Apr 14, 2012

Leon de Huanuco - Sport Boys

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Sport Boys are trying hard to prove that their stay in Primera Division hasn't been by accident, and they also are trying to lose their status as a typical home team (even though an average one). And so far so good for them... only 8 points in 7 matches, but 7 of them have been made as visitors. However, this is probably just a temporary form, as they don't have neither the squad, nor the quality to keep it going. And their only real success on the road can be considered the one at Sport Huancayo, due to the altitude, although Huancayo are nowhere near the team that took 3rd place last season. Other than that, the teams they played can't be considered good teams, and their second match at altitude was a fail, 1-2 against Cienciano. Leon started strong once again, and with so many problems with the top-guns (Alianza, Universitario, San Martin), they are gunning for the title. Lost one home match against Cristal (probably one of the best teams in the league currently), while they won their other 2 games, 1-0 with Inti Gas and 3-2 with Aurich, despite going into HT with a 0-2 deficit. Better squad for Leon, good form, also a good history against Boys (won all 3 matches played in Huanuco, goal difference 8-1), and a very hard to win in stadium. So my money goes on the home handicap. GL!

Leon (-1 AH) @ 1.78, 3/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Apr 13, 2012

Nacional - Vasco

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

The qualification issue has already been dealt with in this group, with Vasco and Libertad going to the next stage, while Nacional and Alianza will remain at home once the group stage finishes. So, for Gallardo's boys this match is of no importance, as he aims to save the season in the local league, where he sits on 5th place, 5 points behind leaders Liverpool. The next few rounds will provide Nacional with a good schedule, where they should make the maximum number of points, so in order to keep his players fit and to avoid injuries, Gallardo will rest most regulars for today's match, and will face the Brazilians with a reserve team. So that means that we won't be seeing too much of players like Scotti, Recoba, Damonte, Rolin, Viudez, Porta or Medina. Vasco also comes in this match without pressure, but I'm sure they will like to end this group on the top spot, and for that they will need to win. They will be without Juninho and Felipe, but other than that there aren't many surprises announced, with Alecsandro expected to play from the start. Very good odds for this match, where despite the lack of motivation, there should be a big enough quality gap. GL!

Vasco DNB @ 2.03, 4/10
Result: 0-1, WON

Flamengo - Lanus

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Flamengo had everything in their hands last week. Olimpia got trashed by Lanus, 6-0, so all Flamengo had to do was to win their match in Ecuador and that would have made them big favorites for qualification. And everything was going according to plan, with the Brazilians leading 2-1 until the 83rd minute, when Emelec suddenly woke up and turned the match around to win 3-2, jumping back into the qualification race. So things are looking quite bad for Flamengo, who have only one scenario tonight: they must win, and hope the other match finishes as a draw. And even thought it may seem as a lot to wish, it's not impossible, as both Olimpia and Emelec would want to win (so a draw is of course on the cards), while Lanus is already assured of winning this group. An offensive formation is expected for the Brazilians, with Ronaldinho, Deivid and Wagner Love set to command the attack. Motivation should be high for them, as they are playing their qualification, and matches against Argentinian opposition are always regarded high by the Brazilians. Lanus comes here with doubtful motivation, so normally this should go as a home win. GL!

Flamengo (-0.75 AH) @ 1.89, 4/10
Result: 3-0, WON

Olimpia - Emelec

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Things are simple here: whoever wins, qualifies (a little plus for Olimpia, as they could also qualify with only a draw, provided Flamengo don't win their match). The hard part is to choose the correct bet, as I was oscilating between the handicap on Olimpia and the over. And I finally decided to go on the over, as both teams must go out in attack in order to win the match, and Olimpia's defense can make things interesting if they don't up their game. So, two offensive formations are expected, and since both teams have plenty of offensive power but also some lackluster defenses, goals are of course expected. Olimpia are the big favorites here, of course, and they are fully motivated to win this match, since they rested a lot of regulars in the league, so as to have them fit for this match. Once again, there will be a lot of expectations from Marin, Orteman, Caballero, Zeballos and Bianuchi. On the Ecuadorian side, De Jesus and Lucho Figueroa will be assigned with scoring the goals, and with Lucho's great experience and form (scored 2 last week against Flamengo), he is the man to watch. Winner takes it all here, so let's hope we'll also take some goals. GL!

over 2.25 goals @ 1.82, 5/10
Result: 2-3, WON

Apr 11, 2012

Atletico Nacional - Penarol

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Two different motivations for this match. Atletico Nacional can seal their qualification with a win today (even with a draw), and also take a great opportunity to win the group, while Penarol, regardless of how they do in the last two rounds, are already eliminated from the competition, having just 1 point in 4 rounds. So there are totally different moods for these teams. Then, there is also the squad issue: some players of Penarol are injured, while others will be rested in order to have them fresh for the closing stages of the league. In total, 6 players that can be considered regulars have been left in Montevideo, including: the goalkeeper Carini, Zalayeta, Estoyanoff and Dario Rodriguez. And if we keep in mind that coach Da Silva said this match is an extra-match (one that doesn't fit in their schedule anymore), it's clear there isn't too much motivation or hope for the team. Atletico is going through a bad moment in the local league, but that hasn't put a dent in their Libertadores run... They showed great moments in this competition, being still undefeated and having 12 goals scored in 4 games. In the league, they are on a 7 match run without a win, but as I said, here they should have a different motivation, and a full team is expected, including striker Pabon, who returns from an injury. The handicap is set about right, but if Nacional returns to their regular Libertadores form, they should have no problem with a 'damaged' Penarol. GL!

Atletico (-1 AH) @ 2.02, 4/10
Result: 3-0, WON

Zamora - Arsenal Sarandi

Copa Libertadores 2012, Group Stage

Both teams are 99% out of the competition, although they still have some theoretical chances (but it all depends on Boca, and I doubt they won't beat Zamora at home in the last round). So there will probably be little motivation here, especially for Arsenal. Apparently, they favor the league more, that's why they will have to do without several players that are normally considered regulars. Burdisso (31/5), Leguizamon (17/6), Lopez (26/2), Ortiz (22/4), Carbonero (13/1) and Zelaya (20/6) have been left behind in Argentina, while Nervo (21/0) is doubtful. So they'll go into this match with a weakend squad, and with little to none motivation. Zamora, on the other hand, should still have some motivation, for several reasons. The small teams are usually extra-motivated when playing against high-profile Argentinian or Brazilian teams, so even though they are practically out, I still think they will fight hard for at least a point here. They'll defend with 10 men probably, as they usually do, and this time they could do it well, as Arsenal will probably suffer in offense, and from the lack of motivation. Only small stakes here, as Zamora is still a very poor team, and in poor form (lost all of their last 6 matches), but they should have some chances here. GL!

Zamora (+0.5 AH) @ 1.79, 4/10
Result: 0-1, LOST

Apr 9, 2012

Guarani - Carapegua

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

Nice value on this match, probably a product of Guarani's last results. And while it's true that they lost their last 2 matches, we also have to look against whom they've played, and everyone must agree that losing to Olimpia and Cerro Porteno is nothing to be ashamed of, especially since both defeats were by a minimum. Other than that, Guarani's style is still a very pleasant one, nice to watch, and they should also return to winning ways now that they'll face some of the weaker teams again. Carapegua is in a very good run of form, undefeated in their last 5 games, despite playing against some top caliber teams, like Nacional (2-1) or Libertad (1-1). However, this form won't last forever for such a small team, and Guarani should be good enough (and focused enough, since they don't have any Libertadores plans, unlike Nacional and Libertad) to end Carapegua's dreams. They've already managed to win 1-0 away at Sol, and to trash Luqueno 3-1 at home, and both those teams are pretty much around the same value as Carapegua. Motivation should be high after their last 2 defeats, and Carapegua looks like a good point to start winning again. GL!

Guarani (-0.5 AH) @ 1.94, 4/10
Result: 2-1, WON

Apr 8, 2012

Liverpool - Cerro

Uruguay Primera Division, Clausura

After a perfect start of the season, Liverpool finally lost a match last week, when they were beaten at Defensor Sporting 2-4. Despite this loss, they are still sitting on the top of the standings in this Clausura, so their situation is still better than anyone expected, and last week's loss can't be condemnable, as Defensor are definitely one of the top teams in the league. So today it will be the moment of truth for Liverpool... if they win, they will prove to everyone that indeed they are title challengers. If they lose, they will also lose all credibility. Allthough besides Defensor they haven't played any of the better teams, their results still can't be disconsidered, and Cerro is pretty much at the same level as the rest of the teams that Liverpool faced so far. Losing their last 2 away games certainly won't give Cerro too much hope for today, especially since they conceded 3 goals from both Nacional and Wanderers. And, same as Liverpool, their only wins came against some of the weakest teams in the league, Cerrito and Rentistas, so they still need to prove they can take on the big teams. I have faith in Liverpool, as I consider them to be quite a good team, and hopefully, they'll prove that last week's result was nothing more than a stumble. GL!

Liverpool (-0.5 AH) @ 1.89, 3/10
Result: 2-1, WON