May 7, 2011

Universitario - Cienciano

Peru Primera Division

Whoever made these odds must have been on crack. Yes, Universitario is playing like crap lately, but surprisingly, it's working. They have lost just one game so far, and with 3 points tonight, they will tie Cienciano on points at the top of the table, at least until tomorrow. They have been greedy with the goals and the entertainment, as they have scored only 7 goals in 10 matches, and only Cobresol have a worse attack than that, but even so, Universitario is gathering points. Only the away games seem to be a problem, as they haven't won a single match out of Monumental, while at home they are 4-1-0. Few goals, but great efficency, and their only draw came with Juan Aurich. Cienciano are the surprising leaders of the Descentralizado, but I'm sure that won't last, as a typical home team can't have many hopes. They have been helped by a good start, but slowly, they have been losing steam: narrow wins at home with Cesar Vallejo and Inti Gas, a 2-2 draw with Union Comercio, and 1 defeat (Cristal) + 1 draw (Cobresol) on the road. Universitario is also in a small crisis, and in the past weeks they haven't always trained normally, due to some debts towards the players. But, that didn't stop them from playing normally so far, and there are reports that everything has been solved yesterday. Last time Cienciano took a point in Lima was in 2008, and their last win goes all the way back to 2003, so anything else than another home win tonight is highly unlikely. GL!

Universitario (-0.5 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 5-0, WON

May 6, 2011

Junior Barranquilla - Jaguares Chiapas

Copa Libertadores

Really don't understand the bookies obsession with Jaguares, because, as how I see it, the odds on Junior are incredibly high, as I wouldn't have made them more than 1.50 favorites. First of all, we have to mention Jaguares's form, which at least in the local league has been dreadful recently. In Libertadores they had a relatively easy group, but even so, in their away games they haven't managed to snatch a single point, losing both in Guayaquil against Emelec, as well as in Bolivia against second division team Jorge Wilstermann. And now they are again playing away, at a team that looked quite impressive in the group stage, winning 4 out of 6 games, only losing in Brazil and drawing at home with Leon in the last round, when they were already qualified and assured of finishing on top of the group. Even in the first leg, Junior was the better team, and the Mexicans can consider themselves lucky to have finished with a draw, but I certainly don't expect that to be the same case in Colombia. Of course, Junior can qualify even with a 0-0, but that's not really how they play, and I see them looking for the win early on, as they certainly have the advantage in quality to do so. And with Jaguares lookin hopeless lately, especially as visitors, they should hope for too much from this match. GL!

Junior (-0.5 AH) @ 1.74, 5/10
Result: 3-3, LOST

LDU Quito - Velez

Copa Libertadores

LDU is coming after quite a bad series of matches, but I still trust them and their power to recover their game. After a 0-3 trashing, they need at least the same score tonight to have chances to advance, and since it is a well-known fact that they become a monster in their Casa Blanca stadium, I'm going to go with them again. 3 matches have passed since they last won, as they recorded a 0-0 draw against Espoli (were using a mixed team then), got trashed in Argentina, and also lost the derby with Emelec. Things are quite perfect there, so it's time for the players to turn things around. Argentinian teams are known to be having serious problems with the high altitude (same as the Brazilian teams... they are the most affected), so that will be the first obstacle they will have to pass. Last few Argentinian teams that visited Quito, went back with a bag full of goals (in 2009, Lanus got a 0-4, while this year, Independiente got a 0-3), and while Velez seems to be stronger than the others, they won't have an easy life, LDU will go blazing in attack, knowing that they need lots of goals as fast as possible. LDU has 2 suspended players, but Velez is evening the odds, as they will also miss striker Silva and midfielder Victor Zapata, and I see them as more important misses than the Ecuadorians. Hope LDU will make a miracle, and qualify, but let's just keep a simple bet here. GL!

LDU (-0.5 AH) @ 1.74, 3/10
Result: 0-2, LOST

May 5, 2011

Libertad - Fluminense

Copa Libertadores

Another bet for today, but smaller stakes, as I don't feel so confident as with the other match. Libertad were really impressive in the group stage, being undefeated, and having one of the most prolific attacks, only behind Cruzeiro and Inter, and they practically cruised through the group. Can't say they had to face some very tough opponents (Once Caldas, San Martin, San Luis), but their style of play looked very solid and confident. Meanwhile, Fluminense qualified for the next round quite undeservedly, as they finished level on points with Nacional Montevideo, and only qualified due to some dodgy last minutes against Argentinos Juniors, as they took the advantage with more goals scored than Nacional, after a late penalty in Argentina. In the first leg, Libertad didn't make such a bad match, actually managing to put some pressure on the Brazilians in the beginning of the second half, creating some chances and even scoring the equalizer. Some late goals gave Flu a big advantage, but Libertad still looks promising for this return leg, and even though the qualification is pretty far, I'm sure they'll give their best. Fluminense don't have to panic, as they sit comfortable with a 2-goals lead, and I see Libertad taking over the match, and will probably win it. GL!

Libertad (-0.25 AH) @ 1.94, 3/10
Result: 3-0, WON

Universidad Catolica - Gremio

Copa Libertadores

Pretty tough round in Copa Libertadores, but this match looks like the best choice out of all the matches. Universidad Catolica made a very good game last week, and totally deserved their 2-1 win from Brazil. Gremio didn't look like much in this competition, and are here mainly because they had an easy group (Junior, Leon Huanuco and Oriente Petrolero), and because of their solid home plays, as they won all 3 matches at home. On the contrary, when it comes to playing away, we see a totally different team, as they failed to win a single match this year in Libertadores, including a 2-2 draw against Liverpool in the play-off round, and a shocking 0-3 defeat in Bolivia. Now, with a loss at home, they really have a mountain to climb, and the news only get worse. They will miss at least 7 very important players for tonight's match, and those left and considered fit to play, have also played during the weekend. Take into account a more than 3000 km trip to Chile, and a change of climate, and things look very grim for the Brazilian side. Catolica surely won't miss the opportunity to qualify for the quarters of final, so I expect full focus from them. A Brazilian team is always dangerous, but I don't give much chances to a depleted Gremio, who are also poor travelers. GL!

Universidad Catolica (-0.25 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 1-0, WON

May 2, 2011

Olimpia - Cerro Porteno

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Today we will have another episode of the Superclasico of Paraguay, for what promises to be a good and spectacular match, with a high level of determination. Luckily, Olimpia appears to have snapped out of their bad run, and now are back on track for the title, sharing the lead of the tournament with Nacional, after 3 consecutive victories that reminded us of the Olimpia from the start of the championship. So, good form and good morale couldn't have come at a better time, as I'm sure it will be a huge boost for everyone ahead of the derby, especially since they haven't lost against Cerro since 2009, and have won their last metting, as visitors, earlier this year. For Cerro Porteno, this Superclasico came in the worst possible moment. They have lost any chances to win the title, they are without a win in the league since the 20th of March, and their focus is somewhere else. Earlier this week they played in Libertadores, snatching a promising 0-0 draw in Argentina against Estudiantes, and with the return leg due next week, they certainly have their hopes high, and that match on their minds. That is why coach Astrada will use a mixed squad today, and the most important players that are absent are Nanni (top scorer of Libertadores) and Fabro. For Olimpia, only Molinas is suspended, but he's not such an important players, especially since Donnet, Marin, Zeballos and Ferreyra are available. GL!

Olimpia (-0.5 AH) @ 1.95, 4/10
Result: 0-2, LOST

Emelec - LDU Quito

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

This bet is a follow-up of the recent trend I've noticed in Ecuador, which I hope that it will continue today as well. Usually, when two of the better teams of the championship meet, we don't see a goal fest... sometimes, we hardly see any goals, as both the respective teams look to be more concerned about not losing the match, rather than winning it, so they don't take what they consider to be unnecessary risks in attack, as they usually try to secure their defense. For today's match, Emelec (1st place) will meet LDU Quito (2nd place, one point behind), in a match that could decide the first finalist. Despite LDU's participation in Libertadores, where they need to correct a 0-3 against Velez next week, they will use their best players for today's match, in order to keep touch with the top of the standings, and that should mean that they will try to be as compact as possible, as a draw would be a good result. Emelec has already announced they will try to play possession football, and with the lack of goals recently showed (only once in their last 7 games have they score more than 1 goal), I'm counting on another boring affair. In the last 11 matches between them, 10 have ended with a maximum of 2 goals (5 with just one goal). And if we look to their matches this season against the other top teams (Cuenca and Deportivo Quito), LDU has played 3 matches, all of them ending with unders, while Emelec also played 3, also ending all of them with unders. GL!

under 2.25 goals @ 1.83, 3/10
Result: 1-0, WON