Copa Libertadores Semi Finals: Olimpia vs Santa Fe preview

Olimpia vs Santa Fe
Defensores del Chaco, Asuncion
Semi Final 1st Leg
02/07/2013; 20:50 (01:50 BST)
TV: Fox Sports (Latin America); ESPN (UK)

A new-look Olimpia take on Colombia’s Santa Fe in their 12th Copa Libertadores semi-final on Tuesday night. It is the biggest game for the club in over a decade, not since the Intercontinental Cup against the galaticos of Real Madrid in 2002 has there been so much importance riding on a game for the club. Confidence is high thanks to their excellent home form in the competition but Santa Fe are no pushovers as they currently chase an 8th Colombian title alongside the quest for a first continental trophy. For another preview on Olimpia you can check out my piece for Colo Futbol earlier this week.

Silva was on top form in the first leg - Photo: D10.com.py

Silva is back from international duty – Photo: D10.com.py

Olimpia have been hit by the loss of captain Richard Ortiz who moved to Toluca and the tragic news that left-back Sebastian Ariosa is undergoing chemotherapy as he battles cancer. On the positive side there have been three reinforcements from Argentina as Nelson Benítez and Matías Gimenez join to bolster the left-hand side and in defence the Paraguayan international Ricardo Mazacotte returns from a stint at Unión Santa Fe to reunite himself with Almedia who coached him in 2009 at Nacional. All the new signings will play tomorrow as will Martin Silva who has returned from the Confederations Cup in time. The real danger will be up front and is provided by the Juan Manuel Salguiero and Fredy Bareiro partnership that has reaped goals so far in the tournament. Salgueiro’s performance will be key as he tries to keep possession and control the rhythm of the game.

Olimpia fans with their mosaic against Tigre - Photo: D10.com.py

Olimpia have sold out the stadium again – Photo: D10.com.py

Santa Fe have already visited Asunción once this year, successfully defeating Cerro Porteño with two Omar Perez penalties. Evidently Tuesday’s match will be a much tougher challenge against a more organized side, the key will be if Wilder Medina can see a lot of the ball and try and pull some strings. In midfield the combative Gerardo Bedoya is likely to play, he has been sent off at least 40 times in his career so expect the tackles to be on the heavy side!

Olimpia XI (probable): Martín Silva; Julio Manzur, Herminio Miranda, Salustiano Candia; Ricardo Mazacotte, Nelson Benítez; Wilson Pittoni, Eduardo Aranda, Matías Giménez; Juan Manuel Salgueiro, Fredy Bareiro

Santa Fe XI (probable):  Vargas; Anchico, Valdez, Meza, García; Bedoya, Torres, Valencia; Pérez; Medina, Cuero

Prediction: 2-1

Selected Odds: Olimpia win 2.18, Draw 3.9, Santa Fe win 3.45, 2-1 win 10.5, Over 2.5 goals 2.46

Best Bet: Been impressed with Olimpia at home in this tournament so I think evens is good value, will be backing them to win. Over 2.5 goals is tempting too although I can’t be sure Santa Fe will score away.

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Stats and Trivia

Olimpia in Asunción (All Continental Competitions)

Pld 218 W 112 D 59 L 47 GF 353 GA 220

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Authors Note: All odds are selected from Betfair Sports and accurate at the time of writing, there is a live market on this game

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