Independiente vs Gremio
Competition: Recopa Sudamericana
Date: 15 February 2018
Kick-off: 01:00 CET
There is no doubt that Boca Juniors and River Plate are the two biggest names in Argentina’s football scene, but… they don’t call Independiente “King of Cups” for nothing. The Copa Sudamericana the Avellaneda club won last season, was their 17th international title, including 7 Copa Libertadores(!), and two Intercontinental Cups. Independiente are a massive club, which, though, has some of the worst “barrabravas” in Argentina. Incredible as this may look, their coach quit his post just a few days after winning the Copa Sudamericana in December, claiming that his family’s and his own life was in danger, after being threatened by the head of the club’s “barrabravas” (most fanatic fans, who, though, are not exactly “fans”, more like… “professional supporters” and extortionists) to give him a big amount of money. A few days later, Ariel Holan took his decision back (without explaining what had changed), and he is still their coach. Their last game was on February 3, when they beat Colón in Santa Fe, 1-0. They are sixth in the Argentina Superliga, 12 points behind leaders Boca Juniors. In the Copa Sudamericana final they beat Flamengo 2-1 at home, and drew 1-1 in Rio de Janeiro in the return leg.
Gremio beat Lanús twice in the Copa Libertadores final(s), 1-0 in Porto Alegre and 2-1 in Argentina, returning to the top of South America’s football scene. Ask any River Plate fan though, and he’ll tell you that it was his team that… gifted the trophy to Gremio, by committing football suicide in the semifinals against Lanús. In the Gaucho championship, the… appetizer before the Serie A starts in Brazil, Gremio have been… well… the proper word is “awful”, earning just four points from their six matches thus far. This game is a totally different case though. Coach Renato Portaluppi will use his best possible 11, even though there are two players he can’t count on, players who under different circumstances would be in the starting lineup. Defensive midfielder Ramiro got sent off in the return leg of the Libertadores final, and will miss both games against Independiente. Central midfielder Arthur (who is rumoured to be a Barcelona target for the coming summer), is injured and unavailable. Left-back Madson, newly-arrived from Vasco da Gama, is also injured. The other newly-signed players, attacking midfielders Maicosuel (from Sao Paulo) and Thaciano (from Boa Esporte Club), left winger Alisson (from Cruzeiro) and centre-back Paulo Miranda (from Salzburg) are all available.
Previous five matches:
Colón Santa Fe vs Independiente 0-1
Independiente vs Estudiantes 1–2
Independiente vs Rosario Central 1-1
Independiente vs Racing Club 2-2
Independiente vs Gimnasia La Plata 0-0
Gremio vs Brasil de Pelotas 2-1
Gremio vs Cruzeiro RS 0-1
EC São José vs Gremio 2-0
Avenida vs Gremio 3-2
Gremio vs Caxias 3-5
Independiente’s next game is at Temperley, on Saturday (Argentina Superliga). Same day, Gremio will be visiting Veranópolis (Gaucho championship).
Independiente vs Gremio: Head to head Stats
Independiente have hosted Gremio twice before. In 1984 they drew 0-0 in the return leg of the Copa Libertadores final, and they won the trophy, having beaten Gremio 1-0 in Brazil. In 1999 they faced each other in the Libertadores group stage, and Independiente won that game 1-0.
Independiente vs Gremio: Prediction
Independiente are considered favourites to win. I agree, I expect them to win, and more specifically, by one goal.
Independiente vs Gremio: Betting Tips
A simple Independiente win pays 1.89. If you feel like acting a bit greedy, go for “Independiente to win and keep a clean sheet”, at 2.60, and “Independiente and under 2.5 goals”, at 3.20. I feel they’ll be fine winning 1-0, taking advantage of the fact that Gremio have no rhythm at this stage of the season.