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Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Home comforts can have Cristal bubbling

The Strongest look exposed on the road

Ricardo Oliveira curls in the opener for Santos in their 2-0 home win over The Strongest in Sao Paulo last month
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Copa Libertadores
1.45am Wednesday

Bottom of Group Two after two rounds of matches, Peru champions Sporting Cristal can get their Copa Libertadores campaign into gear with a home win against The Strongest.

Sporting, who drew 1-1 at home to group favourites Santos in their opener, were hammered 3-0 at Santa Fe of Colombia in their next match.

The scoreline, however, flattered the Colombians and Sporting are a far sterner proposition at their Lima home.

Christian Ortiz has bagged three in two as Sporting carved out back-to-back wins in their domestic league, and they boast an excellent home record against Bolivian opposition.

The Strongest, being from La Paz, are always going to have a home advantage since their stadium is about 12,000 feet above sea level.

No surprise then that they beat Santa Fe in their opener having handsomely won their two home legs in qualifying, against Montevideo Wanderers and Chile’s Union Espanola.

Those results obviously gave them a massive lift going into the group stage, but they are definitely exposed on the road.

Last time out they were beaten 2-0 at Santos and had winger Walter Veizaga sent off, so he misses the trip to the National Stadium in Lima. Worryingly, though, they had just four shots in Sao Paulo and showed no positive intent whatsoever.

Coach Cesar Farias has to expect more from his side in their third game and will hope for another positive contribution from Pablo Escobar, the 38-year-old Bolivia forward who has bagged seven in his last eight.

Recommendation
Sporting Cristal
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Christian Ortiz has bagged three in two as Sporting carved out back-to-back wins in their domestic league
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