Midweek Wrap: Olimpia close in on number 40

Olimpia’s victory in the clásico añejo has taken them on the verge of back-to-back league wins and their 40th domestic title. They sit four points clear of Cerro Porteño with three fixtures to play between now and July 8th. The final meeting is of course the superclásico between these two great rivals. Here we round up the week with the usual awards at the bottom and some sad goings on in Luque.

Olimpia vs Guaraní
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-0) 2-0 – Pablo Zeballos (pen) 11′, Maxi Biancucchi 50′

A compact and professional performance by Olimpia earned an important victory that was mainly down to their excellent front three. It was epitomised by the two goals which both involved all of the terrific trio. In the first half Luis Caballero released the pacey Maxi Biancucchi who was felled by goalkeeper Pablo Aurrecochea in what was a red card offence but punished with a just a booking. Pablo Zeballos stepped up to convert the resulting penalty, his sixth goal of the season.

In the second period Biancucchi got the goal denied by the Guaraní goalkeeper previously, this time it was good work by Caballero to find Zeballos and the number ten slotted a through ball to ‘Mini Maxi’. The Argentine controlled well with his right foot before shifting the ball onto his weaker left and finishing emphatically. The closing stages saw the aborigen probe for a consolation mainly through Dario Ocampo, but El Decano were resilient in defence and kept their fourth cleansheet in five matches.

Olimpia XI: Martín Silva; Renzo Revoredo, Francisco Nájera, Salustiano Candia, Eugenio Montiel; Eduardo Aranda, Miguel Amado, Richard Ortíz; Pablo Zeballos ; Maximiliano Biancucchi, Luis Caballero

Subs: Carlos Humberto Paredes for Luis Caballero, Julio Santa Cruz for Pablo Zeballos, Arnaldo Castorino for Maxi Biancucchi

Guaraní XI: Pablo Aurrecochea; Eduardo Filippini, Elvis Marecos, Luis Cabral, Edgar Aranda; Iván González Ferreira, Juan Aguilar, Marcelo Palau, Luis de la Cruz; Dante López, Nelson Romero

Subs:  Fabio Escobar for Edgar Aranda, Jorge Mendoza for Juan Aguilar

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Cerro Porteño vs Tacuary
Estadio La Olla
(0-0) 2-0 – Santiago Salcedo 82′, Jonathan Fabbro 87′

The game started as expected, after just five minutes Cerro Porteño had won four corners and it seemed the gamble to play Edgar Benítez at left wingback was paying off with Tacuary showing no attacking intent. Jonathan Fabbro looked motivated, at one point he was even seen busting a gut to track back 30 yards, and found space early on and nearly scoring with a vicious drive tipped over by Carlos Servín. But with Tacuary disciplined and the home team throwing balls into the box to no avail, the best chances were a long range Fabbro free kick and a fierce shot by Fidencio Oviedo diverted for a corner by Servín. The halftime whistle went and Tacuary had hardly crept out of their own half let alone risked shooting.

For Cerro Porteño the second half followed a worryingly similar pattern as the first, plenty of possession, plenty of crosses but no celar cut chances and even when they got a slice of luck with a deflection that looped into the top corner it was palmed away by the super Servín. Jorge Rojas entered the fray but even the tricky winger was unable to unlock the defence with his first forays from right wing back. Finally with Fabbro having no luck from dead ball situations nor Julio Dos Santos nor Edgar Benítez, the responsibility fell to Santiago Salcedo and the striker made no mistake to the relief of the club’s fans. His free kick was sent low through a gap in the wall surprising Servín to put El Ciclón ahead. With just eight minutes remaining Tacuary finally showed some ambition and incredibly almost equalised following a nice attacking move that ended with the shot flashing just wide. But Cerro had the final word, Rojas burst down the right wing and picked out Jonathan Fabbro with a square ball placed between two defenders that the Argentine gleefully converted to cap another good individual performance under Jorge Fossati.

Cerro Porteño XI: Pablo Gavilán; Luis Cardozo, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Luis Cáceres, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Édgar Benítez; Jonathan Fabbro; Santiago Salcedo, Guillermo Beltrán

Subs: Jorge Rojas for Luis Cáceres, Alejandro da Silva for Guillermo Beltrán, José Domingo Salcedo for Edgar Benítez

Tacuary XI: Carlos Servín; Gustavo Giménez, Gustavo Acosta Pera, Diego Viera, Grégor Aguayo; Pablo Espinoza, Marcos Giménez, Marcos Acosta Rojas, Ever Ortiz; Raúl Román; Jorge Ortega

Subs: Edgar Fernandez for Ever Ortiz, Lorenzo Silva for Raúl Romá, Jorge Alvarenga for Pablo Espinoza

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Carapeguá vs Libertad
Estadio Juan Canuto Pettengill
(1-1) 2-2 – Esteban Ramirez 31′, Ever Amarilla 90′, José Ariel Nuñez 38′, Maurito Caballero 59′

Libertad gifted their opponents a goal late on to draw and mathematically end any chances of winning the league title. It was an energetic game with Carapeguá offering ample attacking threat as well as defending well for long periods of the game. Early on Libertad controlled possession with little penetration which gave the home side hope they could get something out of the match. On the half hour mark Esteban Ramirez got inside the box and while his scuffed shot caused no danger he managed to regain the ball from Jorge Ayala who had held it up with his back to goal and smash home from the six yard line.

Libertad are used to falling behind and they equalised just seven minutes later, Pablo Velazquez with a cute ball into the area for his strike partner José Airel Nuñez, the 23-year-old latched onto the pass and finished with his left foot with a precise side-footed shot between goalkeeper and defender. The Gumarelo went ahead just after halftime thanks to Porto-bound (probably) Maurito Caballero who came off the bench to score with his first touch. It was a characteristically instinctive goal a double defensive error and with El Potro’s backline static he anticipated the flight of the ball to tap in.

The sides couldn’t be separated in Itaguá – Photo: D10.com.py

With that victory was secured, or so it seemed, but Libertad went on the back foot and were suddenly conceding ground to a Carapeguá side that wouldn’t give up. Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres, making his 200th and last appearance for the club, was replaced by a defender to try and see off the onslaught but ultimately he was caught ball watching at the end in some shocking defending. A deflected shot looped over the Libertad rearguard and with goalkeeper Rodrigo Muñoz staying on his line the ball was allowed to bounce, still the Guma stood like statues and when the ball was hooked back into the area there was Ever Amarilla unmarked in space to earn a vital point in the battle to avoid the drop.

Carapeguá XI: Gustavo Arévalos; Diego Cantero, Rubén Maldonado, Marcos Arce, Jorge Florentín; Julio Irrazábal, Esteban Ramírez, Diosnel Almirón, Rodrigo Cantero; Ricardo Ortíz, Jorge Ayala

Subs: Pedro Rojas for Diosnel Almirón, Diego Benítez for Marcos Arce, Ever Amarilla for Ricardo Ortíz

Libertad XI: Rodrigo Muñoz; Carlos Bonet, Cristian Nasuti, Joe Bizera, Miguel Samudio; Víctor Ayala, Víctor Cáceres, Néstor Camacho, Luciano Civelli; José Ariel Núñez, Pablo Velázquez

Subs: Maurito Caballero for Luciano Civelli,Carlos Martínez for José Ariel Nuñez, Ismael Benegas for Víctor Cáceres

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OFF THE BALL

Blas betrays tradition: The old Paraguay football saying ‘The manager that debuts, wins’ was blown out of the water by Francisco Garcia’s excellent strike to hand Independiente a 1-0 win over Blas Cristaldo’s Rubio Ñu

Ortigoza at the double: José Ortigoza netted twice to see of Luque in a game marred by crowd violence. The Luque fans threw a knife at Sol de América midfielder Sergio Escalante when he was subbed off which landed a bit too close for comfort. They also threatened their own players, most notably Jorge ‘Mono’ Britez and it emerged today that the fans had left a death threat with the President of the Referee’s comittee warning him to make sure the referee ‘performed’ at the next match. Ugly times for the side facing relegation.

Nacional knocked for five: Amazingly not only did Nacional fail to win they were given a ‘paliza’ by Cerro de Franco who beat them 5-0, an incredible scoreline. The visitor’s must be missing defender Herminio Miranda now in Mexico with Puebla.

Orteman stays in Paraguay: Finally, the major transfer story of the week is Sergio Orteman who has decided to stay in Paraguay by signing a one-year contract with Guaraní. The two-time Copa Libertadores midfielder will team up with compatriot Marcelo Palau in central midfield for the Clausura.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Carlos Servín (Tacuary); Gustavo Gimenez (Tacuary), Francisco Nájera (Olimpia), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Diego Ciz (Sol de América); Julio Irrazabal (Carapeguá), Cristian Andersen (Cerro PF), Fidencio Oviedo (Cerro Porteño), Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño); Maxi Biancucchi (Olimpia), José Ortigoza (Sol de América)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Maxi Biancucchi can be a frustrating player sometimes, always wanting to take players on and wasteful in front of goal, but against Guaraní he was part of an excellent front three and won the penalty before scoring a great individual goal himself.

Maxi Biancucchi is player of the week – Photo: D10.com.py

GOAL OF THE WEEK: Independiente’s Francisco Garcia has been here before for a similar strike, picking it up on the left wing cutting inside and looping a long range effort over Osvaldo Cabral in the Rubio Ñu goal

DONKEY OF THE WEEK: Luque fans – not all of them of course but that pocket of ‘barra’ who are making it unsafe for supporters, players and officials to enjoy football in the Feliciano Cáceres.

STAT OF THE WEEK: 2 – the win over Guaraní was Olimpia’s first two-goal victory since November of 2011!

ALL THE GOALS HERE

By Ralph Hannah

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