Deportivo Cali v Rionegro Aguilas
It’s been a rough old season for current champions Deportivo Cali in the Colombia Primera A. They made the worst start to a season of any defending champions in Colombian football history before flopping out of the title race early. Here they have nothing much to play for. But there are plenty of signs to suggest the team have turned the corner.
Sparked by a famous home win against Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores, they then narrowly lost to Brazilian giants Corinthians away while drawing against Junior and America in the league. They are still struggling for goals, but their xG has noticeably improved as some of the mid-season signings gel. At last, the manager has got the team playing as he likes.
Rionegro have suffered a similarly disappointing campaign with rumours that former Colombia manager Leonel Alvarez is coming under increasing pressure. Only four wins out of their last four will see Rionegro stand any chance of a top 8 finish, which was the minimum remit set at the start of the campaign.
Their form has improved slightly in recent weeks, particularly defensively. Last week they held off Atletico Nacional in impressive style, allowing them an xG of just 0.05. Playing away from home, they will maintain their 4-4-1-1 and again look to stifle their rivals. Cali may still have the quality to edge this game, but unders remains the glaringly obvious option.
Jaguares v America
Eighteen of Jaguares’ total haul of 20 points have come at home this season, a run of form that weighs heavily on the hot and humid weather of Monteria where they play their home games. Jaguares purposefully opt for kick-off times in the middle of the afternoon. Death by eventual submission to the Caribbean’s suffocating climatic conditions is basically how Jaguares remain in this division.
The team from Monteria were very unlucky last week, when fighting bravely for over 50 minutes with ten men in the cold and altitude of Bogotá. They lost 1-0 but had a goal controversially chalked off at the end. They deserved a point. The big question for this game, however, is who will replace their explosive striker Pablo Rojas who is suspended after last week’s red card. Overs is always worth a flutter with Jaguares. They sit joint second in the table for most average goals per game at 2.5. But Rojas’ loss and the continued absence of leading Jaguares scorer Andres Renteria are important factors worth keeping in mind.
Instead, it’s best to lump on a Jaguares double at 1.36. America are so inconsistent and still have so many injuries that Jaguares’ heavy home advantage is again likely to be the most crucial clue to deciding this game
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