A Friday double-header followed by a Saturday hattrick and rounded off with a solitary Sunday show, that’s week five in a nutshell. Here are the previews taking into account that Olimpia, Cerro Porteño and Guaraní all have midweek Copa Sudamericana matches.
Cerro Porteño vs Rubio Ñu (TV)
Cerro’s winless run in the league continued last weekend when they failed to get past Carapeguá away. Rubio Ñu at home is an even easier fixture and they really should break their duck on Friday night. It is a similar team to last week but Roberto Nanni who scored in the previous two games is set to be replaced by Santiago Salcedo. Fidencio Oviedo also comes back into the side following suspension. Fossati has learned from his experience (vs Sol) that resting players for the Copa Sudamericana only to lose at home is bad for the relationship with the fans so they’ll be going out with their minds fully focussed on this game. Rubio Ñu are also without a win in the Clausura and have struggled for goals (2 in 4 games) so far. The previous two meetings between these teams have been exciting ones, Cerro coming on top both times, 5-3 and 3-2
Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benítez, Cesar Benítez; Carlos Bonet, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Walter López; Jonathan Fabbro; Rodrigo López, Santiago Salcedo
SELECTED ODDS: Cerro win 1.61; Draw 3.5, Rubio Ñu 5.3
BEST BET: With both teams showing inconsistency betting on goals rather than the result could be a better option, Cerro usually score late-on so maybe it is worth looking at Over 1.5 goals in-play if they have a goalless first 30 mins
Libertad vs Sol de América
Libertad had an exciting end-to-end game against Olimpia last Saturday but this week’s game should be a return to type under Ruben Israel, keep things tight and obtain a professional victory. José Ariel Nuñez has been one of the best strikers in the league so far this season and is ably partnered by Pablo Velázquez, there is no doubt that combination can break down the danzarín defence to score. Like Libertad, Sol de América have drawn three and won one so far this season, twice letting a lead slip against weaker sides (Rubio Ñu & Independiente). The performances of Lorenzo Frutos and Diego Vázquez up front has been admirable but this is the best defence they have come up against so far in the Clausura (they didn’t face Cerro Porteño’s first choice backline) and I’m not sure they’ll be able to breach the Libertad ranks. I’m expecting a close home win to end the run of three draws.
SELECTED ODDS: Libertad win 1.51; Draw 3.9; Sol win 6.2
BEST BET: Boring but safe, a home win
Libertad XI (probable): Rodrigo Muñoz; Jorge Moreira, Ismael Benegas, Gustavo Mencia, Miguel Samudio; Luis Cáceres, Sebastián Eguren, Sergio Aquino, Nelson Romero; José Ariel Núñez, Pablo Velázquez.
Independiente vs Carapeguá
Estadio Ricardo Gregor
Both sides have managed to draw their last two games despite one of those opponents being the big two (Olimpia or Cerro Porteño) and it could be a repeat on Saturday. Jorge Ayala has been the goalscorer for Carepeguá but he is suspended following his dismissal last weekend. Independiente have only kept one cleansheet in their last 11 games while Carpeguá have just one cleansheet in 12 which makes a score draw a strong possibility.
BEST BET: Both teams to score
Nacional vs Guaraní (TV)
Estadio Arsenio Erico
A really cracking game awaits in the Arsenio Erico to kick off Saturday afternoon’s TV double-header, league leaders Guaraní face a tough trip to Barrio Obrero with Nacional having won their previous two matches. A third straight win would move the Academia to joint top with Guaraní so there is plenty to play for. Both sides aren’t giving much away about the team set to line up with Guaraní the most likely to make changes with an eye on their Copa Sudamericana match. The last game here was a 1-1 draw and the aborigen have only won 1 in 7 games at this stadium so if anybody is to nick it my prediction is that it will be the home team.
BEST BET: Nacional DNB
Luque vs Olimpia (TV)
Estadio Feliciano Cáceres
Olimpia are on a run of three straight draws which is affecting their title challenge, Luque are in that very common South American situation of fighting for the league trophy while in a relegation battle. In their previous meeting on a warm winter’s afternoon Luque defeated El Decano who could have won the league title that day. The away team will be out for revenge and will field the strongest side available. The auriazul are a better team than last year especially defensively (surprising given the departure of Pablo Aguilar to Mexico) having conceded just once this season which was last week to Guaraní. Goals are still difficult to come by, Guido di Vanni has one but is supsended while their other two goals have come from defender Claudio David Vargas. If they fail to find the net this Saturday it will probably spell defeat.
BEST BET: Olimpia DNB
Luque XI (probable): Tobías Vargas; Claudio D. Vargas, Gonzalo Maulella, Rolando Bogado, Sergio Vergara; Édgar Robles, Juan Abente, Juan Pablo Raponi, Diego Godoy; Cristhian Ovelar, Néstor Ayala
Olimpia XI (confirmed): Martín Silva; Alejandro Silva, Julio César Cáceres, Salustiano Candia, Enrique Meza; Eduardo Aranda, Miguel Amado, Richard Ortiz, Juan Manuel Salgueiro; Arnaldo Castorino, Fredy Bareiro
Cerro de Franco vs Tacuary
Estadio Juan Eudes Pereira
Michel Godoy (suspended) is the only player unavailable for the home team who have continued their impressive form this season. Although Tacuary are improved from the Apertura they have lost their last two games without scoring and with Gregor Aguayo suspended they are weak in defence. I think the home side will edge this.
BEST BET: Under 2.5 goals
Cerro de Franco XI (probable): Miguel López; Cristian Ramírez, Nelson Figueredo, Fabián Balbuena, Arnaldo Recalde; Jorge Villar, Oscar Benítez, Leonardo Delvalle, Cristian Andersen; Sergio Samudio, Rogerio Leitchweis
By Ralph Hannah