Nov 7, 2013

Atletico Nacional - Sao Paulo

Copa Sudamericana 2013, Quarter-finals

It worked the first time, so why not give it another try now, since nothing has been decided yet in this round. Sao Paulo took the lead in the first leg, but it's a fragile 3-2 lead, and Atletico are aiming high, since they have two away goals scored. So neither team can afford to sit back and wait, especially Sao Paulo, who's defense isn't one of their strong suits (within their last 4 games, there have been a total of 20 goals scored). And this time around, unlike the previous round, they are using pretty much the best squad available: we'll see on the pitch both Luis Fabiano and Aloisio (the two of them scored a total of 16 goals throughout the year), along Jadson and Antonio Carlos, who scored 2 goals in the first leg. Ganso is the only big absence, due to his suspension. So it's a rather offensive team, and I expect Sao Paulo to play their game, especially since the altitude in Medellin isn't too high. Atletico are even less likely to sit back, because they are behind, and they need at least a goal. They proved in the first leg to be a match for the Brazilians, so the home field should provide a boost. If we have a quick goal, this could turn into a goal-fiesta... this line is just too good to miss. GL!

over 2.25 goals @ 2.08, 4/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Nov 4, 2013

Guarani - Olimpia

Paraguay Primera Division, Clausura

Both teams started the season in awful fashion, but recently, at least Guarani showed signs of recovery. The numbers speak for themselves: in the last 10 games, Guarani won 5 (including games against Libertad and Olimpia), while Olimpia won only 2, against bottom teams like Cerro PF and Carapegua. It's no secret that Olimpia is knee-deep in problems, both administrative and financial, and it looks like there's no easy way out. The coach received backing from the board, having his contract extended, and the main blame is taken by the squad, which is also undergoing a renovation process. Therefore, once again, we will see on the field, from the first minute, players like Marcos Fingst (2/0), Alex Garcete (1/0) or Walter Clar (1/0). All of them are youngsters, barely breaking into the team, and I doubt they'll have what it takes to shift the balance in a derby. Guarani has the experience, in this case, so for sure they have the advantage. Also, in the previous 3 encounters between the two in 2013, Guarani won 2 and lost 1, and the goal difference over those 3 games is 9-4 in Guarani's favor. It's a Clasico, and I usually tend to stay away from these games, but this looks simply too good to skip: Olimpia plagued by problems and using youth players, Guarani in recovery of pace, and also the safe-line that the DNB provides. GL!

Guarani DNB @ 1.94, 4/10
Result: 2-0, WON

Alianza Lima - Sporting Cristal

Peru Primera Division, Liguilla A

Huge match in Lima this evening, as Alianza and Cristal are fighting for the chance to stay in the race for the final, and the result of this match could very well mean the end of one's hopes. Since Garcilaso won yesterday as expected, the only option left for these two teams to keep on hoping would be to win. Cristal could retake the lead and tie Garcilaso on points, while Alianza could move up to 2nd place, just 2 points behind the leader, and also overtaking Cristal in the table. And looking at the overall picture, this means a lot more to Alianza: they have already played their two games against Garcilaso, so if they don't win here, their chances will be really slim (this is also their second match against Cristal), and they'll need to wait for a miracle to happen. Cristal still has the home game against Garcilaso, so they could still catch them, but the fact that Alianza will overtake them could further complicate things. So a draw would definitely suit them, but it would mean that Alianza are pretty much buried. That is why I doubt this will be a 'wait-and-see' match, and normally, the hosts should try to take control and attack, while this will definitely open up some spaces for Cristal. And it's worth mentioning their attacking power, as they have the best offense in the league, and the 3 forwards that are expected to start the match (Avila, Ross and Chiroque) have 21 goals scored between themselves. GL!

over 2.25 goals @ 1.92, 3/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Nov 3, 2013

Nacional - Sp. Luqueno

Paraguay Primera Division, Clausura

I'm expecting quite an entertaining round in Paraguay, and as a result, I fancy 3 bets today (quite a lot for my standards, but I'm feeling confident in these matches). First stop will be at Nacional - Luqueno. Both teams are in good form, although far away from the top of the table. However, both have quite a lot to play for, as both are gunning for a Sudamericana qualification (Nacional needs to finish with more points than Cerro in the aggregate table - currently 6 behind with a game in hand, while Luqueno needs to reach 6th place - 9 points behind at the moment, with 2 games in hand). Nacional has 3 consecutive wins, and that marked a recovery for them, after a very bad start. They should have some confidence back now, and normally, quality-wise, they should be no match for Luqueno. The visitors also have 3 wins from their last 4 (and 5 wins from their last 7 games), but they played a lot of home games (5) and had a relatively easy schedule (playing against bottom teams like Rubio Nu, Sol de America, Cerro PF and Carapegua - who actually beat them at home). So, in my mind, their great string of results is rather inconclusive, therefore I'm going with the quality today, especially since they should have loads of confidence now. GL!

Nacional (-1 AH) @ 2.03, 3/10
Result: 0-0, LOST

Deportivo Capiata - Sp. Carapegua

Paraguay Primera Division, Clausura

Capiata is having the season of a life-time. They are on second place for the moment, and even though they have practically zero chances to win the title (12 points behind the leaders), they are almost certain of a Sudamericana participation, and even have some chances to go to Libertadores (they are 5 points behind Guarani). So there's still a lot to play for. Also, they are one of the two teams (along with the leaders) to be still undefeated in their home games, and have won 7 of their last 10 matches. So they have a good advantage going into this match, especially since Carapegua are among the worst travelers in the league, despite a recent glimpse of good form (they won at Luqueno, drew at home against an awful Cerro PF, and won last week against a Libertad side that has it's mind on Copa Sudamericana). If we take away those last 3 games, Carapegua look simply awful, and it's no surprise seeing them rock-bottom in the relegation table. It's true that Capiata lost their last game, 2-4 at Luqueno, but they had to do without a few key players, including forwards Dionisio Perez and Fabio Escobar, which will return for this game. There should be a clear difference between these two teams, and once again, I'm going with quality and form. GL!

Capiata (-0.75 AH) @ 1.92, 3/10
Result: 3-1, WON

Cerro Porteno - General Diaz

Paraguay Primera Division, Clausura

I'm taking a slight risk here, as Cerro Porteno can comfortably take it easy until the rest of the season. Having a 9-points advantage over the second pace pretty much assures them of the title, despite having to play 7 more games. But Diaz's recent form just makes me take this bet. They enjoyed an incredible run this season, but they could have never been considered one of the big teams. Discipline and will were their main advantages, and they exceed their limit by far. But recently, they went back to their original condition, as they have lost their last 3 games. The opposition wasn't from the bottom half, that's true, as they were beaten by Capiata and Guarani (both at home, Guarani actually trashing them 1-4) and away at Nacional. Clear quality difference, and that difference can only grow bigger against the leaders. As I've said, Cerro doesn't necessarily needs to win, but it will be one more step toward the title, and with Diaz in the rebound stage, it's safe to assume that the home win is a lock. GL!

Cerro (-1 AH) @ 1.92, 3/10
Result: 2-1, VOID