Sao Paulo looking to secure second win

Debutants to defeat Peruvians

Defensa y Justicia v Universitario de Deportes
Wed, 23:00
Live on Betfair

Debutants Defensa y Justicia somehow came away from Ecuador with a point last week, after drawing 1-1 with Independiente De Valle. IDV had 27 shots to Defensa’s seven, whilst the home side also conjured up 11 corners to Defensa’s one, in a game the Ecuadorian side will have been mightily frustrated to have not come away with all three points.

Any points away from home in this competition are valuable, and having secured their first last week, Defensa will know three points against Peruvian side Universitario are a must if they are to progress to the knockout stage, in what is a highly competitive group.

Despite Universitario expected to finish bottom of Group A, it took a 95th minute winner for the current champions, Palmeiras, to find all three points in their curtain raiser. However, a controversial red card and penalty didn’t help the Brazilian side, who had to battle hard in Peru to start their campaign off with a win.

It’s worth remembering that Defensa defeated Palmeiras over two legs in the Recopa Sudamericana less than two weeks ago, and the reigning Sudamericana champions are one of the dark horses this year in the Libertadores.

Both teams have had a hectic schedule of late, and neither team have an advantage, having both played in their domestic leagues on Sunday. It’s been a slow start to the season for Universitario, having picked up just four points in as many games, scoring three goals in the league to date.

This is a real chance for the home side to prove they can challenge Palmeiras and IDV for a qualification spot, but they will need to collect three points from their Peruvian opposition if that is to happen.

Wednesday’s game reflects a golden opportunity for Defensa to flex their muscles and a home win combined with a goal to be scored in each half is 1.75/7.

Semi-finalists to notch up a win

River Plate v Junior
Thu, 01:00
Live on Betfair

Last year’s semi-finalists River Plate began their campaign with a solid 1-1 draw away to Fluminense, who are now the two favourites to progress out of Group D.

Unlike River Plate, Junior had to qualify for the group stages. They faced Bolivian outfit, Bolivar, and were fortunate they only lost by one in La Paz, despite really struggling in the conditions. However, Junior were able to brush Bolivar aside in the second leg, which was made easier when Bolivar had to play almost a half with 10 men.

Despite Junior being fortunate to qualify for the group stage, they managed to hold Sante Fe to a 1-1 draw at home last week, providing them with some much-needed confidence before facing River Plate.

However, the Argentinian giants, who haven’t played a competitive fixture against Junior since 2005, will prove to be a few levels higher than Santa Fe.

Los Millonarios currently occupy 3rd in their domestic league and although they haven’t made Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti a fortress this season, their record against other South American sides in the Copa Libertadores is hard to ignore.

That’s because River Plate have won six out their last seven matches in this competition, including five clean sheets and victories over arch rivals Boca Juniors and Sao Paulo. Their only defeat was to current champions, Palmeiras, in last year’s semi-final.

Junior’s 2-1 defeat in Bolivia indicates they won’t enjoy facing another highly energetic side in River Plate. Against Bolivar, they faced 31 shots, compared to their three. Bolivar finished the game with over 70% possession and almost completed double the passes.

If Bolivar can dominate that much, River Plate will be licking their lips with the opportunity to take all three points, as well as add some goals – something certainly not lacking from their game at the moment, scoring 12 in their last five.

There’s always an element of risk with the HT/FT market, especially as I expect Junior to sit back and try and take a point back home. But with River Plate at home and goals expected, the HT/FT result market is 1.9520/21, which represents more value than simply backing overs.

Brazilians expected to prevail

Sao Paulo v Rentistas
Fri, 01:00
Live on Betfair

Brazilian outfit Sao Paulo couldn’t have wished for a better start to their campaign, defeating Sporting Cristal 3-0 in Peru last week.

Debutants Rentistas were unable to hang on to an impressive three points against ten men Racing Club, who managed to score a last-minute equaliser to spare their blushes.

The Argentinian side, who I admittedly tipped up, dominated proceedings but were poor in front of goal and were punished as a result – but don’t be fooled by this result. Sao Paulo are expected to waltz into the knockout stages, and they’ll be after another three points on Friday.

Former Barcelona and PSG star, Dani Alves, is still pulling the strings in his more advanced role for Sao Paulo, and it was his man of the match performance which helped his side dominate in Peru.

Now back on home soil, Sao Paulo will be hoping for a similar result to last week – and I’ll be surprised if they don’t achieve that.

They’ve won their last seven matches, scoring an impressive 18 goals in the process, collecting five clean sheets in the process. They are also on a 10-game unbeaten streak at home in all competitions.

Although it didn’t pay off last week, Rentistas are still a very poor side in this competition, and their fall from grace outlined in last week’s article should see Sao Paulo turn them over with ease.

Sao Paulo to win, over 0.5 first half goals and over 2.5 match goals with the bet builder option is 1.9110/11.