Jan 28, 2012

Rosario Central - FBC Melgar

Copa Ciudad de Rosario

FBC Melgar are the foreign guests for this edition of Copa Ciudad de Rosario, which will be held in Argentina, along Rosario Central, Atletico Rafaela and Colon de Santa Fe. Melgar is a Peruvian team that usually finishes in the bottom end of the standings. They are at an average level at best, and suffer a lot when playing away from home, in cities without high altitude (Arequipa, their home city is situated at around 2300 meters of altitude), although last season they did manage to have a more than decent record as visitors. Also, some injury worries for them tonight, as central defender Federico Garcia is injured, same as striker Di Cosmo. Rosario Central are currently playing in the Segunda Division of Argentina, but are solid candidates for at least a promotion play-off spot. Very strong team at home, with 5 victories from 8 matches, and undefeated yet. And with all due respect to Melgar, they don't seem better than a lot of the Segunda teams. Pretty much full squad is expected for Rosario, with their top-scorer Gonzalo Castillejos expected to command the offense. This should be a tough road match for Melgar, and since it's just a friendly tournament in the pre-season, their motivation could not be very high. Not the same applies for Rosario, as they are the hosts of this competition, and I'm sure they will be motivated to win it. Don't think they will lose this one, so the DNB looks like a solid bet. GL!

Rosario DNB @ 1.75, 2/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Jan 26, 2012

Real Potosi - Flamengo

Copa Libertadores 2012

I'm expecting quite a few goals tonight in Potosi. Flamengo is a team more than capable of scoring one, maybe even more goals, but are also more than capable of conceding. As a proof, in the last season of the Brazilian Serie A they had the second best attack, with 59 goals scored, but also one of the worst defense from the top 10 teams. So, if they can score so easily against other Brazilian teams, I don't see why they couldn't do it against a Bolivian team, that is weaker in defense. Real Potosi will surely try to take advantage from the high altitude, and will try to punish the Brazilian team in order for them to stand a chance in the return leg. They usually play offensive football, and today we shouldn't see a change, as a draw leaves them with practically no chance to qualify. Flamengo have prepared very well for this match, sending their full squad to Bolivia since more than a week, although they stayed in Sucre, where there is no altitude, so they should feel some heavy legs anyway. Ronaldinho and Deivid are expected to start as the main offensive weapons of the Brazilians, so the goals should come. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 1.89, 5/10
Result: 2-1, WON

Union Espanola - UANL Tigres

Copa Libertadores 2012

The Mexicans aren't putting much effort into Copa Libertadores (probably because of the long distances they'll have to travel and because of the squad not being deep enough for both competitions), therefore their list with the registered players is a pretty weak one. A lot of first team players have been left out, and from the players considered 'stars' only Hector Mancilla and Manuel Viniegra are on the Libertadores list. However, for Wednesday's match, not even they will play, as they have been left behind in Mexico to rest, as well as Enrique Palos and Juninho. Moreover, 3 of their players are injured, while 4 others (Hugo Ayala, Carlos Salcido, Israel Jimenez and Jorge Torres Nilo) are with the national team. So a very weak, young and unexperienced squad of Tigres will travel to Chile. Union Espanola made a decent local tournament in 2011, and even though they have lost 3 important players, they have also strengthend the team with several players, that should be at least on the level with the ones that left. Still, most of their players have remained with the team, so expect a more solid and consistent Chilean team, in comparison with Tigres. Two-legs for this round, so I'm counting on a determined performance at home, to give them some margin for error in the second-leg. GL!

Union Espanola (-0.5 AH) @ 1.95, 5/10
Result: 1-0, WON

Jan 25, 2012

El Nacional - Libertad Asuncion

Copa Libertadores 2012

El Nacional was the surprise package in the Ecuadorian Serie A last season, pulling off a great season, and finally taking the last Libertadores spot, after a play-off with 3rd placed LDU, taking advantage of the Albos packed schedule and player rotations, due to their Sudamericana final. However, their merit still exists, and now they have high hopes of qualifying for the main stage of Copa Libertadores, especially since they have kept most of their players from last year, trying to build on that. The problem with them is that the players are very young, and are lacking international experience, so they might find that a solid team from Paraguay is too much for them. Young players have a lot of energy, and will to perform, but they might also lose their head fast if put under pressure. Also, statistics are against them: last time they played Libertadores was the Preliminary round in 2009, when they were knocked-out by Nacional of Paraguay, while in their mutual matches with Libertad (2005 and 2006) they made 2 draws and lost the other 2. Libertad is a very solid team, with a lot of experience on this stage, having won their Libertadores groups for the last 3 years, also being undefeated in the group stage in the last 2 years. They have also kept most of their players from last season, so we will probably see a well built team, with a good and comfortable system. They have previously pulled of good results against better teams than them, so El Nacional shouldn't scare them. The only real advantage the Ecuadorians might have is the high altitude, but Libertad also showed they can handle it (last match played in Quito was last year in Sudamericana, against LDU, and they made a very good match, despite losing unluckily in the 90th minute). They can also do some serious damage on the counter-attack (I'm expecting El Nacional to try and take control of the match), so with this handicap line I'm willing to try a small bet. GL!

Libertad (+0.25 AH) @ 1.99, 4/10
Result: 1-0, LOST

Arsenal de Sarandi - Sport Huancayo

Copa Libertadores 2012

The new edition of the Copa Libertadores will take off this week with it's preliminary round, so let's see what we have on the menu. First match of this round will see Sport Huancayo travelling to Arsenal de Sarandi. The Peruvians made a great domestic campaign last year, finishing on a surprisingly 3rd place, which gives them the chance to fight for a group-stage qualification. The high altitude in Huancayo, and a solid-offensive system helped them a lot on their way, but for the first leg against Arsenal, they won't be able to count on any of that. The directors made the bad choice of letting some of their best players go, and the transfers of midfielder Hilden Salas and of the attacking duo Avila and Sotil are sure to provide a huge blow (besides the other absent players - they changed close to half of the team). Their replacements are far from their level, and I doubt 'old-man' Ibarra (39 years old) or Baylon (previously in Sport Boys) will make an impact. They also come into this match without much match practice, as they only played a single friendly match, lost 0-3 against Leon de Huanuco. Also worth mentioning is the historical spanking Huancayo received in 2010, 0-9 at Defensor Sporting of Uruguay, in the Copa Sudamericana. Meanwhile, Arsenal only lost goalscorer Obolo, but signed Jorge Cordoba in his place (already played and scored for River and Gimnasia, so he should adapt quite well). Striker Leguizamon is suspended for this match, but he should be well replaced by Zelaya. Arsenal is not a spectacular team, but is efficient, and they are rightly favorites for this match. The handicap is a bit high, and the odds also dropped since the market opened, but I still believe it is a good bet, definitely worthy of some small stakes. GL!

Arsenal (-1.5 AH) @ 1.90, 4/10
Result: 3-0, WON