Cruz Azul vs Libertad
01/05/2012, 22.30 (03.30 BST)
Paraguay’s lone flag bearer in the Copa Libertadores, Libertad, are in Mexico City tonight for the 1st leg of their Last 16 tie with Cruz Azul. The team traveled north on Saturday via Peru and Costa Rica, since then they have been acclimatising to the altitude and the earthquakes (today there was a tremor measuring 5.7 on the richter scale). This game represents their sixth visit to the Central American nation and they have only suffered one defeat previously.
In recent weeks Libertad have begun to show their potential, currently on an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions (winning their last four). Much seems to be thanks to changes in personnel, with Nestor Camacho replacing Luciano Civelli on the left and Jonathan Santana slotting into central midfield ahead of Sergio Aquino. Camacho in particular has been the matchwinner in recent matches with his goals and contributions to the Gumarelo attack, the sleight winger is difficult to stop when running with the ball and has the ability to drift inside and play key passes. As always Victor ‘Topo’ Caceres is pivotal to the side, in games where he has been manmarked Libertad have struggled but if he can find pockets of space in the final third he will be a threat.
Cruz Azul had a tough derby game against América at the weekend where they played very well according to local experts but ended up drawing and miss out on the playoff stages or ‘liguilla‘. Striker Javier Orozco was influential in the two games against Nacional in the knockout stages and Cristian Gimenez from just over the border (Chaco Province in Argentina) is their playmaker. They have been fairly dominant at home so far, putting four past Táchira and Nacional in Mexico City while drawing 0-0 against Corinthians.
Libertad XI (probable): R.Muñoz; C.Bonet, C.Nasuti, I.Benegas, M.Samudio; V.Ayala, J.Santana, V.Caceres, N.Camacho; P.Velazquez, J.A.Nuñez
Prediction: I think Libertad will be cautious but with the set piece service of Victor Ayala and the ability of Nestor Camacho they will have a goal threat, 1-1
SELECTED ODDS: Cruz Azul win 1.86, Draw 3.75, Libertad win 4.9; 1-1 scoreline 8.0, Under 2.5 goals 1.87
BEST BET: In all six Copa Libertadores games Libertad have conceded the first goal but only lost once so if you are brave hold out and lay Cruz Azul when they score – if you have more brains than balls Under 2.5 goals seems a decent bet in this one
GAME LIVE ON BETFAIR VIDEO
STATS & TRIVIA
Libertad last 5 away in Copa Libertadores
Pld 5 W 2 D 0 L 3 GF 4 GA 8
Cruz Azul last 5 home in Copa Libertadores
Pld 5 W 2 D 3 L 0 GF 10 GA 3
Libertad vs Mexican sides in Copa Libertadores (since 2000)
Pld 10 W 5 D 2 L 3 GF 12 GA 9
FULL SQUAD LIST:
GK: Rodrigo Muñoz, Bernardo Medina
DEF: Nery Bareiro, Carlos Bonet, Ismael Benegas, Cristian Nasuti, Miguel Samudio, Gustavo Mencia, Jorge Moreira
MID: Sergio Aquino, Luciano Civelli, Víctor Cáceres, Víctor Ayala, Jonathan Santana, Carlos Martinez Arce, Néstor Camacho, Rodolfo Gamarra
ATT: Pablo Velazquez, Cristian Menendez, José Ariel Nuñez
By Ralph Hannah
Author’s Note: All odds up to date at the time of writing, vía Betfair