Feb 16, 2012

The Strongest - Santos

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Very nice odds on Santos, so let's see if we can take advantage from them. Despite being the reigning champions of the Copa Libertadores, and having an awesome squad for any standards, Santos are just very slight favorites for this match, and the main reason for that is, of course, the high altitude from the city of La Paz (nearly 3600 meters above sea level). And while the altitude issue has been decisive in many cases, a strong enough team will deal with it somehow, and you still need a pretty solid team to win the home game. And The Strongest isn't one of those strong teams. Last season, Santos made a good performance to win 1-0 in Manizales, which is also set at around 2000 meters above sea level. Of course, there's a difference between 2000 and 3600, but there is also a difference (quite big) between a good and solid team like Once Caldas, and a rather average team from Bolivia. Santos will take on this match with all their big guns, including Neymar, Ganso, Edu Dracena, Elano, Renteria, and their new signing from Porto, Jorge Fucile. So, in terms of quality, they are miles ahead of The Strongest, and if they can get a fast goal, the game should pretty much be over, as they also know how to control the game with prolonged possession. Higher stake than usual, because I really see a solid bet. GL!

Santos DNB @ 1.87, 6/10
Result: 2-1, LOST

Feb 15, 2012

Atletico Nacional - U de Chile

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Main reason for this bet is the low line, which seems to be a bit underestimated by the bookies, especially if we take into consideration both teams' style of play, and recent results. About U de Chile there should be little to say: they are the reigning champions of Copa Sudamericana - which they won in style, after some exceptional displays of football - have a very good team and coach, and they have covered pretty well all the free places, especially in attack where they were expected to have some problems, as they no longer have Rivarola, Vargas and Canales. But they managed to make two transfers that seem to be very good, with both Junior Fernandez and Ruidiaz scoring at their debut. Pedro Morales, from Dinamo Zagreb is also a good offensive addition. Atletico Nacional was also playing attractive football last season (for Colombian standards, at least), scoring a lot but also conceding easily. This season they are also on a goal-scoring spree, with 8 goals scored in 3 matches (2 matches actually, as they lost 0-1 in their only away game), with play maker Pabon definitely being the man to watch, as he scored 4 of those 8 goals. Altitude is just around 1500 meters, so it shouldn't affect the Chileans too much, and they should be able to play their game. Goals will come, hopefully. GL!

over 2.25 goals @ 1.88, 5/10
Result: 2-0, HALF-LOST

Defensor Sporting - Deportivo Quito

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Odds are moving slightly in our favor, and despite these teams starting their campaign in oposite moods, I'm favoring the home win here. Uruguayan football is much better than the Ecuadorian one, in my opinion at least, that is why we usually see the teams from Uruguay in the latter stages of continental competitions (last year for example, Penarol played the Libertadores final), while the Ecuadorians (with LDU as the exception) nowhere to be found. And despite starting the competition by being trashed at home by Velez, I believe there's more to Defensor than that, although the loss should come as no surprise, Velez being a very strong team. Ecuadorian teams are usually poor travelers, and despite their creditable 1-1 draw in Mexico, which was much deserved, I still don't see Deportivo as a big threat when it comes to big games. A slight advantage in motivation also for Defensor, as they are the ones that are in the need of a win, while Deportivo can still have hopes even in case of a defeat, as winning in Quito won't be easy for anybody. No major squad problems for any of them, so if Defensor can play to their potential, they should take the points here. GL!

Defensor (-0.5 AH) @ 2.05, 4/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Feb 12, 2012

Tecnico Universitario - Barcelona

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

As I said last week, Barcelona was one of the teams that had a very aggressive transfer campaign, and I consider them one of the title favorites for this season. And their status as favorites was demonstrated in their opening match of the season, where they kept going with their great for from last season, beating Cuenca 3-1, despite leaving it late, scoring the winning goals in the closing stage of the game. Same squad is expected for them, except Matamoros who has been sent off against Cuenca, so expect an attempt to dominate the match, as a draw against a newly promoted team wouldn't really suit their aspirations. Tecnico Univeristario didn't show much in the first round, despite snatching a 0-0 draw away at El Nacional. All they did was defense, and they can be considered quite lucky to have come away with a point, as they were dominated throughout the match. Barcelona has definitely more quality, and with the handicap set a bit lower than I expected (-0.25 would have seemed fairer), this bet should be a void in the worst case. GL!

Barcelona DNB @ 1.74, 3/10
Result: 1-1, VOID