Last week we witnessed Sudamericana winners Defensa Y Justicia brush aside Universitario comfortably to land our first bet, before River Plate secured their first three points against Junior. Unfortunately, despite total dominance from Sao Paulo, they were unable to add a third against Rentistas, and bring home our third bet but onwards and upwards, and to Bolivia we head.
Ready to rock in Bolivia
Always Ready v Deportivo Táchira
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Always Ready started their campaign off with a superb 2-0 victory over Brazilian side Internacional. Having started the match at 3.02/1, it was clear that Bolivia’s high altitude was not factored into their price. After 15 minutes of utter dominance from the home side, the market adjusted to almost evens with the score still at 0-0, which on reflection, was still a steal.
Their 2-0 victory was their first in the competition, having last competed all the way back in 1968. They were promoted back to Bolivia’s top flight back in 2019 and have gone from strength to strength ever since.
In just their second season back in the top flight, Always Ready remarkably won their first Bolivian Primera Division in 2020, their first since 1957. They’ve started their 2021 campaign strongly too, only losing one match out of five, as well as balancing playing in the Copa Libertadores.
The Bolivian outfit suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to Olimpia last week, but back on home soil, they simply can’t be ignored.
Unfortunately, the market reflects that, as they are just 1.251/4 to beat Venezuela’s Deportivo Táchira. Despite this, I think that Always Ready should be even shorter, which helps provide plenty of value on the handicap market.
Deportivo Táchira began their campaign with a shock 3-2 win over Olimpia on home soil, but they were completely embarrassed by Internacional in Brazil, losing 4-0.
And here’s why they will suffer in Bolivia.
Táchira is a city which is 818 metres above sea level, whereas La Paz, where Always Ready play their home matches, is 3,640 metres above sea level. The altitude provides a huge home advantage for Always Ready, which is why they were able to score two second half goals against Internacional in their first group stage.
On a level playing field, Always Ready would struggle against the vast majority of teams in this competition – but it isn’t a level playing field. Even without fans, there is a considerable home advantage for Bolivian sides and Always Ready play with such intensity and a high press, Deportivo Táchira will struggle to cope.
Stats are also important when betting on this competition, and it’s well worth noting that Deportivo Táchira, have been competing on and off in the Copa Libertadores since 1980, do not travel well. When I say they do not travel well, they have only won three times in 62 away matches – two of which have been against other Venezuelan teams.
With no injury concerns, and with a full team available at Omar Asad’s disposal, Always Ready -1 handicap at 1.9520/21 is worthy of a two-point stake.
Brazilian’s too strong on home soil
Internacional v Olimpia
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The other match in Group B sees Internacional face Olimpia, with all four teams sitting on three points each.
As I have touched on Internacional’s result in Bolivia, I’m going to focus on their recent 4-0 victory over Deportivo Táchira.
Goals from Victor Cuesta, Patrick Nascimento, Thiago Galhardo and Yuri Alberto saw the Brazilians barely get out of first gear against the Venezuelan’s, despite playing over 30 minutes with ten men. The home side were able to add to their tally in the second half, which leaves the impression the result could have been even more impressive.
Olimpia notched up their first three points last week against Always Ready, despite a rather unconvincing performance from the Paraguayans. They also fell to a 3-2 defeat on the opening day to Táchira, in which they were punished for once again, failing to cope to the level expected of a team in the Copa Libertadores group stage.
Despite the absence of Carlos Palacios, Internacional really shouldn’t be impacted by the 20-year-old having to sit this one out, due to his suspension. As matchday two showed, the Brazilian’s really don’t rely on one individual to help them put the ball in the back of the net, which should see them come out of this very weak group in first spot.
Their record at home in this competition speaks for itself in recent years, winning 14 out of their last 18, only losing to Gremio and Boca Juniors in the latter stages of the competition.
I fully expect Internacional to breeze through to the knockout stages of this competition, and the earlier they can achieve this, the better. The manner in which they dispatched Táchira last week only leaves me with one choice, and I’m putting up Internacional to win and over 1.5 team goals at 1.804/5.