Feb 19, 2011

Millonarios - Once Caldas

Colombia Primera A, Apertura

I see some nice value on this match. Once Caldas are the reigning champions of the Colombian Primera Division, while Millonarios are just an average team, whose usual objective is to finish in the mid-side of the standings. This season, their objectives are not different, as they are aiming for the same things as usual. Odds started raising on the champions because of their Libertadores commitment, where they played on Wednesday at home against Universidad San Martin (and were trashed 0-3), and where they will play again next week, also at home, against Libertad from Paraguay. But, they will probably not rest anyone tonight, as all the players that played during the mid-week are in the squad for this clash, and I can't see more than 2-3 changes, as they want a win here, in order to clear their image after the disastrous start of the Copa Libertadores. And as we have seen in their recent matches against Millonarios, they don't even have to be at their best to win. Millonarios have never beat them when playing at home, and in the last 9 years, they have only won twice in 18 matches. So to have Once Caldas set as underdog, against a team that usually poses little resistance against them, should be a nice opportunity. GL!

Once Caldas DNB @ 2.15, 4/10
Result: 0-2, WON

Sport Huancayo - Inti Gas

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Today we'll have a clash of two teams that are used to play 'at heights'. Huancayo comes after a first round loss against Cienciano, but that result might seem a bit harsh on them, as they played quite well, created panic in Cienciano's defense, and made the goalkeeper Noriega the man of the match. But what matters is the good play, and if they can carry it to their home ground (where they usually become much stronger), they will be a tough team to beat, at least today. Sotil and Avila are announced as starters, and they are sure to provide some torment to Inti Gas's defense. The visitors come into this match with 3 points, after a win against Leon de Huanuco at home. But the win didn't come without a lot of suffering, The goal came late, and it was more or less the only highlight in a very gloomy match, with few chances, against a Leon team that was resting most of their regulars. Inti Gas has a lot of new players, a mix of experienced ones and young ones, and honestly, from what they showed in the first round, they are well away from their continental cup objective, despite the 3 points against the finalists. If Sport Huancayo is the same 'monster home team' as last season, this shouldn't be much of a contest. GL!

Sport Huancayo (-0.75 AH) @ 1.84, 4/10
Result: 2-2, LOST

Feb 17, 2011

Jaguares Chiapas - Jorge Wilstermann

Copa Libertadores

Jorge Wilsterman represents one of the weirdest cases in Copa Libertadores. They have qualified after winning the Apertura in 2010, but at the end of the year they were relegated, due to a very poor average rating in the last 2 years. So now, they are playing in the top continental competition in South America, but are also in the second league of Bolivia (probably the poorest competition on the continent). Regarding form, both teams are coming after some poor results, but the only one that looks capable of turning it around are the Mexicans. Jorge Wilsterman are on a run of 12 consecutive loses in away game, and seriously, against an obviously superior team, and after a long journey (around 5000 km, with a stop in Panama), I just can't see them turning things around. In their squad there are a lot of foreign players, but most of them are recent signings, and if they chose to play in the Bolivian second league, that says a lot about their ability. And with all these players coming quite recently, I also won't be expecting good playing relations (the last team that used a lot of new players for the first time was Sport Huancayo, and they were trashed 9-0 in Uruguay). Jaguares managed to win both matches against Alianza Lima with 2-0, so anything less tonight would be totally unexpected and a huge fail. Their run of bad league results is also due to their coach resting a few players for Libertadores, so expect motivation tonight. The handicap is huge, but it's a clear reflection of the two teams' value. GL!

Jaguares (-2 AH) @ 1.90, 5/10
Result: 2-0, VOID

Feb 16, 2011

Deportes Tolima - Guarani Asuncion

Copa Libertadores

Guarani made a marathon to reach the place where the game will be played, and arrived at Ibague yesterday evening, after departing from Asuncion early in the morning. After a trip longer than 12 hours (there are about 5000 km from Asuncion to Ibague, and Guarani made stops in San Pablo and Bogota, before finally arriving in Ibague), they will also have to get accustomed to the altitude (just 1000 meters, but for a team that almost never played on 'higher groud', it could be tough getting used to it so fast). And as most Paraguayan teams are concerned, they are quite poor in International competitions, especially when playing as visitors. In the last 2 years, they have played 10 matches in Libertadores or Sudamericana, and have only won once, at home against River Plate of Uruguay. Tolima is a strong team, and have proved that against Corinthians (the Brazilian made 2 very poor matches, but that shouldn't take away Tolima's merits). They should again win tonight, and the only problem that I can see is them over-estimating Guarani, as they know close to nothing about them, and didn't have the means to spy them in the last games. That's why the Colombian manager will use his 'away' formation of 4-3-2-1, but with this system, his team was able to cause a lot of panic in Corinthians' defense, despite failing to score a goal. GL!

Deportes Tolima (-1 AH) @ 1.91, 5/10
Result: 1-0, VOID

Tacuary - Nacional

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Not getting my hopes up for this match. With the way both teams have been performing so far, I think that the neutral supporters should consider themselves lucky to see a maximum of 2 goals. Tacuary used an ultra-defensive strategy against the two giants, Cerro and Guarani, and haven't lost any of those matches, so that probably convinced the manager to try it again with Nacional, who can be an uncomfortable team if they have space to play. So Tacuary will likely try to close all those spaces, crowding their defense, and leaving only one striker up front, in hopes of a lucky counter. Nacional will most likely be the lead act of the game, but as seen last match against Independiente, they pretty much suck at putting pressure on their opponents, as after taking the lead, they did nothing else, just sitting back and waiting for Independiente (and that almost cost them, Independiente missing a penalty in the closing minutes). So I can see the 0-0 lasting for quite a while here, and even if someone scores, the game shouldn't open up: if Nacional scores, Tacuary will have to attack, a thing that they're not really good at, while if Tacuary scores first, those few spaces they may leave will close even more. GL!

under 2.5 goals @ 1.78, 4/10
Result: 0-1, WON

Feb 14, 2011

Alianza Atletico - Sport Boys

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Unless you are one of the big teams, winning (or even playing) in Sullana is a very tough job. The city is located in the far west of the country, and is pretty far from any other city hosting a Primera Division team. And the climate is very different... Sport Boys is from Callao, a coastal city, with a mild oceanic climate, while Sullana has a tropical climate, with the temperature going easy over 30 degrees C. This translates in a bigger energy consumption, dehydration and exhaustion, and it more damaging to the visitors, as the impact with this climate can be harsh. Add to this the fact that the pitch on the Campeones del 36 stadium is artificial, so that makes it even tougher. About the squads, Alianza kept the same base of players as last year, without making any big signings, and this could be a good thing for them, as they opted for continuity. Meanwhile, Sport Boys did manage to get a few players, most notably Marko Ciurlizza (who will play the first match in 10 months). But, Sport Boys are known as being very poor travelers, winning just 2 matches last season away from home, and if we look to their head-to-head with Alianza, they are by no means favorites here: 13 out of 20 won by Alianza, along another 5 draws. Last time Boys won was in 2005, and they haven't scored a single goal in their last 4 games. GL!

Alianza (-0.5 AH) @ 1.99, 3/10
Result 1-2, LOST

Feb 13, 2011

All Boys - Racing Club

Argentina Primera Division, Clausura

All eyes will be fixed on All Boys, to see if they can continue their great run of form from Apertura, which saw them finish in the upper part of the table, and far from the relegation worries from the start of the season. Racing won't be an easy opponent, but I think that goals should not be absent here. In Apertura, at home, All Boys have an average of 2 goals scored per match, while also conceding 1 per match, so if that continues, the over shouldn't be a problem tonight. Morale is good, and all the players are looking forward to Clausura, especially Cristian Fabbiani, who lost a few kilograms, looked very lively in the training sessions and pre-season friendly matches, and looks determined to get back to his old form. Racing is also a team that is usually looking for the goals, and they have plenty of players capable of taking any chances they get. Their main offensive trio, Giovanni Moreno, Hauche and Luguercio, are all confirmed to start tonight's game, and this promises to be a very competitive match from both team's part. If the line would have been set at u/o 2 goals, I would have gone with medium stakes, as I can't see anything less than 2 goals scored, but the current line is still good enough, but with some lower stakes. GL!

over 2.25 goals @ 2.00, 3/10
Result: 0-1, LOST

Alianza Lima - Union Comercio

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

I'm going to trust Alianza once again, and I hope I won't get to regret it once again. They went from disappointment to disappointment in the Libertadores play-off, and nothing went their way, losing both matches against Jaguares of Mexico with 0-2. Things have of course flared, and the supporters and directors are demanding a faultless performance in Primera Division, especially now that they can focus fully on this competition. And they start their campaign against Union Comercio, a relatively unknown team, newly promoted, that don't look like much. Without any big names and without making a big fuss on the transfer market, Union Comercio looks like they will have a mountain to climb in order to remain in the division in 2012 as well. They don't seem to nave neither the experience, nor the quality to be able to resist in front of Alianza. Los Intimos will be making a few changes, especially in attack, in order to wake the team up from the lethargy that settled in the encounters with Jaguares, and with all the players vowing to clean the shame from Libertadores, I think we can count on a determined performance from Alianza, from start to finish. GL!

Alianza Lima (-1.5 AH) @ 1.94, 3/10
Result: 4-1, WON

Deportivo Quito - Emelec

Ecuador Primera Division, Primera Etapa

Wanted to go for a Deportivo Quito win here, but odds are way to low to try it, as I was expecting something close to 2.00 for the home win. Without value on the hosts, the over looks like the best next thing. Both teams have employed an offensive style of play, and so far, it has produced results, as both of them have maximum points, and 5 goals scored each, from 2 matches. So the attack looks good, and both coaches are known for favoring a nice flowing, offensive game. But for Emelec, the defense looks quite shaky, as they conceded in both matches. And last week, against LDU Loja, their defense  was at times laughable (or tragic, if you had a bet on them like me), and both goals came after some blatant mistakes, along with a few other chances for Liga de Loja. But despite their defensive lapses, Emelec made up for it in attack, with Menendez scoring a couple of super-goals, while also missing several other good chances to score some more. Quito will most likely look to take advantage of those mistakes, as they have the right men to do it: Bevacqua (who scored 2 goals already) and Perea, who is still looking for his Leon de Huanuco form... and once he finds it, he will be lethal. Odds look nice, and we have the right ingredients to see a few goals. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 2.06, 3/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Olimpia Asuncion - General Caballero

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

The handicap might be a bit too high here, but this bet is a must-take in my opinion, because Olimpia has been close to brilliant so far, and their form looks encouraging for their supporters. They attack from the start, and put a lot of pressure on their opponents, so for a smaller team like General Caballero this could choke them, especially if we look at Olimpia's last match, the 3-0 win at Independiente, a team not much weaker than Caballero. The attack is going great for El Decano, helped a lot by their striker's good form: 'The Tank' Ferreyra scored last match from penalty, while the new signing Pablo Zeballos (ex-Cerro Porteno) has hit the ground running, scoring twice. And today, left winger Vladimir Marin is expected to make his debut, which should more even more incentive to the attack. General Caballero has played defensively so far, and it's a sure bet they'll do it again tonight, as it would be pretty much suicidal to attack Olimpia at their home. And their defensive moves could keep them in the game for a while, but with the way Olimpia puts pressure, General Caballero's bunker is sure to fall eventually. I can't see the visitors scoring, so it will be all up to Olimpia to beat the handicap, and they look more than probable to do it. GL!

Olimpia (-1.25 AH) @ 1.99, 3/10
Result: 3-1, WON

San Lorenzo - Gimnasia la Plata

Argentina Primera Division, Clausura

New season = new hopes for San Lorenzo, as is always the case with them. They made some nice transfers, and are hoping to be contenders in this Clausura, also helped by a milder schedule compared to their rivals, as they don't have any International duties. But they need a strong start for this, if they want to keep up with the giants, and build their confidence and morale. Also, a lot is expected from the new signings, as they all have a good history that sells them as possible saviors of the team. Pablo Velazquez (ex-Libertad) and Salgueiro (ex-LDU and Estudiantes) will be in charge of the team's offense, at least for this match, and with both of them being experienced strikers, already confirming their status in their previous clubs, San Lorenzo might have found a way to escape from their goal-scoring drought. Gimnasia also made a few signings, in their quest to avoid at least a direct relegation, and the most notable player must be Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Very experienced player, but at 37 years old I seriously doubt he can make a difference for the team. Angel Cappa is also the new coach, but his last job at River was far from impressive, and now he has an even weaker rooster to work with, so I doubt Gimnasia will be trouble-free at the end of the season. Unless a huge surprise happens, this should be a home win, but only for medium-low stakes, as the first rounds can always be dangerous. GL!

San Lorenzo @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 1-1, LOST

Nacional - Independiente FBC

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

I'm having a tough time choosing who the weakest team in Paraguay Primera is, but I think Independiente deserves the vote. The Primera debutantes haven't impressed at all in their first two matches. They did manage to score 2 goals as visitors to 3 de Febrero, but also conceding 3 from a team that is usually a low scoring one puts some serious question marks. Then followed the home disaster against Olimpia, 0-3, and there Independiente showed their true face. It's going to be a tough battle to avoid relegation, as there are a lot of poor teams in the league, but I'd be surprised if Independiente manage to avoid the direct relegation. Nacional isn't finding good result either in this early-season, but their performances are hope-giving. They lost at home against Olimpia (who are looking quite good), and drew 2-2 at Guarani, coming from behind twice, and in both these matches they looked capable of something more. So I think the time has finally come... Nacional needs to finally win a match, and at home they are usually quite strong, and honestly, there is no better opponent to kick-start your campaign then Independiente. GL!

Nacional (-1 AH) @ 1.81, 5/10
Result: 1-0, VOID