Jul 23, 2011

Deportivo Quito - Manta FC

Ecuador Serie A, Segunda Etapa

It's nice to finally change the setting from Copa America to a national championship (especially after my 2 recent slumps), so let's see what the restart of the Ecuadorian league has to offer. Deportivo Quito is, of course, once again hoping for the title. They came close to qualifying for the final, but they couldn't keep the pace, so they have to start all over again. They have pretty much the same squad as in the first round, so they can hope to be up there again, but for this first match, they are having some serious problems within their squad, as 6 first team players are unavailable: goalkeeper Elizaga, midfielder Escobar, defender Castro and forward Cano are all injured, while midfielder Oswaldo Minda and top league striker Bevacqua are suspended. From all of them, only Elizaga and Bevacqua are key absences, as they are top players (Elizaga was one of Ecuador's best players in their short Copa America adventure), but also important is the absence of Escobar and Minda, which could prove to be disruptive for their midfield line. Manta is an ok team, who finished the first round in good form, losing just 1 of their last 6 games, including a 2-0 win over Deportivo. They shouldn't have many problems with avoiding relegation, but even so, they should want a good campaign, especially since most of their regulars remained with the team. I doubt that Deportivo will cover the handicap, with so many absences in their squad. GL!

Manta (+1.25 AH) @ 2.02, 4/10
Result: 4-0, LOST

Jul 21, 2011

Paraguay - Venezuela

Copa America

At first I said I will skip both semi-finals of the Copa America, but the odds on Paraguay are quite nice, and I definitely think it's worth a shot on them. Can't say I really like Paraguay, but Venezuela I like even less. I consider the Vinotinto team as the luckiest in this competition. Scored 2 goals in the last minutes to equalize Paraguay in the group stage, and had imense luck in the qarters against Chile, as they had some serious problems to hold Chile's offense at bay, but they managed to clear the ball off the line three times, while Chile also hit the post two times. Their luck is surely bound to end, and Paraguay already proved they can put a lot of problems to them, and if they will have 3-1 again today, I seriously doubt they will lose focus like in the group match. Against Brazil, Paraguay made a quiet match, didn't really threaten the opposition's goalkeeper, and only qualified at penalties, after Brazil missed all 4 shots. But today everything should be different, with Venezuela defending, and Paraguay looking for the goal. As I said, Paraguay showed in their previous match they are the better team, and since this is a semi-final, their focus should be at maximum. GL!

Paraguay (-0.5 AH) @ 2.05, 3/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Jul 18, 2011

Chile - Venezuela

Copa America

I see some nice value here. First of all, the current odds are around 0.10 higher than the opening ones for a Chile win. Then, I can only imagine the odds if these teams would have met in the first match of the group stage, and I see them as something around 1.40. The fact is that Venezuela indeed managed to surprise a lot of people by being one of the first teams to qualify into the quarter finals. But I don't see them as being anything special. Played a solid defense against Brazil, snatched a win against Ecuador (one of the poorest teams in South America, in my opinion), and then miraculously drew level with Paraguay, scoring 2 goals in the last three minutes. Against Chile, I expect them to play defensively once again, but I doubt they'll be as successful as they were against Brazil. Chile plays more organized, and more team-like, then Brazil, and they are able to break any defense. They won 2/3 matches in the group, with the minimum difference, and maybe could have won even against Uruguay, as they were the better team for much of the game. The only problem for them is the lack of top class strikers (Suazo couldn't score if his life depended on it), but they have some players than could easily be the deciding factor by themselves, like Alexis Sanchez. Venezuela's nice trip in Copa America should come to an end here, as Chile needs to step up a gear, and confirm their status as title favorites. GL!

Chile (-0.5 AH) @ 1.72, 4/10
Result: 1-2, LOST

Jul 17, 2011

Argentina - Uruguay

Copa America

Don't think the odds will change too much anymore for this match, and even though the odds on the handicap have dropped, I still find this bet as being a very solid one. Argentina didn't show anything at all in the group stage, thus the draws with Bolivia and Colombia (in a match that they could have easily lost, the Colombians missing some very clear chances). The only good match for them was in the last round, 3-0 with Costa Rica, but keep in mind that the Central Americans were using their U-23 squad. The difference in class was huge, so it was really a no-sweat win for the hosts. But now, things will be totally different. Uruguay is one of the best teams in South America (best performance at last year's World Cup, where they took 4th place), and are a team that can beat anyone in their day. It's true, they also weren't at the top of their game in the group, but I expect them to raise their profile a bit now. The main problem for them was the finishing... had a ton of chances against Mexico, but only managed to convert one. But the attack can only get better, as they have pure quality players up-front, and they can deliver when they need it. Argentina honestly doesn't scare anyone anymore, and this is more like a bet against them, rather than a bet on Uruguay. This match has some nice chances for a surprise, as I expect Uruguay to qualify for the semi-finals, but I'm taking the safe road, and taking this +1 handicap. GL!

Uruguay (+1 AH) @ 1.78, 4/10
Result: 1-1, WON