Copa Libertadores Preview: Vasco da Gama vs Libertad

Vasco da Gama vs Libertad
Estadio Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama
21/03/2012, 22.00

Libertad and Vasco drew last week but this is set to be a tougher test for the Paraguayan side in Rio de Janeiro, with the side seemingly off the boil recently. Having been unbeaten in the league in their first five games they have now suffered consecutive defeats to rivals Olimpia and most recently Cerro Porteño. Their position in the group means a draw is more than sufficient which should take some of the pressure of Jorge Burruchaga’s side.

Burruchaga has been forced into one change, José Ariel Nuñez scored only to be sent off last week with Pablo Velazquez the likely replacement, the only other change expected is Joe Bizera (back from injury) to replace Nery Bareiro in central defence. The line-up will be a standard 4-4-2 with Rodolfo Gamarra (who scored on his last trip to Rio) and Luciano Civelli the outlets on the flanks, they will have a key role in supporting their full backs while trying to move quickly on the break. It is likely Libertad will be happy to concede ground and play most of the game without the ball in the opening stages but they are masters of letting teams come onto them and think they are in control only to blow them away in a short destructive spell. To prove the point they scored twice in six minutes against Nacional in Montevideo to win and last year’s last 16 2nd leg against Fluminese the Gumarelo scored two goals in the final four minutes to go through on aggregate.

Libertad training before trip to Rio - Photo: Dpto. Prensa Club Libertad

Vasco da Gama also suffered defeat at the weekend and while they can welcome back Juninho Pernambucano to the side they have lost Diego Souza after last week’s red card. His subsequent behaviour (refusing to leave the pitch and throwing a bottle at a Libertad fan) plus Miguel Samudio’s nasty stamp that went unpunished means this could be a fiery contest for both sides and with Colombian referee Wilmar Roldán taking charge don’t be surprised to see a sending off. Vasco’s fans have already given Libertad a hostile welcome, last night the Paraguayan club’s press department posting photos and videos of fireworks being let off outside the team hotel in the early hours of the morning.

Libertad XI (probable): R.Muñoz; C.Bonet, J.Bizera, I.Benegas, M.Samudio; R.Gamarra, V.Caceres, S.Aquino, L.Civelli; P.Velazquez, C.Menendez

Prediction: 2-1

SELECTED ODDS:  Vasco win 1.78, Draw 3.65, Libertad win 5.5, ; 2-1 scoreline 9.4, Over 2.5 goals 2.04

BEST BET: Libertad aren’t playing well and I can’t see them getting another historic away win like in Montevideo but they won’t get beaten out of sight, Asian Handicap looks a good route to take

GAME LIVE ON BETFAIR VIDEO

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STATS & TRIVIA

Libertad last 5 away in Copa Libertadores

Pld 5 W 2 D 0 L 3 GF 4 GA 8 – includes defeat in Rio to Fluminese

Vasco last 5 home in Copa Libertadores

Souza's goal in the last meeting - photo: Reuters

Pld 5 W 3 D 0 L 2 GF 8 GA 7

Libertad have played Brazilian opposition 13 times in the tournament winning 3 drawing 4 and losing 6 times.

Last week’s draw was the first meeting between these two sides in the Copa.

Libertad’s last two Copa Libertadores visits to Rio have ended in defeat to Fluminese in 2011 and 2008

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FULL SQUAD LIST:

GK: Rodrigo Muñoz, Bernardo Medina

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

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

ATT: Pablo Velazquez, Maurito Caballero, Cristian Menendez

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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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