Paraguay Abroad: José Ortigoza scores in China, Chelo & Piris make debuts in Italy

A total of 5 goals from our compatriots on foreign soil this weekend, we have goals from China, Colombia, Ecuador and as ever Mexico to show you below.

CHINA

Lucas Barrios (Guangzhou Evergrande) desperately wants out of the Far East but there are no such problems for José Ortigoza who scored what looked to be the winner against Didier Drogba’s Shanghai Shenhua only for Nicolas Anelka to grab a last minute equaliser in a thrilling 3-3 draw. You can watch a shaven-headed Ortigoza’s well timed run and cool finish below (aprox 3 mins 30 secs)

MEXICO

No goals for the defenders this week but Pablo Aguilar (Tijuana), Herminio Miranda (Puebla) and Paulo da Silva (Pachuca) all kept cleansheets. Edgar Benítez was used off the bench in Toluca’s draw while Dario Verón saw his Pumas side suffer another defeat. That leaves the hero of the weekend, Osvaldo Martinez (Atlante) who scored a delightful lob, the only goal of the game, versus Atlas.

COLOMBIA

For once we are not talking about a Robin Ramirez goal, his Tolima side (that included Antony Silva and Manuel Maciel) were beaten 3-1 at home by Atletico Nacional. Instead the plaudits go to Marco Lazaga who grabbed a headed equaliser for Patriotas against Pasto.

ECUADOR

Eduardo Echverría continues his amazing rise from futsal player to Carapeguá’s topscorer and now is playing for one of the continent’s biggest clubs, Liga de Quito. On Saturday he scored the winner 10 minutes from time with a stunning shot, Aldo Vera was tresent for the opponents, LDU Loja.

In other games, Domingo Martinez (Macará) was on the winning side as were Librado Azcona and Edgar Balbuena (Independiente) but Miguel Paniagua (Deportivo Cuenca) crashed to defeat against Barcelona.

ITALY

Ivan Piris (Roma) made his debut in a 2-2 draw with Catania while Marcelo Estigarribia (Sampdoria) also played his first competitive game in an excellent victory in the San Siro versus AC Milan.

SPAIN

Nelson Haedo (Valencia) was consigned to the bench and didn’t come on in his team’s 3-3 draw.

ENGLAND

Antolín Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic) was involved in his side’s 2-0 win away to Southampton.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Abroad: Luis Caballero on target and Pablo Aguilar scores again

Another weekend, another goal for Pablo Aguilar, the Tijuana defender has now notched up three in four league games and is joint 2nd topscorer in the Mexican Primera División. Over in China, Lucas Barrios was left out of the side with sunstroke while in Russia Luis Caballero continues his hot streak with another goal for Krylya as they sit in sixth place. There are also goals from Ecuador and Cyprus in another decent week for our Paraguayan legion.

RUSSIA

Luis Caballero bundled in the first goal to set Krylya on their way against Rostov.Pablo Zeballos set up the winner last week and once again was the provider from a corner as the side from Samara ran out 2-1 victors to record back-to-back wins.

CHINA

Lucas Barrios suffered heatstroke on Wednesday so wasn’t included by Lippi in the Guangzhou team at the weekend, José Ortigoza’s Shandong ran out 4-0 winners but the Paraguayan didn’t find the net.

MEXICO

Another incredible weekend for Pablo Aguilar who is turning into a prolific goalscorer, the central defender opened the scoring for Tijuana in a 2-2 draw with Paulo Da Silva’s Pachuca.

There was another all-Paraguayan battle as Edgar Benítez (Toluca) got the better of Dario Verón (Pumas) in a 2-1 away win and on Friday night Osvaldo Martinez (Atlante) also won 2-1 as part of the visiting side, overcoming Jaguares. Herminio Miranda (Puebla) played the full 90 minutes as his side went down to 10-men and lost 1-0 to Cruz Azul.

BRAZIL

Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres made a long awaited debut as Flamengo moved up to ninth with a 2-0 win, elsewhere Figueirense ended a 15-game winless streak but neither Wilson Pittoni nor Mario Saldivar were in the match squad.

CYPRUS

Aldo Adorno scored a good goal to seal APOEL’s passage to the next phase of the Europa League

ARGENTINA

Ricardo Mazacotte (Unión de Santa Fe) still hasn’t tasted victory at his new club, it was also defeat for Justo Villar (Estudiantes) and Víctor Ayala (Lanús). However the latter’s defeat came at the hands of Newell’s Old Boys the only goal being set up by Marcos Cáceres’ low centre.

ECUADOR

A goal for Domingo Martinez (Macará) sealed a 3-0 away win against Independiente with Librado Azcona and Edgar Balbuena on the home team.

Also in the Andean country, Fernando Gimenez (Emelec) was involved in the clásico defeat to Barcelona before travelling to Washington DC for the Paraguay friendly.

ITALY

We don’t usually drop down a division but this was a special case as teenage prospect Rodrigo Alborno made his senior debut for Novara in the Coppa Italia on his 19th Birthday, the former Inter Milan left back’s side won 4-3.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Abroad: Mexican legion on song with hattrick of goals

A great weekend for the Mexican legion with defenders Pablo Aguilar and Paulo da Silva both securing 1-0 wins for their sides with crucial goals, Atlante’s Osvaldo Martinez capped a fine week for the expats with a penalty in the draw with América. On the other side of the world Pablo Zeballos came of the bench to set up Krylya’s late winner and Lucas Barrios’ Guanzhou Evergrande saw their lead at the top of the Chinese Super League cut to just one point. Here is a brief round-up.

MEXICO

Pablo Aguilar (Tijuana) got the winner against Dario Veron’s Pumas side following a defensive mix up

Paulo Da Silva (Pachuca) also scored the only goal for his side, making up for his own goal last week

Osvaldo Martinez (Atlante) scored the second of the game, a penalty, in a 2-2 draw.

Elsewhere in Mexico, Edgar Benítez played the final half hour for Toluca as they ran out 2-1 winners at home.

SOUTH AMERICA

In Argentina there were no goals, worth noting that Orlando Gaona Lugo got a rare outing for Boca Juniors, he played the last 30 minutes in their 3-0 defeat. Victor Ayala (Lanús) and Ricardo Mazacotte (Unión Santa Fe) both made their debuts in 1-0 defeats away from home.

Wilson Pittoni was involved in yet another defeat for Figueirense who sit bottom of the Brasilerão, Víctor Cáceres (Flamengo) has finally been cleared to play but his game was postponed this weeekend.

Miguel Angel Cuellar found the net for Cobresal, with ex-Sol de América striker Victor Ferreira playing for the opponents, Unión La Calera, having moved from Caracas in Venezuela.

Over in Ecuador there was a red card for Eduardo Echeverría (Liga de Quito) in the clásico against Barcelona, he picked up two bookings in the 2-2 draw. In Perú there was better news as Mario Villasanti (Inti Gas) kept a cleansheet in a win that puts them in sixth place. Robin Ramirez (Tolima) didn’t score in Colombia as he and his teammate, Antony Silva, fell 2-1 against German Centurión’s Santa Fe side.

RUSSIA

Luis Caballero (Krylya Sovetov) started against Kuban Krasnodar but it was substitute Pablo Zeballos who had the bigger impact, his excellent cross led to the winning goal in the 86th minute. 

CHINA

No goals for Lucas Barrios (Guanzhou Evergrande) nor José Ortigoza (Shandong Luneng) as neither side managed a victory, losing 2-1 and drawing 3-3 respectively.

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Apertura 2012: Team of the Year

We look at the best XI from the recently concluded 2012 Apertura in Paraguay – we welcome your thoughts and comments below!

Goalkeeper: Martin Silva (Olimpia)

Martin Silva – Photo: http://www.abc.com.py

Olimpia had the second-best defensive record in the league but it wasn’t so much to do with their back four more the excellent performances of Uruguayan goalkeeper Martin Silva who proved his quality time and again. Olimpia kept ten cleansheets this season with Silva involved in all but one (the first clásico).

Right Back: Carlos Bonet (Libertad)

He isn’t the player he used to be, no longer is Bonet to be seen roaming forward and smashing in goals like this one , but he is still an excellent defender as was a regular in the best defence in the Apertura this season. His experience and organisation was vital and his performances mean the 34-year-old defender is on the wanted list of both Olimpia and Cerro Porteño.

Left Back: Elvis Marecos (Guaraní)

Elvis Marecos after scoring – Photo: D10.com.py

Another veteran who did an excellent job this season not just in defence but was also the source of five crucial goals in a Guaraní side that desperately lacked creativity and firepower once striker Federico Santander had gone. The aurinegro fought hard to keep Marecos at the start of the season after Cerro had come calling and he justified their faith in the player by putting in some match winning performances.

Centre Back: Cristian Nasuti (Libertad)

The Argentine was brought in by Jorge Burruchaga for the league and Copa  Libertadores campaign and impressed hugely with his tenacity and ball winning capabilities. The former River Plate man was less error-prone than partner Ismael Benegas which is why he gets a place in the team of the year.

Centre Back: Enrique Meza (Olimpia)

Enrique Meza (left) – Photo: Olimpia.com.py

The best central defender at the vice-champions didn’t play towards the end of the season because of a dispute between his agent and Olimpia’s club president, Marcelo Recanate. It is debateable if Meza would have been the difference in the final two games that saw Olimpia concede four times but it wsa a shame that he was unable to have a say.

Right midfield: Francisco Garcia (Independiente)

Although the 21-year-old was mainly deployed on the left he is right-footed so gets the nod in this position. Independiente had an excellent second half of the season following Alicio Solalinde’s appointment as manager and Garcia blossomed under his wing. His wondergoal in the win against Olimpia was the pick of the bunch but he also got an important winner against Rubio Ñu and equaliser against Luque in a season that brought five goals in total.

Left midfield: Edgar Benítez (Cerro Porteño)

Edgar Benitez (right) celebrates a late goal – Photo: D10.com.py

The winger/striker principally played up front for the champions but he was as devastating in both positions, ‘Pajaro’ may only have chipped in with two goals in the second half of the season (he scored six in total) but it was his all-round play that was so important. When running at full tilt and taking on defenders he was unstoppable, too strong on the ball for the centrebacks and too fast for full backs. It was then no surprise when he won that critical penalty against Olimpia in the final game of the season. Benítez also leaves El Ciclón having played a part in all 44 of their previous 44 league games testament to the pivotal role he has had in the club.

Defensive Midfielder: Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres (Libertad)

Consistently one of the best players in the league this was Cáceres’ last season with Libertad having now joined Flamengo, once again the midfielder was the epitomy of calm in controlling the tempo of games and where necessary killing them off. He can pick a pinpoint pass for a striker, hustle a midfielder off the ball or win key headers and Libertad’s defensive record has as much to do with Topo as it does with their excellent rearguard.

Defensive Midfielder: Marcelo Palau (Guaraní)

Marcelo Palau pointing – Photo: D10.com.py

Guaraní’s new Uruguayan signing was an instant hit showing poise and determination in central midfield, he also popped up with the odd goal (like this peach against Luque) to help his side’s failing strikers. This blog is particularly excited at seeing Palau next season (he signed a four-year contract with the Asunción club after rumours he was moving to Qatar) forming a partnership with compatriot Sergio Orteman who has joined the side.

Playmaker: Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño)

The footballing ability of this former Copa Libertadores winner has never been in doubt but after he began the Apertura with more niggly injuries and rumours of missing training sessions it seemed Fabbro wasn’t motivated to play at the level we all know he can. But in the final run-in the 30-year-old brushed all those accusations aside with a series of awesome performances. He scored three times in the final five games, twice stunning freekicks including the goal that sealed the championship against Olimpia, but it was seeing him track back and impose himself on the matches that really reminded us all just how incredibly talented the number 17 is.

Striker: José Ortigoza (Sol de América)

José Ortigoza (Sol de América) – Photo: D10.com.py

The danzarín achieved 35 points this season and managed to finish in fourth place ahead of stronger teams such as Nacional and Guaraní. It was no coincidence that this upturn in fortunes ocurred at the same time they welcomed back José Ortigoza, the ex-Cruzeiro striker netted 13 times and was five goals ahead of his closest rivals (including teammate Enzo Prono) in the golden boot standings. Pace, power and deadly instinct inside of the penalty area all combined to put Ortigoza head and shoulders ahead of the division’s other forwards, therefore it was no surprise when Sol de América announced they would be selling the striker for $3 million dollars to Chinese club Shandong Luneng.

Subs Bench

Honorary mentions to Carlos Servín (Tacuary), Jonathan Santana (Libertad), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Eduardo Echeverría (Carapeguá) and Dario Ocampo (Guaraní) who were all considered but just missed the cut.

VOTE FOR YOUR PLAYER OF THE SEASON

By Ralph Hannah

Apertura 2012: Week 20 Preview

Penultimate weekend of the Apertura (with a round of games scheduled for midweek) and a win for Olimpia on Saturday against Sol de América will mean they can secure the title before the superclásico. Carapeguá and Cerro de Franco will be desperate to try and earn more points to help stave of relegation while Luque and Tacuary have also found themselves dragged into the mire.

Nacional vs Independiente
Estadio Arsenio Erico
30/06/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 2-1

Nacional will be smarting from the 5-0 thumping handed out to them by Cerro de Franco on Tuesday, they also face an in form Independiente side who are now unbeaten in seven games following their 1-0 win over Rubio Ñu. However Nacional have usually prevailed against ‘smaller’ sides at home just like they did last weekend against Carapeguá. I think they can overcome Independiente but it will be close.

BEST BET: With the home win by no means a certainty you might want to look into Over 2.5 goals – games involving these sides have averaged 3.05 so far this season only Sol de América (3.2) have seen more goals on average in their matches.

Rubio Ñu vs Luque
Estadio La Arboleda
30/06/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 2-0

Luque preparing to visit Rubio Ñu – Photo: Prensa Club Sportivo Luqueño

Rubio Ñu are playing so badly they couldn’t even give their new manager, Blas Cristaldo, a win last week. Luque too are in disarray, increased fan violence (a knife was thrown onto the pitch) has seen them banned from their home stadium for the two fixtures after this game and the hooligan element sent a death threat to the head of referee’s this week. On the field Luque just aren’t scoring, only hapless Tacuary have less goals, and with defenders Ronald Huth and Claudio Vargas suspended it tips the scales in favour of the albiverde.

Sol de América vs Olimpia

Estadio Defensores del Chaco
30/06/2012, 17:30
Prediction: 1-2

L-R José Ortigoza, Enzo Prono, Lorenzo Frutos – the league’s highest scorers Sol de América – Photo: Courtesy of Enzo Prono

Sol de América are the form side in the league and have the division’s most profitable partnership in José Ortigoza and Enzo Prono (21 goals between them) and they always give Olimpia a good game. However, they usually give them a good game then lose as has been the case in the previous five meetings. El Decano on the other hand can smell the title, their front three are playing very well and will be hugely motivated by the possibility to wrap up the title this weekend (if they win and Cerro lose). I can only see the nominal away side (game being played in national stadium in front of Olimpia fans) winning this.

Tacuary vs Carapeguá
Estadio Roberto Bettega
30/06/2012, 18:00
Prediction: 0-1

Tacuary have just had two games in against Olimpia and Cerro Porteño so will undoubtedly be slightly tired as they face a Carapeguá side who were full of energy against Libertad and ended that encounter on a high with a last-minute equaliser. Personally I was very impressed by Carapeguá’s organisation and while scoring goals had been their problem since Eduardo Echeverría’s purple patch ended they’ve managed at least one in the last five despite only picking up one win. Just one goal will be enough against Tacuary and I think they can get it.

BEST BET: I’m convinced by Carapeguá but if you’re not so sure look at Under 2.5 goals, Tacuary are ultra-defensive and neither side are likely to score twice

Libertad vs Cerro de Franco
Estadio Nicolas Leóz
01/07/2012, 15:30
Prediction: 2-1

Victor Caceres has been ruled out for Libertad – Photo: Club Libertad Prensa

Libertad were unconvincing midweek but were a minute away from taking all three points such is their quality, I can see something similar happening this weekend. Cerro de Franco are looking very good and motivated recording back-to-back wins for the first time this year. Libertad have been hot and cold since getting knocked out of the Libertadores and are basically playing for third place which isn’t a great incentive for players of this standard. However with some fresh faces expected in the line up (Victor Cáceres and Luciano Civelli won’t play) they will want to impress the coach and ultimately at home Libertad should take this.

Guaraní vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
01/07/2012 17:45
Prediction: 1-2

L-R Santiago Salcedo & Jonathan Fabbro scorers against Tacuary – Photo: La Nacion Paraguay

A crucial game, whatever the result on Saturday this is a ‘must win’ for Cerro Porteño and the azulgrana have got their eyes on the prize since Jorge Fossati took over, there is a doubt over Jonathan Fabbro (missed training with flu) but even without him the team spirit is there. Guaraní are playing well (2 losses in last 8 which was to Olimpia and LibertaD) but there is still pressure on the team and Pablo Caballero which seems bizarre. With Julio Manzur out of contract the aborigen will have a tough time defending against a rampant Cerro attack, I doubt they will hold out. Away win.

BEST BET: Should be decent value on Cerro


By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: All odds correct at time of writing via Betfair for more betting tips check out CaStRoF betting tips

Midweek Wrap: Olimpia close in on number 40

Olimpia’s victory in the clásico añejo has taken them on the verge of back-to-back league wins and their 40th domestic title. They sit four points clear of Cerro Porteño with three fixtures to play between now and July 8th. The final meeting is of course the superclásico between these two great rivals. Here we round up the week with the usual awards at the bottom and some sad goings on in Luque.

Olimpia vs Guaraní
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-0) 2-0 – Pablo Zeballos (pen) 11′, Maxi Biancucchi 50′

A compact and professional performance by Olimpia earned an important victory that was mainly down to their excellent front three. It was epitomised by the two goals which both involved all of the terrific trio. In the first half Luis Caballero released the pacey Maxi Biancucchi who was felled by goalkeeper Pablo Aurrecochea in what was a red card offence but punished with a just a booking. Pablo Zeballos stepped up to convert the resulting penalty, his sixth goal of the season.

In the second period Biancucchi got the goal denied by the Guaraní goalkeeper previously, this time it was good work by Caballero to find Zeballos and the number ten slotted a through ball to ‘Mini Maxi’. The Argentine controlled well with his right foot before shifting the ball onto his weaker left and finishing emphatically. The closing stages saw the aborigen probe for a consolation mainly through Dario Ocampo, but El Decano were resilient in defence and kept their fourth cleansheet in five matches.

Olimpia XI: Martín Silva; Renzo Revoredo, Francisco Nájera, Salustiano Candia, Eugenio Montiel; Eduardo Aranda, Miguel Amado, Richard Ortíz; Pablo Zeballos ; Maximiliano Biancucchi, Luis Caballero

Subs: Carlos Humberto Paredes for Luis Caballero, Julio Santa Cruz for Pablo Zeballos, Arnaldo Castorino for Maxi Biancucchi

Guaraní XI: Pablo Aurrecochea; Eduardo Filippini, Elvis Marecos, Luis Cabral, Edgar Aranda; Iván González Ferreira, Juan Aguilar, Marcelo Palau, Luis de la Cruz; Dante López, Nelson Romero

Subs:  Fabio Escobar for Edgar Aranda, Jorge Mendoza for Juan Aguilar

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Cerro Porteño vs Tacuary
Estadio La Olla
(0-0) 2-0 – Santiago Salcedo 82′, Jonathan Fabbro 87′

The game started as expected, after just five minutes Cerro Porteño had won four corners and it seemed the gamble to play Edgar Benítez at left wingback was paying off with Tacuary showing no attacking intent. Jonathan Fabbro looked motivated, at one point he was even seen busting a gut to track back 30 yards, and found space early on and nearly scoring with a vicious drive tipped over by Carlos Servín. But with Tacuary disciplined and the home team throwing balls into the box to no avail, the best chances were a long range Fabbro free kick and a fierce shot by Fidencio Oviedo diverted for a corner by Servín. The halftime whistle went and Tacuary had hardly crept out of their own half let alone risked shooting.

For Cerro Porteño the second half followed a worryingly similar pattern as the first, plenty of possession, plenty of crosses but no celar cut chances and even when they got a slice of luck with a deflection that looped into the top corner it was palmed away by the super Servín. Jorge Rojas entered the fray but even the tricky winger was unable to unlock the defence with his first forays from right wing back. Finally with Fabbro having no luck from dead ball situations nor Julio Dos Santos nor Edgar Benítez, the responsibility fell to Santiago Salcedo and the striker made no mistake to the relief of the club’s fans. His free kick was sent low through a gap in the wall surprising Servín to put El Ciclón ahead. With just eight minutes remaining Tacuary finally showed some ambition and incredibly almost equalised following a nice attacking move that ended with the shot flashing just wide. But Cerro had the final word, Rojas burst down the right wing and picked out Jonathan Fabbro with a square ball placed between two defenders that the Argentine gleefully converted to cap another good individual performance under Jorge Fossati.

Cerro Porteño XI: Pablo Gavilán; Luis Cardozo, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Luis Cáceres, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Édgar Benítez; Jonathan Fabbro; Santiago Salcedo, Guillermo Beltrán

Subs: Jorge Rojas for Luis Cáceres, Alejandro da Silva for Guillermo Beltrán, José Domingo Salcedo for Edgar Benítez

Tacuary XI: Carlos Servín; Gustavo Giménez, Gustavo Acosta Pera, Diego Viera, Grégor Aguayo; Pablo Espinoza, Marcos Giménez, Marcos Acosta Rojas, Ever Ortiz; Raúl Román; Jorge Ortega

Subs: Edgar Fernandez for Ever Ortiz, Lorenzo Silva for Raúl Romá, Jorge Alvarenga for Pablo Espinoza

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Carapeguá vs Libertad
Estadio Juan Canuto Pettengill
(1-1) 2-2 – Esteban Ramirez 31′, Ever Amarilla 90′, José Ariel Nuñez 38′, Maurito Caballero 59′

Libertad gifted their opponents a goal late on to draw and mathematically end any chances of winning the league title. It was an energetic game with Carapeguá offering ample attacking threat as well as defending well for long periods of the game. Early on Libertad controlled possession with little penetration which gave the home side hope they could get something out of the match. On the half hour mark Esteban Ramirez got inside the box and while his scuffed shot caused no danger he managed to regain the ball from Jorge Ayala who had held it up with his back to goal and smash home from the six yard line.

Libertad are used to falling behind and they equalised just seven minutes later, Pablo Velazquez with a cute ball into the area for his strike partner José Airel Nuñez, the 23-year-old latched onto the pass and finished with his left foot with a precise side-footed shot between goalkeeper and defender. The Gumarelo went ahead just after halftime thanks to Porto-bound (probably) Maurito Caballero who came off the bench to score with his first touch. It was a characteristically instinctive goal a double defensive error and with El Potro’s backline static he anticipated the flight of the ball to tap in.

The sides couldn’t be separated in Itaguá – Photo: D10.com.py

With that victory was secured, or so it seemed, but Libertad went on the back foot and were suddenly conceding ground to a Carapeguá side that wouldn’t give up. Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres, making his 200th and last appearance for the club, was replaced by a defender to try and see off the onslaught but ultimately he was caught ball watching at the end in some shocking defending. A deflected shot looped over the Libertad rearguard and with goalkeeper Rodrigo Muñoz staying on his line the ball was allowed to bounce, still the Guma stood like statues and when the ball was hooked back into the area there was Ever Amarilla unmarked in space to earn a vital point in the battle to avoid the drop.

Carapeguá XI: Gustavo Arévalos; Diego Cantero, Rubén Maldonado, Marcos Arce, Jorge Florentín; Julio Irrazábal, Esteban Ramírez, Diosnel Almirón, Rodrigo Cantero; Ricardo Ortíz, Jorge Ayala

Subs: Pedro Rojas for Diosnel Almirón, Diego Benítez for Marcos Arce, Ever Amarilla for Ricardo Ortíz

Libertad XI: Rodrigo Muñoz; Carlos Bonet, Cristian Nasuti, Joe Bizera, Miguel Samudio; Víctor Ayala, Víctor Cáceres, Néstor Camacho, Luciano Civelli; José Ariel Núñez, Pablo Velázquez

Subs: Maurito Caballero for Luciano Civelli,Carlos Martínez for José Ariel Nuñez, Ismael Benegas for Víctor Cáceres

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OFF THE BALL

Blas betrays tradition: The old Paraguay football saying ‘The manager that debuts, wins’ was blown out of the water by Francisco Garcia’s excellent strike to hand Independiente a 1-0 win over Blas Cristaldo’s Rubio Ñu

Ortigoza at the double: José Ortigoza netted twice to see of Luque in a game marred by crowd violence. The Luque fans threw a knife at Sol de América midfielder Sergio Escalante when he was subbed off which landed a bit too close for comfort. They also threatened their own players, most notably Jorge ‘Mono’ Britez and it emerged today that the fans had left a death threat with the President of the Referee’s comittee warning him to make sure the referee ‘performed’ at the next match. Ugly times for the side facing relegation.

Nacional knocked for five: Amazingly not only did Nacional fail to win they were given a ‘paliza’ by Cerro de Franco who beat them 5-0, an incredible scoreline. The visitor’s must be missing defender Herminio Miranda now in Mexico with Puebla.

Orteman stays in Paraguay: Finally, the major transfer story of the week is Sergio Orteman who has decided to stay in Paraguay by signing a one-year contract with Guaraní. The two-time Copa Libertadores midfielder will team up with compatriot Marcelo Palau in central midfield for the Clausura.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Carlos Servín (Tacuary); Gustavo Gimenez (Tacuary), Francisco Nájera (Olimpia), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Diego Ciz (Sol de América); Julio Irrazabal (Carapeguá), Cristian Andersen (Cerro PF), Fidencio Oviedo (Cerro Porteño), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño); Maxi Biancucchi (Olimpia), José Ortigoza (Sol de América)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Maxi Biancucchi can be a frustrating player sometimes, always wanting to take players on and wasteful in front of goal, but against Guaraní he was part of an excellent front three and won the penalty before scoring a great individual goal himself.

Maxi Biancucchi is player of the week – Photo: D10.com.py

GOAL OF THE WEEK: Independiente’s Francisco Garcia has been here before for a similar strike, picking it up on the left wing cutting inside and looping a long range effort over Osvaldo Cabral in the Rubio Ñu goal

DONKEY OF THE WEEK: Luque fans – not all of them of course but that pocket of ‘barra’ who are making it unsafe for supporters, players and officials to enjoy football in the Feliciano Cáceres.

STAT OF THE WEEK: 2 – the win over Guaraní was Olimpia’s first two-goal victory since November of 2011!

ALL THE GOALS HERE

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Talent: Top 5 home-grown strikers

Just over halfway through the Apertura 2012 we look at the Top 5 Paraguayan strikers still plying their trade in the local league. To avoid any claims of favouritism I’ve limited to a maximum of one player per club. Have a look and if you don’t agree then put your list below in the comments!

Ariel Bogado

Ariel Bogado (Nacional)

D.o.B: 24 December 1984

Height: 1,78 metres

Weight: 72 kilos

Position: Striker

Foot: Right

Club: Nacional

2012 Goals: Five

The pony-tailed 28-year-old is deceptively fast and excellent holding the ball up, he has been rotated in the Nacional team with foreign forwards German Cano and Rodrigo Teixeira. He has managed to score in all three levels of football this year (national, continental and international) posing problems for defenders in pitches across Central and South America. Having started with Nacional he moved on to Mexico, enjoying a fairly productive season with Atlas in Guadalajara before move to Tigres further north. Bogado returned to the tricolor for their 2010 Copa Libertadores campaign and helped them win the 2011 Apertura last year.

Derlis Gonzalez

Derlis Gonzalez (Rubio Ñu)

 D.o.B: 23 March 1994

  Height: 1,72 metres

  Weight: 66 kilos

  Position: Forward

  Foot: Right

  Club: Rubio Ñu (loan)

2012 Goals: Two

A teenage sensation with blistering acceleration and lighting quick feet he has tormented defenses this season when fully fit. He is so good in fact that Benfica have already snapped up this star and he is only on loan to his former club Rubio Ñu as they wanted to take him 18 and probably iron out work permit issues. While he hasn’t seen senior international football yet, Gonzalez was a star at the U17s Sudamericano last year and has turned out for the U20s more recently. Who knows we may see him in Brazil and if not certainly Chile (2015 Copa America) this kid has a bright future.

Pablo Zeballos

Pablo Zeballos (Olimpia) - Photo: clubolimpia.com.py

  D.o.B: 4 March 1986

  Height: 1.78

  Weight: 75 kilos

  Position: Striker

  Foot: Right

  Club: Olimpia

  2012 Goals: Eight

Pablo Zeballos or PZ10 as he currently referred to by Olimpia fans burst onto the scene with Sol de América as a youngster having already starred on loan in Bolivia and Oriente Petrolero. His 15 goals for Sol following 14 in 16 games in Bolivia earned him his big break in Mexico with Cruz Azul. But the goals didn’t accompany him up north and after three seasons he was back in his native Paraguay firstly with Cerro Porteño where he was topscorer in 2010 and then arch rivals Olimpia where he was also topscorer in 2011 earning ‘Paraguayan Footballer of the Year’ and the Clausura title. It is his natural finishing that makes him so dangerous but he also possesses a potent free kick and can create chances when playing as a false nine. Zeballos is constantly linked with Europe but his age and price tag might mean we get to enjoy him in Asunción for even longer.

Edgar Benitez

Edgar Benitez (Cerro Porteño) - Photo: Albirroja Prensa

  D.o.B: 8 November 1987

 Height: 1,76 metres

 Weight:  71 kilos

 Position: Winger/Forward

 Foot: Left

 Club: Cerro Porteño

 2012 Goals: Seven

The Cerro Porteño player is equally destructive when employed as either a winger or a forward, he enjoys running at defenders and is a great threat on the break. His seven goals this year don’t do justice to the overall importance he brings to El Ciclón and the Paraguay national team, he often brings those around him into the game and pulls defences out off shape to make room for his teammates. He began his career at Libertad passing through Sol de América on his way to México and Pachuca. The Pajaro enjoyed an excellent spell in Central America and his performances also earned him a place on the plane to South Africa where he represented Paraguay twice in the 2010 World Cup. Don’t be surprised to see Benitez take flight again possibly to Europe.

José Ortigoza

José Ortigoza (Sol de América) - Photo: D10.com.py

 D.o.B: 1 April 1987

 Height: 1.80 metres

 Weight:  73 kilos

 Position: Striker

 Foot: Right

 Club: Sol de América

 2012 Goals: Nine

This strong striker has been loved by fans in Brazil and South Korea for his goalscoring exploits, the high asking price from third party owners meant neither Palmeiras nor Cruzeiro decided to take the player permanently which is why he is back at original club Sol de America. It has been a huge boost for the Danzarín to have somebody of Ortigoza’s outstanding quality in the side and it is no surprise he is joint topscorer in the league despite being out injured recently. His main quality is his strength both on the ground and in the air which has allowed him to bully defenders and at times he has been simply unplayable – just ask Tacuary the team he put four past in March.

By Ralph Hannah

26 April 2012