Sep 23, 2011

Motagua - Monarcas Morelia

CONCACAF Champions League, Group Stage

Very interesting situation in Group A, where the 3 big teams are all tied with 6 points, so a wrong step against lowly Motagua could prove to be a disaster for any of them. And Monarcas should know that well enough, so 3 points are a must here, since they will have a very tough game in LA, with their last match at home against Alajuelense, which isn't supposed to be a walk in the park either. Motagua are as good as knocked-out for this competition, with 0 points at the half-way stage, so they should turn their focus on the national league, where they aren't doing very well either, sitting on the last place, with just 4 points after 6 games. No word about Morelia's line-up for this match, nor the squad that will be travelling to Honduras, but I'm expecting the usual mixed squad for them, maybe a little stronger than usual, as they simply can't afford another wrong turn. Anyway, with Motagua's form in the Champions League, losing all 3 matches by at least 2 goals difference, I'm quite confident that even a second-string Monarcas team should be able to do the job. GL!

Monarcas (-0.5 AH) @ 1.86, 4/10
Result: 0-2, WON

Sep 22, 2011

Nacional Montevideo - U de Chile

Copa Sudamericana

Last week, for the first leg, I have decided to skip the over in favor of the home win, and it turned out to be a very good idea, but this time I fancy the over and I'm not passing on it again. Nacional showed a lot of improvements in the last round, and their new system with 3 forwards looked great. It's true, they did play against Cerro Largo, one of the weaker teams from the Uruguayan league, but that shouldn't minimize Nacional's merits. And Gallardo will repeat the same tactics tonight, since he needs a victory of at least 1-0 to force the tie in extra-time. The first result is dangerous for the Chileans, and U de Chile knows that very well, so I don't expect them to sit back and hope to keep the 0-0. It's not their style anyway, so I expect them to push forward, with caution of course, and get the goal that could kill the match. And they are also very dangerous on the counter attacks, and Nacional is still not impressive defensive-wise. They haven't conceded last match, but Cerro Largo put them little to none problems, which shouldn't be the case with U de Chile who have extended their winning run to 7 matches in all competitions, and to 9 in their league. I'm expecting goals here. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 1.97, 3/10
Result: 0-2, CANCELLED 
The match was stopped in the 52nd minute, after one of the linesman got hit by a paper roll thrown from the stands.

Sep 21, 2011

Emelec - Olimpia

Copa Sudamericana

The match from the first leg was one of the better ones I've seen lately, and it really kept me up. Fast pace, fast transition from one area to another, and even though there weren't a ton of clear-cut chances, the ball always went towards the offense, and both teams looked dangerous enough. Vladimir Marin was without a doubt the man of the match, thanks to his goals that have put Olimpia as favorites for qualification. For this re-match, both teams should be coming in equal conditions. Both have had a good rest, since their league matches were postponed, and they should repeat the line-ups from last week, since there are no new injuries or suspensions. So there's no reason to believe that this affair should be a boring one. Emelec always favors the attack, always goes forward with the ball, and this should be no exception, as they need to score at least once. Meanwhile, Olimpia can be deadly on the counter attacks, but I don't think they'll just sit and wait. They also like offensive football, and have the right players to cause some damage. So I'm expecting a similar match to the one last week, hopefully with some more goals, but I doubt we'll see less than 3. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 2.06, 3/10
Result: 1-2, WON

Monterrey - Comunicaciones

CONCACAF Champions League, Group Stage

Monterrey are in a very unpleasant position, therefore they need to improve and make a good performance, while also keeping the 3 points at home, if they are to keep hoping in qualifying to the next stage, and to defend their Champions League crown. Only 3rd place after 3 rounds, with just one win and 2 loses, and that's making the Monterrey fans shiver. So they need to start taking things seriously, and that is why it looks like coach Vucetich will use a team close to their regular squad, with only a couple of changes. And from what I've seen in the expected line-up, Humberto Suazo and Walter Ayovi should start tonight's match, providing massive fire-power against a Guatemalan side that is traditionally poor on the road. The Mexican team pretty much has the knife to their necks, and I can't possibly see how they would fail, as all the Mexican teams provide when they have to. Comunicaciones lost to Seattle Sounders in the first match day, 1-4, and conceded 2 of those goals when they were having numerical advantage on the field, so that really says a lot about their abilities. I expect a solid and convincing performance from Monterrey, something close to what they showed in their first round win, 5-0 at Herediano. GL!

Monterrey (-1.5 AH) @ 1.86, 4/10
Result: 3-1, WON

Sep 19, 2011

Sport Huancayo - CNI

Peru Primera Division

This is another match between 2 teams with different realities and different projects. Huancayo wants to keep summing up points in hope that they'll qualify for a continental competition, while CNI needs the points in order to hope that they'll still play in the first division next year. Sport Huancayo is a very good home team, losing just 2 of the 10 home games that they played (and those defeats came from leaders Alianza Lima, and from 'away specialists' Cobresol), but otherwise they rarely have problems in keeping the points at home, especially against lower opponents. CNI are one of the worst teams in Primera, along with Alianza Atletico, and their recent form isn't encouraging at all, losing their last 5 matches. And there is little to hope for when playing as visitors, having a 1-3-6 record for their away games. Mutual matches also greatly favor Huancayo, as besides winning as visitors earlier in the year, they have also won their previous 2 home matches, with a solid goal difference: 4-0 last year, and 3-1 in 2009. I expect something similar today, as Huancayo are more than capable of covering the handicap. GL!

Huancayo (-1.25 AH) @ 1.73, 3/10
Result: 3-1, WON

Sep 18, 2011

Nacional Montevideo - Cerro Largo

Uruguay Primera Division, Apertura

The tough part is pretty much over for Nacional, as they played most of the good teams in the first few rounds (leader River, ex-leader Danubio and the solid Defensor Sporting), and since now they have a series of what should be some easy match, now is the moment to see where they stand. As I've said many times before, Nacional isn't reaching it's potential under the guidance of Marcelo Gallardo, but at least they have some pleasant matches to watch, thanks to a lethal offense, but also to some -at times- laughable defense. That is why after 5 rounds, they have the 3rd best attack in the league, with 9 goals scored, but also the 4th worst defense, with 8 conceded. But I think today we can expect some improvement. Recoba won't play, and I expect that to be a blow for Nacional, but Gallardo is forcing the attack, and will field 3 strikers today: Viudez (3 goals), Boghossian (3 goals) and Porta (2 goals). Cerro Largo isn't anything special (despite being better placed than Nacional), but nowadays you don't have to be a super team to score against the Tricolores. I expect Nacional to win this game, as they have proved they can play solid football against the weaker teams (beat Racing 3-2, coming back from 0-1 despite playing with a man less), and one thing should be certain: we should see some goals. GL!

over 2.75 goals @ 1.93, 4/10
Result: 4-0, WON

Union Comercio - Cienciano

Peru Primera Division

Union Comercio are coming into this match after being trashed last week by San Martin, 1-5, so they need to sort themselves out fast, if they want to avoid getting dragged into the relegation fight. Lucky for them, they are facing a troubled opponent today, so they just need to focus and take advantage of that. Comercio have a solid form when playing at home (and today they will finally return to their home city), losing just 1 and drawing 3, in 10 home games. Even against the big teams they have been performing solidly, drawing with Alianza and Aurich, before getting 2 consecutive wins. Meanwhile, Cienciano are getting deeper and deeper in problems, as they haven't won in their last 7 matches. They are known for being poor travelers (2-2-6 on the road), but lately they can't even win a home game, where the altitude usually plays a big role and helps them a lot (lost the last 3 home games). First match between them also ended with a good result for Comercio, snatching a 2-2 in the altitude of Cuzco, for which I think they will be more than ready to take the 3 points today. Cienciano will also have some injury worries, and that's why the coach hasn't confirmed the line-up yet. Good opportunity for Union Comercio to take 3 points. GL!

Union Comercio (-0.5 AH) @ 1.94, 4/10
Result: 3-1, WON