Copa Libertadores 2013: Libertad vs Palmeiras preview

Libertad vs Palmeiras
Nicolás Leóz, Asunción
28/02/2013; 19:15 (22:15 GMT)
Group Stages
TV: Fox Sports (Paraguay); ESPN (UK)

The first meeting between these two teams in the Copa Libertadores as São Paulo side Palmeiras visit Asunción hoping to make it four wins from four for the Brazilian clubs this week. The last time Palmeiras were in the Paraguayan capital was Valentine’s Day 2006, they drew 0-0 with Cerro Porteño that evening. Ruben Israel’s side are hoping to go top of the group having won their opener against Tigre in Argentina.

Expect the same side that faced Tigre - Photo: Prensa Club Libertad

Expect the same side that faced Tigre – Photo: Prensa Club Libertad

Libertad tasted defeat for the first time in 20 games on Sunday, admittedly it was a slightly changed team with player’s being rested for tonight’s clash. We should see an organised 4-4-2 that presses hard in midfield but rarely over-exerts so as not to leave too much space at the back. Those who read the blog regularly will know how highly I rate Pablo Guiñazú but it is worth re-iterating just how important he is to Libertad this year, his experience especially against Brazilian sides will be critical.

Guiñazu (Left) leads the players out of the hotel - Photo: D10.com.py courtesy of Prensa Libertad

Guiñazu (Left) is the man to watch – Photo: D10.com.py courtesy of Prensa Libertad

Palmeiras were relegated last year but that doesn’t directly affect the Copa Libertadores campaign as they are still playing the state championships. Of course one thing it has meant is that certain players have left the Verdão including Argentine striker Hernan Barcos who has an excellent record in this competition (he’s already got 2 this year with new club Grêmio). His replacement up front is the teenager Vinícius who has become a regular so far this season and has formed a good relationship with another youngster called Patrick Vieira who like his illustrious namesake is a midfielder.

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

Palmeiras XI (possible): Fernando Prass; Weldinho, Mauricio Ramos, Henrique, Marcelo Oliveira; Vilson, Marco Araujo, Souza, Wesley; Patrick Vieira; Vinicius

Prediction: 1-1

Selected Odds: Libertad win 1.9, Draw 3.75, Palmeiras win 4.7, 1-1 draw 8.0, Under 2.5 goals 1.81

Best Bet: For whatever reason Libertad don’t have a great record against Brazilian sides at home, so I’m not tempted by the win, Under 2.5 looks best for me

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Stats

Libertad head-to-head vs Brazilian opposition (Copa Libertadores)

Pld 14 W 3 D 4 L 7 GF 11 GA 17

Libertad at home vs Brazilian opposition (Copa Libertadores)

Pld 7 W 2 D 3 L 2 GF 8 GA 6

Libertad last 5 home (Copa Libertadores)

Pld 5 W 3 D 2 L 0 GF 10 GA 4

Libertad have reached the Quarter Finals in their previous four continental competitions

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By Ralph Hannah

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

For more football previews check out CaStRoF’s betting tips

Copa Libertadores 2013: Tigre vs Libertad preview

Tigre vs Libertad
José Dellagiovanna, Victoria
21/02/2013; 21:30 (01:30 GMT)
Group Stages
TV: Fox Sports (Paraguay); ESPN (UK)

Game 111 for Libertad in the Copa Libertadores and their first against Tigre (although they did play Mexican club Tigres back in 2006) the runners-up in the 2012 Copa Sudamericana. In 12 previous trips to Argentina the Gumarelo have won on just three ocassions in 2007, 2009 and 2010 against Banfield, San Lorenzo and Lanús respecitvely. Their previous trip was the 2011 Quarter Final that ended in a 3-0 defeat to Velez Sarsfield in La Bombonera.

Libertad arrive in Tigre - Photo: D10.com.py courtesy of Prensa Libertad

Libertad arrive in Tigre – Photo: D10.com.py courtesy of Prensa Libertad

Ruben Israel will play a 4-4-2 and the key member of the side is a man with four different continental titles to his name, Pablo Guiñazú won the Copa Libertadores, Sudamericana, Suruga Bank and Recopa Sudamericana between 2008-2011 with Internacional. The veteran midfielder will sit deep and orchestrate from the centre circle, his lack of pace more than compensated for by his precise first touch and excellent vision. Israel bases his side on a tight defence and Ganso Benítez can bring plenty of experience having faced Tigre last year with Cerro Porteño in the Sudamericana.

Guiñazu (Left) leads the players out of the hotel - Photo: D10.com.py courtesy of Prensa Libertad

Guiñazu (Left) leads the players out of the hotel – Photo: D10.com.py courtesy of Prensa Libertad

Tigre embark on their first continental game since that infamous night in São Paulo that saw them withdraw at halftime, awarding the title to the Brazilians by default. Nestor Gorosito is still at the helm and under him last year they were very strong at home in the Sudamericana so expect them to come out all guns blazing early on.

Tigre XI (probable): Javier García; Alejandro Donatti, Mariano Echeverría, Lucas Orba; Gaston Díaz, Diego Ferreira, Gabriel Peñalba, Sebastian Rusculleda; Matías Pérez García, Ruben Botta; Ezequiel Maggiolo.

Libertad XI (possible): Rodrigo Muñoz; Jorge Moreira, Pedro Benitez, Ismael Benegas, Miguel Samudio; Sebastian Eguren, Sergio Aquino, Pablo Guiñazu, William Mendieta; Pablo Velazquez, José Ariel Nuñez

Prediction: 0-1

Selected Odds: Tigre win 2.2, Draw 3.4, Libertad win 3.9, 0-1 win 12.0, Under 2.5 goals 1.71

Best Bet: Libertad DNB (Draw No Bet) looks good at 2.74

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Stats

Libertad head-to-head vs Argentine opposition (Copa Libertadores)

Pld 24 W 8 D 4 L 12 GF 22 GA 32

Libertad last 5 away (Copa Libertadores)

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

Libertad have reached the Quarter Finals in their previous four continental competitions

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By Ralph Hannah

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

For more football previews check out CaStRoF’s betting tips

Copa Libertadores 2013: Olimpia vs Universidad de Chile preview

Olimpia vs Universidad de Chile
Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción
19/02/2013; 21:30 (00:30 GMT)
Group Stages
TV: Fox Sports (Latin America); ESPN (UK)

The 2011 Copa Sudamericana champions, Universidad de Chile, visit Asunción as Olimpia hope to pick up their first points in this year’s Copa Libertadores. The home team have been given a hand by the APF who allowed them to postpone their league match meaning this is their first game since Thursday’s defeat against Newell’s Old Boys. The Chileans on the other hand played an away match on Saturday, with their first team, but could only draw with Everton. The teams have met on 8 previous occasions in this tournament, Olimpia winning 4, drawing 1 and losing 3 with the most recent meeting in 1977, a 1-0 victory for the Paraguayans with Miguel María Michelagnoli getting the winner.

Photo: Olimpia.com.py

Photo: Olimpia.com.py

We’ve seen so far with Ever Almeida that Olimpia are stronger defensively than in 2012, although they conceded three against Newell’s all of the goals came in a frantic final 20 minutes, before that it was a very tight battle with two tactically disciplined sides. Yesterday the general feeling was that the side would line up differently to the team we saw in Rosario, no wing backs with Julio Manzur coming into a back four and Fredy Bareiro joining Tanque Ferreyra up front. However at the time of writing, just hours before kick off, the reports suggest it will be the more familiar 3-4-1-2 system with Arnaldo Castorino starting up front and Juan Manuel Salgueiro the ‘enganche’ between midfield and attack.

Olimpia fans will be out in force - Photo: D10.com.py

Olimpia fans will be out in force – Photo: D10.com.py

La U arrive in Asunción with fond memories from their previous visit in May 2012, they drew with Libertad before defeating them on penalties to reach the semi-finals. While several members of that side have moved on, most notably Angelo Henriquez to Manchester United and manager Jorge Sampaoli to the Chilean national side, they remain a threat under Dario Franco. The Argentine Gustavo Lorenzetti is a class act and youngster Sebastian Ubilla scored both goals in their opening win against Deportivo Lara before netting again in the weekend’s league match.

Tonight will be a big test for Almeida who knows his side must score but appreciates the danger of overloading against the Chileans who are so strong on the counter, he must get the balance right.

Olimpia XI (probable): Martín Silva; Salustiano Candia, Herminio Miranda, Enrique Meza; Ale Silva, Eduardo Aranda, Richard Ortiz, Sebastián Ariosa; Juan Manuel Salgueiro; Arnaldo Castorino, Juan Carlos Ferreyra.

Universidad de Chile XI (probable): Johnny Herrera; Paulo Magalhaes, Albert Acevedo, José Rojas; Charles Aránguiz, Sebastián Martínez, Roberto Cereceda, Guillermo Marino; Cesar Cortés, Sebastian Ubilla, Gustavo Lorenzetti

Prediction: 1-1

Selected Odds: Olimpia win 2.5, Draw 3.35, Uni. de Chile win 3.15, 1-1 draw 6.8, Under 2.5 goals 1.76

Best Bet: I don’t think Olimpia will be defeated in front of a passionate home crowd, my leaning is towards BTTS (Both Teams to Score) taking into account La U’s strong offensive side

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Stats

Olimpia last 5 vs Chilean opposition (All Continental Comps.)

Pld 5 W 2 D 2 L 1 GF 7 GA 9

Olimpia last 5 Copa Libertadores Home

Pld 5 W 3 D 1 L 1 GF 10 GA 7

Olimpia last 5 Continental Comps. (All venues)

Pld 5 W 1 D 2 L 2 GF 3 GA 4

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Full squad list

Courtesy of @endamo (Quique Molinas)

Courtesy of @endamo (Quique Molinas)

 

By Ralph Hannah

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

For more football previews check out CaStRoF’s betting tips

Apertura 2013 Week 1: Luque vs Olimpia preview

Three more games this weekend to round off the start of the Apertura campaign, the main match is of course Olimpia’s trip to Luque with the promoted clubs also in action.

Sportivo Luqueño vs Olimpia
Feliciano Cáceres, Luque
10/02/2013; 19:00 (22:00 GMT)
TV: Unicanal (Paraguay)

Olimpia’s league season begins with a visit to a re-vamped Luque side featuring just a handful of players from their previous encounter.  The auriazul are on a run of three consecutive wins against their old rival in this stadium, Olimpia’s last triumph at the Feliciano Cáceres was a 4-1 victory in the 2011 Apertura although only four players survive from that victory.

Luque won the last game at the Feliciano Cáceres - Photo: Fernando Romero, ABC Color

Luque won the last game at the Feliciano Cáceres – Photo: Fernando Romero, ABC Color

Luque have continued with manager Pablo Caballero who will hand debuts to the experienced Denis Caniza and Javier Gonzalez – once again the threat of relegation casts a dark shadow over the Feliciano Cáceres, they need to make sure they outperform newly promoted neighbours General Díaz and Deportivo Capiatá to remain in the Primera come December.

Olimpia have resisted the temptation to rest players with Thursday’s trip to Rosario in mind, much of today’s starting XI are likely to line up against Newell’s Old Boys. Juan Carlos Ferreyra has scored twice against the Kuré previously and Fredy Bareiro was on target in the previous match, they will be relying on the service from Salguerio.

Expect this to be a close and hard fought game, Ever Almeida showed us against Defensor Sporting that he wants his side to be mean at the back and the defensive three of Candia, Miranda and Meza look like they could form a strong coalition. As for Luque they have three midfielders who have tormented Olimpia in the past in Francisco Garcia, Juan Pablo Raponi and Luis Miño – if they can work well and evade Aranda and Ortiz then there could be some joy for the men in blue and gold.

Prediction: 0-1

Best Bet: Hard game to bet on as the last four meetings in this stadium have gone over 2.5 but my instinct says Ever Almeida will want to keep things tight so I think the away win is the bet to make.

Luque XI (probable): Joel Silva; Victor Dávalos, Gonzalo Maluella, Denis Caniza, Ariel Coronel; William Schuster, Luis Miño, Juan Pablo Raponi, Francisco Garcia; Javier Gonzalez, José Carlos Burgos

Olimpia XI (probable): Martin Silva; Salustiano Candia, Herminio Miranda, Enrique Meza; Jorge Báez, Eduardo Aranda, Ricardo Ortiz, Alejandro Silva; Juan Manuel Salgueiro; Juan Carlos Ferreyra, Fredy Bareiro

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Non-televised games

Rubio Ñu vs Cerro de Franco
Estadio La Arboleda
10/02/2013; 17:30 (20:30 GMT)
Prediction: 2-0

Rubio Ñu were very poor last year but they have the advantage that Chiqui Arce has stayed on, bought in a few experienced faces (mainly from relegated Tacuary), while Cerro de Franco dismissed Eduardo Rivera and lost a couple of their best performers last year. Crucially they don’t have Rogerio Leichtweiss who was so important up front last year – the albiverde however have Jorge Ortega and Hugo Lusardi who have the capability of finding the net.

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Gral. Diaz vs Deportivo Capiatá
Dos Bocas
10/02/2013; 18:30 (21:30 GMT)
Prediction: 3-1

Although the game is on neutral venue I think General Diaz’s quality on paper will be too much for their rivals, Antonio Bareiro was a class act in the Intermedia last year and he could well be the difference today. In the last meeting Capiatá won 1-0 but prior to that it was a 4-0 rout for the side from Luque.

By Ralph Hannah

NB: For more previews you can visit CaStRoF betting tips who often features detailed previews of football from around the world

International Friendly: Paraguay vs El Salvador preview

Paraguay vs El Salvador
Estadio Nicolas Leóz, Asunción
06/02/2013; 20:30 (23:30 GMT)
TV: Telefuturo, Paravision (both Paraguay)

Paraguay play their first game of the year against another CONCACAF side, El Salvador, it is the sixth consecutive friendly game they have faced a team from the region. The game takes place at Libertad’s ground and is the only run out before the two tricky away qualifiers next month in Uruguay and Ecuador.

Paraguay and El Salvador dispute the much sought after 'Copa Vision Banco' -  Photo: Prensa Selección Paraguaya de Fútbol

Paraguay and El Salvador dispute the much sought after ‘Copa Vision Banco’ – Photo: Prensa Selección Paraguaya de Fútbol

Gerardo Pelusso has called up Robin Ramirez who last represented the albirroja under Chiqui Arce in their very first qualifier against Peru in Lima. He has also handed a debut call-up to Ivan Gonzalez Ferreira who played well for Guaraní last season and is one of several home-based players in a midfield that includes Cerro Porteño trio Jonathan Fabbro, Julio Dos Santos and Fidencio Oviedo while youngsteres Silvio Torales and Richard Ortiz are also part of the camp. There is a strong Mexican flavour with Paulo Aguilar, Paulo Da Silva and Edgar Benítez joining Ramirez from up north.

Robin Ramirez is part of Mexican legion including Edgar Benítez (background far left) - Photo: Prensa Selección Paraguaya de Fútbol

Robin Ramirez is part of Mexican legion including Edgar Benítez (background far left) – Photo: Prensa Selección Paraguaya de Fútbol

Interested to see how Pelusso plays, he usually prefers three central midfielders in a 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 formation with at least one physical striker and another pacey one. In the previous friendly the trio up front was Luis Caballero flanked by Edgar Benítez and José Ariel Nuñez all of whom are in this squad. In defence it is likely to be Ivan Piris at full back with the two Paulos in central defence.

I know very little about El Salvador, their former boss was Ruben Israel now at Libertad and their only foreign-based player is Rafael Burgos of Kesckeméti in Hungary.

Paraguay XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Ivan Piris, Paulo Da Silva, Pablo Aguilar, Lorenzo Melgarejo; Victor Ayala, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos; Edgar Benítez, Nelson Haedo or Luis Caballero, José Ariel Nuñez

Prediction: 2-0

Selected Odds: Paraguay win 1.32, Draw 5.4, El Salvador win 8.4; Under 2.5 goals 1.99

Best Bet: A Paraguayan victory is expected so there is no value there, unders is my option because Paraguay don’t usually score many (see below) and I only expect the game to go overs if El Salvador manage to score. As a secondary bet look into Paraguay winning at Half-Time (currently 1.8) as they’ve been leading at HT in 8 of their previous 11 friendlies.

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STATS

Paraguay vs El Salvador head-to-head: Pld 4 W 4 D 0 L 0 GF 7 GA 1

(Most recent meeting was 2005 in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay won 3-0)

Paraguay average goals scored (Pelusso era): 1.3
Paraguay average goals conceded (Pelusso era): 1.83
Paraguay average goals per game (Pelusso era): 3.17

Paraguay last 5 home friendlies

Pld 5 W 4 D 1 L 0 GF 8 GA 2

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Paraguay Full Squad

Goalkeepers: Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Antony Silva (Deportes Tolima, Colombia), Carlos Servín (Rubio Ñu, Paraguay)

Defenders: Paulo Da Silva (Pachuca, México), Pablo Aguilar (Tijuana, México), Iván Piris (Roma, Italia), Marcos Cáceres (Newell’s Old Boys, Argentina), Lorenzo Melgarejo (Benfica, Portugal), Miguel Samudio (Libertad, Paraguay), Pedro Benítez (Libertad, Paraguay), Salustiano Candia (Olimpia, Paraguay)
Midfielders: Víctor Cáceres (Flamengo, Brasil), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Fidencio Oviedo (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Víctor Ayala (Lanús, Argentina), Julio Dos Santos (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Richard Ortiz (Olimpia, Paraguay), Silvio Torales (Nacional, Paraguay), Iván González Ferreira (Guaraní, Paraguay)
Forwards: Nelson Haedo (Valencia, España), Edgar Benítez (Toluca, México), Luis Neri Caballero (Samara, Rusia), José Ariel Núñez (Libertad, Paraguay), Robin Ramírez (Pumas UNAM, México)

By Ralph Hannah

All odds from Betfair Sports who will have an in-play market on this game

Copa Libertadores 2013: Olimpia vs Defensor Sporting preview

Olimpia vs Defensor Sporting
Defensores del Chaco, Asunción
31/01/2013; 19:15 (22:15 GMT)
Preliminary Round 2nd leg (0-0 aggregate)
TV: Fox Sports (Latin America); ESPN (UK)

The national stadium in the suburb of Sajonia is the scene for the showdown between Olimpia and Defensor Sporting in the second leg of the preliminary round. It will be Ever Almeida’s first game in charge of El Decano in his new spell as coach, the former goalkeeper has bags of experience in this competition, he holds the record for the most appearances in the Copa Libertadores (113) all of which were made while guarding Olimpia’s goal.

Arnaldo Castorino in the first leg which was a dull draw

Arnaldo Castorino in the first leg which was a dull draw

The opening game was a dour stalemate with neither team showing much ambition, it also stretched the Paraguayan side’s winless record against Defensor Sporting, in three competitive meetings they have drawn twice and lost once. Their only previous meeting in the Defensores del Chaco finished 1-1 in the 2010 Copa Sudamericana a result that saw them knocked out that evening and a repeat would also do for them tonight.

The goalscorer for the home side in that match was Juan Carlos Ferreyra who has returned to Olimpia for his second spell at the club, ‘El Tanque’ is likely to partner Arnaldo Castorino up front. Almeida has vowed to be more attacking knowing that with no away goal to their credit only a win will see them through after 90 minutes – he is set to include playmaker Juan Manuel Salgueiro in his 3-4-1-2 starting line up.

The tank returns - Photo: Ultimahora.com

The tank returns – Photo: Ultimahora.com

Defensor Sporting’s two Rodriguez’s nicknamed ‘Toro’ and ‘Zurdo’ were two of the best players in the first game, the latter looking dangerous on the left-hand-side. However the man of the match was arguably Nicolás Olivera who unfortunately suffered a serious injury that night breaking his collar bone. Without the veteran striker it is likely the Uruguayans won’t offer much going forward.

Olimpia XI (probable): Martín Silva; Salustiano Candia, Herminio Miranda, Enrique Meza; Jorge Báez, Richard Ortiz, Eduardo Aranda, Sebastián Ariosa; Juan Manuel Salgueiro;Arnaldo Castorino, Juan Carlos Ferreyra

Defensor Sporting (probable): Yonathan Irrazábal; Emilio Zeballos, Ramón Arias, Mario Risso, Robert Herrera, Aníbal Hernández, Diego “Toro” Rodríguez, Andrés Fleurquin, Diego “Zurdo” Rodríguez, Damián Luna, Ignacio Risso

Prediction: 1-0

Selected Odds: Olimpia win 2.18,, Draw 3.45, Defensor Sporting win 3.9, 1-0 win 7.4, Under 2.5 goals 1.69

Best Bet: While I’m strongly leaning to Unders the odds on the Olimpia win look fairly hefty considering the experience of their coaching staff and key players, I’d go on the straight win

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More stats

Plenty in the opening paragraphs but here is a quick form guide.

Olimpia last 5 Copa Libertadores Home

Pld 5 W 3 D 1 L 1 GF 10 GA 8

Olimpia last 5 Continental Comps. (All venues)

Pld 5 W 1 D 3 L 1 GF 2 GA 2 – includes three 0-0 draws

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Full squad list

Source: Club Olimpia

Source: Club Olimpia

By Ralph Hannah

Copa Libertadores 2013: Defensor Sporting vs Olimpia preview

Defensor Sporting vs Olimpia
Estadio Luis Franzini, Montevideo
24/01/2013; 19:00 (22:00 GMT)
TV: Fox Sports (Latin America); ESPN (UK)

Olimpia begin their quest for the fabled fourth Copa Libertadores title in familiar surroundings, this is their 16th game in Uruguay in continental comptitions and 32nd against sides from charrúa territory. They only have three wins to their name coming in 1991 against Nacional, 1993 again versus Nacional and most recently in 1998 against Peñarol. Those three games all took place in the Estadio Centenario, the most recent visit to tonight’s venue, the Luis Franzini, was last year’s Copa Sudamericana where they played out a goalless draw with Danubio.

Salgueiro (L) and Castorino (R) will be important for the Olimpia frontline - Photo: D10.com.py

Salgueiro (L) and Castorino (R) will be important for the Olimpia frontline – Photo: D10.com.py

Their only previous competitive games against Defensor Sporting was for the 2010 Copa Sudamericana, a 2-0 defeat in Uruguay followed by a 1-1 draw in Asunción saw the Decano knocked out in the preliminary stages. All has not been well recently in the Olimpia camp, on Monday the players abandoned the ‘concentración’ in an ongoing dispute with the board over upaid wages. While the trip to this game was never in doubt (ultimately the club MUST qualify for the group stages to get enough prize money to pay off debt and salaries) it represents little change from Marcelo Recanate’s first spell as president (he was recently re-elected for a second term).

Ivan Almeida is unable to count on two of his summer signings, midfielders Wilson Pittoni and Tomás Guzman both miss out with injuries, it means Juan Manuel Salgueiro is likely to be the creator in midfield. He’ll be providing the bullets to Fredy Bareiro who has plenty of experience at this level and the exciting Arnaldo Castorino who always impresses with his energy, clever running and approach play. The good news is that Richard Ortiz made the trip despite reports that he may stay in Paraguay to negotiate a transfer to Europe, the tenacious midfielder will add steel to Olimpia’s spine. Admittedly I’m yet to see Olimpia in pre-season friendlies this year but reports suggest they will line up in a 3-4-1-2 formation with Herminio Miranda’s transfer completed just in time to play in central defence. Interestingly the probable starting eleven features four Uruguayans including ex-Defensor Sporting players Martin Silva and Sebastián Ariosa.

Martin Silva visits his old club - Photo: www.abc.com.py

Martin Silva visits his old club – Photo: http://www.abc.com.py

Defensor Sporting’s key players are diminuitive defensive midfielder Diego Rodríguez who was part of the recent Olympics squad and has represented the senior national team and the experienced Andrés Fleurquin who partners him in the middle of the park, the 37-year-old has played in Turkey, Austria, France and Spain outside of his home country. Veteran striker Nicolás Olivera returns to the club for his fifth spell, a fans favourite he will hope to give them something to cheer tonight.

Olimpia XI (probable): Martin Silva; Salustiano Candia, Herminio Miranda, Enrique Meza; Alejandro Silva, Eduardo Aranda, Richard Ortiz, Sebastian Ariosa; Juan Manuel Salgueiro; Fredy Bareiro, Arnaldo Castorino

Defensor Sporting (probable): Jonathan Irrazábal, Emilio Zeballos, Ramón Arias, Mario Risso, Robert Herrera, Aníbal Hernández, Diego “Toro” Rodríguez, Andrés Fleurquin, Diego “Zurdo” Rodríguez, Nicolás Olivera, Ignacio Risso

Prediction: 1-1

Selected Odds: Defensor Sporting win 2.06 , Draw 3.45, Olimpia win 4.2, 1-1 draw 7.6, Under 2.5 goals 1.74

Best Bet: I‘m torn between BTTS (Both teams to score) at 1.95 and Defensor Sporting to win the first half at 2.74 – my thoughts being that neither side is great defensively and Olimpia are slow starters. Will probably do both for fun.

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More stats

Plenty in the opening paragraphs but here is a quick form guide.

Olimpia last 5 Copa Libertadores Away

Pld 5 W 0 D 1 L 4 GF 6 GA 15

Olimpia last 5 Continental Comps. (All venues)

Pld 5 W 0 D 3 L 2 GF 3 GA 10 – includes two 0-0 draws

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Full squad list

1-MARTÍN SILVA
2-VICTOR CENTURIÓN
3-ALEJANDRO SILVA
4-SALUSTIANO CANDIA
5-EDUARDO ARANDA
6-HERMINIO MIRANDA
7-CARLOS HUMBERTO PAREDES
8-FABIO CABALLERO
9-RICHARD SALINAS
10-ENZO PRONO
11-JULIO MANZUR
12-FREDY BAREIRO
13-RICHARD ORTÍZ
14-JUAN CARLOS FERREYRA
15-ARNALDO CASTORINO
16-SEBASTIÁN ARIOSA
17-JORGE BÁEZ
18-JUAN MANUEL SALGUEIRO
19-ENRIQUE MEZA
20-BLAS CÁCERES

By Ralph Hannah

World Cup Qualifiers: Bolivia vs Paraguay Preview

Bolivia vs Paraguay
Estadio Hernando Siles
09/06/2012, 16.00 hs (21.00 BST)

Finally, after all the talk, all the hype and all the acclimatising the crunch World Cup Qualifier between Bolivia and Paraguay is upon us. The game has taken on huge significance following the albirroja’s relatively slow start to the campaign and Chiqui Arce will be under fire if Paraguay fail to win having spent one month in La Paz acclimatising. The support of the APF (Paraguayan FA) and the clubs who released their players early will vanish if the Guaraní don’t get the right result.

Paraguay training in La Paz – Photo: Prensa Selección Paraguaya

Arce will set his side up in a 4-4-2 formation hoping to keep possession and frustrate the Bolivians, that is the Chiqui way and while it didn’t work against Peru or Chile in the previous qualifiers away from Asunción the system should have been drummed into the players after a month of training. The team is likely to be domestic-based players with a spine of old warhorses starting in goal with Justo Villar, supported by central defender Paulo Da Silva, central midfielder Cristian Riveros and hard-working striker Nelson Haedo Valdez. Aureliano Torres was recalled and the left back will have a key role to play from set pieces as the ball can often take a deceptive trajectory in the thin La Paz air.

Paulo Da Silva & Justo Villar are stalwarts of la selección – Photo: Prensa Selección Paraguaya

Bolivia are trying to bounce back from the disappointment of the lacklustre display against Chile and are boosted by the return of star striker Marcelo Martins although they lost Juan Carlos Arce to injury. Coach Gustavo Quinteros had previously organised the Andean side very well and they frustrated Argentina last year in Buenos Aires. The problem with the verde is more psychological and has plagued them historically, if they concede the first goal heads will drop and a comeback is unlikely. Paraguay will undoubtedly be looking to score early on to break Bolivia mentally in this battle of the continent’s two landlocked nations.

Marcelo Martins is Bolivia’s star

Paraguay Probable XI: Justo Villar; Ricardo Mazacotte, Adalberto Román, Paulo Da Silva, Aureliano Torres; Eduardo Aranda, Cristian Riveros, Eric Ramos, Osvaldo Martínez; Nelson Haedo, Pablo Zeballos

Prediction: Bolivia were poor against Chile at home and their home advantage has been hugely reduced by the acclimatisation of the away team, Chiqui Arce is aware his job could be riding on this game and his team will come through for him, 0-1

SELECTED ODDS: Bolivia win 2.8, Draw 3.35, Paraguay win 2.74, 0-1 scoreline 8.4, Under 2.5 goals 1.69

BEST BET: Hard to look past the away win at that price

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Stats

For a more complete set of statistics take a peek at the Bolivia vs Paraguay Stat Attack – here are the head-to-heads taken from there:

Head-to-Head

Paraguay vs Bolivia Overall

Pld 64 W 32 D 17 L 13 GF 122 GA 62

Paraguay vs Bolivia World Cup Qualifiers

Pld 14 W 8 D 3 L 3 GF 28 GA 13

Paraguay vs Bolivia World Cup Qualifiers in Bolivia

Pld 7 W 1 D 3 L 3 GF 7 GA 10

Paraguay vs Bolivia all competitions in La Paz

Pld 15 W 2 D 6 L 7 – only wins were WCQ in 1974 and friendly in 1977

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Paraguay Squad

For full analysis on the squad you can check out my piece here.

Goalkeepers: Justo Villar (Estudiantes LP, Argentina), Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Antony Silva (Deportes Tolima, Colombia), Joel Silva (Guaraní, Paraguay).

Full backs: Ricardo Mazacotte (Nacional, Paraguay), Tomás Bartomeus (Guaraní, Paraguay), Aureliano Torres (Toluca, México), Elvis Marecos (Guaraní, Paraguay).

Centre Backs: Paulo Da Silva (Zaragoza, España), Adalberto Román (Palmeiras, Brasil), Julio Manzur (Guaraní, Paraguay), Luis Cardozo (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay).

Midfielders: Jorge D. Núñez (Once Caldas, Colombia), Hernán Pérez (Villarreal, España), Marcos Riveros (Nacional, Paraguay), Fidencio Oviedo (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor, Turquía), Eric Ramos (Rubio Ñu, Paraguay), Jorge Mendoza (Guaraní, Paraguay), Eduardo Aranda (Olimpia, Paraguay), Osvaldo Martínez (Atlante, México).
Strikers: Nelson Haedo (Rubín Kazán, Rusia), Pablo Zeballos (Olimpia, Paraguay), Edgar Benítez (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), José Ortigoza (Sol de América, Paraguay), Luis Nery Caballero (Olimpia, Paraguay), Lorenzo Melgarejo (Pacos de Ferreira, Portugal)

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By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: All odds via Betfair and correct at the time of writing

World Cup Qualifiers: Bolivia vs Paraguay stat attack

Before the kick off in La Paz on Saturday 9 June we have put together some vital statistics about Bolivia and Paraguay ahead of their World Cup Qualifying match. Next week, the day before the game we will have the usual preview with team news and the odds and predicitions.

Form Guide

Paraguay last 5 games

Pld 5 W 4 D 0 L 1 GF 8 GA 4

Paraguay vs Panama

Paraguay last 5 away games

Pld 5 W 2 D 0 L 3 GF 6 GA 7

Paraguay last 5 World Cup Qualifiers

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

Paraguay last 5 away World Cup Qualifiers

Pld 5 W 1 D 1 L 3 GF 4 GA 8

Head-to-Head

Paraguay vs Bolivia Overall

Pld 64 W 32 D 17 L 13 GF 122 GA 62

Paraguay vs Bolivia World Cup Qualifiers

Pld 14 W 8 D 3 L 3 GF 28 GA 13

Paraguay vs Bolivia World Cup Qualifiers in Bolivia

Pld 7 W 1 D 3 L 3 GF 7 GA 10

Paraguay vs Bolivia all competitions in La Paz

Pld 15 W 2 D 6 L 7  – only wins were WCQ in 1974 and friendly in 1977

Paraguay vs Bolivia all competitions in Asunción

Pld 20 W 15 D 3 L 2 Win rate 75%

Paraguay overcame Guatemala with ease

Scoring

Paraguay results having scored the first goal (since June 2010)

Pld 17 W 15 D 2 L 0 – the last time Paraguay scored first and lost was WCQ away to Brazil in 2009

Paraguay results  having conceded the first goal (since June 2010)

Pld 12 W 0 D 3 L 9 – the last time Paraguay conceded first and won was WCQ at home to Uruguay in 2003

Paraguay’s goal scorers in World Cup Qualifiers since 2007

Salvador Cabañas x 6

Nelson Haedo Valdez x 5

Crisitian Riveros x 4

Roque Santa Cruz x 3

Oscar Cardozo x 2

Paulo da Silva x 2

Richard Ortiz

Dario Verón

Edgar Benitez

Néstor Ayala

Paraguay’s goalscorers in last ten matches

Edgar Benitez x 3

Oscar Cardozo x 2

Richard Ortiz

Cristian Riveros

Dario Veron

Julio Manzur

José Ortigoza

Ariel Bogado

Jonathan Santana

Ricardo Mazacotte

Nestor Camacho

Altitude

Paraguay’s results at altitude (over 2500 metres above sea level) since 2000

Paraguay’s World Cup Qualifer against Ecuador

Bogotá – Pld 4 W 4 D 0 L 0

Quito – Pld 3 W 0 D 1 L 2

La Paz – Pld 3 W 0 D 1 L 2

By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: Head-to-Head records taken from FIFA.com which occassionally omits games they don’t consider full internationals

Special thanks to Tim and Rubén for pointing me in the right direction and fact-checking

Copa Libertadores 2012: Uni. de Chile vs Libertad preview

Universidad de Chile vs Libertad
Estadio Nacional de Chile
24/05/2012, 21.30 (02.30 BST)

As expected the first leg was a tight and intriguing match in which Libertad took the lead early on only to be pegged back by the quality of Universidad de Chile and in particular Gustavo Lorenzetti. The 1-1 result means that Libertad must score in Santiago to have a chance of progressing, that will suit Sampaoli’s side who can sit back and try and hit the Paraguayans on the counter.

Libertad arrive in Santiago for the game – Photo: D10.com.py

Once again it will be fascinating to see what strategy Burruchaga decides on, earlier in the week Pablo Velázquez spoke of “scoring early and protecting the lead” which leads us to believe that it will be a similar pattern to the first leg. The Guma will come out all guns blazing and try and overpower their opponents in the first 20 minutes before sitting deep. In contrast, Rodolfo Gamarra indicated that the focus was on making the most of any goalscoring opportunities when they arise which is the talk of a counter-attack-side. The Asunción club showed last time they can create chances against La U and are able to stretch them by exploited the flanks but the difficulty will be stopping the Chileans from scoring. Last week Libertad were incredibly disciplined yet switched off for a split second which allowed Lorenzetti the space to work some magic, they simply can’t afford to put a foot wrong or they will be punished.

Angelo Henríquez got two at the weekend – Photo: taringa.net

Universidad de Chile will be wary of the strength of their opponents but must be confident they will triumph at home, currently on a 12 game winning streak at home*. The team are of course brimming with offensive talent and enjoy the wide spaces at the Estadio Nacional, they put six past Deportivo Quito in their last game there having previously knocked five past Colo Colo in a league match. At the weekend they recorded four more goals and the 18-year-old Angelo Henríquez was on the scoresheet twice, he is just one of a host of attacking threats.

Libertad XI (probable): R.Muñoz; C.Bonet, C.Nasuti, I.Benegas, M.Samudio; V.Ayala, S.Aquino, V.Caceres, L.Civelli; P.Velázquez, J.A.Nuñez

Prediction: A brave attempt ultimately ending in defeat for Paraguay’s flag bearer in the competition, 2-1

SELECTED ODDS:  Uni. de Chile win 1.45, Draw 4.9, Libertad win 8.8; 2-1 scoreline 9.0, Over 2.5 goals 1.67

BEST BET: The short odds on the home win and Overs is actually because people are expecting a rout, if you believe Libertad can grab goal then 1.8 on both teams to score isn’t bad at all

GAME LIVE ON BETFAIR VIDEO

*La U’s winning streak are for all games where they are nominally at home which includes the ‘Estadio Nacional’ and Estadio Santa Laura where they have played recent league games

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STATS & TRIVIA

Libertad last 5 away in Copa Libertadores

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

Universidad de Chile last 5 home in Copa Libertadores

Pld 5 W 4 D 0 L 1 GF 15 GA 5

Previous meetings between Libertad and Uni. de Chile

2012 – Libertad 1-1 Uni. de Chile

1977 – Libertad 3-0 Uni. de Chile

1977 – Uni. de Chile 1-0 Libertad

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FULL SQUAD LIST:

GK: Rodrigo Muñoz, Bernardo Medina

DEF: Joe Bizera, Carlos Bonet, Ismael Benegas, Cristian Nasuti, Miguel Samudio, Gustavo Mencia, Jorge Moreira, Nery Bareiro

MID: Sergio Aquino, Luciano Civelli, Víctor Cáceres, Víctor Ayala, Jonathan Santana,  Néstor Camacho, Rodolfo Gamarra

ATT: Pablo Velazquez, Cristian Menendez, José Ariel Nuñez, Maurito Caballero

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By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: All odds up to date at the time of writing, vía Betfair