By NESTOR F. SEBASTIAN
After an exhausting week of CONCACAF Champions League and Copa Libertadores play, the fun continues down south. While there are some salivating matches scheduled this weekend in Europe and Mexico, there are a number of juicy matchups in South American league action as well to satisfy appetites for more soccer.
Ronaldo is expected to suit up for Corinthians' derby against Palmeiras in Brazil; Boca Juniors and Independiente will kick off the fifth round of the Argentine Clausura with a mouthwatering clasico and there are two matchups between Libertadores participants in Paraguay and Chile.
Here is a rundown of the weekend's best matches in South America:
Independiente vs. Boca Juniors
It does not get better than this.
Boca Juniors, which left behind Martin Palermo, Hugo Ibarra and Claudio Rodriguez for Wednesday's Libertadores 1-0 win over Venezuela's Deportivo Tachira, will now have a full arsenal for Sunday's clasico against Independiente, who need a result fast to calm a reportedly-tense locker room.
Independiente has lost three of its four matches in the Clausura and the Argentine press is having a field day on players supposedly grumbling and complaining about Migel Santoro, whose job is said to be hanging by a thread.
This week, Independiente's president, Julio Comparada, called out his players by bluntly stating that they haven't "won a thing" during his three-year tenure though the players could've figured that out for themselves.
Meanwhile, in the Boca camp, Rodrigo Palacio looks set to miss the derby after taking a knock to the head in training and briefly losing consciousness. Palacio was immediately taken to the clinic but is said to be recovering. Despite this, manager Carlos Ischia still has other stars at his disposal in Colombian Fabian Vargas, Juan Roman Riquelme and Sebastian Battaglia.
Corinthians vs. Palmeiras
The main story, of course, is Ronaldo, who made a quiet but long-awaited debut back home in Corinthians' 2-0 Brazilian Cup win over Itumbiara on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old striker is set to suit up for Sunday's clasico against Palmeiras, which leads the Paulista state championship with 28 points followed by Corinthians with 25.
Domestically, Palmeiras is a success thus far but fans aren't happy with its international profile at the moment with its team bottom of its Libertadores group after two losses.
The match should be a chippy one between the rivals. Corinthians' last game against its other rival, Sao Paulo, resulted in 11 yellow cards and three red cards so expect a similar outcome unless, of course, both teams come out with halos over their heads beforehand.
It's not known if Ronaldo will start but he's already let his manager Mano Menezes know that he's ready for battle whether starting in the first 11 or sitting on the pine.
Ronaldo, however, won't be the only one to look out for Sunday. Palmeiras striker Keirrison has been on a domestic tear with nine goals and will look to shake off his team's 3-1 loss Wednesday to Chile's Colo Colo in Libertadores play.
Everton vs. Universidad de Chile
After being demolished 6-2 in Mexico by Chivas on Feb. 25, Everton needed to get back into the groove of things as soon as possible to put that Libertadores debacle behind.
They didn't have to wait long and got a 1-0 win against O'Higgins in the Chilean Apertura last weekend. Just what the doctor ordered.
Now Everton hopes to continue that momentum in this Saturday's Apertura when they meet fellow Libertadores participant, Universidad de Chile, which is coming off of a 3-0 rout of Bolivia's Aurora on Wednesday.
Both Everton and la U are tied at 10 points, two of eight second-place teams that trail league leaders Union Espanola.
Everton has a Libertadores match on Wednesday when they host Argentina's Lanus so Saturday's contest against la U should be a good test.
Libertad vs. Nacional
Another matchup involving Libertadores participants is on tap for Sunday with both Libertad and Nacional tied in third place in the Paraguayan standings with six points apiece.
Libertad on Thursday grabbed a 2-0 win against Argentina's San Lorenzo in Libertadores to give them their third straight victory and become the only perfect team in the continental tournament so far.
Nacional hosts Peru's San Martin on Thursday.
In the first three rounds of the Paraguayan championship, Libertad has notched 11 goals while only letting in three although their first win of the season was an 8-0 laugher against a weak 3 de Febrero side.
Nacional only managed to squeeze by 3 de Febrero 3-2 last weekend.
Any Uruguay Match
The fact that the third round of the Apertura is being played is cause for celebration after a week-long threat to strike by the players' union over unpaid wages and bonuses concluded.
The clubs were given until Friday to pay their debt but Uruguayan reports say that a private company has stepped in and offered to pay a chunk of the pay enabling the championship to resume without interruption.
The Uruguayan tournament has had its share of problems this year with two rounds suspended because of crowd trouble and security issues.
Defensor Sporting, which shares first place with Brazil's Sao Paolo in their Libertadores group, leads the Uruguayan Apertura and visits lowly Liverpool Sunday.
thanks for the rundown. SA leagues don’t get the coverage Euro do. Good to have a little more perspective when watching the matches.
what about in colombia?
Awesome rundown. It’d be interesting, now that you guys are posting South American updates, to read some more player profiles, since we don’t get much coverage up here — particularly with respect to the prospects of them playing in MLS eventually.