Pereira v Cortuluá
Time’s running out for Cortuluá. After a promising start to life back in the Colombian Primera A and the start of the apertura season, Cortuluá are now sinking like a lead balloon. With just one win out of seven this season courtesy of a fortuitous 1-0 home victory over Medellín, has seen Cortuluá slip into the relegation zone. But they really do look like a team that’s dead and buried. One of the main problems they face is a lack of goals. Last season striker Luis Carlos Ruiz fired in 11 league goals but then joined Millonarios leaving a gaping hole up front that replacement forward Feiver Mercado has been unable to fill. Dragged off early in their 2-1 home defeat to Alianza Petrolera last week, Mercado is feeling the pressure and manager Cesar Torres is losing faith in his number 9. The problem is, Cortulua don’t really have anyone else.
Pereira are headed in the opposite direction. Under new manager Alejandro Restrepo they’ve looked like a transformed side this season. They are still a bit too inconsistent and, in playing a back three that contains two players aged 34 and 38, they can be got at in defence. But there’s no doubt that they have improved from last season. A top-eight finish would represent real progression and is within grasp. And beating the likes of sorry Cortuluá at such a high price of 1.91 is too good to ignore.
Millonarios v Jaguares
Millonarios rested practically their entire first XI midweek as they eased into the Colombian Cup semis with victory over second division Fortaleza. The game offered the opportunity to several fringe players, most notably Daniel Cataño, to shine. Millonarios’ first XI more or less picks itself. But manager Alberto Gamero is a shrewd operator and knows how to keep players on their toes. Against Jaguares, using options from the bench might prove key.
Clearly Millonarios start this game as strong favourites. They are the best team in Colombia right now and rightly sit top of the league. But goals don’t come easily and they rarely beat anyone by more than one goal. Jaguares will obviously come to sit deep and frustrate Millonarios. They have an appalling away record and in the altitude of Bogotá won’t take many risks. Millonarios’ job will demand patience. But they have quality on the bench to find a way through some tired Jaguares legs even if the visitors can hold firm early on.
Thus, a Millonarios home win should be fairly safe, but more adventurous punters might fancy the Jaguares +2 at 1.62 with the eye on the fact that Millonarios have often toiled when faced with a low defensive block. And while Jaguares away record has always been shocking (2 wins in 15 matches in 2022), they are unbeaten in their last four on the road.
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