Fans Player of the Apertura 2012: Martin Silva (Olimpia)

Following a two-week poll, you the fans of the Paraguay Football Blog have chosen Olimpia’s goalkeeper Martin Silva as the best player of the 2012 Apertura beating Cerro Porteño pair, Jonathan Fabbro and Edgar Benítez into second place. All three players have already been included in the Paraguay Football Blog’s Apertura 2012 Team of the Season.

Martin Silva

Martin Silva – Photo: http://www.abc.com.py

D.o.B: 25 March 1983

Height: 1.86 metres

Weight: 80 kilos

Position: Goalkeeper

Club: Olimpia

2012 Goals Conceded: 19 in 20 games

The Uruguayan joined Olimpia in the winter (European summer) of 2011 having just picked up a Copa América winner’s medal having been part of the national side’s squad for that tournament. He had a huge impact on his new club helping them win the Clausura 2011 which established him as a fan favourite. This season the Asunción side stumbled in the title run-in to eventually finish runners-up but it was goalscoring that was the root of the problem rather than problems down Silva’s end. In fact in the final eight games of the season he kept five cleansheets and was particularly important in the 1-0 wins over Rubio Ñu and Sol de América producing some fantastic saves.

Congratulations to Martin Silva who will earn his place on the honours board (if somebody would like to donate an honours board we will happily accept).

By Ralph Hannah

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Paraguay Apertura 2012: Team of the Year

We look at the best XI from the recently concluded 2012 Apertura in Paraguay – we welcome your thoughts and comments below!

Goalkeeper: Martin Silva (Olimpia)

Martin Silva – Photo: http://www.abc.com.py

Olimpia had the second-best defensive record in the league but it wasn’t so much to do with their back four more the excellent performances of Uruguayan goalkeeper Martin Silva who proved his quality time and again. Olimpia kept ten cleansheets this season with Silva involved in all but one (the first clásico).

Right Back: Carlos Bonet (Libertad)

He isn’t the player he used to be, no longer is Bonet to be seen roaming forward and smashing in goals like this one , but he is still an excellent defender as was a regular in the best defence in the Apertura this season. His experience and organisation was vital and his performances mean the 34-year-old defender is on the wanted list of both Olimpia and Cerro Porteño.

Left Back: Elvis Marecos (Guaraní)

Elvis Marecos after scoring – Photo: D10.com.py

Another veteran who did an excellent job this season not just in defence but was also the source of five crucial goals in a Guaraní side that desperately lacked creativity and firepower once striker Federico Santander had gone. The aurinegro fought hard to keep Marecos at the start of the season after Cerro had come calling and he justified their faith in the player by putting in some match winning performances.

Centre Back: Cristian Nasuti (Libertad)

The Argentine was brought in by Jorge Burruchaga for the league and Copa  Libertadores campaign and impressed hugely with his tenacity and ball winning capabilities. The former River Plate man was less error-prone than partner Ismael Benegas which is why he gets a place in the team of the year.

Centre Back: Enrique Meza (Olimpia)

Enrique Meza (left) – Photo: Olimpia.com.py

The best central defender at the vice-champions didn’t play towards the end of the season because of a dispute between his agent and Olimpia’s club president, Marcelo Recanate. It is debateable if Meza would have been the difference in the final two games that saw Olimpia concede four times but it wsa a shame that he was unable to have a say.

Right midfield: Francisco Garcia (Independiente)

Although the 21-year-old was mainly deployed on the left he is right-footed so gets the nod in this position. Independiente had an excellent second half of the season following Alicio Solalinde’s appointment as manager and Garcia blossomed under his wing. His wondergoal in the win against Olimpia was the pick of the bunch but he also got an important winner against Rubio Ñu and equaliser against Luque in a season that brought five goals in total.

Left midfield: Edgar Benítez (Cerro Porteño)

Edgar Benitez (right) celebrates a late goal – Photo: D10.com.py

The winger/striker principally played up front for the champions but he was as devastating in both positions, ‘Pajaro’ may only have chipped in with two goals in the second half of the season (he scored six in total) but it was his all-round play that was so important. When running at full tilt and taking on defenders he was unstoppable, too strong on the ball for the centrebacks and too fast for full backs. It was then no surprise when he won that critical penalty against Olimpia in the final game of the season. Benítez also leaves El Ciclón having played a part in all 44 of their previous 44 league games testament to the pivotal role he has had in the club.

Defensive Midfielder: Víctor ‘Topo’ Cáceres (Libertad)

Consistently one of the best players in the league this was Cáceres’ last season with Libertad having now joined Flamengo, once again the midfielder was the epitomy of calm in controlling the tempo of games and where necessary killing them off. He can pick a pinpoint pass for a striker, hustle a midfielder off the ball or win key headers and Libertad’s defensive record has as much to do with Topo as it does with their excellent rearguard.

Defensive Midfielder: Marcelo Palau (Guaraní)

Marcelo Palau pointing – Photo: D10.com.py

Guaraní’s new Uruguayan signing was an instant hit showing poise and determination in central midfield, he also popped up with the odd goal (like this peach against Luque) to help his side’s failing strikers. This blog is particularly excited at seeing Palau next season (he signed a four-year contract with the Asunción club after rumours he was moving to Qatar) forming a partnership with compatriot Sergio Orteman who has joined the side.

Playmaker: Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño)

The footballing ability of this former Copa Libertadores winner has never been in doubt but after he began the Apertura with more niggly injuries and rumours of missing training sessions it seemed Fabbro wasn’t motivated to play at the level we all know he can. But in the final run-in the 30-year-old brushed all those accusations aside with a series of awesome performances. He scored three times in the final five games, twice stunning freekicks including the goal that sealed the championship against Olimpia, but it was seeing him track back and impose himself on the matches that really reminded us all just how incredibly talented the number 17 is.

Striker: José Ortigoza (Sol de América)

José Ortigoza (Sol de América) – Photo: D10.com.py

The danzarín achieved 35 points this season and managed to finish in fourth place ahead of stronger teams such as Nacional and Guaraní. It was no coincidence that this upturn in fortunes ocurred at the same time they welcomed back José Ortigoza, the ex-Cruzeiro striker netted 13 times and was five goals ahead of his closest rivals (including teammate Enzo Prono) in the golden boot standings. Pace, power and deadly instinct inside of the penalty area all combined to put Ortigoza head and shoulders ahead of the division’s other forwards, therefore it was no surprise when Sol de América announced they would be selling the striker for $3 million dollars to Chinese club Shandong Luneng.

Subs Bench

Honorary mentions to Carlos Servín (Tacuary), Jonathan Santana (Libertad), Pedro Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Eduardo Echeverría (Carapeguá) and Dario Ocampo (Guaraní) who were all considered but just missed the cut.

VOTE FOR YOUR PLAYER OF THE SEASON

By Ralph Hannah

Cerro Porteño win Paraguay Apertura 2012

Olimpia vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(0-1) 1-2 – Arnaldo Castorino; Santiago Salcedo (pen), Jonathan Fabbro

Cerro Porteño managed by Uruguayan Jorge Fossati have come out on top in a thrilling Apertura season thanks to a final day superclásico victory over their arch-rivals and fellow title challengers Olimpia. The result sees the azulgrana pick up their 29th domestic title while denying Olimpia consecutive league championships. The victory has added significance because 2012 is Cerro’s centenary year and they were desperate to ensure silverware for the fans, this also represents Juan José Zapag’s first trophy since assuming the presidency of the club.

Salcedo celebrates his goal – Photo: D10.com.py

The superclásico showdown got off to a terrible start for the team from Barrio Obrero when left wingback Walter López was sent off after just eight minutes for an alleged elbow as he rose for a challenge with stirker Luis Nery Caballero. However, referee Carlos Amarilla decided to even things up ten minutes later with a bizarre decision, showing Renzo Reveredo the red card for what Amarilla judged was a studs up challenge – in reality it was a miskick and he had inadvertently clashed with his opponent.

In a tight first half it seemed that Olimpia were settling better to the 10 vs 10 contest than their opponents but with so much offensive quality there was always the danger that Cerro Porteño could hit on the counter and after 35 minutes Edgar ‘Pajaro’ Benítez and Jonathan Fabbro combined to devastating effect as Benítez got ahead of his defender Francisco Nájera and the Colombian committed a foul inside the penalty area. Veteran striker Santiago Salcedo, who had scored three times previously in clásicos, stepped up and converted the high-pressure penalty putting the ball into the side netting to the right of Martin Silva who had guessed the right way.

Fabbro takes on Najera – Photo: D10.com.py

With Cerro Porteño ahead at halftime Olimpia’s Gerardo Pelusso had to make a substitution and decided to bring on striker Pablo Zeballos, surprisingly dropped for this match, in place of the hapless Nájera who had been tormented by Pajaro. It was a dangerous move as it gave El Ciclón more space to work in and Fabbro especially was using the room to find Pajaro at every opportunity. Olimpia made a second switch with Carlos Humberto Paredes on and he scored immediatley only for it to be ruled offside, not Paredes but Maxi Biancucchi who was blocking the goalkeeper’s view. Replays showed that the header took a deflection of a Cerro defender’s hand but the flag had already been raised. Then Cerro had their chance to double the lead, the Pajaro-Fabbro partnership profiting again with the former crashing a left-footed volley onto the crossbar. It proved to be a sign of things to come as just moments later Santiago Salcedo tricked Aranda into giving away a free kick on the edge of the box. Jonathan Fabbro stepped up and curled the dead ball past a static Silva, a moment of magic to surely seal the superclásico.

Moments later, Aranda picked up another yellow card for fouling Pajaro Benítez and he was off – Olimpia’s hopes seemed to be over. But Olimpia under Pelusso is made of stern stuff and he threw on Arnaldo Castorino to try and find a goal and for the second game running he delivered, latching onto a beautiful pass by Paredes to grab a consolation. Olimpia threw balls into the box and were caught on the break time and again in a frantic final twenty minutes but there were to be no more marks on the scoresheet as El Ciclón held on for a 2-1 win and a well-deserved championship.

There is no doubt Cerro were much the better side in the second-half of the Apertura season, they won 9 of the 11 games to overturn a seven-point deficit and towards the end of the campaign were playing their best football while Olimpia began to lose steam.

Olimpia XI: Martin Silva; Francisco Nájera, Julio César Cáceres, Salustiano Candia; Renzo Reveredo, Sebastián Ariosa; Miguel Amado, Richard Ortiz, Eduardo Aranda; Luis Nery Caballero, Maxi Biancucchi

Subs: Pablo Zeballos for Francisco Nájera, Carlos Humberto Paredes for Miguel Amado, Arnaldo Castorino for Maxi Biancucchi

Sent Off: Renzo Reveredo, Eduardo Aranda

Cerro Porteño XI: Diego Barreto; Luis Cardozo, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Jorge Rojas, Walter López; Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Jonathan Fabbro; Edgar Benítez, Santiago Salcedo

Subs: Alexis Gonzalez for Jonathan Fabbro, José Domingo Salcedo for Jorge Rojas, Alejandro da Silva for Edgar Benítez

Sent Off: Walter López

By Ralph Hannah

Paraguay Superclásico: Olimpia vs Cerro Porteño preview

 Olimpia vs Cerro Porteño
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
08/07/2012, 15.00 (20.00 BST)
Prediction: 1-2

The last game of the season and we have a superclásico to decide the Apertura title, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. This has happened before but usually in end of season two-legged ‘playoffs’ to decide who is the annual champion, most recently in 1999 when Olimpia got the better of Cerro Porteño in both games.

The contenders are neck and neck

Olimpia go stuttering into this game with three wins in their last six, two goalless draws and that defeat against Luque on Wednesday that has set up this title showdown.They will feel that they have let the title slip from their grasp, after the first clásico victory midway through the campaign they were seven points clear but sacked three key players (Orteman, Marín & Romero) due to indiscipline. However, under Gerardo Pelusso this side have always shown great character and the players won’t allow recent results to distract them from the reality, avoid defeat and they are back-to-back champions. The Uruguayan coach will set his side up in a 4-3-3 formation which he has moved to recently, it gives him solidity in midfield with Aranda, Amado and Ortiz all defensively strong protecting what could be seen as a slightly week centre-back partnership of Salustiano Candia and the veteran Julio César Cáceres expected to start in place of Renzo Reveredo (Nájera shifting to right back). The real offensive threat is Maxi Biancucchi who will look to get into the space left by Cerro’s wing backs and provide ammunition for Pablo Zeballos.

Previous superclásico from the skies – Photo: abc.com.py

Cerro Porteño have the pressure of knowing I predicted them to win the title at the start of the season but they have showed great mental strength in this run-in winning five of their last six games, the only slip up being a tremendous match against Libertad. Jorge Fossati has installed his preferred 3-5-2 formation and with Luis Cáceres injured he is likely to throw Jorge Rojas in at right wing-back who will have to be aware to the threat from Olimpia’s attacking left back Sebastian Ariosa. Fidencio Oviedo has been playing his best football of the season in recent games and will be key in stopping counter attacks and covering his wing-backs. Up front there will be a definite mismatch if Edgar Benítez can run at the Olimpia centrebacks, he is too fast for them and will be trying to earn freekicks as much as score goals.

Iturbe was the hero the last time Cerro won the clásico in 2011 – Photo: golazotropical.com.py

A super sunday showdown is in store and it will end with one half of the country celebrating and the other half comiserating.

The country like these brothers will be divided

Olimpia XI (probable): M.Silva; F.Nájera, J.C. Cáceres, S.Candia, S.Ariosa; E.Aranda, M.Amado, R.Ortiz; M.Biancucchi; L.Caballero, P.Zeballos

Cerro Porteño XI (probable): P.Gavilán; C. Benítez, P.Benitez, L.Cardozo; J.Rojas, W.López; F.Oviedo, J.Dos Santos, J.Fabbro; E.Benitez, S.Salcedo

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Selected Odds: Olimpia win 2.42, Draw 3.35, Cerro win 3.2; 1-0 scoreline 9.0, 0-1 scoreline 11.0

Best Bet: Anybody betting on this needs to understand that form and stats go out of the window, this is very much a ‘cup final’ kind of fixture and trying to predict this is very difficult at the best of times let alone when the title is decided, my feeling is that it won’t be a draw, either Cerro go for it and win or they go for it and get caught on the break and lose, usually these games are low scoring so that might be the best option. Best of luck for those who bet on this.

Club presidents Zapag and Recanate

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STATS AND TRIVIA

Olimpia vs Cerro Porteño last five

The old rivals go head to head – Photo: Ultima Hora Archive

Pld 5 –  Olimpia W 2 – Cerro W 1 – Draws 2

Superclásico head-to-head (League Games)

Pld 273 – Cerro W 97 – Olimpia W 93 – Draws 83

Carlos Amarilla will referee the game, he has officiated 21 clásicos in the league overseeing 8 Cerro wins, 7 Olimpia wins and 7 draws.

No team has won more than five clásico’s in a row, Cerro have achieved the quintuple twice (1986-88 & 2007-08)

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By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: All odds correct at time of writing via Betfair for more betting tips check out CaStRoF betting tips

Apertura 2012: Final week preview

The final weekend kicks off and of course the biggest match is the Olimpia vs Cerro Porteño clásico and title showdown which we will be previewing separately due to its huge importance. Check out the other five games on Saturday and Sunday here as an intriguing Apertura comes to a close.

Nacional vs Luque
Estadio Arsenio Erico
07/07/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 1-1

Luque stunned Olimpia – Photo: D10.com.py

Nacional have been totally unpredictable recently (L 5-0, W 5-0, D 3-3) and it is understandable, they are in a position where they are too far away to qualify for the Copa Libertadores this year but have too many points to worry about relegation so it must be hard to focus. I would usually expect a home win in terms of the quality of the two sides but Luque showed against Olimpia they are still fighting hard under manager Carlos Kiese and they won’t roll over so a draw is a good possibility.

SELECTED ODDS: Nacional win 1.83, Draw 3.9, Luque win 4.6

Guaraní vs Cerro de Franco
Estadio Rogelio Livieres
07/07/2012, 16:15
Prediction: 2-1

Although Guaraní have little to play for in terms of league positition they do have a new manager which brings renewed optimisim for the club, Cerro de Franco have more determination because they need points for next season’s relegation battle. Ultimately though they will be tired from a long season and lots of travelling between Asunción and Ciudad del Este in the last week, so I can see this being a home win especially as players look to impress under new coach Diego Alonso.

SELECTED ODDS: Guaraní win 1.83, Draw 3.7, Cerro de Franco win 4.5

BEST BET: Over 2.5 goals is at 1.71 in case you fancy that more than the Guaraní victory, goals per games in matches involving these teams is at 2.84

Libertad vs Rubio Ñu
Estadio Nicolas Leóz
07/07/2012, 18:30
Prediction: 2-0

Libertad were comfortable winners in their last game – Photo: D10.com.py

Libertad thrashed Independiente in the last match to uphold the belief that their ‘reserves’ often play better than the first team because of a desire to prove themselves, they should overcome Rubio Ñu who apart from having had a terrible season also have several players on loan to Libertad who will be unavailable for this fixture. Of the three games this saturday I’m most confident with this prediction.

SELECTED ODDS: Libertad win 1.44, Draw 4.8, Rubio Ñu win 7.2

BEST BET: Libertad are topscorers in the league now and they have always been capable to thrash sides so getting them on the handicap wouldn’t be a bad idea

Sol de América vs Carapeguá
Estadio Luis Gigani
08/07/2012, 09:45
Prediction: 3-1

Sol are big scorersthis season – Photo: abc.com.py

A crazy kick off time as it seems the players and directors want to watch the clásico! Sol have the strength and are playing at home and against weaker sides they often steamroller them with the attacking options of José Ortigoza, Enzo Prono, Sergio Escalante, David Mendieta etc. Should be a home win but worth noting that Carapeguá have made themselves hard to beat recently and will be determined to end the season on a high.

BEST BET: Over 2.5 could be a nice bet here, the sides average over 3 goals per game in Apertura fixtures with Sol averaging 1.76 goals scored

Tacuary vs Independiente
Estadio Roberto Bettega
08/07/2012, 16:00
Prediction: 1-1

Independiente have lost their last two games 5-0 and 4-1 so they will just want to take something from this game against Tacuary to end well – Tacuary will also be happy to bring this awful season to an end. Probably a draw in this one.

OLIMPIA VS CERRO PORTEÑO
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
08/07/2012, 15:00
Prediction: See individual preview!

By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: All odds correct at time of writing via Betfair for more betting tips check out CaStRoF betting tips

Olimpia found wanting at final hurdle, superclásico will decide title

Olimpia didn’t get the victory they needed, Cerro Porteño did and it means the 2012 Apertura has gone to the wire the final game is Sunday’s superclásico between the country’s biggest two clubs. It is set to be an emotional ending to a thrilling title race.

Luque vs Olimpia
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
(1-0) 2-1 – Sergio Vergara, Juan Abente; Arnaldo Castorino

A sunny yet mild day, perfect conditions for football, greeted the players of Olimpia in the national stadium as they looked to secure a win against lowly Luque to wrap up their second consecutive title and 40th league championship overall. But after just 13 minutes things were looking complicated for El Decano when defender Sergio Vergara’s fabulous flicked header opened the scoring for the Luqueño’s.

Olimpia as exepcted responded with a flurry of attacks but were unable to get any reward in a feisty game that had seen three bookings in the first six minutes and the expulsion of Luque coach, Carlos Kiese. In fact it was the auriazul that doubled their lead in unexpected fashion just after the break, defensive midfielder Juan Abente’s deflected long-range strike crept past Martin Silva, he had been set up by a former Olimpia player, Edgar Robles.

Substitute Arnaldo Castorino did reply for the league leaders with a fantastic header just after the hour mark and their chances of getting something from the game increased when Jorge ‘Mono’ Britez stuck out a hand to block the ball and was sent off, his second booking. Yet Olimpia couldn’t get the two goals they needed for the league win, nor an equaliser to take some solace from the game.

Castorino equalised with a wonderful header – Photo: D10.com.py

Now they go to Sunday’s superclásico knowing that the winner takes it all.

Luque XI: Tobías Vargas; Rolando Bogado, Robert Servín, Marcos Pereira, Sergio Vergara; Edgar Robles, Jorge Brítez, Juan Abente, Juan Pablo Raponi; Adriano Duarte, Guido Di Vanni

Subs: Pedro Galeano for Juan Pablo Raponi, Ronald Huth for Juan Abente

Sent Off: Jorge Brítez (2 yellow cards)

Olimpia XI: Martín Silva; Renzo Revoredo, Francisco Nájera, Salustiano Candia, Sebastián Ariosa; Eduardo Aranda, Miguel Amado, Richard Ortíz; Pablo Zeballos, Maximiliano Biancucchi y Luis Caballero

Subs: Arnaldo Castorino for Pablo Zeballos, Carlos Humberto Paredes for Miguel Amado, Osvaldo Hobecker for Renzo Revoredo

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Cerro Porteño vs Sol de América
Estadio Gral. Pablo Rojas a.k.a La Olla
(0-0) 2-0 – Santiago Salcedo 54′, Alejandro da Silva 85′

The azulgrana knew they had to win and even that might not be enough but they remained focussed, surely buoyed on by the crowd reaction telling them what was happening down the road with Olimpia, and dug in for another solid victory. The first half was goalless as the home side had plenty of chances but left themselves open at the back with Sol de America’s José Ortigoza creating opportunities for himself on the counter attack.

Santiago Salcedo celebrates his opener – Photo: D10.com.py

The breakthrough came after 54 minutes, Santiago Salcedo with his sixth goal of the season after he was too strong for his marker and managed to hold the ball up with his back to goal before turning and drilling the ball into the bottom corner. Substitute Alejandro da Silva wrapped up the victory just five minutes from the end with a superb left-footed volley, it was Cerro’s third straight victory and third consecutive cleansheet.

Now all is set up for superclásico Sunday.

Cerro Porteño XI: Pablo Gavilán; Luis Cardozo, Pedro Benítez, César Benítez; Luis Cáceres, Fidencio Oviedo, Julio Dos Santos, Walter López; Jonathan Fabbro; Edgar Benítez, Santiago Salcedo

Subs: Juan Manuel Lucero for Luis Cáceres, Alejandro Gonzalez for Edgar Benitez, Alejandro Da Silva for Jonathan Fabbro

Sol de América XI: Roberto Acosta; Roberto Bonet, Edgar Segovia, Bruno Valdez, Diego Arrúa; Sergio Escalante, Angel Enciso, Alfredo Rojas, David Mendieta; José Ortigoza, Enzo Prono

Subs: Diego Vazquez for Enzo Prono

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ALL THE GOALS (including Pablo Velazquez’s excellent overhead kick) 

Other Results: Carapeguá 0-0 Guaraní, Independiente 1-4 Libertad, Cerro de Franco 2-1 Tacuary, Rubio Ñu 3-3 Nacional

Paraguay Apertura 2012: Week 21 Preview

The penultimate round of games and a win for Olimpia can see them lift the title, Cerro Porteño are the only side still in contention and will be kicking off at the same time against Sol de América. All games take place on Wednesday 4th July.

Luque vs Olimpia
Estadio Defensores del Chaco
04/07/2012, 15:15
Prediction:0-1

Luque fans may stay away with game being played in national stadium – Photo: Club Sportivo Luqueño – Prensa

Luque are banned from their home stadium which means the game will be played in the Defensores with thousands of Olimpia fans eager to celebrate the title. The players too will be desperate to wrap things up against a struggling Luque side rather than have the huge pressure of having to beat Cerro Porteño in the clásico at the weekend. Both quality and form suggests El Decano will be strong enough and the champagne will be on ice in Sajonia. There is also big motivation for coach Gerardo Pelusso who is set to be officially unveiled as the new Paraguay national team manager after the tournament ends, he would love to finish with back-to-back titles.

SELECTED ODDS: Luque win 3.1, Draw 3.5, Olimpia 1.84

BEST BET: Take Olimpia at those odds this isn’t an away match for them

Cerro Porteño vs Sol de América
Estadio Gral. Pablo Rojas a.k.a La Olla
04/07/2012, 15:15
Prediction: 2-1

Expect a tense atmosphere at La Olla

Cerro know the title is out of their hands and while the fans will be listening to events down the road in the Defensores the players are fully focussed on winning to keep in the race. Fossati is expected to set up the same XI as at the weekend and the last few games is the best the azulgrana have played all year with key players showing their full potential. Sol de América are also playing well and the last two games with Cerro have been 2-2 draws, however I can’t see the home team slipping up today.

SELECTED ODDS: Cerro Porteño win 1.61, Draw 3.3, Sol de América win 4.6

BEST BET: Why don’t you take the double on offer Cerro/Olimpia with both sides at decent odds today

Cerro de Franco vs Tacuary
Estadio Antonio Oddone Sarubbi
04/07/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 1-0

Tacuary managed to score last week but it was a penalty, both they and Cerro de Franco need points for the relegation standings (relegation only comes into play in the Clausura but these points count towards it). I think both ‘home’ advantage (Cerro de Franco are playing down the road from home town of Presidente Franco) and general form is pointing towards a narrow home win.

Rubio Ñu vs Nacional
Estadio La Arboleda
04/07/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 0-1

A tough season for Rubio Ñu fans is nearly over

Rubio Ñu are playing badly, Blas Cristaldo still doesn’t know who is best team is and they are struggling to score goals. Nacional on the other hand have been quite erratic losing 5-0 then winning 5-0 the following week. In terms of quality Nacional are the better side and have the attacking potency to win this game if they show up fully motivated.

BEST BET: Don’t bet. Often when neither team has nothing to play for deals can be struck behind closed doors.

Independiente vs Libertad
Estadio Ricardo Gregor
04/07/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 1-2

World Cup Winner Jorge Burruchaga won’t lead Libertad in Clausura – Photo: D10.com.py

Libertad have had an exodus of players at the end of their contracts, Jonathan Santana, Cristian Nasuti, Cristian Menendez, Luciano Civelli, Víctor Cáceres, Carlos Bonet are all out. Jorge Burruchaga has left his post as manager, citing the unfulfilled promise of a meeting with the board to dicuss future plans, which if true is a huge oversight by Libertad’s top brass because they’ve lost an excellent coach. However despite losing big names the gumarelo are full of others eager to take their place, also expect a couple of debuts for young players in a team that will be determined to win to keep earning points in the 2013 Copa Libertadores race. Think Libertad will prevail today.

Sportivo Carapeguá vs Guaraní
Estadio Juan Canuto Pettengill
04/07/2012, 15:00
Prediction: 1-0

A hard one to call, Carapeguá need the points more than Guaraní who have lost key players and have sacked their manager Pablo Caballero. The aborigen have little attacking threat now that Dante Lopez, Fabio Escobar and Carlos Hidalgo aren’t playing (out of contract) so a goal from the away team will most likely have to come from a set piece but without defenders Julio Manzur and Elvis Marecos even that looks difficult. With that in mind I’m backing the home win.

By Ralph Hannah

Author’s Note: All odds correct at time of writing via Betfair for more betting tips check out CaStRoF betting tips