Libertad v Tacuary
Libertad have been somewhat of an enigma this season, epitomized by their last three fixtures. A narrow defeat to title rivals Cerro Porteño, was followed by scoring four in 45 minutes against Olimpia before suffering from the shock of conceding four in the 2nd half to Guaireña. As such they find themselves five points off the top of the league with 16 goals conceded in ten matches.
Daniel Garnero can find some solace in the fact the game is going to be at La Huerta where Libertad have been dominant. Since their home stadium’s renovation they are undefeated in the league, winning 13 and drawing two. Hernesto Caballero’s absence (suspended) in the middle could complicate things for the Gumarelo especially if central defender Alexander Barboza doesn’t start. Daniel Bocanegra has been employed as a centre back and could be pushed higher up as a defensive midfielder, but only if Barboza is ready to play in a mask following his facial injury.
Tacuary meanwhile will be missing a key player themselves in Lucas Sanabria, the 23-year-old playmaker has been outstanding this year but is ineligible to play against his parent club. It is testament to Iván Almeida that they go into this game ahead of the defending champions in the standings, the comfortable 2-0 win over Guaraní has seen them move into 4th place and in with a real chance of playing Copa Sudamericana next year.
With Libertad so out of sorts the 1.33 home win offers no value, but it is also hard to bet against a side that hasn’t tasted defeat in their home stadium for more than a year. Instead, the goals markets are tempting, Libertad have scored 15 in their last five home league matches and conceded five. Tacuary have only failed to score once in their last nine matches in all competitions.
Cerro Porteño v Guaireña
Cerro Porteño keep grinding out results and for all their problems earlier in the season head into this game joint top with Barrio Obrero neighbours Nacional. Guaireña arrive in the capital with their tails up having routed Libertad 4-0 just days after putting five past General Caballero ZC in the Copa Paraguay.
Chiqui Arce has seen his side go back to what they know in the past two games, keeping clean sheets and winning to nil. Prior to that the azulgrana had conceded in three straight league games but they remain the strongest defence in the league. Further up the pitch, the absence of Claudio Aquino (illness) has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise as it has seemingly given Federico “Pachi” Carrizo more freedom. It is telling that the last four times they have scored over 1.5 goals in a game it has been without Claudio Aquino.
Guaireña struggled for goals in the Apertura but have found their rhythm this season with only Libertad and Olimpia scoring more so far. Away from Villarrica they have been a mixed bag, winning just once (against General Caballero JLM) and drawing twice and losing twice so far. Nildo Viera has scored four of their five goals on their travels in this Clausura, he was taken off early against Libertad (suspected broken nose) and is a doubt for this one.
Cerro Porteño remain solid at home and while Guaireña did take a point from La Nueva Olla last season it was at the height of the Libertadores campaign, coming in the middle of a run of six games in 18 days. With no distractions and the opposition missing a key player this should be a home win as the form book would suggest.
Guaraní v Sportivo Ameliano
Guaraní have struggled to find a win, giving away late leads and head into this match second from bottom, unknown territory for Fernando Jubero’s side. Sportivo Ameliano have had a strong second half of the year but still find themselves bottom of the promedio (relegation standings).
Guaraní’s run of four straight draws finally came to an end but not in the manner they hoped for, falling 2-0 to Tacuary as they were thoroughly outplayed for long periods. The Spanish coach, Jubero, was criticized for not bringing on youngster Matías Segovia earlier with the teenager lively in the final ten minutes. If he starts it would likely be in place of Luis Fariña who has provided just one assist in his nine appearances this season.
Sportivo Ameliano have blown hot or cold this season, only drawing a single game (vs Sol de América) as they’ve been bold and looked to score even at the risk of conceding. In fact, of their ten matches this season they have found the net in eight of them, only failing to score against Cerro Porteño and Olimpia. The 12 goals have been shared around, Diego Barreto leads the way with three strikes, while the rest were turned in by five different players and three own goals.
The previous game between these two was a 1-1 draw, this was when Guaraní were arguably stronger and Ameliano weaker. There could be a similar pattern of play with both sides conceding over a goal a game.
Nacional v Olimpia
Both these sides were affected by late goals in their weekend games, in the case of Nacional it was a later winner to keep them joint top of the table. For Olimpia it was conceding a late equalizer to lowly Sol de América as they missed out on Saúl Salcedo in defence.
Pedro Sarabia got his changes spot on in the last game, as they came from behind to beat Ameliano with halftime substitute David Fleitas equalizing. His introduction and that of Gustavo Caballero late on helped propel them to victory. Both will be pushing for a start against Olimpia. Defensively the side has improved considerably, conceding 0.8 goals per game in the Clausura compared to 1.23 per game in the Apertura. That has been in part the incorporation of Miguel Jacquet, who returned to his boyhood club in July and has started the last nine games at the back.
Julio César Cáceres will once again be ruing his team’s disciplinary issues, while they have been awarded more penalties than any other side they have had the most red cards with six in their first ten games of the season. Derlis González is the latest to be suspended, a huge blow as he has led the scoring charts for his side, netting four in the last six league games. Sául Salcedo does return in defence, he will replace Antolin Alcaraz.
Olimpia as odds on favourites makes little sense considering current form, the absence of their top scorer and the recent head-to-head with Nacional. The Academia have won four of the last six in the league, drawing one.
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