The football fixtures for Saturday in the Paraguay Clausura involve two teams with nothing to play for and two teams with everything at stake at either ends of the table. Nacional travel to Rubio Ñu hoping to emulate Libertad (who won 5-0 last night away to Independiente) and go joint top of the table while Luque are hoping to take something from their game against bitter rivals Cerro Porteño in La Olla to all but guarantee safety.
Rubio Ñu vs Nacional
01/12/2012; 17:00 (20:00 GMT)
The tranquil area around La Arboleda will be all noise and colour on Saturday afternoon as Nacional fans descend from the South of the city to cheer on Gustavo Morinigio’s side. The 35-year-0ld has moulded a fine side that used their excellent home form to keep them in the chase and have risen to the challenge in the second half of the season with seven wins from their previous eight. They face Chiqui Arce’s Rubio Ñu side that has been a shadow of their former selves, greatly feeling the loss of players such as Derlis Gonzalez, Eric Ramos and Neri Cardozo who went to Europe with just the latter returning but seriously injured.
Nacional have been sharing the goals r0und well recently, six different scorers in their previous five games, and while Rodrigo Teixeira is the striker leading the line they have goals all over the pitch with midfielders Marcos Melgarejo and Carlos Ruiz Peralta finding the net recently while Javier Gonzalez popped up with a crucial goal to break down Carapeguá in the last game, his first since September.
Rubio Ñu have struggled so much in the offensive department, their average of 0.951 goals per game during 2012 is the lowest in the country (Tacuary have edged up to 0.952) and it is a direct result of losing Derlis Gonzalez and Carlos Correa to Benfica while the excellent Neri Cardozo suffered a serious injury while on-loan to Viking in Norway and has been recovering for most of the Clausura. One positive is the return of young goalkeeper Jorge Chena from a cruciate knee ligament injury, I was there in February when he suffered the injury just a routine goal kick and very happy to see him back in the albiverde side.
Nacional slipped up against Sol in their previous away game but they’ve always been strong playing ‘catch-up’ and knowing they need a win to stay in touch with Libertad should spur them on to yet another win.
Best Bet: Away win
Rubio Ñu XI (probable): Jorge Chena; Arnaldo Rodriguez, Oscar Velazquez, Oscar Ayala, Nelson Ruiz; Angel Lucena, Roberto Piris, Jorge Britez, Diego Chamorro; Lauro Cazal, Juan Maldonado
Nacional XI (probable): Ignacio Don; Ramon Coronel, Raul Piris, Leonardo Caceres, Marcos Miers; Carlos Ruiz Peralta, Marcos Riveros, Silvio Torales, Marcos Melagerjo; Javier Gonzalez, Rodrigo Teixeira
Cerro Porteño vs Sportivo Luqueño
01/12/2012; 19:15 (22:15 GMT)
Cerro Porteño have lost the previous two gamesas they are left with nothing to play for in their centenary year, already qualified for the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana and without a chance of winning the league they are just going through the motions. The most significant decision will be after the final whistle when Jorge Fossati confirms if he is to extend his contract or not. For Luque this a bonus opportunity to grab the precious points they need to confirm survival. Thanks to Independiente’s defeat they can’t fall into the relgation zone this weekend anyway and that might just take the pressure off an allow them to play even more freely against their old rival.
Hard game to call, Cerro are the better side, they are strong at home but as we saw against Sol de América when there is nothing to play for they can quite easily take their foot off the pedal and get beaten.
Best Bet: BTTS
Cerro Porteño XI (probable): Diego Barreto; Diego Viera, Pedro Benítez, Luis Cardozo; Carlos Bonet, Alexis Gonzalez, Julio Dos Santos, José Domingo Salcedo; Jonathan Fabbro; Roberto Nanni, Santiago Salcedo
Luque XI (probable): Tobías Vargas; Luciano Vera, Gonzalo Mauluella, Sergio Vergara, Claudio Vargas; Juan Pablo Raponi, William Schuster, Edgar Robles, Juan Abente; José Burgos, Guido di Vanni
By Ralph Hannah