The Strongest vs Santos
Competition: Copa Libertadores
Date: 18 May 2017
Kick-off: 00:30 CET
The best thing about them having seven points after four matches in the group, is that The Strongest are holding their fate in their own hands, they are not depending on anyone else. A win over Santos, sends them to the last 16 of the competition. A draw will also be great, if Santa Fe lose at Sporting Cristal. Even if things go really badly for them this week, they can still go to Santa Fe next week and get a result that will be good enough to give them a ticket to the next stage. According to their coach, Cesar Farias, they are a candidate to win the Libertadores(!), but… one step at a time. In five days they lost two games by the same score, 3-1, at Oriente Petrolero and Bolivar, being left third in the table of Bolivia’s championship.
The way things have come, Santos need to commit football suicide to miss out on the chance to play in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores this season. A draw in this game is enough to secure them a spot in the next stage mathematically. Even if they lose though, they have the last game at home, they will be hosting Sporting Cristal, the weakest side of the group, so… really, they will only miss the ticket to the last 16 if they fail to do even the absolute minimum. Last weekend they lost 3-2 at Fluminense, on the first day of the Brazilian championship. Left-back Zeca could reappear, after getting injured against Ponte Preta on April 10. He had to undergo surgery, he was expected to return after 45 days, but thanks in part to a device he bought and used at home in combination with the work he did with the physiotherapist of Santos, he already started training with ball, and according to Brazilian reports he could play. He is the regular left-back of the team, and midfielder -normally- Jean Mota was replacing him since his injury, excluding the last game which he missed due to suspension.
The Strongest vs Santos: Head-to-head Stats
The Strongest have hosted Santos once before, in the Copa Libertadores group stage in 2012, and they actually beat them 2-1.
The Strongest vs Santos: Prediction
I’m backing the hosts to win not so much because of La Paz’s altitude and their ‘know-how’ to snatch victories in games that really-really matter to them, but mostly because I don’t expect Santos to… die trying to win. They have the last game at home against Sporting Cristal, so even if they lose, really, it won’t be the end of the world for them, and when it comes to Brazilian teams, as I have written on other occasions, usually -but not always- proven right, the ‘motive’ issue is a major one.
The Strongest vs Santos: Tips
The lightest word I can use to describe the 1.57 that The Strongest’s win pays is ‘pathetic’. Given that this is Santos they are hosting, I’m almost… pissed off seeing their win pay that little. I’m hoping for an over 2.5 goals game, with Santos scoring as well, most probably in the first half, or the first fifteen minutes of the second half. The Strongest and over 2.5 goals, pays 2.40.
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