Apr 7, 2011

Santos - Colo Colo

Copa Libertadores

Both of these two teams are coming after a tough moment, and they need to improve rapidly if they want to avoid a crisis or some problems with the fans. Colo Colo enters this match as leaders of the group, with 6 points, and a win in Brazil will pretty much secure their qualification. The thing is that they haven't won a single game since beating Santos a few weeks ago. Their chances to win the national title are 0, and the fans are showing signs of unrest, and a loss tonight will only flare the tempers even more, as Colo could find itself in a very bad situation also in Libertadores, especially if Tachira wins Cerro Porteno. All 3 of their matches in the group so far have ended with a lot of goals, so that's a good set for this match, especially since Santos desperately needs to win this game, and they need to do it in an impressive fashion. They only have 2 points after 3 matches, so a slip-up here could see them making an early exit from the Copa. And after losing last week's derby against Palmeiras, the players, especially Ganso and Neymar, have been submitted to heavy criticism, so I expect them to be fired up tonight, to prove everybody what they are capable of. Just one over for them in 3 matches, but now they are in quite a critical situation, so they can't afford to sit back, and Colo Colo can hurt any team on the counter attacks. GL!

over 3 goals @ 1.89, 4/10
Result: 3-2, WON

Apr 4, 2011

Emelec - Deportivo Cuenca

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

Well, the moment we've all been waiting for, the moment when Cuenca finally lost, has come last round, when they lost at home against LDU Quito, despite several important absences in Liga's team. Cuenca weren't expected to have much of an impact this season, but surprisingly they were undefeated until last round. However, their game got weaker and weaker after a good start of the season, and in the last few rounds they just with some of the bad teams of the league (Liga de Loja, Olmedo, Barcelona, El Nacional), managed some narrow wins against Imbabura and Manta, before finally succumbing to defeat against LDU. So now, I'm expecting their results to drop even more, as their first defeat should have a detrimental effect on morale, and since most of their players are quite young, that should weight a lot. They won 3 of their 5 away matches, but have only played against teams from the lower half of the table. With Emelec it should be another story, and despite the Electrics having a few absences (the goalkeeper, a defender, a midfielder), I still see them as clear favorites, as it should be a repeat of last round's scenario. Emelec's morale should be at the top, as they have stringed 3 consecutive victories, in all of them making some rotations in order to keep the players fit. A slightly more offensive formation is expected today, as Cuenca will most likely sit in defense. A win tonight will put Emelec level on points with Deportivo Quito, and with quality and experience on their side, I just can't see them losing. GL!

Emelec (-0.5 AH) @ 1.74, 5/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Apr 3, 2011

Deportivo Saprissa - Cartagines

Costa Rica Primera Division, Verano

Saprissa found some great form, having a great run of 8 games without losing in the league, 7 of them being victories, while also performing in the semi-finals of the Champions League. And with their position as group leaders 100% assured (5 points advantage with just this round remaining), they are free to change their focus to the Champions League, where they have the difficult mission of overturning a 0-2 deficit against Real Salt Lake. So far, only a few players certain of being rested, but all of them are pretty much key pieces of the team: veteran Walter Centeno, striker Alejandro Sequeira, defender Douglas Sequeira and forward Armando Alonso. But I am pretty sure that other players will be rested, as the CL semi-final is just 3 days from now, and they want all their players fit. For Cartagines, a win will only help them secure the second position, and should also prove a morale booster ahead of the play-offs. But the interesting thing appears when we look at the head-2-head: while playing away at Saprissa, Cartagines haven't lost in the last 5 matches, while Saprissa has only won 3 out of the last 12 games played at home. Also, Cartagines have only lost twice so far in 2010, and they look strong enough to hurt a semi-team of Saprissa. GL!

Cartagines (+0.5 AH) @ 1.84, 3/10
Result: 0-0, WON

CNI - Sport Huancayo

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Good chance for CNI tonight to remain in the upper part of the table, perhaps even to move up a few places. They will face Sport Huancayo, a team that is a traditional poor traveler, and that makes all the necessary points to survive on their home ground. CNI didn't get to a good start of the season, as they lost 0-3 at Cesar Vallejo, and only managed a 1-1 draw at home against Universitario, despite having two extra men for more than a half. But slowly, they got better, and haven't lost since, including some high profile wins against champions San Martin and away at runner-ups Leon (both teams were using mixed players, but it's still something to win them both). And tonight they have a good shot of adding 3 more points to their tally. Huancayo has it's usual irregular campaign, and even in their high altitude stadium have only managed to win just once in 3 tries (3-0 with Vallejo). Didn't look too bad away from home, but they played in Cuzco (also at altitude), they drew against newly-promoted Cobresol, and lost at a troubled Universitario, despite getting an early lead. Tonight they will play on artificial pitch, something they're not very familiar with, and they will once again miss Mostto, whose absence seems to leave a big mark on his team. GL!

CNI (-0.5 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 1-3, LOST