Clausura Week 9: Cerro Porteño vs Sportivo Luqueño preview

Cerro Porteño vs Sportivo Luqueño
La Olla, Asunción
20/09/2014; 17:10 (22:10 BST)
TV: Tigo Sports (Paraguay)

Leo Astrada returns to La Olla having had to coach three consecutive away games with Cerro Porteño in his second spell at the Barrio Obrero club. They face a Sportivo Luqueño side that has continued to do well under Daniel Navarro following Eduardo Rivera’s resignation. In fact the auriazul head into this clash with just one defeat in 14 (to leaders Guarani) and are ahead of Cerro in the table.

Photo: Club Sportivo Luqueño - prensa

Photo: Club Sportivo Luqueño – prensa

While Arce didn’t want to rest players in the league, Leo Astrada has a history of favouring continental tournaments over domestic so some first teamers players will step aside today. Youngster Bruno Valdez will play alongside Mareco at centre-back while Oviedo and Oscar Romero are set to watch from the bench. Iván Torres and Sergio Díaz are likely starters.

Veteran Brazilian Rodrigo Teixeira and Argentina Guido Di Vanni are likely to play up front, filling Luque’s foreigners quota. Navarro usually plays with three strikers so either Derlis Alegre or Marcelo Ferreira will fill the remaining spot. Midfielder Luis Miño has been making the side tick so far, the 25-year-old has a good range of passing and is dangerous from far out. Cristhian Aguada the left-sided player is exciting to watch, the 21-year-old full back he likes to get forward and scored the equalizer from the bench against Olimpia earlier in the season – could he do the same today?

Prediction: 2-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals

Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Carlos Bonet, Bruno Valdez, Victor Hugo Mareco, Junior Alonso; Mauricio Sperduti, Miguel Paniagua, Julio Dos Santos, Iván Torres; José Ortigoza, Sergio Díaz

Luqueño XI (probable): Rodolfo Rodriguez; Mario Saldívar, Carlos Rolón, José Leguizamón, Sergio Vergara; Miguel Godoy, Luis Miño, Lorenzo del Valle; Derlis Alegre, Rodrigo Teixeira, Guido di Vanni.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay national team: Paraguay vs UAE friendly preview

Paraguay vs United Arab Emirates
Stadion Villach Lind, Klagenfurt, Austria
07/09/2014; 12:30 (18:30 CET)
TV: Telefuturo (Paraguay)


Paraguay play their fourth friendly of the year in the Austrian town of Villach where they take on United Arab Emirates. It is their first game against AFC opposition since 2010 when they thrashed Hong Kong 7-0, that day Roque Santa Cruz scored twice and the Malaga striker is set to win his 100th cap for the Albirroja on Sunday. Santa Cruz will become just the 6th player to reach a centenary of Paraguay caps equalling Denis Caniza and Roberto Acuña and he is just three behind goalkeeper Justo Villar. Defenders Carlos Gamarra (110) and Paulo Da Silva (116) are in 2nd and 1st place respectively.

Training in Austria - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

Training in Austria – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

This is Paraguay’s first game against UAE, currently ranked 65th in the world (one place above Ireland) and coached by Mahdi Ali who won the Gulf Cup of Nations last year as they beat Iraq in the final in extra time. They sound like fairly stiff opposition currently on the run of their lives, as Wael Jabir tells me on Twitter “They went unbeaten for 20 games from 2012 – 2014 with a peak FIFA ranking of 58 in February” and there is no doubt who the star player is “Omar Abdulrahman…search his name on YouTube” says Abdulraham Almheiri (so I did) while @aeody has taken to calling him “Maestro Omar Abdulrahman” such is the 21-year-old’s obvious talent.

Of course the current Paraguayan crop have their fair share of exciting attacking talent – Tonny Sanabria of Roma is being groomed for next year’s qualifiers and he is likely to be flanked by FC Basel’s Derlis Gonzalez and Cerro Porteño’s Oscar Romero in a fluid trident behind the target man Roque. In central defence Pablo Aguilar of Club América is looking like the new leader and he could well be handed the armband once Santa Cruz steps aside, he’ll partner youngster Gustavo Gómez again with a view to the qualifiers after the 2015 Copa América. Victor Genes has given Copa Libertadores winner Nestor Ortigoza a 2nd chance, the big man in midfield needs those around him to do the leg work but he will surely find the runs of the flying youngsters like Derlis Gonzalez and Sanabria time and again.


L-R Derlis Gonzalez & Tonny Sanabria - Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya

L-R Derlis Gonzalez & Tonny Sanabria – Photo: Seleccion Paraguaya


Paraguay XI (possible): Joel Silva; Jorge Moreira, Gustavo Gómez, Pablo Aguilar, Junior Alonso; Víctor Cáceres, Néstor Ortigoza; Derlis Gonzalez, Tonny Sanabria, Óscar Romero; Roque Santa Cruz

Prediction: 2-1

Best Bet: I like BTTS knowing that Paraguay are always good for a goal but UAE seem to have a bit of flair themselves and will look to play offensively


Stats and Trivia

Paraguay vs AFC opposition

Pld 33 W 11 D 16 L 6 GF 39 GA 23

Paraguay in Austria

Pld 3 W 2 D 1 L 0 GF 3 GA 1 

Paraguay beat Georgia and Cameroon at neutral venues in 2006 and 2014 and played a goalless draw with Austria in Vienna in 2007.

Paraguay last 5

Pld 5 W 1 D 2 L 2 GF 6 GA 7

UAE last 5

Pld 5 W 1 D 3 L 1 GF 6 GA 6


By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Abroad: Brian Montenegro set for return to England and Leeds United

Brian Montenegro is only 21 but he’s already done the rounds locally having played for Tacuary, Rubio Ñu and more recently winning the league with Libertad and finishing Copa Libertadores runner-up with Nacional. He also had a spell with West Ham a couple of years ago and although he only played 12 minutes with the senior team in the FA Cup he did manage 12 goals in 12 games for the reserves.

Montenegro Full Name: Brian Guillermo Montenegro

 D.o.B: 10 June 1993

 Place of Birth: Asunción, Paraguay

 Height: 1.81 metres

 Weight: 75 kg

 Position: Striker/Left winger

Hardly blessed with pace but he makes up for it with excellent movement, a very tactically disciplined player which is probably why English clubs have shown more interest in him than other forwards from the 2013 U20s World Cup squad. His versatility is an asset, he can play up top usually in a two off a more physical striker or he can be used in a front three on the left hand side and is a provider of goals as much as he is a poacher.

He may have been a bit raw at West Ham but he’s now played in important matches and scored at the highest level in South America, the Copa Libertadores. Most recently he scored in the semi-final for Nacional against Defensor Sporting on their run to the final. Last year for Libertad he also managed two goals during their Copa Sudamericana campaign reaching the the semi finals. However, my favourite Montenegro goal is his spectacular bicycle kick at the U20s World Cup against Greece – LUFC fans could be enjoying more of this before Christmas!

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay national team: Squad confirmed for Ukraine and UAE friendlies

Paraguay will travel to Europe for a possible friendly with Ukraine on 3rd September followed by a match on the 7th against UAE (United Arab Emirates) in Villach, Austria. The game against Ukraine was scheduled to be in Kiev but due to the Paraguayan FA concerns current political crisis the venue is expected to be moved or the game will be cancelled. It seems Paraguay simply can’t organize a friendly (in 2012 they ended up playing Guatemala four times for lack of other opponents!).

While the squad has a very “fresh” look with plenty of youngsters involved the major talking points are over three of the more experienced players. Roque Santa Cruz will win his 100th cap against Ukraine and this could be the perfect time to bow out, although he remains one of Paraguay’s best strikers in terms of recent international form. Nestor Ortigoza has been recalled for the first time since the 2011 Copa América final having been frozen out by Gerardo Martino’s successors. Finally, the fantastic central defender Pablo Aguilar is back, he was only left out of recent games because of an illogical medical report that claimed his low platelet count was a health risk. Winning the league with Xolos (who were fully aware of his genetic condition) and his subsequent splendid start with Club América in Mexico seems to have made the APF medical staff finally come to their senses.


In terms of the domestic-based players there are call ups for Joel Silva who has been playing well for table-topping Guaraní while Oscar Romero is a shoe-in being the best young player in the country at the moment. Nacional’s run to the Copa Libertadores final has rewarded midfielder Silvio Torales and defenders Ramón Coronel and Leonardo Cáceres with call-ups.


Goalkeepers: Joel Silva (Guaraní), Anthony Silva (3 de Febrero)

Defenders: Pablo Aguilar (América, Mexico), Gustavo Gómez (Lanús, Argentina), Junior Alonso (Cerro Porteño), Jorge Moreira (Libertad), Ramón Coronel (Nacional); Leonardo Cáceres (Nacional)

Midfielders: Victor Cáceres (Flamengo, Brazil), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Jorge Rojas (Gimnasia LP, Argentina), Silvio Torales (Nacional), Oscar Romero (Cerro Porteño), David Mendieta (3 de Febrero), Miguel Paniagua (Cerro Porteño)

Attackers: Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga), Derlis Gonzalez (FC Basel), Jorge Benítez (Olympiakos), Antonio Sanabria (Roma)



By Ralph Hannah

Clausura 2014 Week 5: Cerro Porteño vs Guarani preview

Cerro Porteño vs Guaraní
La Olla, Asunción
23/08/2014; 18:30 (23:30 BST)
TV: Tigo Sports (Paraguay)

The biggest game of the fledgeling season, table-toppers Guarani could be pegged back by their hosts Cerro Porteño one of a four-strong chasing pack. Cerro return to La Olla after a successful midweek excursion to Montevideo in the Sudamericana, they have now kept four straight cleansheets as Chiqui Arce’s side begin to click into gear. The aurinegro like their rivals have no trouble finding the net, although a repeat of the 5-5 draw in their previous meeting might be a bit too optimistic.


The Azulgrana can’t afford to rest players as the league is important for qualification into the 2015 Libertadores, with that in mind Arce will play his strongest team and hopes to welcome back Dani Guiza from injury. The main decision is who he plays as his designated U20s player – either Junior Alonso or José Ortigoza will have to make way for Carlos Montiel or Sergio Diaz respectively, my money is on the former. One of the key players today will be central defender Danilo Ortiz who will have to out muscle Federico Santander, not an easy task.

Jubero will want his team to attack, it is afterall his best form of defence with the aformentioned Santander forming a great partnership with Fernando Fernandez as the youngster almost seems to steal space to always find himself on the end of a flick or cross. Adilson Lezcano had a strong game at right back last week, his pace could help the side on the break although he is likely to find himself pegged back by Cerro’s Oscar Romero. Iván Gonzalez Ferreira is a fantastic player and will look to cause problems by running at the defence, cutting in and shooting from distance – he’ll be a thorn in Cerro’s side all afternoon that’s for sure.

Prediction: 2-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals

Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Carlos Bonet, Bruno Valdez, Danilo Ortiz, Carlos Montiel; Mauricio Sperduti, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Oscar Romero; José Ortigoza, Dani Guiza

Guaraní XI (probable): Joel Silva; Adilson Lezcano, Julio César Cáceres, Luis Cabral, Edgar Aranda; Dario Ocampo, Marcelo Palau, Juan Aguilar, Iván Gónzalez Ferreira; Federico Santander, Fernando Fernandez

There is a live market of this game available on Betfair


By Ralph Hannah

Copa Sudamericana: Rewarding first week for Paraguayan clubs

A wonderful first week for most of the Paraguayan sides on their Copa Sudamericana adventures – three wins with only Libertad losing but a 1-0 defeat at 3,900 metres above sea level is nothing to panic about. Cerro Porteño put in a good shift to win 2-0 away to a toothless Rentistas in Montevideo while here in Luque the two debutants, General Díaz and Capiatá, were both victorious raising hopes of progressing to the next round.


Strong performance from the azulgrana as they kept their 4th consecutive cleansheet while the forwards played their part as ever. Oscar Romero was alive to José Ortigoza’s hooked pass for the opener and a fantastic stoppage time run and cut back by 36-year-old full back Carlos Bonet gave Julio Dos Santos the chance to convert his 84th goal for the club and seal the victory.


An early freekick that decieved Rodrigo Muñoz in the thin air of Potosí was enough to hand the Bolivians the victory. Pedro Sarabia’s team will be confident they can overturn the result in the comfort of Asunción next week although there is a slight concern that the Gumarelo have only mustered one goal in the last 360 minutes.


Arguably the toughest opponents of all four sides so it really was a splendid win for the Aguilas against the Chileans. Blas Cáceres had an excellent game setting up the first goal for Argentine Gustavo Toranzo with a great dead ball delivery before assisting the second for Roberto Gamarra to tap in. It was a great response from Humberto Garcia’s side having been pinned back on the half hour mark by the Chileans. All to play for in the Atacama next week.


Like their compatriots Rentistas the Uruguayans failed to impress and literally handed two penalties to Capiata although the second infringement seemed to have been just outside the penalty box. Veteran striker Fabio Escobar had no problem converting both spot kicks either side of half time. Blas Irala connected cleverly to a corner for the third and an almost perfect outing in Luque was blotted by Danubio’s late away goal.

Photo: EFE

Photo: EFE


By Ralph Hannah

Copa Sudamericana: Rentistas vs Cerro Porteño preview

Rentistas vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Luis Franzini, Montevideo 
19/08/2014; 17:00 (22:00 BST)
Preliminary Round, 1st Leg
TV: Fox Sports (Latin America)

Cerro Porteño embark on another continental campaign desperate to make an impact having just seen their Barrio Obrero neighbours Nacional reach the Libertadores Final. This is their 9th participation in the Copa Sudamericana, last year they went out at this stage with a surprise home defeat to Uni. Católica which almost cost Chiqui Arce his job. Their best performance remains the 2009 edition of the competition where they reached the Semi-Finals winning in La Paz and beating two Brazilian sides (Goias & Botafogo) on the way.

Photo: Daniel Riveros - Ultima Hora

Photo: Daniel Riveros – Ultima Hora

The Azulgrana will line up without Dani Guiza who is suspended following his red card against Cruzeiro in the Copa Libertadores. José Ortigoza had a great game in the league and he will start with Oscar Romero and Mauricio Sperduti playing off him. Julio Dos Santso will captain the team and while he plays a more withdrawn role these days he can provide goals from midfield, in fact he finished joint topscorer in this year’s Libertadores. In defense there is experience with Carlos Bonet who represented Libertad in this competition many times while centre-back Danilo Ortiz will be under the spotlight with several foreign clubs said to be tracking the 22-year-old who bullies forwards with his rough and tumble approach.

Rentistas aren’t one of Uruguay’s traditional big clubs and have qualified for a continental competition for the first time in their history, they were in the 2nd division in 2010/11 and 2012/13. Their topscorer in last year’s Clausura was Octavio Rivero who has since moved to Chile, so the goal threat could come from youngster David Terans. English football fans may recognize Brazilian midfielder Anderson Silva who played for Barnsley and took part in the giantkilling of Liverpool at Anfield in the 2007/08 FA Cup.

Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Carlos Bonet, Danilo Ortiz, Victor Hugo Mareco, Junior Alonso; Fidencio Oviedo, Miguel Paniagua, Julio Dos Santos; Mauricio Sperduti, Oscar Romero; José Ortigoza

Prediction: 0-1

Selected Odds: Rentistas win 3.8, Draw 3.3, Cerro win 2.22, 0-1 away win 6.8, Under 2.5 goals 1.63

Best Bet: Cerro Porteño have kept three straight cleansheets and they’ll be confident they can snatch an important AWAY WIN here


Stats and Trivia

Cerro Porteño vs Uruguayan opposition  (Copa Sudamericana )

Pld 4 W 2 D 1 L 1 GF 7 GA 4

Cerro Porteño in Montevideo (Copa Sudamericana)

Pld 2 W 1 D 1 L 0 GF 4 GA 2 

Cerro Porteño’s two previous games in Montevideo were in the Centenario where they beat Peñarol (3-1) and drew with Defensor Sporting (1-1)

Cerro Porteñ0 away record (Copa Sudamericana)

Pld 18 W 6 D 5 L 7 GF 28 GA 32

Cerro have only won one of their last 7 away games in the competition, a 2-1 win over Colón de Santa Fe in the 2012 Last 16.

Authors Note: All odds are selected from Betfair Sports and accurate at the time of writing, there is a live market on this game