, I still see Alianza as the better club here. Coach Costas will probably make some changes, fielding 3 or 4 younger players instead of those who disappointed the most last week, and this could prove to be a good idea, as they will try their hardest to impress, especially since 2 of them (Leonardo Castro and Junior Viza) are new signings. And with Jaguares looking in a slight decline of form recently in the league (lost the last 2 games, and are winless for 3 matches), they might be surprised by the Peruvians, especially if they start the match thinking the 2-0 snatched in Peru would suffice. The high odds/low lines on Alianza are a must try in my opinion. GL!

Alianza Lima (+0.75 AH) @ 1.96, 4/10
Result: 2-0, LOST

Deportivo Quito - Independiente

Copa Libertadores

Deporitvo lost the first leg 0-2, so now they have a lot of work to do, and even so, their qualification hopes are looking dim. One thing is certain though, and it would have been certain regardless of the first leg result: Deportivo Quito are going to attack. That means a total change from last weeks' line-up, where they played with just 1 striker and went looking for a draw. The good news is that both Rodas and Perea (new signing that made history with Leon de Huanuco last year) will be starters, so that should normally be a boost for the team. They are very good players, they know each other, and should cause some havoc for the Argentinian defense. Independiente surely won't come to Quito to pose as the victim, as they showed it last year, against LDU in Sudamericana. They went 3-0 down then, but made a good and solid match before the first goal, and also had the strength to score two goals. They showed nice attitude, and I expect the same tonight, as 9 of those 11 players will play today as well. And they also have a few players that can be deadly on the counter attack, as Defederico, Silvera and Parra could cause some real damage to any team. The worst case scenario is that Independiente will score first, but I trust Deportivo Quito's power and ability to put pressure, and I'm sure we'll be seeing a few goals here. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 2.10, 3/10
Result: 1-0, LOST

Jan 31, 2011

Deportivo Saprissa - Herediano

Costa Rica Primera Division, Verano

We rarely see odds close to 2.00 on Saprissa at home, so this should be a good opportunity to take advantage of them. This is one of the derbies of the season for Saprissa, not as big as the one against Alajuelense, but still something that gets the blood moving. And after their dreadful season of Torneo Invierno, Saprissa looks to have found it's feet, and after the first 4 rounds of Verano they have only lost 1 match (against champions Alajuelense) and won 2, both at home, but in pretty impressive fashion: 3-0 against both San Carlos and Santos. So they clearly are on an uptrend, and should continue their current impressive home form. The first 11 should be the same as against Santos, the only absent being the injured Sirias. Herediano managed to reach the final in Invierno, but so far, their form hasn't been the same, as after a first round win at Puntarenas they went from draw to draw. Last match they were 2-men up, and still haven't managed to find the win against Limon, and even conceded the equalizer when their opponents were one man down. So their game plan is obviously not working, and I expect them to suffer a bit in 'La Cueva'. GL!

Saprissa (-0.5 AH) @ 1.95, 3/10
Result: 0-2, LOST

Rubio Nu - Sol de America

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Again, very high odds for what should be an easy home win. Rubio Nu is usually a very strong home team in Paraguay, and very rarely loses matches when playing in La Arboleda, but they also have a bad habit of retarding when people least expect them, that is why they are hard to beat at home, but also have many many draws (last year they lost just 5 from 22, usually against the big teams of the league). They made a few signings during the pre-season, but nothing special that can stand out. However, despite their lack of star players, they had a good preparation camp, with good results and solid play, so they should be ready for this tournament. Sol de America is traditionally a poor team away from home (5 wins out of 22 in 2010), and can rarely snatch points against better opposition. And while Rubio Nu isn't something special in the league, they certainly have more power and quality than Sol. As far as head-to-head goes, Rubio won 4 out of 5 at home, the only defeat coming in 2009, right after their promotion, when almost anybody had chances to beat them. Last year we had two confident results for the hosts, 5-0 in Apertura and 2-1 in Clausura. As I said, this should be an easy home win, and the odds have plenty if value, but the stakes will remain small, because Rubio has a natural talent of making it harder for themselves than it should be. GL!

Rubio Nu (-0.5 AH) @ 2.03, 3/10
Result: 1-0, WON

Jan 30, 2011

Cartagines - Brujas

Costa Rica Primera Division, Verano

Brujas has been hit by a serious crisis, and the club is trembling at every level. First of all, there is the financial insecurity, following the arrest of the owner Minor Vargas. Most of the players want to leave, and a lot of them already did, as 4 players (Andres Nunez, Rodolfo Rodríguez, Paolo Jimenez and Heiner Mora) managed to resign their contracts, and there are 3 more players very close to doing the same thing until Tuesday, when the transfer market closes. And all of these problems and uncertainties are reflected in the players' performances, who after a solid away win in the first round, got just one more point in the next 3 matches, being on 2 consecutive losses (being almost trashed by Perez Zeledon mid-week). Cartagines is an OK team, usually mid-level in Costa Rica, but can also surprise the big guys from time to time. They haven't enjoyed the best start, despite losing just one game from 4, they have also managed to win just 1, so they need continuity in results and a boost in points. They have already managed to beat Brujas two months ago, in the play-offs, so I don't see why they couldn't do it again, especially since Brujas are knee-deep in heavy problems. GL!

Cartagines (-0.75 AH) @ 1.88, 5/10
Result: 1-1, LOST

LDU Loja - El Nacional

Ecuador, Serie A

I really don't think El Nacional should be an underdog here. Loja won Serie B last year, and have earned their promotion, 5 years after their previous experience in the top division, but they weren't too dominant as to really pose a threat to the top half teams of Serie A. Their squad consists mainly of local players, recruited from the club ranks (reserve team, juvenile team, etc) along with a few of the players that promoted the team and a couple of more experienced players. And that doesn't seem even close to enough to avoid the drop at the end of the season. This year, they could have some big chances to repeat their performances from 2005, when in Clausura they lost 11 out of 18 games. Against El Nacional they also have an awful record, losing all 4 matches, and at home they made some record breaking scores, losing 2-5 and 1-7. El Nacional looks well prepared for this tournament, having recorded good results in the friendlies that they played. The squad is more or less the same as last season, with a few additions, of course, and they once again look like mid-table material... and should be much better than Loja. GL!

El Nacional (-0.25 AH) @ 2.35, 3/10
Result: 2-1, LOST

Libertad - General Caballero

Paraguay Primera Division

It's a start also in the Paraguayan championship, and as an opener match we'll have reigning champions Libertad against newly promoted General Caballero. Without any doubt, the hopes and future trajectories of this two clubs are as opposed as it can get. Libertad are gunning for the title again, and are confident of a strong start, trying to make a point in front of their title rivals. Meanwhile, Caballero will be happy to avoid the drop, although that very difficult. Libertad preserved most of their players that helped them win the Clausura last year, as only 2 of them left: one of the top scorers, Pablo Velazquez, and midfielder Wilson Pitonni. But, the few signings that Libertad made should cover their absences, especially in attack, where Nicolas Pavlovich showed good form in the pre-season friendlies. Caballero don't have much to brag about, and their squad is among the poorest of the first division. They'll have a lot of work to do in order to avoid relegation, and if one thing is certain is that they won't be winning points away at the giants (if at all). I'm counting on a strong start from Libertad, and if they catch a good day, the result could get ugly for the visitors. GL!

Libertad (-1.25 AH) @ 1.80, 5/10
Result: 2-0, WON