Nacional v General Caballero
Both teams ended their winless runs last week as these teams try and accumulate as many points as possible with eyes on Copa Sudamericana classification. Nacional are six points ahead of General Caballero as it stands so this would be a big opportunity for Troadio Duarte’s side to claw back the difference.
Pedro Sarabia has made one major change in recent weeks that has improved results since the 4-1 defeat to Cerro Porteño. Gustavo Aguilar returned to the starting line up in both the draw against Guaireña, where he scored twice, and the win over Nacional. Jordan Santacruz also returned against Olimpia after suspension. The midfielder has started four games and his side have won three, the only defeat in the game he was sent off after 17 minutes.
Since Troadio Duarte has taken over at General Caballero they have struggled, losing five league games in a row before finally grabbing a 1-1 draw against lowly Resistencia. The 3-2 win over Luqueño was their first victory under the new boss but interestingly the third time their opponents have scored over 1.5 goals. That’s an indictment on their defence which is the 2nd worst in the league.
Pedro Sarabia and Troadio Duarte have faced off 11 times, the former has five wins and only lost once back in the strange “pandemic playoff” tournament at the end of 2020. Since taking over Nacional he has three wins and one draw when he faced Duarte’s former club Guaireña, scoring three goals in the three wins. Based on current form the Academia should be favourites to win this one.
Ostersunds v Skovde
Last season, Ostersund narrowly avoided relegation with a late run earning a relegation playoff, which they managed to win against Falkenberg, whilst Skovde only just missed out on a top three finish and a potential playoff into the Allsvenskan. This time around, though, things look very different for both sides.
In recent seasons, due to financial complications bringing the club to the brink of extinction, Ostersund have fallen from their mid-2010’s heights and were certainties to make it back-to-back relegations last season, until their aforementioned late run of form in the second-half of the campaign.
Now, under the management of Magnus Powell, the home team are looking to continue their fine late-2022 form. They come into this on the back of a very impressive 3-0 win against just relegated GIF Sundsvall, who had won their opening two matches.
They now take on a Skovde side that have collected just one point in their opening three matches. The visitors’ most recent outing was a 2-0 defeat away to ten man Landskrona, last weekend, which followed on from a 3-3 draw with J-Sodra and a 1-0 loss away to Utsiktens.
At this early stage of the campaign, the underlying data supports their poor form defensively. Their expected goals against rate is currently at 1.64 per game, which is the third highest in the Superettan.
Given their form in the second part of last year, as well as their impressive performances so far, Ostersund will be confident of continuing their strong start, especially with home advantage.
Atalanta v Roma
Another of Serie A’s five European semi-finalists are in action on Monday night as Jose Mourinho takes his Roma north to Bergamo to take on Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta. The fixture comes at a point when Gasperini’s future with La Dea is less certain than ever before and confidence will be sky high for the Giallorossi.
Similarly to Inter, though, Roma have had problems putting the ball in the net this season. Their 42 goals scored is the fewest among the top-seven sides and they’ve counteracted that by being excellent at the back – their 26 goals conceded is bettered by only Napoli (21), Lazio (20) and Juventus (25).
Paulo Dybala limping around the Olimpico while at the same time leading Roma to a comeback win over Feyenoord would have given Mourinho cause for concern ahead of the trip north, and his involvement on Matchday 31 will be in doubt. Without him, they might just struggle to even carve out the chances that Tammy Abraham, Andrea Belotti and the rest have so freely passed up time and again this season.
Atalanta themselves aren’t what they have been in the past in an attacking sense. Once Europe’s entertainers and pushing for 100 Serie A goals a season, the Nerazzurri are on just 48 from their 30 games so far – with only Roma and Juventus of the top seven having scored fewer.
So, a low-scoring affair is likely here as well.
Sportivo Luqueno v Libertad
Sportivo Luqueño return to the Feliciano Cáceres and have a stern test against the league leaders Libertad who have been unstoppable in Primera scoring 14 goals in their last four matches. The Auriazul are reeling from a 3-2 defeat to General Caballero, snapping a seven game unbeaten streak.
Gustavo Florentín has formed an impressive starting XI revolving around the experience of Rodrigo Rojas and Jorge Mendoza in the middle. Until shipping three goals to General Caballero the defensive organization had kept the opposition to 2 goals in five matches. Former Libertad defender Pablo Aguilar will have to be on top form against his ex club if they are to have a chance.
Daniel Garnero suffered the ignominy of losing a Copa Libertadores game to Peru’s Alianza Lima who hadn’t won an away game in the competition since 2010. Lorenzo Melgarejo limped off in the first half which reduces one of his attacking options. However, the form of veteran Óscar Cardozo has been incredible with the 39-year-old leading the scoring charts in the Primera with nine goals.
The previous meeting was a 1-1 draw as Luqueño deployed themselves well, although you have to go way back to 2015 to the last time the Auriazul got a home win against Libertad. In fact Gustavo Florentín is yet to get a win against Daniel Garnero in six attempts. Libertad should have enough to get over the line, but they’ve conceded in four of their last five away games while Luqueño have scored in every home game this year.
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