Feb 25, 2012

Nacional - Sol de America

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Well, I've been waiting for this match for almost a week now, praying that we'll get some good odds, and I have to say that it's better than I expected. The odds are probably inflated by Sol de America's perfect start of the season, winning 3/3, with 10 goals scored and only 3 conceded. And while I don't want to take away any of their merits (3/3 is impressive, regardless of the opposition), the teams they have played against are far being top-quality. Cerro de Franco are newly-promoted, Independiente are a below-average team, while only Rubio Nu are a serious team, although weaker than last season, and usually poor when it come to traveling. Meanwhile, Nacional has only 6 points, but their defeat came against Libertad, while their two wins should have a bigger meaning, as they were against an always tricky Tacuary, and away at Guarani, one of the above-mid-table teams. I really can't see Nacional failing here, and Sol should come down to earth after this match. High stakes, because I see value here, as I wasn't expecting more than a 1.60 (max) for the home win. GL!

Nacional @ 1.99, 4/10
Result: 2-1, WON

Feb 24, 2012

The Strongest - Juan Aurich

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Wanted to wait until match day for this bet, hoping that the public would jump on the home team, but I see the odds have been falling so far, so I doubt we'll have much better odds on Thursday. The main point for The Strongest being so high favorites lies in the altitude from La Paz, and from their last week win against Santos. But both are a bit exaggerated... Santos lost only because they are idiots, and their strikers acted like Muppets last week: Neymar ruined at least 2 clear chances to score, choosing to make some extra 4-5 dribbles instead of shooting, and besides that, the Brazilians also missed some more incredible chances, and also had a post. The Bolivian team did control most of the match, and attacked furiously, but their level of finishing was hilarious at times, and while attacking, they left quite a Swiss cheese in defense. Secondly, Juan Aurich shouldn't be too affected by the high altitude, as they are used to playing in such conditions, in the Peruvian cities of Cusco, Huancayo, Ayacucho, Arequipa, etc, and usually with good results. Bottom line here is that I rate Peruvian football better than the Bolivian one, and Juan Aurich, as league champions, have to make their superiority count. All their players should be rested, due to the internal problems of the Peruvian league, and the team should now switch to their 'Cup chip'. The coach is confident, and so am I, especially with the handicap being unrealistic here. GL!

Juan Aurich (+1.5 AH) @ 1.86, 5/10
Result: 2-1, WON

Olimpia - Lanus

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Lanus played a good match in the first round, but unfortunately for them, they couldn't take all the points from Flamengo, having to settle for a 1-1 draw. But other than that, they seem to be in good form, not losing a game since November (playing 7 in that time), and offensively they also look good, scoring 8 goals in the last 4 games, league and Libertadores combined. And they really need to get something out of their away matches, since they lost 2 points at home already, and both Olimpia and Emelec can be tricky teams to beat. Pavone looks to be on fire, scoring 3 goals in the last 3 matches, so for sure he will be the man to watch for the Paraguayans. Olimpia also needs to make this match count, and I doubt 1 point will satisfy them, as they already lost 0-1 to Emelec, one of the more accesible teams in the group. And Olimpia usually plays offensive, although lately their finishing skills have left many wondering. Full team expected tonight, with a small emphasys on attack, and keeping in mind that their defense looked fragile this year, the Argentininas should get their chances, as well as the Paraguayans. The line is set very low, and I think that at least a void should not be hard to get. GL!

over 2 goals @ 1.81, 4/10
Result: 2-1, WON

Feb 22, 2012

Cruz Azul - Deportivo Tachira

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

This bet is a bit risky, but I just can't turn down this huge handicap on the Venezuelans. Tachira made a solid performance in their debut against Corinthians, holding the Brazilians to a draw, and could have even gotten away with the win, if it weren't for that 94th minute equalizer from Timao. Tachira showed good defending in that match, always with 7 players near their area, and had a couple of lethal surges on the counter-attack, including a disallowed goal. Defense will probably be their game plan again tonight, and if they do it as well as one week ago, the Mexicans will find it hard to score. Especially since Cruz Azul is known for being irregular. They made a good match in Paraguay, but both goals were scored after some defensive mistakes from Nacional. About their irregularity, I think it's enough to say that despite being the only undefeated team in the local league, they have only managed to win 2 of their 7 matches. They are for sure the better team in terms of quality here, but for this bet to be completly lost, they need a win by a 3-goal margin, and that's far from easy to achieve against a team that defends well and fights for every ball. (As a side note, last year Tachira never lost by more than 2 goals, despite being in a group with Cerro Porteno, Colo Colo and Santos, and away from home, only Santos managed to beat them by a 2-goal margin). A bit risky, but the high handicap makes it worth a try. GL!

Tachira (+1.75 AH) @ 1.80, 4/10
Result: 4-0, LOST

Bolivar - Union Espanola

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

This month is not going very well, so let's see if we can salvage anything from it. For this match that will be played in La Paz, plenty of goals should be on the menu. The high altitude definitely puts the visitors in a bad position, and that will probably take it's toll on the players in the latter part of the game. That is why is important for them to make a good start, maybe even to score a fast goal. Union Espanola have been free-scoring lately, with 15 goals in 6 matches in the league, plus 5 more in 3 games of Libertadores, so offensively they are looking good. The coach already said that he will go to Bolivia to win, and for that he plans a rather offensive formation, to take advantage of Bolivar's defensive gaps. The Bolivians also look good when it comes to scoring goals, with 22 scored in 12 matches, and with their status as favorites, they will surely go for the win here, as they know the Chileans will have to cope with the effects of the altitude. Home win is the most probable result, but the handicap is set quite right, so in the case of a probable 2-1 win, the over bet looks much better. GL!

over 2.5 goals @ 1.92, 5/10
Result: 1-3, WON

Penarol - Atletico Nacional

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

When the market first opened for this match, I wanted to skip it, as prices around 1.70 for a home win were a big no-no for me. But recent odds movement made this bet more and more appealing, as we now have a -0.25 at a better price than the opening odds for a win, so let's try this. It's true that Penarol lost several key players during the summer break, while Atletico Nacional invested a lot of money in new players, and this has paid out in the first match, dominating U de Chile and taking a clear win. However, Penarol is a bit weaker than last year (when they played the final of Libertadores), but I still rate them as a solid enough team, and home factor is very important in Libertadores. Besides, they've made a good match in Argentina in the first round, especially in the first half, missing some good chances, and finally making a costly mistake in the second half, thus losing the match. Today, everyone is focused to change their fortunes in the group, and for me, the Colombians still need to prove they can also perform outside of their home country. They have good quality and experience up-front, with Zalayeta, Estoyanoff and Maxi Perez (in case that Mora won't be fit), and they should make their home advantage count, with a small margin for error in case of a draw. GL!

Penarol (-0.25 AH) @ 1.78, 4/10
Result: 0-4, LOST

Feb 20, 2012

Cerro Porteno - Cerro Porteno PF

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Small derby between two teams that share the same name, but don't also share the same expectations for this season. Cerro Porteno wants the title, and it could be a nice boost for their local campaign the fact that they are not playing in Copa Libertadores, which should give them more breathing time. However, they appear to have only reinforced themselves in offense, with the signing of Santiago Salcedo (who will be a starter tonight, along Nanni and supported by dos Santos), while in the back they still seem quite weak, receiving 3 goals in two matches, from non-impressive teams like Luqueno or Carapegua. So, after a hard fought victory last week (2-1 against Carapegua, with the winner scored in the 94th minute), Cerro must put in a classy performance here, in front of their fans, so I'm expecting to see some goals. Cerro de Franco don't seem like the team that are able to put some problems to Cerro Porteno, but scoring a goal is possible. However, their weakest point, and the strong point of this bet, is the defensive line, a very poor one, that managed to concede 4 goals from Sol de America. This should go down as an easy win for the hosts, but don't count out the visitors' chances to score, therefore a minimum of 3 goals is more than possible. GL!

over 2.75 goals @ 1.70, 3/10
Result: 1-0, LOST

Feb 19, 2012

Sporting Cristal - Cobresol

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

The Peruvian tournament is about to start in the middle of a tempest, as yesterday the clubs couldn't reach an agreement with the Footballer's Guild about a payment issue with the players, that is why the players decided to go on strike for this first round. However, since the strike will be considered illegal by the Federation, the matches will be played, but a lot of teams will use youngsters or players from the reserve team, who are not under contract with the main club. All the players are showing solidarity with the others, and it is quite certain that 90% of the teams will be fielding a youth line-up. Sporting Cristal, however, could not be among those teams. They have missed yesterday's meeting, and there are rumours going around that they might use their best line-up. And in this case, I feel sorry for Cobresol, who will very likely be pulverized. But, if they decide to go along with the strike, Cobresol's chances will rise, and I expect the game to be much more open. The odds dropped dramatically for Cristal, so if they use their youth squad there will surely be a lot of value on Cobresol +1, but since there is a lot of doubt around the line-ups, the over looks great. Cristal with regulars = trashing. Cristal with reserves = open match, also with chances for goals (we need a minimum of 2, so that's not hard to get). GL!

over 2.25 goals @ 1.93, 3/10
Result: 2-1, WON