May 14, 2011

LDU Loja - Independiente Jose Teran

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

Not one of the high-profile clashes from Ecuador, but a good oportunity for a bet. The two old Serie B rivals will have to face each other in Serie A this time, for the second time (Independiente won the first match at home, 1-0). But things have changed a bit since then. Both teams look to be in good form, Loja having 3 matches without defeat, while Independiente have a series of 4, and both recorded exciting victories as visitors at Deportivo Quito. Loja have 2 consecutive victories, and tonight, a new coach will make his debut, Carlos Habbeger. He worked a lot with his players throughout the week, and he looks set to do a good job at the team. So I expect some even more solid results with him (although Loja are in a great position in the league, sitting on 6th place), and I'm also counting on the 'new coach effect' for a determined performance tonight. Meanwhile, Independiente are second from bottom, but only 5 points behind Loja. But the real blow for today's match comes in the form of suspensions, as they will be missing 3 regular players, all of them quite important to the team: defenders Franklin Corozo and Domingo Martinez, plus midfielder Richard Estigarribia. As I said, important absences, and Loja should know how to take advantage of them. GL!

LDU Loja (-0.75 AH) @ 2.05, 3/10
Result: 3-2, HALF WON

May 13, 2011

Jaguares Chiapas - Cerro Porteno

Copa Libertadores

After in the group stage, Cerro was one of the entertainers of the competition, with 21 goals scored in their matches (including some results like 5-2 and 3-2 against Colo Colo), they proved they can also play with pragmatism, as they recorded two 0-0 draws with Argentinian giants Estudiantes, before going on to win the tie on penalties. Defense was their main focus then, and it worked perfectly.So I hope we can count on another solid defensive display tonight, as well as some cunning counter attacks, because from what I've seen in Jaguares's matches, their defense is by no means at a top level (last match in Colombia, their goalkeeper was the main protagonists, with 2 goals exclusively from his blame... but after he attacked the manager after being substituted, I doubt we'll be seeing him again any time soon). Jaguares is officially the poorest team to reach this round, and it's a mystery to me how they are still hanging on. Against Junior, they came from behind 3 times to qualify on the away goals rule, but if anyone had a worse defense than them, that was definitely the Colombian team. The last goal was a screamer in the closing minutes, so Jaguares also had a lot of luck to make it to the quarter finals. But Cerro showed solid defending recently, and they surely can't be as bad as Junior... and with Nanni and Fabbro on the field, they are sure to torture the Mexican defense. GL!

Cerro (+0.25 AH) @ 1.94, 3/10
Result: 1-1, HALF WON

May 8, 2011

LDU Quito - El Nacional

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

Trusted LDU on Thursday, but I guess it was a bad idea, as Velez proved too strong, and LDU's defenders where morons. However, now that their Libertadores adventure has ended, the league is their only objective, and they have some catching up to do, as Emelec has a 5-points advantage over them, although with two matches more played. So, hopefully, LDU changed the chip, and can now be fully focused on the Serie A, and can manage to recover from their poor recent results. A lot of first team regulars are available tonight, and in the line-up we can see Reasco, Guagua, Calderon, de la Cruz, Bolanos and Barcos. A strong line-up, that hopefully will know how to end the bad run. El Nacional has been playing above expectations, as they are on 4th place, just 3 points behind second-placed LDU. But, they have 5 consecutive matches on the road without winning, and Casablanca surely isn't an easy ground on which to take points (El Nacional is no Velez). And when you lose at Manta and Independiente, and also draw at Espoli, I don't think you can have many hopes of coming away with points from LDU, a thing that didn't happen since 2008. GL!

LDU (-0.75 AH) @ 1.94, 3/10
Result: 2-1, HALF WON

Cesar Vallejo - Inti Gas

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Both teams have been doing a decent job in the league, as both are close behind the leaders, but UCV seems to be in better shape than Inti Gas. Cesar Vallejo lost their last match in Cuzco, against Cienciano, but before that they were on a run of 5 matches without defeat, nicely recovering after a pretty bad start of the season. And from their 4 defeats, 2 can be easily explained by the fact that they played at altitude (against Cienciano and Sport Huancayo), while the other ones came against the champions and the runners-up, who despite being in terrible form, are still dangerous opponents for anyone. Meanwhile, Inti Gas is 2 points ahead of Cesar Vallejo, but only thanks to their home form, also aided by high altitude. When playing as visitors, they are on a 0-1-3 run, losing even against teams like Alianza Atletico or Sport Boys, both being teams that are/belong to the lower part of the table. So I really don't see why Cesar Vallejo couldn't do the same. Both teams have one important absence: UCV will miss top scorer Rossel - who is suspended, while Inti Gas will be resting one of their main players, midfielder Franco Mendoza - who isn't fit after an injury, and won't be risked before the clash with Universitario. So these 2 absences should even themselves out. Head-to-head matches show a home team dominance, but Cesar Vallejo has a slight advantage there... last year they won both matches, while in 2009 both teams kept the 3 points at home. UCV should be comfortable winners here, and the handicap also shouldn't be a problem to cover. GL!

UCV (-1 AH) @ 2.08, 3/10
Result: 3-3, LOST