Two crackers to begin the weekend, the clásico añejo on Friday night followed by Cerro vs Libertad on Saturday, both of which will feature six officials a la UEFA competitions for the first time in Paraguayan football. The rest of the weekend’s action takes place on Sunday with Luque and Nacional both away from home as they attempt to keep in touch with Guaraní at the top of the table.
Olimpia vs Guaraní (TV)
Olimpia earned a good win against Nacional last weekend as they seem to be slowly improving under Gregorio Perez, with the Uruguayan Juan Manuel Salgueiro a key figure in the new team. The returning internationals are straight into the side as Olimpia are set to play a 4-3-1-2 with Salgueiro trying to link the midfield and attack. The visitors are top of the league having also won last weekend but have one major doubt, former Olimpia captain Sergio Orteman is struggling with a muscle strain. Other than that the aborigen should keep the same formation that beat Tacuary in the previous game with Eduardo Filippini still out at right back. It promises to be a good game with both sides capable of creating plenty of chances. This historic encounter will also be the first time six officials have been used for a game in Paraguay a la UEFA competitions.
Olimpia XI (confirmed): Martín Silva; Alejandro Silva, Julio César Cáceres, Salustiano Candia, Enrique Meza; Jorge Nuñez, Eduardo Aranda, Richard Ortiz, Juan Manuel Salgueiro; Maxi Biancucchi, Fredy Bareiro
Guaraní XI (probable): Paulo Aurrecochea; Tomás Bartomeus, Roberto Aldama, Luis Cabral, Édgar Aranda; Iván González Ferreira, Marcelo Palau, Jorge Mendoza or Sergio Órteman, Darío Ocampo; Dante López, Diego Centurión
SELECTED ODDS: Olimpia win 1.94; Draw 3.7, Guaraní win 4.0
BEST BET: Olimpia are unbeaten in eight against Guaraní and that run should continue with a victory, home win
Cerro Porteño vs Libertad (TV)
These two heavyweights go head-to-head once more on Saturday with the last six meetings tied at 2 wins a piece and 2 draws. Libertad won the last game with a last gasp Rodolfo Gamarra goal in the rain. He is still recovering from a long-term knee injury, the fresh injury blow is left-back Miguel Samudio who was injured while with the national team. It means the visitors will travel to the Olla a bit light in defence, their main strength is going forward with the Velazquez/Nuñez partnership ably supported by Nestor Camacho and ex-Cerro player Luis Cáceres on either flank. The azulgrana are set to give a start to Roberto Fernandez in goal as a ‘warm-up’ to the Mineros game in midweek that Diego Barreto is suspended for. Jonathan Fabbro is set to be rested with Mineros in mind and him playing both qualifiers against Argentina and Venezuela.
Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Roberto Fernández; Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Carlos Bonet, Julio Dos Santos, Fidencio Oviedo, Walter López; Roberto Nanni, Santiago Salcedo, Rodrigo López
Libertad XI (possible): Rodrigo Muñoz; Aldo Olmedo, Joe Bizera, Ismael Benegas, Gustavo Mencia; Luis Cáceres, Sebastián Eguren, Sergio Aquino, Nestor Camacho; Pablo Velazquez, José Ariel Nuñez.
SELECTED ODDS: Libertad win 1.51; Draw 3.9; Sol win 6.2
Rubio Ñu vs Sportivo Luqueño (TV)
Chiqui Arce is still trying to find his best team as Rubio Ñu continue to struggle to win games although they can take heart knowing they are unbeaten in five games at home, the first of those five came last season in a 0-0 draw with Luque. The visitors however are much stronger in the Clausura as they try to stay in the title race while avoiding relgation. Pablo Caballero is set to give a game to Venezuelan Gerzon Chacón at right back and moving their goalscoring captain Vargas into midfield. It has been 13 games since Luque last won against the albiverde and this weekend seems the time for that streak to be broken.
Rubio Ñu XI (possible): Osvaldo Cabral; Arnaldo Rodríguez, Óscar Ayala, Óscar Velázquez, Benigno Ruiz Díaz; Hugo Lucena, Wilfrido Bazán, Jorge Brítez, William Santander; Óscar Ruiz, Roberto Gamarra
Luque XI (probable): Tobías Vargas; Gerzon Chacón, Gonzalo Maulella, Rolando Bogado, Sergio Vergara; Claudio David Vargas, Édgar Robles, Juan Abente, Juan Pablo Raponi; Guido Di Vanni y Ariel Bogado
BEST BET: Away win
Independiente vs Cerro de Franco
Estadio Ricardo Gregor
Independiente are on a wretched run and rooted to the bottom of the Clausura table with just one win in their last 14 games. Cerro de Franco are looking good to avoid the drop with three wins already this season. The team from Presidente Franco have only lost once in their last seven away games and will be doing their best to keep that going on Sunday. The home side are expected to make several changes in what is Mario Grana’s first match in charge with Emanuel Biancucchi restored to the first eleven. At the time of writing Eduardo Rivera hadn’t confirmed his side and there were a few rumblings among the squad of unpaid bonuses which might affect selection. With that in mind it might be too much to expect a third straight win for the away side.
Independiente XI (probable): Roque Cardozo; José Báez, Milciades Portillo, Miguel Almirón, Felipe Giménez; Aldo Vera, Luis Miño, Richard Lugo, Osvaldo Díaz; Emanuel Biancucchi, Gabriel Ávalos
BEST BET: Under 2.5 goals
Sol de America vs Tacuary
Estadio Luis Alfonso Giagni
Last season the danzarín were 4-0 up after 20 minutes and ended up thrashing Tacuary 6-2, I doubt we will see a repeat on Sunday with both teams a bit better matched now. I still think Sol are good enough to win however especially with the attacking options on show. They will almost certainly start Diego Vázquez but then it could be one of Enzo Prono, Esteban Rivas or teenager Cecilio Dominguez who has impressed for the Paraguay U20s in their recent friendlies. Tacuary have lost their last five games and against Sol they haven’t won for six matches. The good news is that they welcome back defender Gregor Aguayo from a ban and Gonzalo Ocampo may hand ex-West Ham Utd striker Brian Montenegro a start.
BEST BET: Home win
Carapeguá vs Nacional
Estadio Municipal de Carapeguá
The team from Paraguarí deparment welcome Nacional to town hoping to build on their win in the previous home match against Libertad. The visitors for their part will be without Marcos Miers who is suspended following his dismissal against Olimpia in the 1-0 loss last week. He joins Marcos Melgarejo who has one more game to serve of his three match ban. Nacional have been a bit inconsistent recently the W-W-L-W-L form sort of sums that up and it might be asking a bit too much to win here. A lot will depend on which side can take their chances, Carapeguá will as ever be relying on Jorge Ayala while Nacional have shared the goals around this season following the departure of topscorer Ariel Bogado.
BEST BET: Under 2.5 goals
By Ralph Hannah