We slowly build up the number of games this weekend starting with one on Friday, two on Saturday and three on Sunday. Now in late March the kick off times are moving forward but with no sign of the heat letting up it is going to be tough going in the Nacional, Rubio Ñu and Sol matches. The pick of the round is certainly Guaraní vs Olimpia, expect a good quality game.
Nacional vs Cerro PF
Estadio Arsenio Erico
Nacional have a Copa Libertadores game away on Tuesday so have decided to play a mixed side to play Cerro PF who enjoyed a win last week. However the visitor’s are yet to win a game away from home while Nacional have won both their games in the Arsenio Erico. I expect this pattern to continue, with Cerro PF looking lost away from Ciudad del Este and Nacional have a strong spine with Herminio Miranda returning in defence, Silvio Torales in central midfield and the most welcome change to the starting line up is the inclusion of Ariel Bogado up front who has been in fantastic form this year. The weather could play a part in this game, the early kick off means it could be very hot if the sun comes out.
Rubio Ñu vs Independiente
Estadio La Arboleda
Rubio Ñu have been terrible recently, losing five straight games and after last week’s loss reports circulated that coach Juan Arce had been replaced. Independiente have been equally bad this year but managed to record a win against Luque last week, their first of the season. This game is something of a derby with the club’s situated less than a few kilometres apart and three of the last four games between these two have been a draw. With both sides not playing particularly well this too could finish even as neither team will want to lose. However on paper Rubio Ñu are definitely the stronger side so if either team takes maximum points it will be the home side. Again check the weather forecast with this game.
Guaraní vs Olimpia
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
The ‘clásico añejo’ will take place at the renovated national team stadium to accomodate two of Paraguay’s most popular clubs. Guaraní coach Pablo Caballero has continued to impress after his excellent work at Independiente last season and the aborigen have won three consecutive games. Striker Dante Lopez is training normally but it is 50/50 if he will be able to start against his former club. Despite Guaraní’s good form I expect league leaders and defending champions Olimpia to prevail in this fixture. They have been ruthless in recent weeks winning games against title rivals Nacional and Libertad and with Pablo Zeballos returning to scoring form (he has 2 in 2 games) they should be too strong for their old enemy. Another stat to dampen Guaraní fans’ spirits is this, the aurinegro have only won 1 in their last 8 games against El Decano.
SELECTED ODDS: Check back on Saturday
BEST BET: Overs is a strong possibility if Guaraní go out looking for a fourth win
Sol de América vs Luque
Estadio Luis Giagni
For the second week running Sol have been ordered to play in the afternoon heat for TV purposes. Last week they held on for most of the game before falling to a late goal against Guaraní while this week’s opponents Luque suffered their second straight defeat. The teams are quite balanced in terms of quality and also history, five of the last seven meetings have been draws which is my expected result this weekend. If any team was to win it then I think it will be Luque, the home side have only won one of their last four games and that was against basement boys Tacuary.
Tacuary vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Another game at the national team’s stadium so Tacuary will have no home advantage, not that it would make much difference. Last week they were better than they have been recently and managed to hold off Olimpia for half and hour before conceding but they never looked like scoring until they were two goals down. Ceror Porteño on the other hand are playing extremely well, they had one slip against Nacional but have won the other five of their last six games. Edgar Benitez suffered an injury scare in training but is cleared to start as Mario Grana confirmed he will play the same XI that beat Libertad with the exception of Pedro Benitez in central defence (injury), Luis Cardozo is expected to replace. Cerro’s attacking quality will be too much for Tacuary and it will be an ‘away’ win.
Libertad vs Carapeguá
Estadio Nicolas Leoz
Carapeguá are the form side of the league at the moment, new coach Mario Jacquet has worked his magic and has a 100% record after his first three matches with El Potro. Conversely Libertad are in a serious slump winning just one of seven games. The last four games have been incredibly tough, Olimpia and Cerro in the league with home and away games against Vasco da Gama of Brazil so it is expected that some of the first teamers will get a rest. A fresh team is probably just what Libertad need and the form of Nestor Camacho (used as a substitute) is one positive with the winger a possible starter on Sunday. Despite their problems I do think this will be a home win, as the old saying goes ‘Class is permanent, form is temporary’ and in this case I think Libertad’s class will reign over Carapeguá’s form.
By Ralph Hannah
Author’s Note: All odds correct at time of writing via Betfair