Mar 19, 2011

Rubio Nu - Independiente FBC

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Rubio is a very strong team when playing at home, and once again, I'm surprised by the rather high odds available for them (wouldn't have expected more than 1.60, to be honest). Especially now, since they are finding some form, coming after 2 consecutive victories, at home against 3 de Febrero, and their latest being away at Olimpia, where they made a very good match, defending solidly, and striking 3 times, 2 of them coming after some excellent counter attacks. Newly promoted Independiente can't seem to find it's feet in the Primera Division, currently sitting on the 8th place (pretty decent if we look only in the table), but with the way they play they will probably finish the season lower. They have only won 2 matches so far, away at fellow promoted General Caballero, and last round at home, against defensive Tacuary. But their record against the bigger teams looks bad, playing so far against Olimpia, Nacional and Cerro Porteno, losing with all 3 of them. No recent matches between them and Rubio, but I'm surely giving a big advantage for the home side, which should be more than capable of taking all the 3 points today. GL!

Rubio Nu (-0.5 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 2-2, LOST

Once Caldas - Deportivo Pereira

Colombia, Liga Postobon

I just said to myself that I will stop taking any handicap bigger than -1, but this time I'll make an exception, as this match looks just too good to skip (and I hope it will be the only exception). Once Caldas and Deportivo Pereira look like 2 teams from totally different dimensions. Once is last year's champion, and are playing great this season also. They might feel frustrated for losing the 3 points on Tuesday against San Luis from Mexico (the Mexicans equalized in the 94th minute, after a very confusing play), but they will most probably put everything behind them, and focus on this Clasico. And the coach will throw the best he's got in this match, not resting anyone, despite a trip to Paraguay planned next week, and in attack we will see again the magic-trio: Dayro Moreno, Wason Renteria and Carbonero, strikers that are very feared by all the teams in Colombia. Meanwhile, Deportivo Pereira is in the worst form of it's history, as an entire year has passed since they last won a match, facing a run of 32-matches without a single victory. Last game, they lost 0-4 away at Cucuta, and today they will face the commanding leaders, so I doubt they will stand any chances of ending their run. Odds on this handicap have been raising steadily, and that is why I finally decided to take it, as now there actually is some value on the odds. GL!

Once Caldas (-1.5 AH) @ 2.22, 3/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Mar 18, 2011

LDU Quito - Penarol

Copa Libertadores

Another early bet for this week's Libertadores, as odds already dropped massively, and I expect them to drop some more. This match is a must-win for LDU, as they have only 3 points after 3 games, and anything else than a win here will most likely see them out of the competition. But with a win, they'll take the lead of Group 8, at least until next week, when Argentinos is playing. They have rested almost their entire team during their weekend's win against Espoli, in order to give their regulars a good rest after the tiring trip to Montevideo, so they should be fresh and fit for this match. Meanwhile, Penarol chose to use their main players on Sunday, in order to win their match at Cerro. And now they'll face a long 4500 km-trip to Quito, and will also have to play at high altitude, in a stadium where LDU becomes a real monster (haven't lost at home in continental competitions since 2009, when they lost with a man less against Brazilian team Sport Recife). I have no doubt we'll see a good match from Liga, and I actually expect some big score, something like 3-0, so the -1 shouldn't be much of a problem for them. GL!

LDU (-1 AH) @ 1.82, 5/10
Result: 5-0. WON

Mar 17, 2011

Leon de Huanuco - Gremio Porto Alegre

Copa Libertadores

I was hoping for such odds, and luckily I got them. Waited a bit to see how they develop, and indeed they went a bit up, but then fell right back, and I don't think it should change too much. Leon is a pretty big underdog, and I agree with them not being favorites, as they aren't the same team as last year, and any Brazilian team is obviously superior to a Peruvian team. But, Leon improved quite a bit since the beginning of the season, especially defensively. Don't have many matches to show as examples, as in most of them they use a mixed/secondary squad, but when they do use their regulars, they play quite ok. They've beaten Oriente Petrolero and Universitario Lima, and also managed to keep the scoreline decent in Brazil, losing just 0-2, and both goals game after set pieces, the first goal after a free-kick, while the second one came from a penalty. But the Brazilians are known for getting quite lazy in away game, and for this match, Gremio will also have to face the altitude. They will travel to Huanuco 1 day before the game (will stay in Lima until then), and it seems like too little time to adjust to the air conditions. Another problem for the Brazilians should be the absence of striker Andre Lima, for which the coach will change to a more defensive formation, 4-5-1, which could favor Leon's defensive efforts. The Brazilians could very well be content with a draw in Peru, as they would keep the same difference between themselves and Leon, and with an easier schedule, they will be one step closer towards qualification. The odds are good enough to try a small bet here. GL!

Leon (+0.5 AH) @ 2.14, 3/10
Result: 1-1, WON

Emelec - Jaguares

Copa Libertadores

Alos going to fade Jaguares Chiapas. They are quite an awful team, even for Mexican standards, but even so, they find themselves on top of Group 6. This should come as no surprise though, as their 2 wins came at home, against second league Bolivian team Jorge Wilstermann, and against Emelec, who spent almost 24 hours traveling from Guayaquil to Chiapas. In their only away match, Jaguares were pounded 0-4 at Porto Alegre from Brazil. Now, if Emelec spent so much time traveling to Chiapas, I guess the same can be expected from Jaguares, as they have to make the same trip, only backwards. They played on Saturday, so won't have too much time to recover, especially with a long trip ahead of them. And most importantly, let's face it... Jaguares simply sucks, especially when playing away from home. Emelec played on Sunday, and lost 0-2 at El Nacional, but they chose to rest some regulars, almost half of the team, especially to have them fit for this match. They should win this one easily, but I won't wait for a higher line, because I've seen them against Wilstermann, and they can be really poor if they don't find their rhythm. GL!

Emelec (-0.5 AH) @ 1.79, 5/10
Result: 1-0, WON

Argentina - Venezuela

International Friendly Match

This will be the first match for these 2 National teams, as part of their Copa America preparation. Argentina is set as high favorite, but just a quick look at their roster would make anyone change it's mind. This is barely even a B team... more like a C team, with all the called-up players performing in the local league, and 3 quarters of these players are debutant with the national team. The 'most experienced' player in the squad is defender Luciano Monzon, from Boca, with 4 appearances for the team, and he is also the only one with more than 1 selection. Now, if we look from what teams they come from, we see big names: Boca, Independiente, Velez, etc. But with none of these teams impressing in the league (Boca and Independiente have actually been awful recently), and with the players likely tired and with their minds somewhere else, I don't think we'll see much determination, although this could be their chance to catch the squad for Copa America. Anyway, manager Batista will probably just want to see how his players act, not expecting any magic, since this will be the first time they perform together. Some last-minute injuries (Julian Velasquez - DF from Independiente, Franco Razzotti - MF from Velez, Martinez - FW from Velez) have also left them with just 19 players, and with only 2 pure strikers: Defederico and Mouche, both with poor performances recently. Venezuela will bring a more experienced team, with most of their regulars, and I expect them to give a decent fight. And I also expect it to be hard for Argentina to score, as they will lack any individual talents like Messi, Tevez, Aguero, etc, and group unity should also be flawed. GL!

Venezuela (+1.5 AH) @ 1.88, 4/10
Result: 4-1, LOST

Cerro Porteno - General Caballero

Paraguay Primera Division

Cerro Porteno mights not be in their best form this season if we look at the standings or at the way they play (pretty chaotic at times), but besides all of this, they have lost just 1 match from the 12 played this year, and that match came against the then-unstoppable Olimpia. Undefeated in the Libertadores, they are also improving in the league, where they make easy work of their lower opponents, as besides the loss in the Superclasico they have only drawn with the ultra-defensive Tacuary and Rubio Nu (who have recently won at Olimpia, so they can't really be considered an easy team to beat). And if they win their 3 postponed matches, they will be just 2 points behind Olimpia, so the championship is far from over for them. Fabbro will be absent for Cerro tonight, and that is quite some loss, but all the other players are fit (Lucero, dos Santos, Nanni), and against General Caballero Fabbro's absence shouldn't be felt too much. Caballero has won it's first 2 matches recently, against the equally poor Sol de America and Luqueno, but they have always lost against the big names, after largely disappointing displays. 0-2 at Libertad, 1-3 at Olimpia and Nacional, and last round a 0-1 at home against Guarani... they just can't seem to cope with teams that come over them and put a lot of pressure, and Cerro Porteno also does that, and they do it well, to a certain extent. Looks like the perfect opportunity for El Ciclon to get their first home win of the season. GL!

Cerro Porteno (-1.25 AH) @ 2.11, 3/10
Result: 2-2, LOST

Mar 16, 2011

Once Caldas - San Luis

Copa Libertadores

The Mexican teams are playing away from home, and are looking like solid fade material. San Luis is the first on the list. They are on an awful run of 8 games without a win, and this trip in Colombia should be a lot harder than any other match they have played recently. Even if the altitude factor from Manizales shouldn't be much of a problem for San Luis (as they also play at higher altitude), the trip could be exhausting, having to travel more than 4000 km to Colombia. And they have just played on Saturday evening, so with just 3 days to recover and to make such a long trip, they could find themselves in a fatigue problem. Meanwhile, Once Caldas looks to be in great form, not losing any of their last 5 games (including the first leg match in San Luis Potosi). In their last league match, they have won 5-1 against Deportes Quindio, with a sublime Dayro Moreno who scored a hat-trick. And their offense is generally working well, Moreno, Renteria and Carbonero working well together. And with Once Caldas being a real powerhouse when playing at home, overwhelming their opponents with offensive football, I can't see past an easy win for them. Higher stakes than usual for this match, as it looks like a lock. GL!

Once Caldas (-0.75 AH) @ 1.88, 6/10
Result: 1-1, LOST

Mar 14, 2011

Olimpia Asuncion - Rubio Nu

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Olimpia's semi-fail finally came, and it was more or less expected (though not worthy enough to risk a bet against them), as all the teams find it hard to play against Tacuary and their ultra-defensive 8-1-1 formation. But despite their mid-week draw, Olimpia is still sitting pretty in the standings, 7 points ahead of second-placed Nacional. Now they are eager to get back to winning ways, and again they will use their best formation, as there are no unavailable players. Rubio plays a similar style to Tacuary's, crowding their defense and hoping for a lucky counter. But they just do it as well as Tacuary, and their strategy only works against the smaller teams, which they usually beat 1-0. Against the bigger teams, that have better players and a more suffocating style of play, and that can be seen in their results: conceded 2 goals from Cerro Porteno (although they managed to tie the game, but Cerro was in their maximum-retardation period), and last week they lost 1-4 at Libertad, a team that plays nowhere near as fast and as deadly as Olimpia is. I've said it in previous analysis as well, Olimpia is playing great, both at home and away, always going forward, always looking for the goal, and they have some very good players that can score any time, even from set pieces. Rubio will kost likely defend in numbers, but if Olimpia's goal comes in the first half, the score could and should get some bigger proportions. GL!

Olimpia (-1 AH) @ 2.04, 4/10
Result: 1-3, LOST

Mar 13, 2011

The Strongest - San Jose Oruro

Bolivia Division Profesional

If we were to choose 2 teams from the Bolivian league that are sure to provide entertainment and goals, those 2 team will be The Strongest and San Jose, without a doubt. That is because both teams are favoring an offensive style of play, both are doing good in attack, and both are quite poor defensively. So far, San Jose has played 8 matches, and in 6 of them there were scored at least 3 goals, and more importantly, they have conceded at least once in every match. The Strongest don't have such a good percentage, as in only 3 out of the 8 matches played were there scored at least 3 goals, but today they are preparing a more offensive team, that should be able to score a couple of goals. The 2 strikers that are announced as starters for today have a good percentage, especially youngster Melgar, who scored 2 goals despite being in the starting-11 just once, so a lot is expected from him. Meanwhile, for San Jose there will be a few modifications, also trying to make their squad even more offensive-minded. Defender Pizzaro is suspended, and won't be available, making them a bit more vulnerable at the back. We should have a good match here, with lots of goals expected, especially if we think that their last 3 direct matches ended with at least 3 goals. GL!

over 3 goals @ 2.03, 3/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Juan Aurich - Leon de Huanuco

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

For a team that showed a lot of defensive and mental instability, against a team that is recovering well from a bad start, the give odds seem like a joke. Juan Aurich has been playing nicely, but always failed towards the end of the matches. After a solid 0-0 in the first round at Universitario, they had two apparently easy matches at home, but both of them were with a lot of emotions. In both matches they lead 2-0, and both times they saw themselves equalized in the closing moments. They did manage to get the winner against Union Comercio, but they weren't so lucky against CNI and the match ended 2-2. Meanwhile, Leon suffered a terrible start, losing to Inti Gas and Cobresol, before showing signs of recovery, winning 1-0 at Cesar Vallejo (with a mixed team) and beating Universitario, 2-0, after an impressive display. They still don't look like the 2010 Leon, but they are looking quite good, covering the field well, defending with stability, and knowing when and how to put pressure on the opponents. And the defensive lapses that Juan Aurich has showed, could be a good way for Leon to take advantage and try to score. They lost both their previous matches played in Chiclayo, but both with a minimum difference. So, the current handicap should be tried, as if both team will keep the current trend, Leon has some good chances not to lose. Reports are saying that they won't be resting anyone ahead of their Libertadores match, so there is no reason not to believe they won't prolong their winning run. GL!

Leon (+0.75 AH) @ 2.11, 3/10
Result: 2-0, LOST

Sporting Cristal - Union Comercio

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Neither of these teaams enjoyed a good start, but with Union Comercio being an unknown at the start of the season (and very probably this is their real value), no one expect much of them. Not the same can be said about Cristal, who were announcing very loudly they will be challenging for the title, so for them, the 4 points won in 4 matches are as good as plague. That's why I expect some sort of comeback sooner or later, especially since they aren't so poor as the results suggest. They made a pretty decent match against Alianza Lima, and could have also snatched a draw last round at Alianza Atletico, but they conceded in the closing seconds of the match, after playing the last 20 minutes with a man less. The fans are furious, and are demanding a win today. Anything less might turn ugly for the players and the technical staff. Union Comercio was disappointing in their first matches, conceding 7 goals in their first 2 matches (against Alianza Lima and Juan Aurich), and despite some recent improvements, they still don't look like solid Primera material. I'm counting on a determined performance from Cristal, and with the way the odds have been moving (from 1.43 to 1.73), this bet is really starting to look nice. GL!

Sporting Cristal @ 1.72, 4/10
Result: 2-1, WON