Aug 27, 2011

CA Cerro - Nacional Montevideo

Uruguay Primera Division, Apertura

Nacional still couldn't win a match in the league, after 2 rounds, so Gallardo will have to dig deep to turn things around. However, today might not be their day again, as they face a very strong home team, with a good squad, capable of challenging for one of the high places at the end of the season. Cerro are hard to beat at home. Last year, in 15 matches played in Troccoli, they have lost only 3. And for this season, with their new and improved squad, they have won both games played, at home with Cerrito, and away at Rampla. Nacional has been looking good when attacking, but their defense is very fragile, and often allows spaces (5 goals scored and received in 2 matches). And another blow for them should be the absence of their young and talented central defender, Sebastian Coates, who left to sign with Liverpool. So a big gap in an already troubled defense. And then, we have the head-to-head, where we can see a Cerro-domination. Nacional hasn't won as visitors since 2006, with Cerro actually winning the last 3 games, with high scores (2 games ended 3-1, with the other one ending 4-1). They know how to defend their home team position, and with Nacional still without impressing, I think the points will remain on Estadio Troccoli tonight. GL!

Cerro (+0.5 AH) @ 1.72, 4/10
Result: 0-0, WON

Aug 25, 2011

Emelec - Espoli

Ecuador Serie A, Segunda Etapa

Going to try the over on Emelec once again. So far, Carrasco's ultra-offensive system has failed, and a lot of complaints have been heard. Emelec's directors still have faith in him, but that patience will surely start to fade away if the team doesn't work. It is well known that Carrasco is an adept of the 'all-in-attack' football, and today he'll make some changes in the team, moving from his usual 4-3-3 formation to an even more offensive 3-3-1-3. Only God knows how well will that work, points-wise, but I think we can be pretty sure we'll be seeing some goals. Espoli has one of the worst defenses in the league, and if Emelec make their charges right, they could very well suffocate their back line. And they are sure to leave some spaces behind, so Espoli can try their chances on the counter-attack. This should be an entertaining match to watch, as it's not just about the 3 points here, but also about Carrasco proving his system can be effective. A plus for Emelec should be the return to the team of Fernando Gaibor, that is expected to be the missing link between the midfield and the attack. Let's hope for a goal-fiesta. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 1.89, 3/10
Result: 4-0, WON

Aug 24, 2011

Real Espana - Colorado Rapids

CONCACAF Champions League

Real Espana put up one hell of a fight last week in Mexico, and they could feel a bit harmed that they lost 2-3 to Santos Laguna, as I think they would have deserved a draw. But at least their style of play was encouraging, and I expect them to try and recover the lost points tonight, when they will host the Colorado Rapids. Honduran teams are traditionally strong when playing at home, and as an argument we have last year's results: 2 Honduran teams played a total of 7 home games, and they have only lost twice, against Monterrey in the groups, and against Saprissa in the quarter finals. And the same goes for tge previous years, and they are some of the few teams that can beat Mexicans at home. The Rapids have left out only 3 key players from this trip, despite many more being expected to stay behind. However, that doesn't mean the travelers will actually play, so I expect a mixed squad. And besides the fact that Real Espana is a better team than Isidro Metapan (with whom the Rapids struggled last week, despite fielding a solid team, winning 3-2 only after a red card for Metapan), the Rapids will also have to face the challenge of a very tough-to-win-at stadium, and with the effects of a long travel (they pretty much spent all day Monday on the road). Real Espana should be big favorites to win tonight, so this DNB looks like a safe call. GL!

Real Espana DNB @ 1.88, 4/10
Result: 1-1, VOID

Santa Fe - Cesar Vallejo

Copa Sudamericana

Universidad Cesar Vallejo dreams of qualifying to the second round of Copa Sudamericana, but they might have a tough task ahead of them. They did manage to end their 5 match-run without a win, last week when they beat Sport Huancayo at home, but this time things shouldn't be that easy. Besides their poor form in the away games from their league, Cesar Vallejo will have to play tonight in the medium-high altitude of Bogota. They may be used to playing at altitude, since several Peruvian first teams are located in high cities, but it's never easy to do so. And we can look at the statistics of those matches: didn't win a single match at Cienciano from the last 10, won 1 out of 3 at Cienciano, 0 out of 3 at Leon de Huanuco, 0 out of 5 with Huancayo and 1 out of 9 at Melgar. So, they have only won 1 match from the 30 played at high altitude in the last 10 years. Bogota might be situated 'only' at 2600 meters of altitude, but we should also take into consideration the jet-lag, as there is an approximately 2000 km trip from Lima to Bogota. Overall, I rate Colombian football higher than the Peruvian one, and I think that everything here points towards a home win. Santa Fe can count on all their players, and they should be well rested, as the league still hasn't started yet. I'm going for the handicap, as I think Santa Fe will win it easier than the odds are suggesting. GL!

Santa Fe (-1 AH) @ 2.10, 3/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Monterrey - Seattle Sounders

CONCACAF Champions League

Both teams started this competition in high fashion, and both recorded clear wins in the first round. However, Monterrey gets the bigger round of applause, as they pounded Herediano as visitors, with a whooping 5-0. They are the defending champions, so I'm sure everyone expects them to do well, as they try to defend their title. That's probably why they haven't decided to put an exclusively reserve-team (like Pumas did last week), and I have to say, they are looking good. And for today, they have the entire squad at their disposal, including striker Humberto Suazo, who recovered from an injury and could see some action tonight. Of course, this doesn't mean we'll see a 100% team, but it should be a good mix. The Sounders also started the tournament in fashion, with a 4-1 win of Comunicaciones, despite playing with a few reserves, and with a man less for the last 30 minutes, at the score of 1-1. So a good performance overall, but Monterrey is at a whole other level. No word about the Sounders line-up for tonight, but I doubt it will be the best they have, as they played a tough match in the weekend, at Dallas (25 shots towards the goal for Dallas, but still they lost), and the players were looking dead tired at the end. Last season, Seattle and Monterrey also played in the groups, and Los Rayados won 3-2 in Mexico, despite being 0-2 down at HT, after a horrendous first half. Their win today shouldn't be in doubt.

Monterrey (-0.75 AH) @ 1.72, 4/10
Result: 0-1, LOST

Aug 22, 2011

Nacional Asuncion - Cerro Porteno

Paraguay Primera Division, Clausura

Nacional comes after winning the Apertura tournament, and despite still keeping a high level of play, I see them as a bit lower than in the first part of the season. And they also have to focus on 2 competitions, as they also play in Copa Sudamericana, where they qualified for the next stage. Therefore, in order to keep his players fit, it is reported that Nacional's coach will make a few rotations for this match. Nothing is certain yet, and we don't know which player will be rested, but I'm not expecting the best line-up available. Cerro Porteno started to show as a different team in the first 2 rounds of Clausura, but then came the 0-1 home defeat against Independiente, and I had to change my mind about them being the main title challengers. Still, I'm going to consider that game as an accident, and hope the players will work twice as hard to make up for the lost points. I have confidence in them tonight, as having looked at the line-up, I see some good names: Caceres, dos Santos and Fabbro in the midfield line, which looks like one of the best midfields in the league. In offense, we'll likely have Benitez and Bareiro, which also looks good (so far in this tournament, all the 5 goals were scored by Bareiro, dos Santos, Fabro or Salcedo - the 4th midfielder). Cerro are traditionally a tough oponent for Nacional, and in the last 10 games played at Defensores del Chaco, Nacional only managed to win 3, and I certainly don't see them winning today, with changes expected in the team, and with tired players following their mid-week effort. GL!

Cerro Porteno (+0.25 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 1-1, HALF WON

Aug 21, 2011

El Nacional - LDU Quito

Ecuador Serie A, Segunda Etapa

Liga de Quito is living a good moment, and their current form is worth following. After their 6-0 trashing of Manta, LDU made another good match in the second leg of Copa Sudamericana. Despite winning with only 1-0, they dominated almost the entire match, missed a lot of very good chances (Yaracuyanos's goalkeeper was the man of the match), and generally played very well. Coach Bauza anounced he will probably have to make a couple of changes to keep the players fit, but so far, only Vera and de la Cruz have been confirmed to be out for today's game. However, looking at what should, 90% sure, be the expected line-up for today, we can see a lot of their key players (Guagua, Urrutia, Calderon, Reasco, Bolanos and Barcos) ready to play. And I think they should be enough for El Nacional. And with El Nacional appearing to have some defensive issues (9 goals conceded in the first 5 matches), Liga can definitely take advantage of that, since Barcos is in hot form, scoring 5 goals in the last league match against Manta. Another interesting thing is that LDU hasn't lost in their last 12 meetings with El Nacional, since June 2008, showing a clear superiority of Los Albos, a superiority that will hopefully continue today as well. GL!

LDU (0) @ 1.78, 4/10
Result: 2-3, WON