Penultimate weekend of the Apertura (with a round of games scheduled for midweek) and a win for Olimpia on Saturday against Sol de América will mean they can secure the title before the superclásico. Carapeguá and Cerro de Franco will be desperate to try and earn more points to help stave of relegation while Luque and Tacuary have also found themselves dragged into the mire.
Nacional vs Independiente
Estadio Arsenio Erico
Nacional will be smarting from the 5-0 thumping handed out to them by Cerro de Franco on Tuesday, they also face an in form Independiente side who are now unbeaten in seven games following their 1-0 win over Rubio Ñu. However Nacional have usually prevailed against ‘smaller’ sides at home just like they did last weekend against Carapeguá. I think they can overcome Independiente but it will be close.
BEST BET: With the home win by no means a certainty you might want to look into Over 2.5 goals – games involving these sides have averaged 3.05 so far this season only Sol de América (3.2) have seen more goals on average in their matches.
Rubio Ñu vs Luque
Estadio La Arboleda
Rubio Ñu are playing so badly they couldn’t even give their new manager, Blas Cristaldo, a win last week. Luque too are in disarray, increased fan violence (a knife was thrown onto the pitch) has seen them banned from their home stadium for the two fixtures after this game and the hooligan element sent a death threat to the head of referee’s this week. On the field Luque just aren’t scoring, only hapless Tacuary have less goals, and with defenders Ronald Huth and Claudio Vargas suspended it tips the scales in favour of the albiverde.
Sol de América vs Olimpia
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Sol de América are the form side in the league and have the division’s most profitable partnership in José Ortigoza and Enzo Prono (21 goals between them) and they always give Olimpia a good game. However, they usually give them a good game then lose as has been the case in the previous five meetings. El Decano on the other hand can smell the title, their front three are playing very well and will be hugely motivated by the possibility to wrap up the title this weekend (if they win and Cerro lose). I can only see the nominal away side (game being played in national stadium in front of Olimpia fans) winning this.
Tacuary vs Carapeguá
Estadio Roberto Bettega
Tacuary have just had two games in against Olimpia and Cerro Porteño so will undoubtedly be slightly tired as they face a Carapeguá side who were full of energy against Libertad and ended that encounter on a high with a last-minute equaliser. Personally I was very impressed by Carapeguá’s organisation and while scoring goals had been their problem since Eduardo Echeverría’s purple patch ended they’ve managed at least one in the last five despite only picking up one win. Just one goal will be enough against Tacuary and I think they can get it.
BEST BET: I’m convinced by Carapeguá but if you’re not so sure look at Under 2.5 goals, Tacuary are ultra-defensive and neither side are likely to score twice
Libertad vs Cerro de Franco
Estadio Nicolas Leóz
Libertad were unconvincing midweek but were a minute away from taking all three points such is their quality, I can see something similar happening this weekend. Cerro de Franco are looking very good and motivated recording back-to-back wins for the first time this year. Libertad have been hot and cold since getting knocked out of the Libertadores and are basically playing for third place which isn’t a great incentive for players of this standard. However with some fresh faces expected in the line up (Victor Cáceres and Luciano Civelli won’t play) they will want to impress the coach and ultimately at home Libertad should take this.
Guaraní vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
A crucial game, whatever the result on Saturday this is a ‘must win’ for Cerro Porteño and the azulgrana have got their eyes on the prize since Jorge Fossati took over, there is a doubt over Jonathan Fabbro (missed training with flu) but even without him the team spirit is there. Guaraní are playing well (2 losses in last 8 which was to Olimpia and LibertaD) but there is still pressure on the team and Pablo Caballero which seems bizarre. With Julio Manzur out of contract the aborigen will have a tough time defending against a rampant Cerro attack, I doubt they will hold out. Away win.
BEST BET: Should be decent value on Cerro
By Ralph Hannah