May 2, 2013

Boca Juniors - Corinthians

Copa Libertadores 2013, Round of 16

This comes a day early, but the odds have already started to drop, and I'm pretty sure that they will continue on the same downward trend up until kick-off time. A very tough task lies ahead of Boca Juniors, who are expected to snap out of their dreadful run, and win against one of the best teams on the continent. They are currently on a run of 5 consecutive games without a win, and are generally just showing some appalling performances. They struggled in a group with Nacional, Toluca and Barcelona, managing to lose half of their games, where normally they shouldn't have had any problems. In the local league, things aren't any better... they're actually worse, as after 11 rounds, they have won just one single game, have 9 points and are sitting on 18th place. Meanwhile, Corinthians are probably the best team in this competition, and the reigning champions. They have a very good and solid team, and also several high-profile players, that give them the edge against pretty much any opposition. Just as a reminder, they've won the Club World Cup in December 2012, after outplaying and beating Chelsea by 1-0. In their ranks, they have Alexandre Pato from Milan, Paolo Guerrero, Emerson, and several other skilled players that are, or have been, taken into consideration for the national team. Last year, these two teams played the final of Libertadores, with Corinthians drawing in Argentina, but things have changed since then. Boca is in deep trouble, and are showing little when it comes to football, while Corinthians are more solid than ever. It's never easy for a Brazilian team to play in Argentina, especially in La Bombonera, but I just can't see Timao losing this game. GL!

Corinthians DNB @ 1.96, 5/10
Result: 1-0, LOST

Universitario - Pacifico

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

Universitario have a debt to pay in front of their own supporters, as last week's 0-4 trashing at Sporting Cristal has left everybody at the club in a very bad state. The fans even protested against the players after such a dismal performance, so right now, it's time to make amends. And this trashing came as quite a surprise, as Universitario was looking set to fight for the top places, following a run of 3 wins in 4 games. Even so, nothing is lost yet, as with a win tonight they could well climb to second place, one point behind surprising league leaders Sport Huancayo. So the motivation is definitely there, for all the good reasons, and since they are playing at home, they should take control of the game and press forward. And in front of them, they will have an opponent that on paper looks quite accessible. Pacifico are a newly promoted team, that is showing some average performances. They are on 12th place in the standings, probably better than they would have hoped, but their recent performances were not convincing, as they have won just 2 games in their last 10. And away from home, they are still without a win. Of course, we could mention the draw that they've snatched at Cristal, and the fact that most of their defeats came in matches played at high altitude (Inti Gas, Melgar, Garcilaso), but besides defending in numbers, they don't have many weapons. Universitario should be fired up, and if they play with their hearts and with patience, they should be able to break down the wall. The odds went up a lot, so now we have some good value on the hosts. GL!

Universitario (-0.5 AH) @ 1.83, 3/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

May 1, 2013

Sport Huancayo - Inti Gas

Peru Primera Division, Descentralizado

This is a classic match between two teams that are used to play at high altitude. And as it's usually the case, a lot of goals are expected. Sport Huancayo, without doubt, will try to control the match and to score as many as possible, in order to prolong their great run of form, which saw them climb all the way to the top of the table. They are undefeated in their last 6 games, with 3 consecutive wins, so they are rightfully sitting on the first place, even though Garcilaso could overtake them, as they have two matches less. Huancayo has the second best attack in the league, but also a rather average defense, so a few more reasons to expect several goals. On the other side, we have Inti Gas, a team that is familiar to the altitude. They're not one of the top teams here, especially when playing away, but they can at least take the altitude advantage out of the way, and play as equals against Huancayo. They've scored 16 goals so far, in 12 matches, which is quite a lot for the average Peruvian team (as a comparison, they have more goals scored than big teams like Alianza Lima, Universitario or Cesar Vallejo), but their defense is just awful, much worse than Huancayo's. Out of their last 10 mutual games, 8 have finished with at least three goals, so it should be the same scenario today as well. GL!

over 2.75 goals @ 1.99, 4/10
Result: 0-2, LOST

Apr 30, 2013

River Plate - Nacional

Uruguay Primera Division, Clausura

To be honest right from the start here, these odds are just ridiculous. Nacional is Nacional, and they will always be a big name and a good team in this league, but looking at their recent matches and at River's form, it's just silly to give out such odds for them, and make them 1.70 favorites. I'm not impressed at all with the way the team has played, ever since Arruabarrena took over as coach, despite still being undefeated. They managed two wins against last placed Bella Vista and against troubled Liverpool, but they only managed a draw at home against high-flying El Tanque Sisley. And their game is generally not as convincing as it should. And this match also catches them in a tough scheduling-moment, as they will have the Super Clasico against Penarol on Saturday, and are in the middle of a Libertadores clash with Real Garcilaso (lost first leg by 0-1). Three important players will be absent today: defender Nunez (8/0), forward Bueno (4/2) and Alvaro Recoba (4/1). The rest of the regulars will start the match, but they may suffer from fatigue a bit, after a tiring match played at over 3500 meters of altitude last Thursday. River is in awesome form, with 4 consecutive wins, and 6 out of 9 throughout this competition. With a win today, they will be the leaders of the Clausura, equal on points with Defensor, so if they needed some extra-motivation, they have it. And in recent years, they've also had some superiority against Nacional: if we look at their last 10 mutual matches, River won 7 (including the one from Apertura, as visitors, by 2-0), and also recorded a draw, leaving Nacional with just 2 wins. I'm confident they will remain with some points tonight, and these odds are just screaming to be taken. GL!

River (+0.5 AH) @ 2.05, 4/10
Result: 1-2, LOST