Libertadores: Can anybody stop Cruzeiro?

Another Libertadores win for Cuca, Cruzeiro and co (Washington Alves/VIPCOMM)

It’s hard to keep up with Brazilian and South American football these days with the games coming thick and fast. The Libertadores knock out phase is upon us at the same time as the State Championships are coming to a conclusion. Not to mention the Brazilian Cup which is reaching its later stages too. But that’s no excuse so let me give you a quick rundown of the Libertadores action so far this week.

Grêmio got the ball rolling for Brazilian clubs in the second round on Tuesday night. But despite the home advantage and with 17 year-old prodigy Leandro starting his first Libertadores match, they had a night to forget and lost at home 2-1 against Universidad Católica from Chile. Striker Borges was sent off in the first half with Grêmio already trailing 1-0. They managed to equalize the game in the second half but Universidad Católica made their numerical superiority count, scoring the second goal and winning 2-1.

Santos completely dominated play from start to finish against América from Mexico but could only score one goal and take a slim advantage into the second leg in Mexico. Importantly, they didn’t concede a goal and playing on the counter attack, away from home, could suit them well. They do have a long way to travel for next week’s game and in between they have the small matter of a São Paulo State Championship match against São Paulo to take care of. Ganso scored Santos’ goal and the overall attitude of the team has improved significantly since Muricy’s arrival as coach. I’ve been particularly impressed with Danilo who is excelling in midfield. Defensive midfielder Arouca has also returned to the team from injury and his drive and presence is having a big positive influence on Santos’ play.

As for Cruzeiro, well what can I say? They continue to blow away everything that stands before them in the competition and they won a tricky looking away match in Colombia against Once Caldas 2-1. That man with the strange name – Wallyson – scored yet another goal. Fábio, their keeper, pulled off some great saves and for me, is the best keeper currently playing in Brazil. Argentine playmaker Montillo, all-round midfielder Henrique (who recently was called up for Brazil) and evergreen left back Gilberto (ex-Tottenham) are also worth mentioning. Could Santos or América stop them in the next round, perhaps?

Fluminense and Internacional play tomorrow. For a full list of fixtures and results, see link.

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