Libertad vs Cerro Porteno
Competition: Paraguay Apertura
Date: 24 February 2018
Kick-off: 00:00 CET
You have to respect a team that manages to win games or at least earn draws in matches that they are not really the better team on the field. Last weekend, Libertad visited Deportivo Santaní, went 1-0 down in the first half, turned the situation around in the second half with two David Mendieta goals (60th and 75th minute), and left the pitch with all three points, despite having struggled against a lowly opponent. In that preview, I wrote that for them to have any real chance in the Apertura and in their Copa Libertadores group, they need to improve a lot defensively. Once again, they had problems there, I repeat, despite playing against a modest opponent. No matter what, they are co-leaders on seven points from three matches, they are one of the only two teams that haven’t lost yet, but this game against Cerro Porteño is their first really tough test in this new season. Keep in mind, the game is held at Defensores del Chaco, not Libertad’s (much-much smaller) real home. The club’s officials see this game as an awesome opportunity to make a good deal of money selling tickets to thousands of Cerro Porteño fans, setting the highest ticket prices allowed by the Paraguayan FA.
Cerro Porteño were absolutely dominant last week at home against Sol de América, but they needed the first professional goal (a fantastic one, actually) of a 20-year-old, Santiago Arzamendia, to break the deadlock early in the second half. Óscar Ruiz added a second one in the 57th minute to put the game to bed. Cerro had half a dozen chances in the first half, another half a dozen chances in the second, they could and should have won more than 2-0, but at the end of the day, they won, they picked up all three points, they kept a clean sheet, and they pleased their fans at their recently reconstructed beautiful stadium. Midweek had some bad news for them, as experienced striker Nelson Haedo Valdez got injured, and is definitely missing this match. Cerro Porteño are traveling to Venezuela (via Panama) on Sunday, to face Monagas on Tuesday, their first Copa Libertadores group stage game. Coach Luis Zubeldía is expected to play with his best possible 11 against Libertad, despite the upcoming Libertadores game.
Previous five matches:
Deportivo Santani vs Libertad 1-2
Libertad vs Guarani 2-0
Sportivo Luqueno vs Libertad 2-2
Libertad vs Nacional Asuncion 0-2
Olimpia vs Libertad 1-0
Cerro Porteno vs Sol de America 2-0
3 de Febrero vs Cerro Porteno 1-1
Nacional Asuncion vs Cerro Porteno 2-1
Cerro Porteno vs Sol de America 3-2
Guarani vs Cerro Porteno 2-1
Libertad’s next game is at 3 de Febrero, next weekend (Paraguay Apertura). Cerro Porteño are playing at Monagas (Venezuela) on Tuesday (Copa Libertadores group stage).
Libertad vs Cerro Porteno: Head to head Stats
Two wins for Libertad, one for Cerro Porteño, and two draws, in the last five games between these two with Libertad as hosts. Three of those fives matches went over 2.5 goals.
Libertad vs Cerro Porteno: Prediction
I’m thrilled to see Libertad be considered favourites, and rather clear ones, to win this game, because I’m definitely backing Cerro Porteño to earn at least a draw.
Libertad vs Cerro Porteno: Betting Tips
Libertad’s appearances in the first three games, the fact that they are facing the reigning champions who just played their best game since the start of the season, and last but not least, the fact that they are “hosting” them at a neutral venue, which will have way more Cerro fans than Libertad in the stands, makes me doubt deeply their “favourites” tag. Their win pays 2.10, but I’m definitely taking Cerro’s double chance, at 1.60, and Cerro’s win in “draw no bet”, at 2.20 betting odds.