Libertadores crunch time

Corinthians will be looking to Willian for goals tonight (Getty)

It’s the proverbial Libertadores squeaky bum time for five Brazilian clubs over the next two days. Going into the second legs, the fate of all five teams hangs on a knife-edge. Mouth-watering stuff.

Tonight, Corinthians host Emelec after a 0-0 draw in Ecuador two weeks ago. Vasco travel to Argentina and Lanus with a 2-1 lead. Tomorrow night Fluminense will play Internacional in the all in Rio (the first leg was 0-0) while reigning Champions Santos have to overcome a 2-1 deficit when they play Bolivar at home.

The results of the Brazilfooty which Brazilian team is most likely to win this year’s Libertadores poll is in and here is what you said:

Santos 39%

Corinthians 19.5%

Fluminense 12.2%

Flamengo 12.2%

Internacional 9.8%

Vasco 2.4%

A cynical 4.8% of you said that they are all rubbish. Now now… Who said that?

So, what’s going to happen tonight and tomorrow? Any predictions? I personally fancy Corinthians, Lanus, Fluminense and Santos to go through. Mind you I got all of my State Championship final’s predictions wrong the other week so go figure.

For all their numerous and vocal support, Corinthians still have yet to win a Copa Libertadores. It’s a touchy subject for Corinthians fans since they are clearly one of Brazil’s biggest and most prestigious teams but this is the missing piece of their jigsaw. How to piss of a Corinthiano? Ask them how many Copa Libertadores’ they’ve won. I’ve tried it and it works.

Bad luck and bottling it over the years has cost them in this competition. Tite’s record in Cup competitions is poor and Liedson struggling for goals (he’ll start on the bench), keeper Julio Cesar unable to catch as much as a cold and Jorge Henrique unavailable, it won’t be easy. Emelec are the underdogs but are no slouches and they beat Flamengo in the group stages. Being the underdog will suit them perfectly. Former Brazil international and ex-Corinthians player Ricardinho (now coach of Parana) has warned that unless they score an early goal, the fans will get on their back and they could struggle.

Despite all of that, I’ll still back Corinthians in this one.

Fluminense will fancy their chances at home to Internacional (winners of the competition in 2006 and 2010). Like Corinthians, Fluminense have never won this competition. They have been splashing the cash in recent years and look stronger than Internacional in my opinion. They thrashed Botafogo 4-1 on the weekend. Fred scored a brilliant goal and Thiago Neves looks like he is back to his best. They’ve also got one or two youngsters to watch out for (Marcos Junior, Wellington Nem).

For those that haven’t been following, six Brazilian teams qualified for this year’s Copa Libertadores: Santos, Corinthians, Vasco, Fluminense, Flamengo and Internacional.

Out of the six, Flamengo were the big losers and only ones who failed to make it through to the second round. With Ronaldinho in seriously uninspiring form and Joel Santana proving that his coaching skills aren’t much better than his English, not even the livewire Vágener Love could save them. To be fair to Ronaldinho, it was mainly the defence’s fault that they didn’t qualify. Things were going so well: 4 points from their first two matches, 3-0 up at home to Olimpia with 15 minutes to go… somehow they managed to draw that match. And then they lost their next two matches conceding three goals in each one.

Tonight’s matches kick off at 02.00am UK time and 22.00 Brazil time. If you are lucky and do watch the games, enjoy! Sadly for me I’ll be wrapped up in bed at that time.

I’ll post the results on Twitter and Facebook tomorrow. To follow, click on these links: Facebook / Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Libertadores crunch time

  1. Unlike last year, when tragedy stroke and all Brazilian sides but Santos were knocked out in this round, this time Corinthians and Vasco managed to get through and will face each other for a place in the semi-finals. Boca is in also.

    Personally, my predictions for the quarter-finals are Fluminense x Boca Juniors, Dep. Quito x Libertad, Santos x Velez and Corinthians x Vasco (obviously). There is a fair chance that two Brazilian teams will make it to the final.

    This is because there is a rule that prevent two teams of the same country to reach the final (if possible). Say only two Brazilians reach the semifinals with two teams from other two countries. Then they’ll face each other, disregarding the pairings defined earlier. Of course, if 3 or 4 teams reach the semi-finals, the the pairings are mantained.

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