Last seasons runners-up Independiente del Valle host Paraguayan champions Olimpia on Thursday night in the preliminary qualification rounds of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier continental competition.
Independiente captured the hearts of the continent last year as they made it to the final before going down to Atletico Nacional 2-1 over two legs. It was quite the story that such a small team, who hadn’t even played in the top flight until 2010 would go so far in the competition. On their famous run they eliminated Guarani, qualified from a group containing Atletico Mineiro, Colo Colo and Melgar, before slaying the reputations of Boca and River with a win over UNAM Pumas sandwiched in between. They have earned another shot at the Copa courtesy of their overall standing in last years aggregate table, coming 4th with a record of 19-7-18.
Olimpia, or “The Kings of Cups” as some people refer to them to are a gigantic club compared to IDV. They have won the Paraguayan top flight an astounding 40 times and boast THREE Libertadores titles to boot. They also qualify by means of the aggregate table. topping it despite not winning the Apertura or Clausura, with a record of 26-6-10. Olimpia also qualified last year, but were eliminated in a group containing UNAM Pumas, Tachira and Emelec, coming 3rd on 7 points.
As with most small club fairy tales, the ending was not so sweet for IDV. Most of the team from last season has departed, and then manager Pablo Repetto will actually be in the opposing dug-out tonight as he has taken over Olimpia. Non the less a new band of player and manager are looking to write chapter 2 of the story and have already seen off one side in this years competition, last week knocking out Peruvian side Deportivo Muncipal 3-2 over two legs, despite a 2-2 scare in the home leg. We expect them to take to the field with the following as possible starters:
Bone; Núñez, León, Segovia, Ayala; Arroyo, Corozo, Mejía, Mera, Cortez; Estrada
As mention above, Repetto, the mastermind of the IDV success is now in the Olimpia dugout. He’s also recruited two members of his Independiente side, having signed up Jonathan Gonzalez and goalkeeper Librado Azcona. They last played on the 24th January, losing in a friendly 1-0 away to Uruguayans Nacional. We expect both ex-IDV men to line up in the following starting XI:
Azcona; Cañete, Ferreira, Salcedo, Ortiz; Gonzales, Riveros, Mendoza, Giménez; Santa Cruz, Benítez
Emotions will be running high in both camps given the recent history and personnel changes. IDV will be looking to prove last season wasn’t a one off while the current Olimpia side will be looking to add to the clubs illustrious past. Repetto has stated pre-match that the visitors will be taking to the field with “the idea of securing a positive result”. Meanwhile the IDV camp have been talking of making home advantage count. IDV are strong on home soil but they have shown defensive frailty, which we believe will be enough to see the visitors get themselves on the score sheet. It should be an entertaining and interesting game, which leads us to our pick of both teams scoring, something that has happened on each of the hosts’ last 4 continental home games.
Pick: BTTS at big odds of 2.2 with bet365.