River Plate vs Gremio
Competition: Copa Libertadores
Date: 24 October 2018
Kick-off: 02:45 CET
Hard to believe… It was February 24, at José Amalfitani, Vélez Sarsfield’s stadium. River Plate lost 1-0, a Superliga match. February 24, I repeat. Next time they lost, was last Friday! They visited Colón (Santa Fe), Marcelo Gallardo opted for a mixed lineup with some key players missing, the gamble had paid off in previous matches, but… not this time. River conceded in the 76th minute, lost for the first time in almost eight months(!), and fell 9th in the Superliga table. Good news for River is that on Sunday, in training, both Gonzalo Martínez and Franco Armani looked perfectly fine. Both were considered doubtful to play against Gremio, trying to shake off injury problems, and at least on Sunday it looked that Gallardo is counting on both to be in the starting lineup. Armani, Montiel, Pinola, Maidana, Casco, Ponzio, Palacios, Quintero, Martínez, Scocco and Borré, these are the guys expected to start the game for River. The Buenos Aires giants have played 10 matches in the competition this season, they have five wins and as many draws, with their home record being three wins and two draws. Important detail: the draws were in the group stage. In the knock-out stages, River have triumphed over Racing Club (3-0) and Independiente (3-1) as hosts.
Saturday afternoon, in the Press conference after Gremio’s 1-1 draw at América Mineiro, Renato Portaluppi, Gremio’s coach, told reporters that Everton and Luan were not going to travel to Buenos Aires, both still in pain, unable to play. A day later, Luan was on the plane to Argentina’s capital city(!), with reports claiming that he would continue his therapy in Buenos Aires, and will try his… luck in Monday night’s training session, at Monumental. Everton, no. He and Léo Moura stayed back, but Monday morning it looked like Luan had at least some chances to be on the bench. Luan and Everton have scored more goals than any teammate of theirs this year for Gremio, so with the latter already out, and with Luan not at 100%, it remains to be seen how threatening the Porto Alegre side will look in this game. Gremio have seven wins, two draws, and one defeat in the Copa Libertadores this season. The defeat was in Argentina, in Quilmes, to Estudiantes (2-1).
Previous five matches:
Colon vs River Plate 1-0
River Plate vs Sarmiento Resistencia 3-1
River Plate vs Independiente 3-1
Lanus vs River Plate 1-5
Boca Juniors vs River Plate 0-2
America Mineiro vs Gremio 1-1
Palmeiras vs Gremio 2-0
Gremio vs Bahia 2-2
Gremio vs Atletico Tucuman 4-0
Fluminense vs Gremio 0-1
River’s next game is on Saturday, again at home, versus Aldosivi (Argentina Superliga). Same day, Gremio will be hosting Sport Recife (Brazil Série A).
River Plate vs Gremio: Head to head Stats
River have hosted Gremio three times in the past, and have lost two of those matches, winning the other one. Total goals, 6-7. The most recent game was in 2002, a 1-2 Gremio win in the Copa Libertadores round of 16.
River Plate vs Gremio: Prediction
I expect River Plate to win, and I won’t be surprised if that happens by two goals. Generally, I expect them to earn a significant advantage ahead of the return leg in Porto Alegre.
River Plate vs Gremio: Betting Tips
River’s win, at 1.75, is my main tip. Combined with a clean sheet, it pays 2.25. I have a strong 2-0 hunch. If you break down Gremio’s last 10 matches, their really good ones were only two, both against Atlético Tucumán, in the Libertadores quarterfinals (0-2 win in Argentina, 4-0 at home), but in both matches they played with an extra man for more than 45 minutes.