2012 Copa Sudamericana: Paraguay clubs preview

The end of the winter brings the start of ‘the other half of the glory’ better known as the Copa Sudamericana, considered to be the Europa League of South American football. This year Paraguay has four clubs participating, Olimpia qualified as being the side with the highest accumulative points in the previous calendar year they are accompanied by the teams with the 4th, 5th and 6th highest points totals, Cerro Porteño, Guaraní and Tacuary respectively.

We go through a one-by-one look at the sides, their strengths, weaknesses and players to keep an eye on. Check the blog next week for in-depth previews of the 1st round matches with games involving the sides on 24th & 26th August.

Olimpia

Founded: 25 July 1902

Previous participation: 2011 (Last 16)

Best finish: Last 16 (2011)

Opponents: Danubio (Uruguay), potentially Emelec/Uni. San Martin in next round

Strengths: They have experience in international tournaments and this group of players have excellent mental character which will serve them well in this knock-out competition. While not particularly exciting, the all-Paraguayan central midfield trio of Richard Ortiz, Fabio Caballero and Eduardo Aranda is effective and will be a wall in away ties. Gregorio Perez is a wily coach who is tactically astute.

Weaknesses: Goals could be difficult, not that Maxi Biancucchi and Fredy Bareiro don’t have the talent but they might not get the service they need.

One to watch: Richard Ortiz, an exciting left-footed player who has been deployed at full back but more recently central midfield. Determined, combative and with a decent shot from long-range the 22-year-old could have been in Europe by now had it not been for a long-term injury sustained in November that he’s recently recovered from.

Prediction: Last 16

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Guaraní

Founded: 12 October 1903

Previous participation: 2010 (2nd round)

Best finish: 2nd round (2010)

Opponents: Oriente Petrolero (Bolivia), potentially Millonarios/Inti Gas in next round

Strengths: Like Olimpia the central midfield is formidable with the Uruguayan duo of Sergio Orteman and Marcelo Palau, but they also have exciting options on the flanks with the likes of Luis de la Cruz, Dario Ocampo and Iván Gonzalez Ferreira. Defensively they are also sound with Eduardo Filippini and Elvis Marecos experienced full backs.

Weaknesses: Lack a first class striker to mark the difference in key games

One to watch: Sergio Orteman has been signed by Guaraní after having his contracted terminated with Olimpia, he has a great track record in international tournaments and his experience and talent will help drive the aborigen through the early stages.

Prediction: Last 16

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Cerro Porteño

 

Founded: 1 October 1912

Previous participation: 2010 (2nd round)

Best finish: Semi-Finals (2009)

Opponents: O’Higgins (Chile), potentially Mineros de Guayana/La Equidad in next round

 

 

Strengths: Wonderful array of attacking talent which is on a par with the top clubs in this competition, Jonathan Fabbro and Santiago Salcedo could do some real damage in this tournament. Coach Jorge Fossati also knows what he takes to win the Sudamericana trophy having picked it up with LDU Quito in 2009.

Weaknesses: In an effort to incorporate both Fabbro and Dos Santos, Cerro often only play with just one holding midfielder – Fidencio Oviedo – it is a huge responsibility and if the Paraguayan isn’t at the top of his game the azulgrana could be overrun by opponents.

One to watch: Jonathan Fabbro is the man for the big games, he rises to the occassion and can score deadly freekicks or long-range pearlers, just ask Colo-Colo and Santos fans. Expect him to play

Prediction: Quarter-Finals

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Tacuary

 

Founded: 10 December 1923

Previous participation: 2007 (1st round playoff)

Best finish: 1st round playoff (2007)

Opponents: Cobreloa (Chile) potentially Barcelona/Táchira in next round

 

Strengths: Carlos Servín the goalkeeper has often kept cleansheets when the side should have lost by 3 or 4 goals and the defensive solidity of Tacuary could be a source of frustration for their international adversaries not aware of their style of play.

Weaknesses: Where do we start? Tacuary were awful last year but have managed to pick up a lot of players for a potential cup run and more importantly to preserve their status in Primera. Midfield seems the weak link as Raúl Román is getting on and they really need somebody to get up and down the pitch and link with the strikers.

One to watch: Reinaldo Ocampo is a shrewd signing, he played well at Sol de América during the Apertura and was deservedly handed a chance to play for the national team in the selección casera. The right winger could help with the attacking spark so often lacking.

Prediction: 1st round

 

By Ralph Hannah

20 July 2012

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

Apertura 2012: Week 19 Preview

The political crisis in Paraguay meant Week 19′s games were moved from the weekend to Tuesday and Wednesday presuambly to avoid any crowd trouble. The major game’s are of course those at the top of the table, Cerro Porteño take on whipping boys Tacuary while Olimpia and Guaraní meet in the clásico añejo the oldest rivalry in Paraguayan football.

Cerro de Franco vs Nacional
Estadio Antonio Oddone Sarubbi
26/06/2012, 14:30
Prediction: 1-2

Nacional relaxed ahead of trip out east – Photo: Club Nacional Prensa

Cerro de Franco picked up a nice win against Rubio Ñu and have been playing well but Nacional too were excellent in the 2nd half last weekend. With the extra rest days allowing them to recover from the journey to Ciudad del Este an away win is on the cards because they have the quality.

Independiente vs Rubio Ñu

Estadio Ricardo Gregor

26/06/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 1-1

Two teams playing badly and affected by managerial changes, Independiente have been poor since their coach left while Rubio Ñu named former Cerro Porteño manager Blas Cristaldo as their new boss this week, caution suggests a draw. The only chance of an away win is if Cristaldo’s appointment has instilled confidence in the albiverde.

Sportivo Carapeguá vs Libertad

Estadio Juan Canuto Pettengill
26/06/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 1-2

Libertad vs Carapeguá in pre-season

Libertad have way too much quality for a Carapeguá side struggling to get goals or points at the moment, should be an away win even if the Guma’s star player Topo Cáceres is involved in yet another transfer saga.

Sportivo Luqueño vs Sol de América
Estadio Feliciano Cáceres
26/06/2012, 18:00
Prediction: 1-1

Luque and Sol are fairly evenly matched, while Sol are stronger offensively they have a weak defence and Luque have proved themselves very hard to beat recently, unbeaten in five with four draws during that run. The home advantage also makes me lean away from the Sol win despite the excellent partnership between Enzo Prono and José Ortigoza.

Olimpia vs Guaraní
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
26/06/2012, 19:00
Prediction: 2-1

Palau will be out to try and stop Olimpia Photo: D10.com.py

Olimpia shouldn’t suffer against Guaraní as they did versus Tacuary last week, the aborigen are more expansive and will leave more space in behind for Pablo Zeballos and company to exploit. Guaraní did well to turn the game around against Sol de América, Iván Gonzalez Ferreira was excellent as the attacking outlet and Marcelo Palau is very important as the holding midfielder. However in this derby game it is likely that Olimpia will have a little bit too much for their rivals in attack and will edge this one.

SELECTED ODDS

Olimpia win 1.6, Draw 3.3, Guaraní win 2.86

BEST BET: Hard one, the gut feeling is that there will be over 2.5 but recent stats suggest Olimpia will draw or win to nil which could be a safer option

Cerro Porteño vs Tacuary
Estadio Gral. Pablo Rojas a.k.a La Olla
27/06/2012 19:00
Prediction: 2-0

Diego Barreto misses game – Photo: paraguay.com

Only a miracle saved Tacuary last week, actually two miracle saves by their goalkeeper. On the other hand Cerro played brilliantly and were unlucky to lose against a very good Libertad team, if they play anything close to that level they will win easily against Tacuary. The only big miss is Diego Barreto, the goalkeeper is still suffering dizziness after colliding with the upright against Nacional, Pablo Gavilán will continue and was a bit uncertain at times.

SELECTED ODDS

Cerro win 1.2, Draw 4.0, Tacuary 7.0

BEST BET: Cerro on the handicap, if they play like they did against Libertad they should win comfortably.


By Ralph Hannah

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

Weekend Wrap: Olimpia slip up but extend their lead to four

Tacuary vs Olimpia
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(0-0) 0-0

Olimpia, with nine wins in their last 11 games against Tacuary, just couldn’t break down the stubborn resistance of the bottom club in a frustrating 90 minutes for the league leaders. El Decano lined up in the same 4-3-3 formation that beat Libertad in midweek with seemingly Russian-bound Luis Caballero and Pablo Zeballos up front alongside Maxi Biancucchi. For Tacuary they had Gregor Aguayo back from a six-month suspension although another four teammates had been left out for poor performance and possible indiscipline during the concentración.

Servín (left) and Richard Ortiz (middle) were protagonists – Photo: D10.com.py

Surprisingly it was Tacuary who had the first chance, after just two minutes their best outfield player Jorge Ortega forced a good save from Martin Silva when the ball fell to him in the box. The nominal home side were defeinding well, in the first 20 minutes Olimpia were restricted to long shots and their set piece delivery wasn’t troubling the Tacuary goal. In fact Tacuary should have gone ahead, veteran Raul Román stung Silva’s hands with a half volley on the edge of the area and the loose ball fell to Ortega in the box, his shot was pushed away by a wonderful reaction save by the big Uruguayan goalkeeper. Olimpia’s best chances in the first half came from Richard Ortiz’s head, firstly after 29 minutes a wonderful cross from Eduardo Aranda found the Paraguay international but Carlos Servín pulled off an excellent save to turn the ball away for a corner. On 43 minutes Servín made another incredible stop this time with just one hand as Eugenio Montiel’s cross had found Ortiz unmarked in the box.

Roque Santa Cruz was in the crowd to watch his brother Julio -
Photo: D10.com.py

Olimpia began the second half as they’d finished the first, Maxi Biancucchi flashing a shot wide after 54 minutes but in general they were struggling to keep the ball and lacked ideas in the final third. In general moves broke down on the edge of the Tacuary area but Biancucchi did finally worm his way into the box after 65 minutes before being felled by a robust tackle, replays suggest that it should have been a penalty. The introduction of Alberto Contrera seemed to work for Olimpia as the winger began getting balls into the penalty area, central defender Salustiano Candia could have profited from one such cross but his diving header was inches wide. In the final minutes there was another chance as a corner was allowed to bounce twice in the six yard box but Tacuary managed to avert danger with no Olimpia player able to make a telling connection. Roque Santa Cruz was in the crowd to watch his younger brother Julio make his debut, although the striker didn’t carve out an opportunity for himself. Fittingly the final chance of the game arrived at Richard Ortiz’s head on 92 minutes, once again he met a corner in terrific fashion but as the ball flew past Servín it also sailed over the bar.

Tacuary XI: Carlos Servín; Gustavo Giménez, Marcos Acosta Pera, Diego Viera, Gregor Aguayo; Pablo Espinoza, Marcos Giménez, Marcos Acosta Rojas, Gerardo Benítez; Raúl Román; Jorge Ortega

Subs: Ever Ortíz for Gerardo Benítez, Lorenzo Silva for Marcos Acosta Rojas, Fernández for Raúl Román

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: Osvaldo Hobecer for Eduardo Aranda, Alberto Contrera for Eugenio Montiel, Julio Santa Cruz for Maxi Biancucchi

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Guarani vs Sol
Estadio Dos Bocas
(0-1) 2-1 – Iván Gonzalez Ferreira 50′, Elvis Marecos 74′; Enzo Prono 35′

Guaraní put in a tremendous second half shift to turn the game around against high-flying Sol de América and end their four game winning streak. It was a historic event at Dos Bocas as the game was taken charge by Japanese officials who have been ‘borrowed’ by the APF in their committment to try and improve the standard of refereeing.

The home side settled better with more possession and both strikers went close, Carlos Hidalgo’s free kick went just over after nine minutes and a couple of minutes later Dante López hit a scorching shot from 25 yards tipped over for a corner. Despite Guaraní’s ascendency Sol were always a threat on the break and especially down their left-hand side where José Ortigoza was peeling off into the space left by attacking full back Eduardo Filippini. Perfect evidence of this was the exchange of goal threats after 25 minutes, firstly Filippini combined down the right with Hidalgo who found López in the box. The number seven rounded Roberto Acosta but was unable to finish from a tight angle. The visitor’s broke immediately and a clever turn by Enzo Prono lost his marker on the right, he spread the ball across to Ortigoza unmarked on the left and with Filippini nowhere he was able to play a pass to the overlapping David Mendieta who dragged his shot just wide.

That was a warning for the aborigen and ten minutes later they were made to pay the price as the league’s topscorers and form side took the lead through Prono. Mendieta did well to lift a pass over the defence and the onrushing Sergio Escalante showed strength and balance to turn the ball into the near post under pressure from a Guaraní defender. Prono had made a fantastic darting run to that area leaving his marker for dead and he tapped the ball in to net his eighth of the season, a fantastic return for this intelligent youngster.

The second half was a different story, Guaraní continued to dominate possession but were far more incisive and had equalised after six minutes of intensive pressure. Nelson Romero had threaded a great pass into Iván Gonzalez Ferreira but a last ditch tackle forced the ball out for a corner kick. From the resulting set piece Gonzalez Ferreira got his reward, a half-clearance found him on the edge of the box and from a difficult angle he managed to turn and shoot, surprising Acosta with the force of the shot.

Elvis Marecos grabbed the winner – Photo: D10.com.py

The aurinegro kept pushing fora  winner, López stung Acosta’s hands with a fierce shot from distance, Marcelo Palau had a long shot saved too and forced a great stop from a header. So it was no great surprise when the Danzarín fell behind to Elvis Mareco’s thumping header from a corner with a quarter of an hour left. Sol had a late effort that nearly brought the equaliser, substitute Lorenzo Frutos saw his header tipped over by Aurrocochea. Ultimately Guaraní were good value for their win.

Guaraní XI: Pablo Aurrecochea, Eduardo Filippini, Luis Cabral, Elvis Marecos, Edgar Aranda, Nelson Romero, Marcelo Palau, Aguilar, Iván Gonzalez Ferreira, Dante Lopez, Carlos Hidalgo

Subs: Luis de la Cruz for Carlos Hidalgo, Pedro Chavez for Nelson Romero, Blas Caceres for Iván Gonzalez Ferreira

Sol de América XI: Roberto Acosta; Roberto Bonet, Martínez, Bruno Valdez, Diego Ciz; Sergio Escalante, Angel Enciso, Edgar Orzusa, David Mendieta, José Ortigoza, Enzo Prono

Subs: Lorenzo Frutos for Enzo Prono, Wili Mendieta for Roberto Bonet, Diego Vazquez for Angel Encisco

========================================

Libertad vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-0) 2-1 – Gustavo Mencia 5′, Rodolfo Gamarra 89′; Jonathan Fabbro 76′

Libertad dealt a huge blow to Cerro Porteño’s title hopes with a last minute winner from substitute Rodolfo Gamarra who notched up his third of the season. The victory also keeps Libertad in with a sniff of the title, although seven points behind with four games left to play means they need Olimpia to go into meltdown if they are to have a chance. For Cerro’s Julio Dos Santos it was a disappointing result on his 250th appearance for the club.

Gamarra’s ambush marketing – Photo: abc.com.py

Libertad struck early on just as they had during the week against Olimpia  with substitute goalkeeper Pablo Gavilán beaten to the ball by Gustavo Mencia as Cerro’s defence were statuesque not due to their own failings but the excellent delivery of Victor Ayala who is almost unplayable from set pieces in the final third. Gavilan was suspect again when he failed to claim several crosses, unsure of his positioning and the azulgrana defence had to fall back to try and clear their lines. One such mistake resulted in the ball falling to Ayala just outside the box, he rattled the crossbar with a stunning effort.

Cerro were by no means second best though, they looked to fashion chances and improved after 20 minutes when Fossati instructed them to play with four at the back instead of a back three and wing backs. Roberto Nanni is always a threat in the air and his header whistled wide of the post, the Argentine striker then tested the goalkeeper on 37 minutes with a clever shot on the turn. Jonathan Fabbro was looking motivated but was unable to find an inch of space as Jonathan Santana closed him in midfield or left him to the centre back Cristian Nasuti who pressured Fabbro when he picked up a position in between defence and midfield. There was no doubt that if he did find any room to work in then Libertad would be in trouble, about five minutes before the break Nasuti was out of position and Fabbro nearly punished the Guma, his long shot crashing off the woodwork. Luis Caceres couldn’t score with the follow up as Rodrigo Muñoz reacted well in goal.

Santana was better than Oviedo in midfield – Photo: D10.com.py

In the second half the rain intensified in Sajonia but it didn’t ruin the spectacle as both sides had chances in a fantastic forty-five minutes of football. José Ariel Nuñez, who has concreted his place as Libertad’s best forward player, should have made it two-nil after 47 minutes, beating the offside trap only to see his side-footed shot saved by the outstretched leg of Gavilan. On the hour Fossati transformed his left-hand side, taking off the two Benitez’s (César and Edgar) replacing them with Mingo Salcedo and Juan Manuel Lucero both recovering from long-term injury. The emphasis now was on getting balls into the box, Nanni nearly equalised after 66 minutes when he challenged Muñoz and who dropped the ball under pressure but he couldn’t get the definitive touch. Cerro then escaped a penalty shout, Cáceres clearly blocked a cross with his arm but Libertad’s appeals were waved away.

Cerro suffer in the rain – Photo: D10.com.py

A controversial finish was on the cards when Jonathan Fabbro equalised, a simply wonderful freekick with the outside of his foot full of power and swerve that left Muñoz with no chance. 17-year-old Maurito Caballero, heavily linked with Inter Milan, was thrown on to try and find a winner and his header was well saved by Gavilan. Straight up the other end Santiago Salcedo could have secured three points for Cerro Porteño hitting the bar in a frantic finale. Then after 89 minutes Caballero had an even better chance, Rodolfo Gamarra rolled the ball into his path in the box but he was denied again by Gavilan. Gamarra, however was on hand to turn the ball in and celebrated in the rain in unusual fashion. If that wasn’t enough for one half of football, Nanni should have equalised with a header that was somehow clawed out by Muñoz’s left arm, a tremendous save and a brilliant finish to an excellent game of football.

Libertad XI: Rodrigo Muñoz; Carlos Bonet, Cristian Nasuti, Joe Bizera, Gustavo Mencia; Víctor Ayala, Jonathan Santana, Sergio Aquino, Luciano Civelli; José Ariel Núñez, Pablo Velázquez

Subs: Maurtio Caballero for José Ariel Nuñez, Rodolfo Gamarra for Victor Ayala, Nestor Camacho for Luciano Civelli

Cerro XI: Pablo Gavilán; Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benítez, Luis Cardozo; César Benítez,  Luis Cáceres; Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Jonathan Fabbro; Édgar Benítez,  Roberto Nanni

Subs: Mingo Salcedo for César Benítez, Juan Manuel Lucero for Edgar Benítez, Santiago Salcedo for Pedro Benítez

========================================

OFF THE BALL

Bad week for Arce family: After Chiqui Arce’s sacking on Monday his brother Juan has now left Rubio Ñu following yet another defeat, this time at home to Cerro de Franco. Rubio Ñu sit second from bottom in what has been a poor season

Cerro Sub20 flying flag: While there is no chance of a Paraguayan side winning the Copa Libertadores this year, the representatives in the U20s tournament, Cerro Porteño, got off to a great start on Saturday beating local side Sporting Cristal 3-1 in Lima. The Cicloncitos trailed at halftime but launched a stirring second half comeback with goals from Oscar Romero, a César Serna penalty and Epifanio Garcia’s late strike. Could Cerro end up winning the Copa Libertadores in their centenary?!

The Cerro U20s before the game with Cristal – Photo: Pasión Azulgrana

Team of the Week: Carlos Servín (Tacuary); Gustavo Gimenez (Tacuary), Cristian Nasuti (Libertad), Elvis Marecos (Guaraní), Gregor Aguayo (Tacuary); Gustavo Cristaldo (Nacional), Jonathan Santana (Libertad), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño), Iván Gonzalez Ferreira (Guaraní); Rogerio Leichtweis (Cerro de Franco), Ariel Bogado (Nacional)

Player of the Week: Iván Gonzalez Ferreira of Guaraní is a left-footer playing on the right wing, he posed a constant threat to Sol de América and gave them the attacking threat from midfield usually attributed to Dario Ocampo (currently injured). His goal was fully deserved and was an excellent strike.

Donkey of the Week: Martin Silva made himself look a bit silly when he rushed over to the referee to breate him for blowing for full time 10 seconds early. Seeing that Olimpia had failed to score in the previous 5,570 seconds I doubt those extra ten would have been the difference.

Goal of the Week: Jonathan Fabbro’s freekick just edges out Iván Gonzalez Ferreira’s effort

ALL THE GOALS HERE

TABLE

Results: Tacuary 0-0 Olimpia, Rubio Ñu 1-2 Cerro de Franco, Independiente 1-1 Luque, Nacional 3-1 Carapeguá, Guaraní 2-1 Sol de América, Libertad 2-1 Cerro Porteño

Week 19 Fixtures: Olimpia vs Guaraní, Cerro de Franco vs Nacional, Independiente vs Rubio Ñu, Luque vs Sol de América, Carapeguá vs Libertad vs , Cerro vs Tacuary,

Paraguay Apertura 2012: Week 16 Preview

A preview of the final round of games before the one-month break to allow the national team acclimatisation time in La Paz ahead of the World Cup Qualifier against Bolivia. Also for those desperate to know the second half of Rubio Ñu vs Tacuary (suspended for rain) will be played on either the 17th or 18th of May and should be confirmed Monday next week.

Cerro PF vs Sportivo Luqueño
12/05/2012, 15.00
Estadio Juan Eudes Pereira
Prediction: 2-0

Luque training ahead of Cerro PF game – Photo: Prensa Sportivo Luqueño

Cerro de Franco managed their first away win last weekend while Luque dominated Tacuary but needed a last minute goal to equalise. The Kuré’s problem has certainly been goals scoring just once in the last four games and they will find it hard against a well-drilled Cerro team. The home side suffered a similar problem to Luque early on in the season but have found the net regularly in recent games thanks in part to the good form of striker Rogerio Leichtweiss. Home advantage and form suggest a win for the team from Alto Paraná.

Libertad vs Sol de América
12/05/2012, 17.00
Estadio Nicolás Leóz
Prediction: 2-1

An excellent win for Libertad in midweek against Cruz Azul has kept their good run of form intact, they are now eleven games unbeaten and really seem to have clicked. That spells danger for Sol de América who will struggle despite having a good record at this ground winning 3 of the last five meetings. Libertad just have too much quality all over the pitch to lose this, regardless of whether they field a first team or a reserve team.

Tacuary vs Guaraní
12/05/2012, 19.10
Estadio Roberto Bettega
Prediction: 0-1

Tacuary are the worst side in the league by a country mile so far and the only thing saving them from another defeat would be more profligacy in front of goal from Guaraní. The aborigen did miss Dario Ocampo’s creativity recently and will hope the diminuitive Argentine is back from injury soon. They have been boosted by the successful appeal against Marcelo Palau’s red card, the combative Uruguayan will start on Saturday and is expected to be a key player.

Independiente vs Sportivo Carapeguá

13/05/2012, 15.00
Estadio Ricardo Gregor
Prediction: 3-0

Independiente are the form side in the league having won four of their last five including back-to-back wins against Olimpia and Cerro Porteño. They play attractive football and have Emanuel Biancucchi in goalscoring form while welcoming back Francisco Garcia who missed the Cerro game due to a clause in his contract. Carapeguá are on a poor run of form and have had more instability with Jacquet resigning for the second time this season only to return once again. It should be a comfortable home victory.

Nacional vs Olimpia
13/05/2012, 15.10
Estadio Antonio Oddone Sarubbi
Prediction: 0-1

Maxi Biancucchi scored a 95th min winner last weekend – Photo: Prensa Club Olimpia

The teams travel to Ciudad del Este for this game which sees an inconsistent Nacional take on an Olimpia rocked by the triple termination of Sergio Orteman, Adrián Romero and Vladimir Marin’s contracts over indisicpline. The good news for the away team is that Miguel Amado is back to full fitness and can slot in at central midfield. Against Rubio Ñu they showed a lot of determination and grabbed a win in stoppage time, I think they will be good for the win again with Nacional not great travellers.

Rubio Ñu vs Cerro Porteño
13/05/2012, 17.30
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Prediction: 1-3

Luis Caceres may get a rare start – Photo: Prensa Club Cerro Porteño

A fixture against a struggling Rubio Ñu side perfect chance for Cerro to recover from last week’s surprsie defeat. If they score early it could be an easy victory with the attacking talent on show coupled with the albiverde’s poor defending so far this year. The wide spaces at the Defensores del Chaco will favour expansive players like Edgar Benitez and Jorge Rojas and with no Roberto Acuña (suspended) there might be a lack of orgnaization with the nominal home side. The last game between these two finished 5-3 to the azulgrana having led 3-0 at one stage and I sense there will be goals to cap off week 16.

By Ralph Hannah

All odds via Betfair and correct at the time of writing

Paraguay Apertura 2012: Week 15 Preview

The penultimate round of games before the self-imposed mid-season break (to allow the Paraguayan national side three weeks of acclimatisation at altitude before World Cup Qualifier against Bolivia) sees

Guaraní vs Libertad
05/05/2012, 18.00
Estadio Rogerio Livieres a.k.a Dos Bocas
Prediction: 1-1

Guaraní preparing for the game – Photo: Prensa Club Guaraní

 

Guaraní welcome back Elvis Marecos but are missing some key players in Nelson Romero and Dario Ocampo (both injured) with the latter’s likely replacement Luis de la Cruz also suspended. Libertad, on a nine-game unbeaten run, are also likely to rest players after the gruelling trip to Mexico for the Copa Libertadores. Traditionally the games here have been low scoring and if either team does win it would be by a single goal, I’m sitting on the fence though.

Olimpia vs Rubio Ñu
05/05/2012, 18.15
Estadio Manuel Ferreira a.k.a Para Uno
Prediction: 2-1

Rubio Ñu train ahead of the game – Photo: Prensa Rubio Ñu

The league leaders are in a real state – last week’s 3-0 defeat was made worse when it emerged that Vladimir Marín, Adrián Romero and Sergio Orteman had broken curfew to go to a concert in a nightclub until 5am. Gerardo Pelusso is furious and has banished them to the reserves – Marín didn’t even show up this morning (Friday). It has obviously brought instability to the camp with the players unsure whether to support their teammates or the coach. For Rubio Ñu they have an added bonus, Olimpia’s lack of midfield options means they will have to play Osvaldo Hobecker (on-loan from the albiverde) thus paying $70,000 as part of a contractual clause. The away team will be happy to have Benfica’s Derlis Gonzalez back from the flu but ultimately their lack of form and defensive quality means they won’t be able to capitalise on their opponents misfortunes. Home win.

Selected Odds: Not at time of writing

Best Bet: The goings on at Olimpia shouldn’t affect them but makes the win a bit risky, look at Over 2.5 goals as these games have been high scoring recently

Sportivo Carapeguá vs Cerro PF
06/05/2012, 15.00
Estadio Juan Canuto Pettengill
Prediction: 0-0

Carapeguá have struggled recently to find goals they have just two in their last five and they have also gone seven games without a win. It seems that Mario Jacquet’s ‘honeymoon’ period is over and the team are lacking direction. Cerro de Franco are organised and have been managing to get goals recently which has brought relatively positive results (five points in four games) but they do suffer on their travels. Hard to separate these two relegation strugglers.

Sol de América vs Nacional

06/05/2012, 15.00
Estadio Luis Giagni
Prediction: 2-1

A tough one to call this, Sol looked good against Rubio Ñu and they have Enzo Prono in scoring form and José Ortigoza fully fit. On the other hand they haven’t enjoyed a win at home since February and were beaten easily by Nacional last time round. The visitors aren’t on great form themselves, a run of losses was ended with a win at Tacuary but last week they were outplayed at home by Guaraní only to rescue a draw. The return of Marcos Riveros and Ricardo Mazacotte is certainly a boost but with pretty poor form on the road something tells me Sol will squeeze a victory especially if they score first.

Selected Odds: Not at time of writing

Best Bet: A tight game, look at the Asian Handicap for value

Cerro Porteño vs Independiente
06/05/2012, 17.10
Estadio Gral. Pablo Rojas a.k.a La Olla
Prediction: 3-0

Jonathan Fabbro returns to starting line up – Photo: Prensa Club Cerro Porteño

Independiente are on a high having beaten Olimpia comfortably but the star man that day was Francisco Garcia who can’t play against Cerro Porteño, his parent club. There is also a question of style, Olimpia have always been a bit susceptible defensively when teams take the game to them whereas Cerro revel in it and are very dangerous on the break. The home team are missing Uruguayan full backs Matias Corujo (injured) and Walter López (suspended for five games, three of which are for spitting at Aranda in the clásico) forcing interim manager Hugo Caballero to opt for three central defenders. He has also confirmed the return of Jonathan Fabbro in what will be a very attacking line up. I think it is the right way to go as Independiente are weak at the back and will be overwhelmed by the azulgrana.

Selected Odds: Not at time of writing

Best Bet: Cerro to win by more than one goal

Luque vs Tacuary
06/05/2012, 18.00
Estadio Feliciano Caceres
Prediction: 1-0

Luque celebrated their 91st birthday this week but the owners have been criticised heavily by club idol Romerito and there are lots of divides off the pitch as the club battles relegation. On the pitch they have won just one game in their last five and at home the record is similar, winning just two in the last five. Carlos Kiese has looked to youth with a few starlets plucked from the table-topping U20s side, it will be interesting to see if he gambles with young Fulvio Chavez in midfield this weekend. Tacuary are in worse form than Luque and new manager Luis Cubilla has been unable to do anything so far losing all three full games he has been in charge of. Sorry Luis but don’t see your luck changing on Sunday.

By Ralph Hannah

All odds via Betfair and correct at the time of writing

Apertura 2012: Week 14 Preview

We kick off tonight (Friday) with the duel betweent the albinegros Libertad and Tacuary with just one game tomorrow an intriguing battle between Nacional and Guaraní. Sunday rounds off the weekend with 2nd placed Cerro Porteño taking on their namesakes from Presidente Franco and Olimpia play Independiente in the Defensores del Chaco still recovering from Paul McCartney’s visit.

Libertad vs Tacuary
27/04/2012, 18.15
Estadio Nicolas Leóz
Prediction: 2-0

Libertad play at home -Photo: abc.com.py

Libertad are riding high again with nine goals in their last two games but will field several changes with Tuesday’s Copa Libertadores clash with Cruz Azul on the agenda. It shouldn’t have any effect on the result with Luciano Civelli and Rodolfo Gamarra very destructive when replacing Nestor Camacho and Victor Ayala as substitutes against Luque. Up front there could be a start for Maurito Caballero with first choice pair José Ariel Nuñez and Pablo Velázquez already in Mexico having travelled to Guatemala with the national team. Tacuary will hope that their decent historic form in the Nicolas Leóz (3 draws in last 5) saves them from defeat as their current form is dire.

Nacional vs Guaraní
28/04/2012, 15.00
Estadio Arsenio Erico
Prediction: 2-1

Guaraní have named all the international call ups despite the long journey back from Central America, the were the hardest hit club with four players making the trip. On top of that they are missing Dario Ocampo and Nelson Romero with injuries which will hamper their chances of scoring. Nacional have decided to give Paraguay’s match winner Ricardo Mazacotte a rest and other thanAriel Bogado’s niggling injury Gustavo Moringio has a full squad to choose from. The tricolor have been strong at home this season winning four out of five games and could nick this one.

Sportivo Carapeguá vs Sportivo Luqueño
29/04/2012, 15.00
Estadio Juan Canuto Pettengill
Prediction: 1-1

Luque fans need a win - Photo: Club Sportivo Luqueño - Prensa

Luque have suffered two heavy defeats on the bounce and Carlos Kiese has looked to his youth team for answers, promoting 18-year-old creative midfielder Fulvio Chavez to the senior squad. Carapeguá have lost their last four matches which coincides with Eduardo Echeverria’s four-game scoring drought, the club’s fortunes are highly correlated with that of their star player’s. With both teams anxious to gain points to boost their position in the promedio table the onus will be on avoiding defeat more than anything making a draw a probable result.

Rubio Ñu vs Sol de América
29/04/2012, 15.00
Estadio La Arboleda
Prediction: 1-2

It takes a braver man than myself to predict a game involving Rubio Ñu this season (well not really as I just predicted it reluctantly) with the albiverde very up and down. Sol de América too have been a bit hit and miss, and tensions ran high last weekend when they conceded a last minute goal to lose at home against lowly Independiente. I’ve plumped for a Sol win mainly on the basis that José Ortigoza is back from injury and as featured yesterday is one of the league’s best strikers. But don’t rule out a Rubio Ñu win if you are a believer in form, they have won 4 of the last 5 in this stadium against the danzarin with a healthy goal difference of 12 to 4!

Cerro PF vs Cerro Porteño
29/04/2012, 15.50
Estadio Oddone Sarubbi
Prediction: 0-1

Cerro de Franco take on their illustrious namesakes in Ciudad del Este where they have only lost once all year and will be on a high after the comeback to draw 3-3 with league leaders Olimpia last week. Cerro Porteño however are looking determined and efficient if not quite as pleasing on the eye as earlier on in the season. With that in mind it is more likely to be a professional victory rather than an emphatic one, I think it will an away win by the odd goal.

Independiente vs Olimpia
29/04/2012, 18.00
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Prediction: 1-2

Olimpia drew their last game - Photo: D10.com.py

Assuming my previous prediction holds true then Olimpia will enter this game knowing the gap is just two points having been as wide as seven after the superclásico. Maxi Biancucchi sits this one out, his second game of a two match ban, while the injury list is still notable with no place for Fabio Caballero or Salustiano Candia. Independiente can also look to a positive record against El Decano having drawn with them earlier in the season they have also drawn 2 of the 3 previous meetings in the Defensores. With that in mind it won’t be the walkover their respective league positions suggest.

By Ralph Hannah

Weekend Wrap: Libertad continue revival and Cerro close the gap

A close win for Cerro Porteño following Olimpia’s draw with their Ciudad del Este namesake Cerro de Presidente Franco has closed the gap between the teams to five points. Meanwhile Libertad have woken up following their slump as they recorded another big victory this time against Luque in freefall.

Main Game

Olimpia vs Cerro PF
Estadio Manuel Ferreira a.k.a Para Uno
(1-1) 3-3 - Edgar Aranda 35′, Adrián Romero 51′, Vladimir Marín 65′; Rogerio Leichtweis 40′ & 72′, Francisco Lopez 83′

Olimpia welcomed back their injured stars in defence and embarked on their quest for a tenth consecutive win and preserve their seven point lead at the top. It was somewhat ironic therefore that with the reinforced rearguard Olimpia conceded three in the league for the first time in 28 games! For Cerro PF it was the first time this year they had scored more than one goal away from Alto Paraná and only the second time they’ve hit three since being promoted.

Things started brightly for Olimpia with Eduardo Aranda rocketing home a drive to put El Decano ahead having received Pablo Zeballo’s beautifully weighted pass. Cerro de Franco for their part were not dispirited by going a goal down and took just five minutes to get back on level pegging, Rogerio Leichtweis played a clever one-two with Cristian Andersen and shot across Martin Silva as the teams went into halftime on a par. Against Carapeguá midweek, Olimpia stormed out of the blocks in the second half taking the game by the scruff of the neck and motoring on to a win. The same story played out on Saturday night, after 65 minutes they were 3-1 ahead.

Adrián Romero had restored Olimpia’s lead just six minutes into the second half with a thumping header from Aranda’s cross after the Uruguayan defender had roamed forward in an attacking move. Vladimir Marín doubled the lead with a simple tap to end an excellent passing move that had split Cerro’i apart. The Colombian opened the play on the left and when the centre found Marín again on the edge of the area he played a ball over the defense to Luis Nery Caballero before getting into the box to get on the end of Caballero’s pass.

Olimpia and Cerro PF couldn't be separated - Photo: D10.com.py

Olimpia had the game sewn up but managed to let Cerro PF tear away at the stitching with some unspectacular defending. Firstly Leichtweis got his second of the match, the 23-year-old seemed to be well marked but had no problem heading in a corner after Silva decided to stay on his line and Olimpia seemed to switch off collectively. The hero of the hour was substitute Francisco López who stunned the home side in the 83rd minute. A shot from the left of the box was blocked by Romero only to fall at the feet of López, with the defender off balance he was composed as he jinked to the left and fired passed the onrushing Silva.

Olimpia’s run comes to an end although they remain unbeaten and top of the league, certainly more a speedbump rather than a pothole.

Olimpia XI: Martín Silva; Francisco Nájera, Adrián Romero, Enrique Meza, Sebastián Ariosa; Eduardo Aranda, Sergio Orteman, Hernan Perez, Vladimir Marín; Pablo Zeballos, Luis Nery Caballero

Subs: Arnaldo Castorino for Luis Nery Caballero, Carlos Humberto Paredes for Hernan Perez, Gabriel Montiel for Eduardo Aranda

Cerro PF XI: Rafael Agüero; Gustavo Velázquez, Fabián Balbuena, Arnaldo Recalde; Fulvio Duarte, Jorge Villar; Miguel Godoy, Joel González, Leonardo Delvalle, Cristian Andersen; Rogerio Leichtweis

Subs: Nelson Figueredo for Joel Gonzalez, Francisco López for Cristian Andersen, Marcos Prieto for Rogerio Leichtweis

==========================

Luque vs Libertad
Estadio Feliciano Caceres
(0-0) 0-4 – Victor Caceres 52′, José Ariel Nuñez 83′, Cristian Nasuti 88′, Rodolfo Gamarra 91′

Once again Luque were blown away in the later stages to go down heavily and are starting to lose touch at the bottom of the promedio standings. The first half finished goalless in the Feliciano Caceres before Victor ‘Topo’ Caceres broke the deadlock early into the second period following a counter attack. The midfielder found himself in the box and latched onto a good pass from Nestor Camacho before rounding Ever Caballero and tapping in.

Luque remained strong and kept looking for the equaliser with Juan Pablo Raponi and Carlos Martinez leading the charge but left space at the back as they did against Cerro Porteño. While El Ciclón only scored twice late-on to make it 3-0, Libertad went one further netting a treble in the final seven minutes of play to win by four goals.

Libertad were too strong for Luque - Photo: Prensa Club Libertad

José Ariel Nuñez sprinted onto Luciano Civelli’s pass to dink the ball over his opposing goalkeeper before Cristian Nasuti profited from Victor Ayala’s proficiency at set pieces, heading in a corner. The final goal was a combination between two substitutes who have lost their places in the starting line up recently, Civelli again providing a low cross that should have been cut out, Rodolfo Gamarra turning the ball in. It just proves the strength and depth of the Guma’s squad that players of that calibre can find themselves out of the team on merit (Camacho was player of the week last Monday).

Luque XI: Ever Caballero; Juan Gamarra, Pablo Aguilar, Oscar Gimenez, Sergio Vergara; Claudio Vargas, Carlos Martinez, Jorge Britez, Juan Pablo Raponi; Guido di Vanni, Rodrigo Soria

Subs: Edgar Robles for Rodrigo Soria, Carlos Villagra for Sergio Vergara, Cesar Caceres Cañete for Jorge Britez

Libertad XI: Rodrigo Muñoz; Carlos Bonet, Cristian Nasuti, Ismael Benegas, Miguel Samudio; Víctor Ayala, Víctor Cáceres, Jonathan Santana y Néstor Camacho; José Ariel Núñez, Pablo Velázquez

Subs: Luciano Civelli for Nestor Camacho, Cristian Menendez for Pablo Velazquez, Rodolfo Gamarra for José Ariel Nuñez

==========================

Cerro Porteño vs Carapeguá
Estadio La Olla
(1-0) 1-0 - Mariano Uglessich 29′

 Cerro kept the title race open with an important win over Carapeguá that improved interim manager Hugo Caballero’s stock and took their winning streak at La Olla to nine games. Although that run was nearly ended by a late Carapeguá goal, given by Carlos Amarilla only to be ruled out when he saw his assistant’s raised flag. Replays have shown that it was the correct decision as Ricardo Tom Ortiz had strayed offside following a hectic move in which Diego Barreto made a great save from Ortiz, the ball then hit Amarilla before being deflected in by the prostrate Ortiz.

The only legitimate goal of the game was from Mariano Uglessich who headed in Mathias Corujo’s corner, the second time in as many games that a defender has been the first on the scoresheet for El Ciclón. Carapeguá were well organised and created chances as they always do despite their low league position and Barreto was forced into several superb stops vindicating his position as Chiqui Arce’s number one. The win was met with a huge cheer by the weekend’s largest crowd it was a significant step towards clawing back Olimpia.

Uglessich celebrates his goal with Corujo - Photo: ABC Color

Cerro Porteño XI: Diego Barreto; Mathías Corujo, Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Jorge Rojas, Julio Dos Santos, Fidencio Oviedo, Édgar Benítez; Roberto Nanni, Santiago Salcedo

Subs: Guillermo Beltrán for Roberto Nanni, Jonathan Fabbro for Santiago Salcedo, Luis Caceres for Edgar Benitez

Carapeguá XI: Wilson Quiñónez; Aldo Olmedo, Jorge Cáceres, Marcos Arce ; Jorge Florentín, Julio Irrazábal, Eduardo Echeverría, Daniel Almirón, Ricardo Tom Ortiz; Rodrigo Cantero; Jorge Ayala

Subs: Esteban Ramirez for Jorge Florentín, Danilo Carando for Daniel Almirón

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OFF THE BALL

Guaraní grinding: Two consecutive 1-0 wins for the aborigen with both goals from Marcelo Palau a defensive midfield by trade but has shown quality further up the field with four goals to his name so far this year. Crucially for Guaraní they are keeping apace with Libertad in what could be an interesting battle for the accumulative Copa Libertadores spot come the Clausura.

Salvador Cabañas watch: El Mariscal was left on the bench in 12 de Octubre’s 1-1 draw

Stat of the Week: 360 minutes is how long it has been since Diego Barreto conceded at La Olla (via ABC)

Player of the Week: Rogerio Leichtweis was sent off last week but on Saturday the striker picked up two goals against Olimpia to help Cerro PF

Donkey of the Week: Fredy Coronel of Rubio Ñu needlessly picked up a second booking in the 63rd minute against Guaraní, ten minutes later his side were losing 1-0 with no way back. The last thing a manager needs when their team is away from home and on course to pick up a vital point in what has been an indifferent season.

Goal of the Week: Eduardo Aranda doesn’t score often but when he does they are usually pearlers (and come in a 3-3 draw) his venomous opener for Olimpia from a tight angle was the pick of the bunch.

ALL THE GOALS HERE

Results: Olimpia 3-3 Cerro PF, Luque 0-4 Libertad, Sol de América 1-2 Independiente, Guaraní 1-0 Rubio Ñu, Cerro Porteño 1-0 Carapeguá, Tacuary 0-3 Nacional

Intermedia Results:  3 de Febrero 5-1 Dvo. Capiatá, Atl.Colegiales 0-1 29 de Setiembre, Gral. Díaz 2-0 Sp. Iteño, River Plate 1-0 Fdo de la Mora, Sp. San Lorenzo 1-0 Paranaense FC, Trinidense 0-3 Sport Colombia, Resistencia 1-1 Gral. Caballero, Sp. 2 de Mayo 3-1 Dvo. Santaní

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By Ralph Hannah

Apertura 2012: Week 13 Preview

Had a wonderful midweek with my Week 12 preview incredibly accurate for once including the Olimpia and Sol de América scores being spot on and the Cerro Porteño result just a 93rd minute goal from being perfect! This weekend we have the games spread over three days (Saturday to Monday) before Chiqui Arce takes a casera squad to Guatemala in the last friendly before the crucial La Paz qualifer against Bolivia. As always the kick off times are local time which is currently five hours behind British Summer Time (e.g. 4 hours behind GMT).

Olimpia vs Cerro PF
21/04/2012, 18.00
Estadio Manuel Ferreira a.k.a Para Uno
Prediction: 2-0

Olimpia have won nine games in a row in the league Photo: lanacion.com.py

Olimpia have won the last nine games in the league and have been strong in Para Uno all season, in contrast Cerro de Franco have been good at home but struggled on their travels. The only question mark hanging over the league leaders is an injury crisis with three players hobbling off against Carapeguá as the casualty list keeps growing. The good news is that Pablo Zeballos isn’t one of those, he has found his scoring touch again and is one of the most devastating strikers in the league when on form. Home win.

SELECTED ODDS: None at time of writing

BEST BET: Although I predicted 2-0, Olimpia have been winning consistently by one goal, if you like the look of Cerro de Franco then think about the Asian Handicap

Sol de América vs Independiente
22/04/2012, 15.30
Estadio Luis Giagni
Prediction: 3-1

Independiente were pipped late on by Guaraní in midweek while Sol earned a credible draw with Cerro de Franco thanks to Bruno Valdez’s first senior goal. In theory the danzarín at home and against weak opposition should run riot, that should hold true even without José Ortigoza still out injured. The good news is that David Mendieta is back in midfield and played well in midweek he should help spur the home side on to a comfortable win.

Sportivo Luqueño vs Libertad
22/04/2012, 18.00
Estadio Feliciano Caceres
Prediction: 1-3

Pablo Velazquez is on fire at the moment - Photo: Prensa Club Libertad

Luque were blown away in the final few minutes against Cerro Porteño but can take heart from the brave performance in the first hour of that match. Libertad have been finding their form again, now ubeaten in six games (four wins) and players like Nestor Camacho and Jonathan Santana have brought flair and mobility to the side. Crucially Libertad didn’t have to play during the week which has given them more time to prepare for this fixture and that is enough for me to plump for an away win in this one.

SELECTED ODDS: None up at time of writing

BEST BET: Libertad have been more free scoring recently but are always prone to conceding so go for Over 2.5 goals

Guaraní vs Rubio Ñu
22/04/2012, 17.00
Estadio Dos Bocas
Prediction: 2-1

It has been a tough week for Rubio Ñu, beaten 5-1 by Libertad on Monday they returned to action on Thursday against Tacuary only for the game to be called off at halftime thanks to a ferocious storm. On Friday they were set to finish off that match but La Arboleda didn’t pass a pitch inspection and now on Sunday they play Guaraní. Although the albiverde were triumphant in the previous meeting Guaraní have improved since then and have been very strong at home winning four of the five games at Dos Bocas this year. The only thing that could prevent a home win is if Derlis Gonzalez can use his pace to upset Julio Manzur and the aborigen defense something he did to great effect last time round.

Cerro Porteño vs Carapeguá
22/04/2012, 18.00
Estadio La Olla
Prediction: 2-0

Following that strong finish against Luque there is no reason why Cerro Porteño shouldn’t stretch their 100% record at La Olla to eight games (dating back to November 2011). Edgar Benitez is almost unstoppable when running at defenders full tilt, ably accompanied by Jorge Rojas on the other flank. While Carapeguá will employ their firm style and look to Eduardo Echeverría for goals it is improbable that it will reap rewards against the league’s second best side this season.

SELECTED ODDS: None up at time of writing

BEST BET: Try Cerro Porteño/Cerro Porteño – they are playing well and Carapeguá won’t be able to hold out as long as Luque did midweek

Tacuary vs Nacional
23/04/2012, 15.15
Estadio Roberto Bettega
Prediction: 1-2

The Bettega is the scene for this clash

Tacuary were lucky to have escaped having to play on Friday and it will be their opponents who go into this one jetlagged, Nacional had to traipse back from Mexico after losing to Cruz Azul. Not that it seems to affect the tricolor last time they returned from an away game (in Venezuela) they won 5-2 in the league! Add to that Nacional’s excellent record here (four wins in the last five with a +6 goal difference) and it wouldn’t be crazy to think an away win is on the cards.

By Ralph Hannah

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