MY main pick hails from a ground way up in the Bolivian mountains of La Paz and I suspect the goal gods may not be entirely in support of the strong home favourites.
The Strongest v Libertad (11.30pm)
This one has something of a Groundhog Day feeling about it – I remember singling this tie out in last year's Copa Libertadores around Easter time and expressing my thoughts the hosts were way too overpriced given their growing frailties and the quality difference between Bolivian and Paraguayan football.
The air up there
I'm all too aware of why that pricing took place and have written chapter and verse on The Strongest/Bolivar's/Potosi's (the highest) altitude advantages but the fact remains they are not the stronghold they once were and for the record Libertad blitzed the Bolivians 3-1 in La Paz before sealing the deal 3-0 back on home soil!
Home advantage not everything
So, it's with a certain sense of surprise I see our bookmakers friends have this (very similar) fixture priced at around 2-5 for a Strongest win and 8-1 for Libertad to win the tie. While it would take a braver man than I to back the away win, prices are such the back door has been left wide open for value on Libertad making some kind of impact.
The travelling Paraguayans have hardly hit the ground running but a narrow victory over the impressive Cerro Porteno indicates their capacity and, as mentioned, although I have a soft spot for the Bolivian Primera, Paraguayan football is certainly a better standard/infastructure and this reflected in both domestic and national sides.
Every breath you take…
Sure, La Paz is still one hell of an intimidating city to play in – especially when you consider the oxygen density is only around 65 per cent of what we would be used to and you are kicking a ball around at neatly 12,000 feet – but there has been a chink in their one impenetrable armour over the last 18 months and looking back through their most recent 24 home games they have conceded at least one goal in 75 per cent of those games … food for thought!
These are certainly risky bets but I feel the value is there.
Also putting together a goals long shot featuring various games from the English matches and Costa Rica. Back all to go over 2.5 match goals.
Over 2.5 Goals 7fold
- Brentford, Wolves
- Ramsbottom Utd
- Salford, Chadderton
- Radcliffe, UCR (Costa Rica)
- Over 2.5 match goals (16-1, bet365) – 1pt