The first leg in the round of 16 in the Copa Libertadores is as cagey as every other knockout tournament across the globe. With so much at stake, there's no doubt that the home teams will be hoping to take an advantage into the reverse fixture, while the away teams might well be looking to on to a valuable draw.
Either way, despite this tricky opening round of fixtures, I believe I've found some value in a couple of fixtures involving Brazilians sides. Shall we?
Libertad can frustrate the hosts
Athletico PR v Libertad
Lets be clear. Athletico PR are the favourites to progress to the last eight but I think that could be wrong. The Brazilians struggled in a rather weak looking group - a group they were expected to waltz through.
A couple of home wins on the bounce was just enough to lift them into second place, finishing behind their round of 16 opponents, Libertad, on goal difference, having conceded one more.
It's one apiece in the head to head stats, with Libertad coming out on top on home soil 1-0, before Athletico defeated the Paraguayan giants 2-0 back in Brazil. However, looking into that victory for Athletico, it wasn't quite as one sided as the result suggests.
Libertad had more possession, five shots on target to Atheltico's four, three corners to the Brazilians one and attempted more passes during the 90 minutes - 429 to 416.
The Paraguayan's didn't travel to Brazil to sit back and defend. Having already defeated their round of 16 opponents, there was perhaps a slight over confidence within the squad. However, now we're into knockout football, I'm expecting Pedro Sarabia to approach this game with more caution and be a little more streetwise.
Sarabia will know a defeat by two goals or more will make his job very difficult in the reverse fixtures. That's mainly due to the fact Athletico PR, who have disappointed going forward, have been a rather strong defensive unit.
Yes, the Brazilians were hammered 5-0 away to The Strongest, but we can put a line through that due to the extreme altitude conditions the Brazilians were facing, and clearly suffered in.
With that match aside, Athletico only conceded two goals in their other five matches - and only one of those at home when defeating Venezuela's Caracas 5-1.
On the flip side, Libertad only scored once on the road, failing to score against Athletico in Brazil and Caracas in Venezuela.
Athletico are favourites to win the first leg, which is fair, but there's little value in simply backing the Brazilians to come out on top. However, there's some juice to be had in the both teams to score no market - and at 1.875/6, that will be my first advised selection.
Gulf in class to tell
Cerro Porteno v Palmeiras
I'm starting to run out of words to describe this Palmeiras side, who are currently six from six in this year's tournament as they look to secure a historic third Copa Libertadores.
Their draw has been kind, as a trip to Paraguay to face Cerro Porteno, a team which qualified into the knockout stages by a single goal.
Cerro Porteno managed to qualify scoring just five goals, conceding four in the process, finishing with a total of eight points from six matches.
A group consisting of Colon, Olimpia Asuncion and Penarol was one of the weakest groups this year and whoever was to qualify is likely to fall short in my opinion - and a tie against the holders is far from ideal.
Palmeiras, who admittedly had a rather weak group themselves, still managed to score a whopping 25 goals in just six matches, while conceding three in the process. You can see where I'm going with this one, surely...
Palmeiras are odds on to win in Paraguay, which I don't think anyone can argue with but adding over 1.5 match goals via the Bet Builder option, you come away with a rather generous 2.1511/10 bet which will be my second and closing tip for the opening round of 16 fixtures.
Good luck to those who follow.
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