Uruguayan Wanderers face off against Bolivian side The Strongest in the preliminary qualification rounds of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier continental competition.
Wanderers had to make do with contesting the Sudamericana last year but are back in the Libertadores after a one year absence. The Montevideo outfit have contested the tournament on 7 previous occasions. In the 2015 edition of the competition they made it out of a group containing Boca, Palestino and Zamora, coming 2nd on 10 points, before being eliminated in the first knockout round by Racing. A strong showing in last seasons transition tournament earned them the right to compete in the Copa, coming 2nd overall with a record of 8-5-2.
Bolivia’s oldest club The Strongest are no strangers to the Libertadores having competed a mammoth 18 times. They were involved in last years competition and almost pulled off a famous qualification from the group, being pipped to 2nd spot by one point by Brazilian giants Sao Paulo, who they managed to defeat in their own ground. Anything even close to last years effort would represent success for tonight’s visitors, who normally struggle on the continental stage. They have qualified for this years Copa after topping the aggregate table which takes into account performance over both the Apertura and Clausura phase of the Bolivian season.
Unlike their opponents, Wanderers have already had to play a tie in the Libertadores this year. It was also a Bolivian opponent, Universitario. Los Bohemios lost the first leg 3-2, but turned the tie around in the second leg with an emphatic 5-2 victory. Wanderers come into the tie with a healthy squad in the majority; Santiago Bellini will miss out but Serigo Blanco and Gaston Bueno the only other slight concerns (illness). That being said we expect them both to take their place in the following eleven:
Arruabarrena; Gómez, Bueno, Barboza, Rivas; Colombino, Santos, González, Castro; Rivero, Blanco
The Strongest returned to league action in disastrous fashion at the weekend. They resisted the temptation to rest key players but still lost 3-0 away to Guabira. Players and manager a like have hardly gave a positive impression in the lead up to the game, stating the importance that any defeat needs to be a low one. We expect them line up as follows:
Vaca; D.Bejarano, Marteli, Maldonado, M.Bejarano; Wayar, Chumacero, Veizaga, Castro; Escobar, Alonso
Wanderers have had their warning from playing Universitario. They know the importance of opening up a big a lead as possible to take to Bolivia, given the ruthless high altitude conditions that await them n the return game (11,932ft above sea level, to be precise). A one goal lead would be still be a dangerous one to take to the Bolivian capital, where The Strongest have only lost 1 of the last 18 at home in the Copa. The harsh conditions have swallowed far bigger names than Wanderers before, with even the Argentine national team once losing there 6-1. Away from home, The Strongest are anything but. They have a truly awful record in the competition outside of Bolivia. Sine 2006 they have played 19 away games and only avoided defeat in 3 of them. Last years win at Sao Paulo was their first win away in 34 years, and while they may not wait that long for the next one, it’s hard to see it coming tonight given the wretched performance they put in over the weekend. The Wanderers win is priced at 1.53, but we are tipping to get on the scoresheet more than once at odds of 1.8 with bet365.
Tip: Montevideo Wanderers team total goals: Over 1.5 at odds of 1.8