Jun 11, 2011

LDU Loja - Emelec

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

Don't understand the odds here. Liga de Loja are certainly no push-overs, as they surprisingly proved along the season, at the moment sitting on 5th place, 9 points behind the leaders. It was more than a successful season for the newly-promoted team, but to make them favorites so late in the season, against title challengers Emelec is a bit crazy in my opinion. With only 2 rounds to go, Emelec are trying hard to win this Primera Etapa, and seal their place in the championship finals, but this task is out of their hands. They are tied on points with LDU Quito, but the reigning champions have a game in hand, meaning that Emelec has to win both remaining matches, and then hope for a Quito slip-up. Nevertheless, they are not giving up, and will do their best. Pretty much full squad available for them today, and since they are the best away team in the league, against a solid home team, this match is expected to be a cracker. Loja is a good home team, but only against the lower teams... whenever a big name comes to visit, they usually flop (0-0 with Barcelona and Cuenca, 1-2 with LDU). I was actually expecting something like 2.20 odds for Emelec -0.5, so the current line/odds definitely has value in my eyes. GL!

Emelec DNB @ 2.07, 3/10
Result: 1-4, WON

Honduras - Grenada

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011

Another sky-high handicap for this match, but once again I think it is more than probable to be covered, as this tournament showed a lot of quality gaps between the good teams from North/Central zone and the ones from the Carribean zone. So, in group B, Honduras is the best team on paper. But a bad display in the first round saw them ending in a draw with Guatemala, despite playing even with 2 extra-men for the last minutes. They lost a tempo, so now they have to get back in the game. They still have chances to end this stage as group winners, but they need to win their remaining matches, and that is pretty much achievable, as they are better than both Jamaica and Grenada. And being group leaders really matters, because: if Honduras qualifies from 3rd place, they will play either Mexico or USA, while if they finish second, they will play against Costa Rica. All of them would be very hard matches, so a 1st place finish guarantees them an easier match, against Panama or Canada. Grenada is piss-poor... had some expectations from them in the first match (meaning not to lose too hard), but when you lose with Jamaica 0-4, and the real score could have easily been 0-7, you can't hope for too much. They will probably rely on a packed defense, but seriously, the difference in quality is just too big, and I will be shocked if this match ends with anything less than a 3-0 for Honduras. GL!

Honduras (-2.5 AH) @ 1.82, 3/10
Result: 7-1, WON

Jun 10, 2011

Mexico - Cuba

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011

The handicap for the Mexicans is abysmal this time, and even though I know there is hardly any value here, I will still take the bet, as I see it as a pretty sure thing. After the first match-day in Group A, we can already draw some conclusions. both Mexico and Costa Rica look up to the challenge, as both dismantled their opponents with a whooping 5-0. If El Salvador can have some excuses, as they were always expected to lose heavily (and they held Mexico to a draw until HT, and that's a big achievement), Cuba has showed a truly shameful performance. Of course, Costa Rica were rightly favorites, and everybody expected them to win, but not with that score, and not in that fashion (the 5-0 score could have been even bigger, as the Ticos missed a couple of other clear-cut  chances). Mexico will surely show their class again, and it shouldn't even be a problem of determination here, as the Mexicans can score 3-4 goals just for fun and without breaking any sweat. (some of Cuba's recent 'performances' also include: a 1-2 defeat against Guadeloupe, a 0-0 draw with Grenada and a 0-2 defeat against Panama). As I said, the handicap is huge, but is justified, and I'll use the same stakes as I used for the previous match. Odds will most probably drop heavily again. GL!

Mexico (-2.5 AH) @ 1.74, 4/10
Result: 5-0, WON

Jun 8, 2011

Brazil - Romania

International Friendly

I'm not a big fan of these friendly matches, especially if they have high handicap lines, but this particular one should be a good one. As you probably may know, this will be Ronaldo's retirement game, so he will for sure play a part in it (let's hope he won't play the full 90 minutes though). And despite Brazil missing some players with big names, they still have plenty of quality within their ranks. Lucio, Maicon, Luisao, Elano, Robinho, Neymar, Pato... just to name a few, and they are all in the squad, probably with high chances of playing. So, Brazil has a big advantage in quality, both individually and as a team, and this gap will be even bigger, since some of Romania's best players didn't even make the trip: Mutu, Rat, Sapunaru and Tamas, that leaving the team with an improvised defensive line (pretty weak one), and with some 'patches' in midfield and offense. But even more important than that is their determination and mentality. Romanian players rarely kill themselves with effort, especially in friendly matches. And since the season is pretty much over, I expect them to enjoy a nice holiday in Brazil for a few days. The players also need to adjust to the time zone, and play in front of what is expected to be a full stadium. Really doubt they will ruin the party, and Brazil is more than capable of putting a few goals in Romania's net. Small stakes though, as it's still just a friendly. GL!

Brazil (-1.75 AH) @ 1.74, 3/10
Result: 1-0, LOST

Jun 6, 2011

Mexico - El Salvador

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011

Well, I know this may look predictable, and the handicap is bigger than what I lately take, but I really can't see how this could fail. Betting on Mexico in this competition should pay-off, especially in the group stage. All their stars are called-up in the squad for this tournament, and the only absences worth mentioning are of Jonny Magallon, Carlos Vela and Jonathan dos Santos. But it really matter too little when you have players like Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado, Efrain Juarez or Giovani dos Santos in your squad. They are around 2 classes better than all the other teams in the Gold Cup (except maybe the USA), and I expect them to make a firm point in dismantling their opponents. If I wanted one more confirmation of their status, I got it in their friendly against New Zealand, when they made a great first half, got an easy 3-0 lead, and then just played it out until the end. And there's no doubt that New Zealand is a much better team than El Salvador, a team than managed to lose with Panama, Honduras and Jamaica... just to name a few from this year's performances. 99% of their players are from the local league, who'se teams constantly get pounded by the Mexican teams in the CONCACAF Champions League. If we need one more reason, their last meeting in the World Cup qualifiers ended with a comfortable 4-1 win for the Mexicans, showing they mean business when they have to. GL!

Mexico (-1.75 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 5-0, WON

Jun 5, 2011

Penarol - Racing Montevideo

Uruguay Primera Division, Clausura

Everything about this match seems to be very similar to yesterday's Nacional - Rampla Juniors. The home team is one of the Uruguayan giants, but just like Nacional, they have other things on their mind. Penarol put the Clausura last on their priority list, as they made the final of Copa Libertadores, and all their energies and focus went in that direction. For quite some rounds now, they have fielded alternative teams, with few or none of the regulars. Today will be no exception, as all of their regulars who played in Brazil earlier this week, will be watching the match from the stands. The only difference between today's line-up and the previous ones will be tht today there will be even more youth players, as the coach decided to test them for future seasons. So, a weakened Penarol side, even more than usual. And just like yesterday's match, the visitors do have something to play for. They need at least one point to be sure of remainng in the Primera Division, otherwise they could be forced to play a decider gainst Central Espanol, should they win aganst Danubio. But since a point is very much within their reach, as Penarol's youngsters should pose too much of a problem, I'm quite sure Racing will go out looking for some points, rather than waiting to see how Central is doing. GL!

Racing (+0.5 AH) @ 1.73, 3/10
Result: 0-1, WON

Defensor Sporting - Tacuarembo

Uruguay Primera Division, Clausura

Odds are pretty high for this one, as bookies are probably counting on Defensor's lack of interest and focus. And so it might be, but early reports are giving their first team for today with almost all the regulars, trying to keep them in shape and football-focued for next week's final. Meanwhile, Tacuarembo will almost surely try some new players, like in the last round of Apertura, since they are already relegated and with nothing to lose. However, there are no certain details, as we don't know which of the regulars won't play, neither how many of them (the only thing certain is that th goal will be protected by the third keeper, who didn;t make a single appearance this season). So, Defensor with the regulars, Tacuarembo with some reserves, as we have a clear quality difference. And motivation should also be on Defensor's side, as they wnt to get to the final in a mood as good as possible, while Tacoarembo knows they are going down. Big quality gap here, and I'm happy to take the handicap. GL!

Defensor (-1 AH) @ 1.94, 4/10
Result: 1-0, VOID