The azulgrana kept their manager Jorge Fossati and star player Jonathan Fabbro after strong rumours linking him to a return to Argentina with River Plate. With the side in debt it was difficult to bring in any big names for the latest tilt at the elusive Copa Libertadores title although veteran Paul Ambrosi has arrived from Liga de Quito who won the Sudamericana with Fossati. Expect the continental tournament to seriously hamper league aspirations.
Ins: Sergio Vergara (Luque), Edison Torres (Peñarol), Paul Ambrosi (LDU Quito)
Outs: Domingo Salcedo (Rubio Ñu), Walter López (end of loan, Peñarol), Francisco Garcia (Luque), Diego Godoy (Carapeguá), Pablo Benítez (Libertad)
Prediction: 4th place
A terrible Clausura campaign saw Olimpia thrashed on several occassions and they suffered greatly away from home, Recanate has remained as president which means there was still some cash around to bring in the player’s that new coach Ever Almeida has requested. Having said that they owe a lot of money to a lot of people including around 2 million dollars to Pablo Zeballos and his agent. While Almeida’s experience will go a long way there are still questions as to how he will fit in so many players into the side with Pittoni and Guzman operating in a similar space to Salgueiro.
Ins: Tomas Guzman (Piacenza), Enzo Prono (Sol de América), Herminio Miranda (Puebla), Wilson Pittoni (Figueirense), Julio Manzur (Olimpia), Juan Carlos Ferreyra (Barcelona)
Outs: Miguel Amado (end of loan, Peñarol), Osvaldo Hobecker (end of loan, Rubio Ñu), Jorge Nuñez (Once Caldas), Nestor Bareiro (Rosario Central), Gerardo Ortiz (Sol de América), Julio Santa Cruz (Deportivo Capiatá), Maxi Biancucchi (Vitoria)
Prediction: 3rd place
The aurinegro had such a strong start to the Clausura but almost came away with nothing, finally settling for a place in the Copa Sudamericana. They’ve lost an experienced defender in Manzur but replaced him with former Olimpia captain Julio Cesar Cáceres. Diego Alonso has been shrewd in the transfer market, acquiring Rodrigo Teixeira and Guido di Vanni to join Centurión and Dante López up front.
Ins: Guido di Vanni (Luque), Juan Ignacio Guardado (Central San José), Rodrigo Teixeira (Nacional), Julio Cesar Cáceres (Olimpia)
Outs: Joel Silva (Cerro de Franco), Julio Manzur (Olimpia), Nildo Viera (Carapeguá), Pedro Chávez (Carapeguá), Robert Aldama (Carapeguá)
Ruben Israel brought stability and a ruthless streak to the Gumarelo last season as they surged late on to win their 8th title during the Horacio Cartes era. They will be going for the Copa Libertadores as always but expect Israel to maintain a grip on the league and come June they will surely be in with a shout. I don’t know much about Uruguayan striker Mauro Guevgeozián from Fénix but in Pablo Benítez and Pablo Guiñazu they have brough in som experience into the heart of the team.
Ins: Manuel Maciel (end of loan, Tolima), Claudio David Vargas (Luque), Pablo Guiñazu (Internacional), Pablo Benítez (Cerro Porteño), Mauro Guevgeozián (Fénix)
Outs: Robin Ramirez (Pumas), Rogerio Leichtweis (Tolima), Cristian Menendez (released), Gustavo Cristaldo (Nacional), Nery Bareiro (Deportivo Cali), Joe Bizera (Atlante), Hugo Santacruz (Manta)
Gustavo Morinigo made a great start to management and fought right up to the final day thanks to a formidable run towards the end of the Clausura. While he may have lost Teixeira the striker has been replaced by Ramon ‘Tacuarita’ Cardozo who has been in scintillating form in pre-season, expect the Academia’s fortunes to be directly correlated to the goals of the ex-Tacuary man.
Ins: Ricardo ‘Tom’ Ortiz (Carapeguá), Ramon Cardozo (Tacuary), Gustavo Cristaldo (Libertad)
Outs: Rodrigo Teixeira (Guaraní), Javier Gonzalez (Luque), Denis Caniza (Luque)
Prediction: 5th place
A new president has been ushered in and the club survived relegation last year and should feel slightly more comfortable going into these 12 months. As always there has been plenty of turnover of players so it will be interesting to see what Pablo Caballero can do with this new crop of footballers.
Ins: Reinaldo Ocampo (Tacuary), Luis Miño (Independiente), Francisco Garcia (Cerro), Diego Viera (Tacuary), Víctor Dávalos (Independiente), Javier Gonzalez (Nacional), Mario Saldivar (Figueirense), Andrés Rodriguez (Bella Vista), Denis Caniza (Nacional)
Outs: Guido di Vanni (Guarani), Claudio David Vargas (Libertad), Sergio Vergara (Cerro), Tobías Vargas, Rodrigo Burgos (Cerro de Franco), Nestor Ayala (Carapeguá)
The return of Chiqui Arce couldn’t cover the cracks of a very weak squad especially in attack, the albiverde are celebrating their centenary this year so relegation simply cannot be considered. They are much stronger at the back with Servín in goal and the full backs Mingo Salcedo and Raúl Cáceres brought in along with Gimenez of Tacuary. Another Tacuary man Jorge Ortega will hope to hit the net regularly.
Ins: Carlos Servín (Tacuary), Gustavo Giménez (Tacuary), Pablo Espinoza (Tacuary), Jorge Ortega (Tacuary), José Báez (Independiente), Arnaldo Recalde (Cerro de Franco), Osvaldo Hobecker (end of loan, Olimpia), Fredy Vera (end of loan, Sport Colombia), Juan Sánchez, Raúl Cáceres (Carapeguá), Domingo Salcedo (Cerro Porteño)
Outs: Jorge Britez (Carapeguá), Diego Chamorro (end of loan, Sol de América), Christian Ovelar (Cerro de Franco)
Prediction: Mid-table, they need to keep an eye on the promedio
Sol de América
Ricardo Dabrowski has built an excellent squad at Sol de América and they are capable of beating all the smaller sides around them and producing the odd shock (beating Cerro and Nacional late on last season). The important thing is to keep the creativity in midfield which they should do having held onto David Mendieta and Sergio Escalante. The major departure is of course Enzo Prono, the talented young striker has moved to Olimpia.
Ins: Mario Ovando (Free), Diego Chamorro (end of loan, Rubio Ñu), Gerardo Ortiz (Olimpia), Dario Silva (Defensor Sporting)
Outs: Enzo Prono (Olimpia)
The new boys are likely to have some boisterous home support from the populous satellite town that might help them gain precious points. They have been hugely busy in the transfer market with the main signings Juan Noguera a.k.a The Black Diamond from Sporting San Lorenzo and Julio Santa Cruz, Roque’s younger brother.
Ins: Juan Noguera (San Lorenzo); Juan Gómez, Fidel Miño, Arnaldo Pereira, Miguel Caballero, Emilio Garcete (3 de Febrero), Aquilino Villalba (Aurora), Julio Santa Cruz (Olimpia), Héctor Sanabria, Eulogio Tintel, Juan Gómez, Víctor Sanabria, Oscar Ruiz, Víctor Samudio, Marcos Acosta Pera, Javier Portillo
Prediction: As always the odds are stacked against them but home form could well be key
The club are Luque’s second representatives behind Sportivo Luqueño and were promoted as Intermedia champions thanks to an incredible run of games, remaining unbeaten for the first 12 matches. They also profited from the excellent form of Antonio Bareiro who joined from Rubio Ñu and was the best player in the division.
Ins: Alejandro Bernal (lateral), Jorge Cáceres (central), Elvio Amarilla (volante), Éver Alfaro, (media punta), Gabriel Avalos Stumpfs (Independiente), Daniel Ferreira, Ariel Sevillano
Prediction: Expect tough times amongst the big boys
Cerro de Franco
The end of the year was bitter-sweet with the Uruguayan coach Eduardo Rivera and four players including topscorer Rogerio Leichtweis falling out with the board and being dismissed but only after the club had racked up enough points to save them from relegation and put them in a strong position to continue after 2013 too.
Ins: Joel Silva (Guarani), Rodrigo Burgos (Luque), Gustavo Noguera (Tacuary), Roberto Ovelar (Uni. Católica), Cristhian Ovelar (Rubio Ñu), Fabian Heves (Carapeguá)
Outs: Fulvio Duarte (Deportivo Quevedo), Arnaldo Recalde (Rubio Ñu), Fabián Balbuena (Sol de América)
Prediction: Interesting to see if the side can flourish following the departures of Rivera and Rogerio
A miracle final-day survival thanks to their thrashing of Olimpia means that the Primera keeps one of the best supported sides in the country thanks to their geographical location and the brand new stadium where all home games will be played. Towards the run-in their key player was Ricardo ‘Tom’ Ortiz who has now been signed by Nacional for the new year, it means they will have to find other players to try and lead them to safety this year, a big points total is needed. The main positive is Celso Ayala, the former River Plate defender proved to be a good coach at 2 de Mayo and during the final games of the season that helped keep El Potroin the Primera.
Ins: Jorge Britez (Rubio Ñu), Diego Godoy (Cerro), Roque Cardozo (Independiente), Aldo Vera (Independiente), Michel Romero (Independiente), Nildo Viera (Guaraní), Pedro Chávez (Guaraní), Robert Aldama (Guaraní), Néstor Ayala (Luque), Richard Lugo (Independiente)
Outs: Ricardo ‘Tom’ Ortiz (Nacional), Imanol Iriberri (Tolima), Raúl Cáceres (Rubio Ñu), Fabian Heves (Cerro de Franco)
Prediction: Anything is possible as we’ve seen!
By Ralph Hannah