Congratulations to Libertad who won six straight games while their rivals Nacional and Guaraní stumbled and ultimately succumbed to the pressure of the title race. Here we look at five reasons why Tuyucuá is celebrating…
1. Double Act up front
Libertad scored 44 goals during the Clausura campaign with the strike pairing of José Ariel Nuñez and Pablo Velázquez contributing to just over half of that total. The two players are rather different in style – Nuñez is a workhorse and runs himself into the ground every game but he doesn’t lack ability and uses his pace to get in behind defenders and is a top finisher. Velazquez offers different problems, he likes to receive the ball with his back to goal and bring players in around him, a much more physical player. Together they were too good for everybody with Libertad only failing to score three times.
2. Youth set-up
For several years Libertad have had the best youth system in Paraguay by a long stretch, it really came into play in the Clausura when the APF introduced a foreign-player limit. In contrast to Olimpia who had litte resources to call upon, the Gumarelo have such a strong squad made up of Paraguyans they had no problem adapting to the new rule. It isn’t just the aforementioned attacking duo but also the defenders Gustavo Mencia, Ismael Benegas and Nery Bareiro who were crucial in the tournament.
3. Early goals at the right time
In the last six games Libertad scored after 2 minutes twice and after 3 minutes in another game – previous to that they had scored after 3 minutes against Tacuary and were two goals up after 11 minutes against Nacional. Those early goals acted as a pressure-release and it meant they didn’t struggle like Guaraní and Nacional in the run-in.
4. Olimpia and Cerro
Both the 2011 Clausura and 2012 Apertura were dominated by the traditional top two who were playing some tremendous football at times and really raised the bar. Without wanting to take away from the Guma’s achievement there is no doubt that this was one of the worst Olimpia sides in a long time, winning just two matches outside of Para Uno and getting beaten 4-1 on three separate occassions to Cerro Porteño, Nacional and incredibly Carapeguá. As for Cerro Porteño they were distracted by the Copa Sudamericana and their last chance of winning the domestic championship was blown when they were beaten by Libertad in a tense game.
5. Ruben Israel
The final showdown was between three managers – two that had been players in 2011 and then the man who had four Paraguayan titles to his name and had just revived the fortunes of the El Salvador national side. Ruben Israel had been there and done it all before and it showed, this was his fifth league championship with the Gumarelo having previously won in 2007, both the Apertura and Clausura in 2008 before taking the 2010 Clausura which until Sunday was Libertad’s most recent trophy. Both Gustavo Moringío and Diego Alonso must be credited for an excellent season and this experience will put them in good stead for future title races.
By Ralph Hannah