Guaraní v Cerro Porteño
Two sides licking their wounds after losing key battles, Guaraní missed out on the Copa Paraguay Final as they allowed Nacional to come from behind and win in the last minute. Cerro Porteño did the hard work to equalize in the clásico before letting Olimpia snatch victory five minutes from time.
Guaraní’s loss to Nacional was the second in succession having fallen 2-0 in the league prior to their cup game. They are on such a mixed run in the league with four wins and four defeats in their last eight games which followed four consecutive draws. They have struggled greatly away, so it is surprising from a sporting perspective that this game won’t be played at their home ground but at a neutral venue in Ciudad del Este. Both Luis Fariña and Néstor Camacho will be eligible despite their red cards late on in the cup game, the Paraguayan FA separates sanctions between the two competitions so it doesn’t affect their league availability.
Cerro Porteño find themselves in third place after Sunday’s defeat and once again Chiqui Arce’s stubborn insistence with Pachi Carrizo and Claudio Aquino in the starting line up didn’t work. The pair have produced just 1 goal in 322 minutes together on the pitch, without one taking up the other’s space the azulgrana average a goal every 53 minutes. Surely one will sit on the bench, and they will be rotated for the final five games of the season. Arce also has a selection headache up front, Marcelo Moreno Martins scored the equalizer but has generally struggled away from La Nueva Olla and could make way for Alfio Oviedo.
Cerro Porteño won their last game in Ciudad del Este, 2-0 over Sportivo Ameliano and they are unbeaten in the game after the clásico so far this year. Guaraní were fortunate to rescue a point against Cerro Porteño earlier in the season, scoring through a late penalty. With Guaraní having picked up just one win away and scoring only four times outside of Dos Bocas the change in venue really has favoured Cerro.
Libertad v Nacional
Libertad continue to go through the motions as they are seemingly just waiting for the 2023 Libertadores to begin. A tepid draw against Sol de América in the previous game extends their winless streak to four matches. Meanwhile Nacional are flying high, top of the table and into the Copa Paraguay Final it has been a fantastic season for Sarabia’s squad.
Libertad continue to be the league’s highest scorers but have managed to lose six games which is as many as the Top 3 combined. They are however unbeaten at home, with Nacional the last team to beat them in the league on 24th October 2021, almost a year to the day of this fixture. That said the game was played at the Defensores del Chaco – you have to go back to May 2021 for the last league defeat in La Huerta. They continue to make hay at home, scoring at least two goals in seven of their eight games there this season. Two thirds of their 21 home goals have come from Lorenzo Melgarejo (9) and Óscar Cardozo (5) with the two expected to start.
Nacional are on a 13-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, in fact the only match they’ve lost since the start of the Clausura was to Libertad in Week 7. Other than the tense 0-0 draw with Cerro Porteño they have been finding the net regularly especially on the road. They’ve scored three goals in four of their last six away games in all competitions with the strikes shared around the team and not just with Bruera. Richard Prieto scored the late winner against Guaraní, his first game since returning from injury – a real boost in the business end of the season.
Libertad shouldn’t be odds on favourites considering the form of both sides, but it is also hard to plump for Nacional even on the double chance given their midweek exertions in the Cup. With Libertad average 3 goals at home and Nacional likely to get on the scoresheet themselves the BTTS is a good option.
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