Brazilians Vasco da Gama play host to Bolivians Jorge Wilstermann on Wednesday evening, in the first leg of this Copa Libertadores final qualification round clash.
Vasco arrive in inspired form, having now won three games on the bounce, plunging home an average of 3 goals a game in the process. Almirante didn’t feel the pressure of competing in the Libertadores for the first time since 2012 in the last round, blowing Chileans Universidad de Concepcion away with a 6-0 aggregate rout.
Ze Ricardo’s men had made a fairly inconsistent start to the year, but things are really starting to click now, and confidence is sky high in the camp. With a difficult return leg to come at high altitude, the side know the importance of opening up a sizeable advantage, and with 4 wins from the last 5 at home in the Libertadores, history is certainly on Vasco’s side as they look to take a big step towards the group phase.
Meanwhile, Wilstermann arrive as big underdogs for the match, but will be buoyed by a return to Brazil, where they famously knocked out Atletico Mineiro in last year’s edition of the competition to advance to the quarter-finals, where they were eventually eliminated by Argentines River Plate.
Nonetheless, El Rojo still have a miserable Libertadores away record, as do most Bolivian clubs, losing 10 of their previous 12 on the road in the competition, conceding a big average of 2.66 goals a game. With their victory in the last round having came against compatriots Oriente Petrolero, this will be Alvaro Pena’s troops’ first outing outside of Bolivia since an embarrassing 8-0 defeat at River in the aforementioned tie, and it remains to be seen if the effects of said fixture still linger.
Ultimately, whilst we can be relatively assured we won’t see a repeat of that scoreline, one has to expect Vasco to claim a comfortable win, given the red hot form they find themselves in.
Everything is stacked against Wilstermann, playing against a passionate home crowd, with a team that is simply far weaker on paper than that of Vasco’s. It would be a huge surprise if the visitors were able to hold out for the 90 minutes, and if Vasco play at a similar intensity to that seen in recent weeks, they’ll have very few issues in dispatching of their opponent. As such, backing Vasco to notch more than once looks the way to play, with a 2-0 margin of victory looking to be on the cards.
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