Flamengo vs Olimpia
Estadio Joao Havelange
The Paraguayan champions and only local side with an unbeaten league record renew their long-standing rivalry with Brazilian giants Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro tonight. Even with injuries to key players Flamengo must be favourites going into this but Olimpia have proved recently they have tremendous team spirit and morale couldn’t be higher after holding on to beat rivals Libertad on Friday with just nine men. The sides last met in 2002 in the group stages and maybe ominously Olimpia went on to win the title that year.
Gerardo Pelusso has set up with his usual side, a narrow 4-4-2 with Pablo Zeballos consigned to the bench owing to the good form of Luis Caballero (scored in 3 consecutive games) and Maxi Biancucchi’s pace which will suit the them on the counter attack. Olimpia’s defence was huge against Libertad and with Adrián Romero back in for Salustiano Candia they are on paper even stronger as they try and keep out Ronaldinho and Wagner Love. As ever the performance of Olimpia will be directly related to that of their captain, Sergio Orteman, the two-time winner of the competition has seen this all before and was part of the side that battled to a 0-0 draw in Rio de Janeiro against Fla ten years ago. The most likely source of an Olimpia goal will be Orteman recuperating the ball quickly to launch a counter attack and release either Biancucchi or Caballero with a trademark pinpoint through ball.
Flamengo come off the back of a big victory in the Fla-Flu derby which has buoyed the side and handed Joel Santana’s side their third straight victory. A win for Flamengo would open up a three point gap over Lanús and they have been solid defensively at home conceding just twice in six games so far. One potential weakness could be Paulo Victor the substitute goalkeeper but that is unlikely after his derby day display where he excelled. With that in mind I see this being a tight game with Flamengo just edging it.
Olimpia XI (confirmed): M.Silva; F.Najera, A.Romero, E.Meza, S.Ariosa; E.Aranda, S.Orteman, F.Caballero, V.Marín; M.Biancucchi, L.Caballero
SELECTED ODDS: Flamengo win 1.6, Draw 4.1, Olimpia win 7.0; 1-0 scoreline 6.8, 1-1 scoreline 8.8, Under 2.5 goals 1.9
BEST BET: I can’t see Olimpia getting beaten out of sight, they are too good for that so I think backing a low scoring game or even 0-0, 1-0, 1-1 with small stakes is the best option. Bear in mind there has only been 1.75 goals per game in the four Copa Libertadores matches involving theses sides so far.
STATS & TRIVIA
Olimpia last 5 vs Flamengo – see some video footage here
Pld 5 W 2 D 1 L 2 GF 6 GA 5 – this includes three Copa Mercosur games (the forerunner to Copa Sudamericana)
Olimpia last 5 vs Brazilian sides in Copa Libertadores
Pld 5 W 1 D 2 L 2 GF 10 GA 5 – includes 2002 final 2nd leg against São Caetano
Olimpia go into the game having only lost once in the last 16 outings in all competitions.
Olimpia coach Gerardo Pelusso beat Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro, during the 2010 Copa Libertadores quarter final with Universidad de Chile.
FULL SQUAD LIST:
GK: Martín Andrés Silva, Víctor Hugo Centurión
DEF: Francisco Nájera, Adrián Marcelo Romero, Enrique Meza, Sebastián Ariosa, Salustiano Candia, , Renzo Revoredo
MID: Eduardo Aranda, Fabio Caballero, Sergio Orteman, Vladimir Marín, Carlos Humberto Paredes, Osvaldo Hobecker
ATT: Maxi Biancucchi. Luis Caballero, Alberto Contrera, Pablo Zeballos, Arnaldo Castorino
By Ralph Hannah
Author’s Note: All odds up to date at the time of writing, vía Betfair