Apr 16, 2011

River Plate - Nacional Montevideo

Uruguay Primera Division, Clausura

Nacional keeps going with their red-hot form, as they appear to be unstoppable, after notching up 7 consecutive wins in the league, taking over the top place both in the Clausura and in the Aggregate tables. 3 more points today will see them edge the Final spot even closer, and, worst case scenario, they will at least preserve their 3 points lead on Penarol. And this match seems like a no-brainer, if we keep in mind the lowly stature of their opponents and the great form that Nacional is passing through. Despite a crucial match in Libertadores next week, coach Carrasco will only rest Gallardo, while top scorer Garcia will be out with an injury. Pretty big miss, but the other 3 strikers planned to start - Viudez, Fornaroli and Peralta - can do a pretty good job, especially against one of the poorest defenses in the league. River is safe for the moment, but with just 4 points ahead of the relegation line, they have to do something if they don't want to be caught in the red zone come the end of the season. Both teams have been involved in quite a few high-scoring games lately (Nacional - has scored 3 goals in 5 of their last 6 games; River - involved in 6 matches with at least 3 goals, from 8 played). Head-2-head is interesting, as before last year's 6-1 win for Nacional, River had an incredible 5 consecutive won matches. Odds are incredibly poor for the away win, and the handicap is quite huge, but the over 3 line seems a good choice, especially since in their last 10 direct encounter, there were 47 goals scored. GL!

over 3 goals @ 1.98, 4/10
Result: 4-2, WON

Apr 14, 2011

Estudiantes la Plata - Cruzeiro

Copa Libertadores

The Argentinian-Brazilian clashes are usually very heated, and both of them want to win it, regardless of the importance of the match. But apparently, for Estudiantes, their age-old rivalry with the Brazilians doesn't seem very important, nor does the revenge for their earlier 0-5 trashing in Brazil. So, with both of them already qualified, and with Cruzeiro already group winners, Estudiantes is putting their focus on the local league, and will rest several players for this final match of the group. Veron, Perez, Rodrigo Lopez and Leandro Benitez will 95% sure be rested, and at it looks very likely that others, like defenders Desabato and Fernandez, will be rested as well. All of them are very important players for Estudiantes, and will likely be missed, as in their places will feature some players that haven't played too much this season, or at all - this being the case of defender Gissi, who could make his debut. Cruzeiro is bringing all of their regulars, and will probably take this match seriously, as they look to finish the group stage as the best team, and to have the luxury of playing the worst runner-up in the competition. GL!

Cruzeiro (+0.25 AH) @ 1.94, 4/10
Result: 0-3, WON

Apr 13, 2011

Deportivo Cuenca - Emelec

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

Just 10 days after their first game of the year, Emelec and Cuenca will again clash, only this time it will be in the reverse fixture. The match was postponed because of Emelec's Libertadores duties, where a 0-0 draw in Bolivia worsened their goal-scoring crisis, and also pretty much sees them out of the competition (They need to win in Brazil to qualify, or to get at least a draw to keep hoping). So now it's back to the league for them, where Emelec could tie leaders Deportivo Quito on points, if they win today. Coach Asad will throw Strahman back in the attack, where he will make a couple with Menendez, in an attempt to break their drought that extends for two matches. Another good piece of news for them is the return of goalkeeper Klimowicz, so that should also give the team more security. Emelec isn't playing bad, but lately they had some serious problems in finding the goal, despite controlling most of the match and trying to create chances. The match between them and Cuenca from ten days ago followed this pattern, and I'm pretty sure that it will be the same tonight as well, as Cuenca usually fails when playing against better and more experienced teams. So it should probably just be up to Emelec's strikers to score their chances, and hopefully, they will be helped by a couple of missing that Cuenca could have in defense, as both Castro and Ledesma are doubtful. GL!

Emelec (+0.25 AH) @ 1.86, 4/10
Result: 0-1, WON

LDU Quito - Godoy Cruz

Copa Libertadores

LDU is again at home in Libertadores, and once again the handicap line is pretty big, even though the opposition is Argentinian. But even so, Liga should be too much at home for Godoy, especially since the visitors aren't in spectacular form. Just one win in the last 5 matches, and that one came against lowly Huracan, so definitely not impressive. In Libertadores they lost two weeks ago 1-2 in Montevideo, and if we go for a stretched-relation between the games, Penarol lost 5-0 in Quito, so Godoy probably knows what's waiting for them. For LDU is the same story all over again. Solid team, good players, working well, high altitude gives them a huge advantage, and they are more or less unbeatable at home. The only problem is that this isn't a must-win match for them. A draw qualifies them, so a win would only help them win the group is Penarol fails to win. It could also help them finish higher in the second place table, so as to get an easier group winner in the eight of finals. Anyway, it's not their style to play for a draw at home, and if they can give their opponents a serious beat-down, they will. Godoy knows their chances to qualify are slim, so an early goal conceded will ruin both their plan and morale. LDU to clearly win this match. GL!

LDU (-1 AH) @ 1.86, 5/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Apr 11, 2011

Tacuary - Cerro Porteno

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Cerro Porteno has the chance to make a very good performance in Copa Libertadores, as they are currently topping their group with 8 points. However, things are very tight there, so a couple of bad steps can easily see them out of the competition. Next week they have an upcoming decisive clash with Brazilian team Santos, and with their title race in the league pretty much over, they are doing the only reasonable thing left: focus all their energy in Libertadores. That is why a number of players are expected to be rested for tonight's game at Tacuary. Goalkeeper Diego Barreto, midfielder Villareal and top scorer Nanni are officially out of the game, but others are likely to be rested as well. Therefore, we have a much weaker Cerro team (who isn't at the top of their form even with all the regulars available) against a surprisingly tough to beat team like Tacuary. They play a very well organized defense, and lethal counter attacks, and so far it has worked for them, so it should come as no surprise that they are ahead of Cerro in the standings (they have an extra-match played though). With their mind on Copa Libertadores, and without several regulars, Cerro will have a hard time tonight. I expect a draw, but Tacuary are more than capable to make a surprise win. GL!

Tacuary (+0.25 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Tacuarembo - Nacional Montevideo

Uruguay Primera Division, Clausura

Following a dreadful Apertura, Tacuarembo has apparently found some form in Clausura, and after finishing the first tournament with just 5 points in 15 rounds, now they have 12 points after 8 rounds, and have a remote chances of fighting at the top. Neither of their winning matches were against one of the top teams of the league (they actually failed miserably when they had a real challenge: 0-5 loss against Penarol last round), but even so, they shouldn't be such big underdogs tonight. Nacional is in tremendous form, not losing a single match of their last 7, in all competitions, but the players that did most of the hard work in that series are starting to feel the fatigue, as they had a hectic schedule. So the coach will rest several of his key players, in order to keep them fresh for the remaining matches of the league and Libertadores, where they are in a very even group, with equal chances both to qualify and to get knocked-out. So tonight are expected to start some of the players that also featured in the first few matches of the year, when Nacional was far from their name, and had a run of 4 games without a win. If Tacuarembo would have had the same form as last year, this would have been a big 'no bet', but with some clear improvements visible, I think they can surprise, and even if they lose, don't see them losing by more than 1 goal. GL!

Tacuarembo (+1 AH) @ 2.00, 4/10
Result: 0-3, LOST

Apr 10, 2011

Libertad - Sol de America

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Libertad has almost finished with the continental campaign, and it has been more than a success, having already won their group, and having a great chance of making 14 points. And even more encouraging, they are also doing a great campaign in the league, where they could be 2 points behind the leaders Olimpia if they win this and their postponed match from next week. This proves that they have some quality players, and a lot of strength in depth, otherwise they couldn't have fared so well in the 2 tournaments, as is usually the case with South American teams. No changes expected today, so the players are likely to fancy 3 more points, against the worst team in the league. Sol de America will have 2 absences, quite important: goalkeeper Rojas and defender Diego Arrua. They also have the worst defense in the entire league, and their form is dreadful, being without a win for 9 matches, managing some draws only against some equally poor teams, like Tacuary, Luqueno and Independiente. Quality and class advantage are clearly in Libertad's favor, and I just don't see them failing to win this match, especially since they have won 14 of their last 15 matches with Sol, 8 of them with a margin of at least 2 goals. GL!

Libertad (-1 AH) @ 2.06, 4/10
Result: 1-2, LOST