Mar 30, 2013

LDU Loja - Emelec

Ecuador Serie A, Primera Etapa

Strange odds for this match. Loja are an average team, with average performances so far: just 2 wins in 8 games, and a 1-2-1 record at home. Also, they are without a win in their last 4 matches, and besides LDU Quito, they had an easy schedule, and they couldn't make it count: lost at home against newly promoted U Catolica, drew at winless Cuenca, and they also lost at El Nacional, thus ending their run of 6 straight defeats. Meanwhile, Emelec seem to be from a totally different galaxy. They have 7 straight wins, 16-3 goal difference, and are obviously topping the table with a whooping 6 points advantage, despite having a match less than second placed LDU Quito. So the current odds are out of place, especially if we think that several bookmakers had set Loja as slight favorites when the market opened. Regarding the absences, Emelec will miss only forward Pablo Zeballos (3/1). Otherwise, reports are giving out a full-strength team for Emelec, without resting key players ahead of their Libertadores match. Meanwhile, Liga de Loja will have two absences: defender Cumbicus (4/0) and forward Armando Wila (5/1). I know that Emelec won't be able to keep this run of form forever, but with these odds, it would be a shame not to try it. GL!

Emelec DNB @ 1.88, 3/10
Result: 1-2, WON

Mar 26, 2013

Bolivia - Argentina

CONMEBOL, World Cup 2014, Qualifiers

Confederation leaders Argentina are travelling to Bolivia, in what is expected to be a very tricky match. No need to mention the high altitude again (3600 meters), and the faster movement of the ball, as everybody is familiar with that. And as I've said many times before, the Bolivian teams employ an offensive style of play when acting as hosts, trying to capitalize on the advantage provided by the altitude. But besides that, they also enjoy a different advantage, as the big teams are usually resting star players, either to keep them fit for the next match, or not to enter into a conflict with the parent clubs. And Argentina will make no exception here: although no official line-up has been confirmed, it looks like only Messi, Mascherano, Romero and Di Maria will start the match. The rest is unknown, but it is highly expected that some reserve players will take the field. Of course, Argentina has plenty of quality even among the reserves, but since none of them are accustomed to playing in such conditions, it's going to be hard. And even their star players (Messi, Di Maria) will have a hard time to cope with the altitude. Last match that took place in Bolivia between these two sides ended in 6-1 for the hosts. We certainly won't see the same score now, as Maradona is no longer the coach, but Bolivia has some good chances not to lose. GL!

Bolivia (+0.75 AH) @ 1.89, 5/10
Result: 1-1, WON

Mar 24, 2013

Nacional Asuncion - General Diaz

Paraguay Primera Division, Apertura

I'm sure we would have had much lower odds if this match would have been played in the first round of the championship... but after an impressive start from General Diaz, the bookies are overreacting, thus giving us some nice odds. I'm not denying General Diaz's merits here, as it is an extraordinary feat to have 6 consecutive wins after their promotion to the top division, and to see among those wins some high-profile results like 1-0 as visitors against Olimpia and Guarani. However, this form won't be lasting forever, and they are bound to go on a downward trend soon. And Nacional looks like the best team to end this run for them. They are on second place, 3 points behind Diaz, with5 out of 6 wins. Besides the shameful defeat at Cerro de Franco (2-5), they also have some good wins, like the 1-0 against Libertad, and the morale boosting 3-0 win against Olimpia. They will definitely miss Silvio Torrales, who is on international duty, but other than that, they shouldn't have too many squad problems. General Diaz certainly won't be pushovers here, but with a solid team, good form and also with the home advantage, Nacional should take this. GL!

Nacional (-0.5 AH) @ 1.86, 4/10
Result: 1-0, WON