Cerro Porteño v Sportivo Ameliano
Cerro Porteño edged past Sol de América 1-0 in their previous game to extend their unbeaten run to eight games. Sportivo Ameliano had an intense Barrio Jara derby against Tacuary which ended in a 1-1 draw as they conceded a 95th minute equalizer.
The Azulgrana have been coming good of late as they rediscovered their defensive solidity which has been a foundation of their recent success. They’ve kept a clean sheet in five of their last six matches – only conceding in the game against Guaireña (2-2 draw). The squad is also returning to full strength, in the last game Mateus Gonçalves got his first minutes since October 2021 having completed his 12-month doping ban. Claudio Aquino got 19 minutes off the bench, the most he has played since August as he builds up to full fitness following pneumonia.
Since taking over as coach, Juan Pablo Pumpido is unbeaten in his three games in charge winning twice before drawing the previous match against Tacuary. His team have continued scoring, as they were doing even in defeat under Humberto Garcia and are on a run of 11 matches in which they’ve found the net. Elías Sarquis has been an important figure in the forward line, scoring twice in the last three league matches. His sending off in the last meeting with Cerro Porteño was the turning point, he’ll be hoping to make amends at La Nueva Olla.
Overall, the Ciclón’s home record in 2022 is impressive with just one defeat in 18 league games and they also have the benefit of an extra 48 hours rest with Ameliano having played Sunday rather than Friday. The three meetings this year have all been wins for Chiqui Arce’s side and that is expected to continue.
Olimpia v Tacuary
Olimpia finally snapped their three-game winless run with a 1-0 victory in Ciudad del Este over Guaireña, Mateo Gamarra’s early header settled the nerves. Meanwhile Tacuary also ended their losing streak, after four games without a goal they equalized in stoppage time in the derby against rivals Ameliano to earn their first point since early September.
Julio César Cáceres welcomed back Derlis González from international duty and interestingly Hugo Fernández. The central midfielder made just his 2nd start of the year and played 67 minutes, the most he’s managed since returning to Olimpia as they look for a replacement for the injured Richard Ortiz. At home they have given up points of late, losing leads to both Resistencia and Sol de América, but overall, the record is very strong. They are unbeaten in the Manuel Ferreira since April in the league, racking up 29 points from a possible 33 on that run.
Iván Almeida seemed to have turned the corner at Tacuary but has faded away recently and the honeymoon period is certainly over. He stormed out of his press conference following the Copa Paraguay defeat to Nacional and the early optimism they might reach the Sudamericana has waned. In his 13 league games to date, he took 13 points from his first seven matches and now just four points from the last six. Lucas Sanabria, arguably their best player this season, will miss the trip to Olimpia having picked up a red card in the 100th minute of the last match – another blow to the beleaguered Almeida.
Olimpia’s record at home, mentioned above, and the fact they ran out 2-0 winners in this same fixture in the Apertura points to another win. Although Tacuary won the previous meeting, at the Defensores del Chaco in July, the current form of both sides is markedly different heading into this clash.
Sol de America v Nacional
Nacional continue to grind out results as they stay in the title race, it is now three 1-0 wins in a row in the league taking maximum points against three of the bottom four. Sol de América, fifth from bottom themselves, lost to Nacional’s title rivals Cerro Porteño by a single goal and have lost their last two home games by that scoreline.
Pablo Guiñazú’s team have been a real mixed bag of late, winning two, losing two and drawing one of their last five games. However, both the draw (versus Olimpia) and win over General Caballero came through last minute goals against 10 men. With teams around them, especially Guaraní, also slipping up there is still a hope of getting a Sudamericana spot. And with a game coming against those direct rivals next week, it is possible the coach rests some of his older players in this midweek match namely 41-year-old striker Santiago Salcedo and 35-year-old Marcelo Estigarribia. Cristián Núñez is forced to miss the clash through suspension after getting a late 2nd yellow in the defeat to Cerro on Friday.
Nacional are having their best season in a while; they’ve already achieved more points (31) in the first 14 games of the Clausura than they did in the whole of the Apertura (26 points in 22 games). In fact, you have to go right back to the 2018 Apertura to the last time Nacional crossed the 30-point threshold. Previously a lot of the success had been through top scorer Bruera, but the last six strikes have come from different players and the defence have come to the fore with four clean sheets in all competitions. That’s equals the best backline display since May-June 2018, interestingly both Goalkeeper Santiago Rojas and central defender Miguel Jacquet were also playing during that run over four years ago.
Nacional were comfortable 3-0 winners in the Copa Paraguay fixture less than a month ago and the tricolor have continued in their rich vein of form since then. It is worth noting that Sol de América also lost 3-0 in their last league meeting as Guiñazú has been unable to get the better of Sarabia in their two meetings.
12 de Octubre v Guarani
Guaraní continue to surprise but in the wrong way as they lost at home to Resistencia, a second straight league defeat without scoring and they remain 2nd from bottom. The only side below them are opponents 12 de Octubre who are having a year to forget picking up just six points.
Half of this season’s haul did come in a win against Guaraní earlier in the Clausura, a late Elvio Vera goal was a rare moment to savour for the team from Itauguá. They have lost their last three league games without scoring and can only take some pride in the fact that joint leaders Cerro Porteño and Nacional only beat them 1-0. With the club struggling financially they can’t afford a fine by not giving U19s enough minutes as per a new Paraguayan FA rule. Coach Héctor Marecos has been favouring Kevin Arce who has started the last two games, but it means a more senior striker has to begin on the bench which hasn’t helped their goalscoring fortunes.
Guaraní had one eye on the Copa Paraguay, they’ve reached the final, which is why a very inexperienced side took to the field against General Caballero – and lost 3-0. But there are no excuses for the most recent defeat, 1-0 to Resistencia, with senior players back in the side such as Fernando Fernández and Jorge Mendoza. They will have to make do without young star Matías Segovia who is representing Paraguay U20s at the South American games, but the other teenage sensation Romeo Benítez will be available.
The aurinegro are yet to win away, and while this is their best chance of the season to get maximum points on the road, they have proved to be unreliable this year. Instead, 12 de Octubre have scored just 4 goals at home this year while Guaraní have managed only 3 away with 2 coming at Libertad as they rose to the occasion.
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