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The Strongest vs Union Espanola Predictions, Betting Tips and Match Previews

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  • Estadio Hernando Siles
The Strongest
Union Espanola

Tip Reasoning

Union rescued a point in the 93rd minute in last week’s first leg, with the game ending 1-1. Sloppy defending allowed The Strongest a 28th minute lead, and despite being on top for most of the game, Union were unable to take more than a share of the spoils. It was another positive show on the road from the Bolivian outfit, who are showing signs of asserting themselves more on the continental’s big stage.  Tonight in the gruelling high altitude of La Paz they will be looking to finish off the job and dump Espanola out of the competition.

Bolivia’s oldest club, The Strongest, have competed in the Libertadores on 23 occasions. While that sounds impressive, they have rarely made any waves, only going further than the group stage in 3 of those participations. This usually is a result of the stark contrast between their results on home soil, with the benefit of playing almost 12,000 ft above sea level, to their away results. Last year’s win in Brazil over Sao Paulo was their first win outside of Bolivia for 34 years, but there are signs that the team is getting stronger and is no longer going to be a pushover. This year they have already recorded another win on the road, defeating Uruguayan side Wanderers 2-0, before blowing them away 4-0 on home territory.

The Strongest are in great form at the moment. Since a disappointing 3-0 loss in the opening game of the domestic campaign, they have gone on to win the next two. Taking league and Libertadores exploits into account they are now undefeated in 5, winning for 4 of those games. El Tigre have not played since last week’s first leg so are coming into this one fresh.

One time semi-finalist Union also breezed through the last round. They took part in two exciting games, defeating Uruguayans Cerro 3-2 away and 2-0 at home. Los Rojos are actually now undefeated in their last 5 visiting trips in the Libertadores, which stems back to their 2014 participation, in which they made it out of the group stage but were then eliminated by Argentine side Arsenal.

Domestically it’s not been the best of starts for Union, although they have been fielding heavily rotated sides. They lost the first two games, but a 5-2 win over the weekend will have restored some confidence. As the scoreline suggests, they dominated that encounter with Deportes Temuco and will be hoping for a similar performance tonight.

The bookmakers have priced The Strongest as comfortable favourites, and you have to agree. While Espanola are definitely a decent side, one simply has to understand the difficulties of coming to play in the harsh conditions of the Bolivian capital. The harsh high altitude conditions drains visiting players who are not used to playing there, and has swallowed far bigger reputations than that of Union before.

The Strongest have only lost 1 of the last 19 at home in the Copa, winning 15 of those 19 games. They have not lost at home in over 2 years, and have won 20 of the last 25 games contested on home soil. In their last 5 home games they have scored a staggering combined total of 23 goals, an average of 4.6 a game. 4 of those 5 wins have also had both teams getting on the score sheet, and that’s a real possibility here. Union cannot sit back all game as they conceded an away goal, meaning a 0-0 draw would eliminate them. They have to score at some point tonight to have any chance. That is something we believe they can do, but it’s unlikely to count for anything as the hosts comfortably advance.

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