Feb 25, 2011

Independiente - Penarol

Copa Libertadores

Last year, Independiente was resting regulars in Apertura to have them fit for Copa Sudamericana. And that worked well, managing to win the Cup, but things went worse than expected in the league, and now El Rojo is threatened by relegation.And with the clash against also relegation-threatened River coming up, coach Mohamed switched sides. This time, he will rest some regulars in Libertadores, in order to have them fit for the league. 5 players will miss the game with Penarol: defenders Matheu and Mareque, midfielders Battion and Fredes, and their most dangerous striker, Nestor Silvera. And for those who haven't seen their last league match, against Argentinos, it was one of the worst matches to watch, with neither team managing to create danger near the opposition's area, and Independiente especially excelled in that part. No danger, practically no scoring chances, lack of ideas etc. And their absences for today certainly won't make things any better. Out of their last 10 games, only 3 went over 2 goals, and in one of them it was thanks to Velez. Penarol is likely to come to Argentina defending, as a point will surely please them, and with Independiente's inability to break defenses to easily, I'm expecting a close match, most likely played in midfield. 0-0 seems like an appealing option in my opinion, but the Argentinians could edge it 1-0 in the end. Anyway, I'm expecting goals to be kept at a minimum. GL!

under 2.5 goals @ 1.84, 4/10
Result: 3-0, LOST

Feb 24, 2011

LDU Quito - Independiente Jose Teran

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

LDU Quito looks in red hot form lately, and they showed their previous monster form in their last match, when they won 5-0 in Casablanca against Manta. They suffered a bit in the first half, as they couldn't find many spaces, nor could they do that even after 1-0, as Manta just kept defending. But once the second goal came, and ruined the visitor's defensive plan, it was a piece of cake, as Liga never looked back and put 3 more beyond Los Atuneros. Coach Bauza will repeat exactly the same line-up today, despite two players recovering from their injuries. And honestly, after such a performance a few days ago, I don't see why he would change anything. But, an early goal will be key for this match, as Independiente will also pretty much defend, and will try to frustrate Liga's attacks for as long as possible. However, they look like a more easy to break opponent, having conceded goals in almost every match (1-1 at home against Espoli, 2-2 away at Imbabura), and their only victory came last weekend, at home, 1-0 against newly promoted Liga de Loja. If we look to the head-to-head, it suggests that this shouldn't even be a contest, as LDU won all 4 of their meetings with Independiente, without receiving a single goal, while scoring a fantastic 11 goals. Therefore, I'm an expecting another easy win for the current champions. GL!

LDU (-1.25 AH) @ 1.84, 5/10
Result: 2-1, HALF LOST

Estudiantes la Plata - Deportes Tolima

Copa Libertadores

Estudiantes needs to make amends after last week recording their biggest continental loss of their history, the 0-5 trashing at the hands of Cruzeiro. Any other wrong step could seriously jeopardize their continuity in the cup, and a group-stage exit will be even more shameful than the loss in Brazil. Thankfully, the team reacted well after that disaster, and they managed to win their league match against Quilmes, despite resting a couple of players, including Veron. Now, it's 'guns blazing' for Estudiantes, and nothing but a win will help them. Everyone at the club looks motivated and focused, so I think we can expect a good match from them. Tolima was the surprise package of the play-off stage, knocking-out Corinthians, but honestly, you can't get any more pathetic than the Brazilians were. In the first group match, they won 1-0 against Guarani, and it's a fair result, although they had to suffer a lot before the final whistle: the goal came late, in the last 10 minutes... in the first half they missed some huge chances, while in the second half Guarani started playing, and actually managed to create some panic in Tolima's defense. Estudiantes probably won't make the same mistake, and I expect them to make their game, as Tolima's away tactics are defensive, using a single forward. Won't take a higher handicap because if the goal comes late, Estudiantes will be happy to defend it, but a win for the Argentinians should be a sure thing. GL!

Estudiantes (-1 AH) @ 1.69, 5/10
Result: 1-0, VOID

Feb 23, 2011

Leon de Huanuco - Oriente Petrolero

Copa Libertadores

When the odds first became available, I said I'd stay away from this match, but they just keep getting higher and higher, and I see no reason for that, as the opening odds were seeming quite fair. Yes, Leon aren't going through their best moment, and after last year's fantastic achievement (Final of the league) I was pretty sure they had no chance of repeating that performance. And after Rodas and Perea, their best players in 2010, left, things didn't go too well, and Leon lost all 3 of their matches (2 in the league, 1 in Libertadores). The new players didn't blend in yet, and even if they are not of the same quality as last year's players, they are still good enough to keep Leon at a decent level. Gonzalez-Vigil has the duty to make Perea forgotten, and today he will start as a regular. Overall, Leon isn't performing too bad, but they miss something... even against Cobresol, they attacked and put some pressure, but the goal never came. Oriente isn't a bad team either, as they showed last week, when they really put some pressure on Gremio in the start of the match, but slowly things turned around, and they lost 0-3 in Brazil. They are nothing special, and even though their attack can put some pressure, their defense is likely to neutralize and advantages, as they seem quite poor at defending. And they also have an awful record against Peruvian teams, losing 7 out of 8 matches, so I don't see why not to try Leon at the current odds. GL!

Leon (-0.75 AH) @ 1.94, 3/10
Result: 1-0, HALF WON

Emelec - Jorge Wilstermann

Copa Libertadores

Early bet for this match, as the lines and odds will surely drop a lot before kick-off. For this match, we'll have a Jorge Wilstermann side in the same situation as last week against Jaguares. The team plays in the Bolivian Second Division, despite winning the Apertura 2010. The tournament hasn't started yet, so last week's match in Mexico was the first official match of the year for them. They have a lot of new players, signed in the last 3 weeks, so very little time to make a team, and all of those players are relatively unknown. They lost 0-2 in Mexico, against a Jaguares side that doesn't scare too many people, so in Ecuador, they should have an even tougher time against Emelec. Los Electricos had a week off, after postponing their league game against Barcelona, so they had plenty of time to recover after the 1-1 draw against Internacional of Brazil. Emelec have a much more offensive style than the Mexicans, so it will be interesting to see how Wilstermann will cope with the pressure. I'm honestly very surprised to see a lower handicap line than last week, because as I've said, Emelec has more firepower than Jaguares, and more flow in their game, so I expect a bigger score line this time. That is why I'm going with high stakes on this one, as the current line/odds represent value, especially compared to the lines that will be available before kick-off. GL!

Emelec (-1.75 AH) @ 1.84, 7/10
Result: 1-0, LOST

Feb 21, 2011

Olimpia Asuncion - Sportivo Luqueno

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

I know I might be exaggerating a bit today with these big handicaps, but seriously... only -1.25 for the most inform team of Paraguay against one of the weaker teams? And at odds bigger than 2? Olimpia are in hot form, with 4 victories on the run, and an awesome effectiveness of 12 goals scored in those matches. I have talked previously about their style of play, so I'll keep it to a minimum: very offensive, always looking for the goal, always putting pressure on their opponents, and great skills of their forwards (Zeballos scored 5, Ferreyra scored 4). And for today, nothing will change in regard to their last game, the 4-0 win at Sol de America, as they will use the exact same squad. Luqueno are regulars in the bottom half of the table, with their usual objective being to avoid relegation. They have been very unstable so far this season, managing to snatch 4 points, but also conceding at least once in every game... and when Tacuary scores 3 against you, than you really have to wonder what Olimpia is capable of doing if they play at full potential. GL!

Olimpia (-1.25) @ 2.14, 5/10
Result: 5-0, WON

Juan Aurich - Union Comercio

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

The handicap is very high again, but after what I've seen in the first round, I don't give newly promoted Union Comercio any chances to take something from this match. Although it's still very early in the season, my expectations were pretty much confirmed, as Juan Aurich look strong enough to fight for a continental cup again, while Union Comercio are for the drop. In the first round, Juan Aurich made a very good match away at Universitario, finishing 0-0. They showed a very solid defense, nice ball circulation in the midfield and a very dangerous attack. And today they will start with a formation slightly more offensive, in order to capitalize on the chances they get, and to start summing up 3 points. Meanwhile, Union Comercio held well against Alianza Lima, until the last minutes, when they just cracked and finally lost 4-1. But even when the match was heading for a draw, Union's play was not encouraging, as Alianza was soundly dominating the proceedings, and it was obvious it was just a matter of time before the goal came. It's extremely difficult for a newly-promoted team to visit Chiclayo and snatch points, and I don't see how Union can do it. Probably won't be as easy match, but a 2-0 or 3-0 is very much on the cards, probably with some second half goals, as Juan Aurich accustomed us. GL!

Juan Aurich (-1.5 AH) @ 1.80, 3/10
Result: 3-2, LOST

Feb 20, 2011

LDU Quito - Manta

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

LDU didn't 'enjoy' the best start of the season, so they need to start recovering points as soon as possible, if they don't want to lose contact with early leaders Deportivo Quito. Only 4 points after the first 3 matches is not enough for the champions, who are gunning to protect their title in 2011, so to lose points again today (at home, against one of the poorer teams in the league) is unacceptable. The fact that LDU has defensive problems since the start of the season (Araujo and Caicedo are long-term injuries) certainly didn't help them, but also didn't count too much, as they only conceded 2 goals. Today, they will also add defender Guagua to the unavailable list, but again, if the midfield and the attack work, that shouldn't be a problem. And the attack is expected to work better today, as out-of-form striker Carlos Luna is out with an injury, and his place will be taken by LDU's main striker, Hernan Barcos, who has fully recovered from his injury. Manta might have had a good start, but all their points came against the smaller teams (won with Imbabura and drew with Manta and Barcelona), while their only lost match came away at powerhouse Deportivo Quito. Don't see how they will stand a chance in Casa Blanca, against a LDU desperate to recover their form. LDU have won all the matches played at home against Manta, and only 2 times in 6 matches have they failed to win by more than 1 goal. This should be another win for LDU, an easy one, but still, Manta is a team capable of scoring, and with so many defensive absences for Liga, the score line could be closer than expected. Therefore, the over 2.5 seems a much better choice. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 1.89, 3/10
Result: 5-0, WON

Deportivo Quito - Espoli

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

I have two matches from Ecuador, both of them with very high chances as finishing with a home win, and even with  big score. First of all, we have Deportivo Quito, who are the undefeated leaders of the league after winning their 2 matches against some lesser teams before drawing with some of the big names (Emelec and Deportivo Cuenca). As mentioned previously, Deportivo have made a lot of transfers during the break, most of them being very well known players, and they have integrated perfectly in the team, and that is visible from the results. What is even more encouraging is their style of play, always looking for the goal, and always moving the ball towards the opponent's area as fast as possible. Full squad is expected today, with the only absence being that of defender Campos, but otherwise, everyone is ready to go. Espoli haven't enjoyed their start of the season too much, as they only have 1 point after 4 matches, and regardless of today's result, coach Calderon is on his way out, and will be replaced next week. Espoli so far has lost with Emelec and Deportivo Cuenca (teams that have finished level wit Deportivo), and also at home with newly promoted Liga de Loja. In head-to-head matches, Deportivo Quito are on a run of 6 consecutive victories, and the last time they failed to win a game on their home ground was back in 2006. And judging by both team's form, I see no reason why their winning run against Espoli will not continue. GL!

Deportivo Quito (-1.25 AH) @ 1.80, 5/10
Result: 3-2, HALF LOST

Argentinos Juniors - Independiente

Argentina Primera Division, Clausura

Both teams will have Libertadores duties next week, but neither of them will voluntarily rest any of their first team regulars. I say voluntarily, because Argentinos will still have several absences. They are having some serious problems, as two key players will miss this game: defender Escudero (suspended) and midfielder Mercier (injured). But along them, 3 more players will be unavailable: defender Basualdo (suspended), forward Vargas (injured) and midfielder Emilio Hernandez (injured, after burning his testicles with boiled water!!!). Moreover, because he has so many absences, their coach will no longer rest goalkeeper Navarro and forward Oberman, who are carrying minor injuries. Independiente will go for this match with the best they have, won't rest anyone, as they also need to worry about their relegation percentage (they're not in trouble yet, but after their disastrous Apertura, they might have some problems next year). Last performances also favor Independiente, as they drew 2-2 with Velez, after a great first half, leading 2-0 at half time, while Argentinos barely managed a late equalizer away at Huracan. Recent head-to-head is also on El Rojo's favor, losing just one of the last 10 games, and that lost game came with a lot of drama, as Independiente lead 3-1, only to lose with two goals conceded in the last 3 minutes. GL!

Independiente (+0.25 AH) @ 1.91, 4/10
Result: 0-0, HALF WON

CNI - Universitario

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Both teams started the new season poorly, with CNI being trashed 3-0 at Cesar Vallejo (without putting up much of a fight - actually, they even managed to concede when they were 1 man up), while Universitario failed to break Juan Aurich's bunker, finishing the match 0-0 as hosts. That scoreless draw came mainly because of some technical stupidity made by coach del Solar, as he put Vitti (best player of the league in 2010) in a midfield position, despite him being used to play, and giving his best performances, as an attacking midfielder, behind the strikers. That's where he'll play today, so expect a big boost to the Cremas offense. He looked good on that position in this week's training session, as well as his offensive team-mates: Alvarez, Alva and Ruidiaz. Therefore, we'll see a pretty offensive Universitario line-up, against what should be a defensive CNI, who will want to avoid another trashing. Las Cremas don't usually find it easy in Iquitos, winning just 1 out of 3 matches played there, but they have a lot of potential, while CNI seems to be much weaker than last season. GL!

Universitario @ 2.15, 3/10
Result: 1-1, LOST