Venezuelan side Carabobo host Colombians Junior on Tuesday night in the preliminary qualification rounds of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier continental competition.
It will be a special night for the locals in Valencia. For some it will be the first time they have saw their side participate in the competition, with the last time coming in 1974, when the old iteration of the team, Valencia FC competed. They did compete in the Sudamericana in 2015, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League, but were knocked out on penalties at the first stage by another Colombian side Deportes Tolima following two 0-0 draws. They will come into the game with confidence after a dominant performance in the last seasons’ Clausura, which they won with a record of 13-3-3, and a gap of 7 points between them and second place. They also topped (and qualified via) the aggregate table over the whole year, which takes into both account the Apertura and the Clausura with a record of 20-9-9. It was the first ever title for the new version of the team and they will be hungry to create more history by taking the first step in advancing towards the group stages of the Libertadores.
Looking to stop them will be Colombian powerhouse Junior. They certainly don’t lack in history, with 7 league tittles and 12 appearances in the Libertadores. Their last participation came in the 2012 edition of the competition. However it wasn’t to be a run to match that of their 1994 semi final appearance, as they crashed out in the group stages in 3rd place, 3 points behind Bolivar and Union Espanola. Like their opponents, Junior also qualified via the aggregate table. Performance over the Apertura and Clausura saw them sneak into 5th place, 1 point above Deportivo Cali with a record of 18-17-11.
Caraboba have prepared for the game by facing off against Colombian opposition. They played current Libertadores champions Atletico Nacional twice, winning one game 2-0 and losing the other 2-1, as well as drawing 1-1 with Envigado. We expect them to take to the field with the following starters:
Leo Morales; José Manríquez, Carlos Rivero, Hugo Soto, Luis Mago; Carlos Suárez, Juan Colina, Eduard Bello, Marlon Fernández, Aquiles Ocanto; Cristian Novoa
Junior have also participated in friendlies prior to tonight’s encounter. They defeated Real Cartagena 3-2, drew with Jaguares 1-1 as well as beating their own u20 side 2-0 in a training game. They could line up as follows:
Sebastián Viera; Lewis Ochoa, Jonathan Ávila, Alexis Pérez, Héctor Quiñones; Sebastián Hernández, Leonardo Pico, James Sánchez, Robinson Aponzá; Roberto Ovelar, Edinson Toloza
While there is no doubting the gap in quality between Venezuelan and Colombian sides, we think that the hosts can spring an upset here. They have lost just 1 of their last 24 home games, winning 16 of them. Junior by contrast only have 1 win the last 13 away games they have contested. It will certainly be a close game, and although Carabobo are likely to lose over the two legs, the home crowd could help them take a narrow lead to Colombia. Back the hosts to win the game with the protection of money back if it’s a draw with a bet on the 0.0 Asian line priced at 2.25 with bet365
Prediction: Carabobo 2-1 Junior