The nation’s attention will switch from the 2012 Olympic Games in the morning (with two Paraguayan athletes involved) to the start of the new football season in the afternoon. A double-header on Saturday with the intriguing Libertad vs Nacional game, followed by three games on Sunday including Rubio Ñu vs Olimpia and we end on Monday with Copa Sudamericana competitor’s Guaraní and Cerro Porteño facing off. Remember all kick off times are Paraguayan standard time (4 hours behind GMT, 5 hours behind the UK), I’ve included a new feature this year with the probable line-ups for the bigger games.
Independiente vs Tacuary
Estadio Ricardo Gregor
Independiente begin their new reign under Carlos Jara Saguier and will hope to get off to the best possible start knowing not only that they have home advantage but that their opponents had a difficult Copa Sudamericana game in midweek. The local team have lost fullback Richard Salinas to Olimpia which means their left-hand side might be weak, something that Tacuary’s winger Reinaldo Ocampo will look to expose. We await to see if Ramón Cardozo will play for Tacuary, if he doesn’t a goal for the visitor’s is unlikely.
BEST BET: Under 2.5 goals
Libertad vs Nacional (TV)
Estadio Nicolas Leóz a.k.a Tuyucuá
Libertad have lost a lot of players but have gained a good manager in Ruben Israel, the former El Salvador coach is sure of his team and will start with a fairly standard 4-4-2. The important thing for the Guma is that despite so many departures they can count on the Pablo Velazquez and José Ariel Nuñez strike duo which performed well last year. That pair should be too strong for their opponents, the only thing threatening a home win is if the Topo Cáceres-less central midfield is unable to keep possession.
Libertad XI (confirmed): Rodrigo Muñoz; Jorge Moreira, Nery Bareiro, Gustavo Mencia, Miguel Samudio; Luis Cáceres, Sergio Aquino, William Mendieta, Nelson Romero; Pablo Velazquez, José Ariel Nuñez
Nacional XI (probable): Ignacio Don; Ramón Coronel, Matias Perez, Raúl Piris, Marcos Miers; Carlos Ruiz Peralta, Silvio Torales, Marcos Riveros, Marcos Melgarejo; César Cáceres Cañete; Javier Gonzalez
SELECTED ODDS: Librtad win 2.02
BEST BET: Home win looks good value
Cerro de Franco vs Luque
Estadio Antonio Oddone Sarubbi
Arguably the ‘over-achievers’ of the Apertura, Cerro de Franco, face a revamped Luque side who will be aiming for around 30 points to avoid relegation. Cerro de Franco are usually strong when they play in their home state Alto Paraná and they will be looking to get off to an unbeaten start. Luque have some serious firepower in Nestor ‘Wanchope’ Ayala and Ariel Bogado although their question marks remain in defence, hence the prediction of score draw.
BEST BET: Both teams to score
Sportivo Carapeguá vs Sol de América (POSTPONED UNTIL MONDAY DUE TO RAIN)
Estadio Municipal de Carapeguá
A historic day for the city of Carapeguá as they inaugarate their new stadium against Sol de América in what is sure to be a packed house. If this was the Apertura I would expect an away win but Sol will surely struggle without José Ortigoza’s goals despite having an exciting young strikeforce. Carapeguá have dipped into their pockets and brought in several players but like Sol they lost their topscorer, Eduardo Echeverría is now in Ecuador with LDU Quito. As such it could be a low scorer and I think it will be an evenly balanced game.
BEST BET: Carapeguá to open scoring in their new stadium
Rubio Ñu vs Olmpia (TV)
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
Chiqui Arce takes charge of his first competitive game of football since that disastorous defeat in Bolivia with the national team, a result that saw him sacked as Paraguay coach. He has lost two talented young strikers, Derlis Gonzalez and Claudio Correa are currently finding the net for Benfica B, but has recruited shrewdly and the onus is on Roberto Gamarra to get the goals they lacked last year. Olimpia got a decent result in Montevideo midweek but will only be happy with a victory in their league opener, they should get it thanks to the albiverde’s suspect defence.
Rubio Ñu XI (probable): O.Cabral; A.Rodríguez, Ó.Ayala, Ó.Velázquez, N.Ruiz; A.Paniagua, W.Bazán, R.Acuña, D.Chamorro; R.Gamarra, Ó.Ruiz
Olimpia XI (probable): M. Silva; S. Candia, J.C. Cáceres, E. Meza, R.Salinas; F. Caballero, M. Amado, S.Ariosa; J.M. Salgueiro; A. Castorino, N. Bareiro.
BEST BET: Chiqui Arce has a good record against Olimpia so a safer bet than the away win is Over 2.5 goals as both sides will attack
Cerro Porteño vs Guaraní (TV)
Estadio Gral. Pablo Rojas a.k.a La Olla
Expect a good crowd for the defending champions first official home game of the season where they will show off plenty of new signings, add to that the almost derby status of this fixture. Guaraní started really badly with a home defeat in the Copa Sudamericana and I’ve said it a lot but worth repeating, goalscoring is their problem with no top class striker. In contrast Cerro scored three on Thursday night and if they defend competently this will be a winning start to the Clausura campaign. Both sides miss their main playmaker through injury, Jonathan Fabbro and Sergio Orteman respectively.
Cerro Porteño XI (probable): D.Barreto; L.Cardozo, P.Benítez, C.Benítez; C.Bonet, F.Oviedo, J.Dos Santos, D.Salcedo; A.Da Silva, G.Beltrán, R. López
Guaraní XI (probable): P.Aurrecochea; T.Bartomeus, A.Rodriguez, L.Cabral, E.Marecos; L.De la Cruz, M.Palau, J.Mendoza, B.Cáceres; D.López, C.Hidalgo
BEST BET: Last season Cerro had a habit of scoring late goals, in a tight game the Draw/Cerro bet at 4.4 looks interesting
By Ralph Hannah