Libertad vs Sporting Cristal
Nicolás Leóz, Asunción
06/03/2013; 19:45 (22:45 GMT)
TV: Fox Sports (Paraguay); ESPN (UK)
Libertad hope to maintain their 100% start to the competition in tonight’s home game with Peruvian outfit Sporting Cristal who overcame Tigre last week. It is the first meeting between these sides although the Gumarelo can point to their home record against Peruvian sides in this tournament for confidence, they beat Alianza Lima 4-1 here last year which followed a 2011 win against Universitario by a club-record margin, 5-1. It is the fifth straight year they’ve faced an Incan side in the group phase.
The most impressive part of Libertad’s winning start to this year’s tournament has been their ability to control midfield by squeezing opponents at the right time, neither Tigre nor Palmeiras enjoyed much possession as the Paraguayan team dominated and dictated the pace of both games. Ruben Israel is set to pick the same eleven that defeated Palmeiras last week, no need to rock the boat after such an imperious performance.
Sporting Cristal may have beaten Tigre but in their home game in São Paulo they slumped to defeat which is an indication of their away form in 2013, they’ve lost all three matches on the road. They are definitely the weakest side in this group and are primarily made up of journeyman players including former Olimpia defender Renzo Reveredo. Arguably the most well-known player (to English readers at least) is goalkeeper Diego Penny who was on Burnley’s books while in the Premier League.
Libertad are hot favourites for this and rightly so, having said that it shouldn’t be assumed tonight will be some kind of goal rush, Israel makes sure they turn out professional and controlled performances and they will wear down their opponent with long passages of passing just like any other side.
Libertad XI (probable): Rodrigo Muñoz; Jorge Moreira, Pedro Benitez, Ismael Benegas, Gustavo Mencia; William Mendieta, Sergio Aquino, Pablo Guiñazu, Miguel Samudio; Pablo Velazquez, José Ariel Nuñez
Sporting Cristal XI (possible): Diego Penny; Nelinho Quina, Renzo Sheput, Nicolas Ayr, Jesús Alvarez; Eduardo Uribe, Jorge Cazulo, Carlos Lobatón, Irven Avila; Hernan Rengifo, Junior Ross
Selected Odds: Libertad win 1.45, Draw 4.7, Sporting Cristal win 9.4, 3-0 win 11.0, Over 2.5 goals 1.99
Best Bet: Very unlucky last night on the same bet with Olimpia (who threw away a two-goal lead) but I think Libertad/Libertad is a great shout at 2.2 in this game, they’ve been winning at HT in 3/4 victories recorded in 2013.
Libertad head-to-head vs Peruvian opposition (Copa Libertadores)
Pld 8 W 5 D 2 L 1 GF 16 GA 7
Libertad at home vs Peruvian opposition (Copa Libertadores)
Pld 4 W 3 D 1 L 0 GF 12 GA 4
Libertad last 5 home (Copa Libertadores)
Pld 5 W 3 D 2 L 0 GF 8 GA 3
Libertad have reached the Quarter Finals in their previous four continental competitions
By Ralph Hannah
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