Olimpia v Guaireña
An intriguing matchup in the Manuel Ferreira with Guaireña arriving in Asunción on a five-game unbeaten streak in the Paraguayan Primera. In fact, the visitors have only lost two of their last 14 games in all competitions since this fixture in the Apertura. On that occasion Olimpia ran out 1-0 winners, only scoring after Guaireña suffered a sending-off. We could see something similar again this weekend.
Julio César Cáceres came in for a lot of criticism following the 4-2 defeat to Libertad in their previous game, although he wasn’t helped by having two players given their marching orders before the hour mark. Hugo Quintana and Luis Zárate will have to sit out this game, it is likely that Mateo Gamarra shuffles back to centreback and youngster Marcos Gómez probably goes in the middle. He has a headache selection, of the good kind, with his forward line. Derlis González has partnered three different players in his last three games, Paiva, Walter González and Recalde. Both Paiva and Walter González have scored when they came off the bench, but he could also call on Brian Montenegro. Regardless of who the manager chooses to start they will likely find some joy, Olimpia have scored over 1.5 goals in seven of their last nine league games.
Guaireña are on that aforementioned unbeaten run but it has been more a case of being difficult to breakdown, the 3-1 win over Sportivo Ameliano came after six matches without a victory including four straight draws. No player started more games than Rosalino Toledo during the Apertura and the combative midfielder is available for selection again having missed the opening games through suspension. That brings even more organization to the side, and they will be hoping the creativity spark comes from José Ariel Núñez who will be facing his former club.
Olimpia usually come out on top against this opponent winning five of the last six games, and the recent defeat came when Sergio Orteman was still coach of El Decano.
General Caballero v Libertad
The gumarelo travel East to Juan León Mallorquín in high spirits having shrugged off the opening day defeat to steamroller Olimpia at home. General Caballero are struggling, losing both games having also seen their topscorer Junior Marabel depart for Argentina.
Admittedly goals haven’t been the issue for the Rojo, they found the net in both games so far but very late on and only after being 2-0 down. Luciano Theiler has plenty of attacking options at his disposal but has to find a way to try and plug the gaps at the back. It is no surprise that their last seven games have seen BTTS land, but the results have been mixed on that run. Three wins, three defeats and one draw with just one of those victories at the Ka’arendy stadium.
Libertad made five changes in the last game with only Barboza remaining in the back four, defensively nothing improved as they conceded twice again. But Garnero’s game has always been on the offensive side, and prior to the surprise loss to Ameliano they had scored in 12 successive league games. Pairing Lorenzo Melgarejo and Roque Santa Cruz has been the coach’s preference and they will likely continue. The question mark is mostly over Bautista Merlini who has started both matches so far but also been the first substitute, he could well be replaced by Villalba to inject more pace into the team.
As usual it is hard to look past a Libertad win, but the longer odds and better value is in the goals market. Over 2.5 goals probably relies too much on General Caballero, so the chosen angle is Libertad to score 1.5 goals.
Cerro Porteño v Sol de América
Cerro Porteño go into this game top of the table as the only side that has taken maximum points from the opening two matches. They welcome a Sol de América side that finally celebrated a win after a seven-game streak without three points.
The azulgrana have a strong home record in the league, winning seven and drawing one in their eight games since the surprise superclásico loss to Olimpia. They ran riot against Sol de América last time they visited the Nueva Olla in March, a 4-0 victory with Robert Morales (currently injured) scoring a brace. More recently the goals have been shared around, Damián Bobadilla netted a late winner against Tacuary which was his first senior goal. The 21-year-old midfielder will have a starting role on Sunday with Piris Da Motta suspended and Lucena still injured.
The danzarín’s win was their first in seven but also Pedro Guiñazú’s first ever triumph as a head coach. Importantly it was their first clean sheet in five games as the backline begins to gel with the experienced heads of Marcos Miers and José Leguizamón seemingly bringing some stability. Cristian Duma scored in the first game but was benched for the second, he is yet to be on the pitch alongside Santiago Salcedo which would be the strongest strike pairing.
Despite some injuries, the home side’s overall strength combined with their coach’s tactical advantage over his opposite number points to a fourth straight league win.
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