Copa Libertadores Preview: Libertad vs Vasco da Gama

Libertad vs Vasco da Gama
Estadio Nicolas Leoz
14/03/2012, 22.00

Libertad have been excellent in the Copa Libertadores so far and until last Friday’s defeat to Olimpia they were unbeaten at home this year. Admittedly the Guma have struggled for a bit of form in recent games, winning just one in four and drawing two. However they head into tonight’s Group 5 clash with a three point lead and have scored four in both home games so far in this competition.

Juninho Pernambucano a key absentee for Vasco

Jorge Burruchaga makes just one change to what has become his established first team line-up having previously rotated between cup and league. Pablo Velazquez has been the weakest of the four fledgling first team strikers, (age range 17-25) and is replaced by the more mobile José Ariel Nuñez which should give the side more variation. The star performer in Libertad’s Copa games so far has been Rodolfo Gamarra on the right who has the ability to destabilise defences with his sleight of foot and change of pace, the 23-year-old was on target against Alianza Lima and set up a goal in the historic victory in Montevideo. Do keep an eye on the substitutes bench too, Maurito Caballero is an exciting talent and the teenager is hotly tipped for a move to Europe sooner rather than later.

Maurito Caballero was pivotal against Alianza Lima - Photo: D10.com.py

Vasco da Gama are back in the Paraguayan capital after 32 years and have turned up without talisman Juninho Pernambucano who scored in their last two State Championship games. The tricky teenager Barbio will be a threat up front but I see the key battle being in central midfield with Vasco’s Eduardo Costa the man who will have to try and close down Topo Caceres at every opportunity. If the Libertad man can get space to thread passes behind the defence to Gamarra, Nuñez or into the strong Cristian Menendez it could be a hard night’s work for the Vasco rearguard.

Libertad XI (confirmed): R.Muñoz; C.Bonet, N.Bareiro, I.Benegas, M.Samudio; R.Gamarra, V.Caceres, S.Aquino, L.Civelli; J.A.Nuñez, C.Menendez

Prediction: 2-0

SELECTED ODDS: Libertad win 2.44, Draw 3.35, Vasco win 3.3; 2-0 scoreline 14.5, Under 2.5 goals 1.79

BEST BET: Despite the strength of Brazilian football, Libertad are cracking value bearing in mind the importance of home advantage (note all five home sides won last night)

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STATS & TRIVIA

Libertad's Nicolas Leoz in pre-season

Libertad last 5 home in Copa Libertadores

Pld 5 W 4 D 0 L 1 GF 15 GA 6 – defeat was to Velez SarsfieldVasco last 5 away in Copa LibertadoresPld 5 W 4 D 0 L 1 GF 8 GA 4 – all five games in 2001 tournamentLibertad have played Brazilian opposition 12 times in the tournament winning 3 drawing 3 and losing 6 times.

Libertad and Vasco have never met in the competition.

Vasco’s last Copa Libertadores was in 2001, the last time they visited Asunción was in April 1990 when they lost 2-1 to eventual winners Olimpia and drew 1-1 with Cerro Porteño in the group stages. 

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FULL SQUAD LIST:

GK: Rodrigo Muñoz, Bernardo Medina

DEF: Carlos Bonet, Nery Bareiro, Ismael Benegas, Miguel Samudio, Gustavo Mencia

MID: Rodolfo Gamarra, Luciano Civelli, Sergio Aquino, Victor Caceres, Victor Ayala, Jonathan Santana, Nestor Camacho

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

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By Ralph Hannah

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

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