By NESTOR F. SEBASTIAN
South America's premier club competition, the Copa Libertadores, kicks off its 51st edition this week as the first stages have 12 teams battling for six spots available into the group phases where eventually 40 teams from the continent as well as Mexico will see action in the upcoming months.
Because of the World Cup in June, Libertadores will continue through late summer. The tournament will be missing the likes of Argentina powers Boca Juniors and River Plate and Uruguay giant Penarol. All have suffered poor campaigns recently in their respective leagues, dooming them to absence from South America's top contest.
Despite this, Argentina could still have up to six representatives in group play along with defending champions Estudiantes de la Plata with Banfield, Colon, Lanus, Newell's Old Boys and Velez Sarsfield vying to take advantage of the missing Boca and River. Brazil will see Ronald and Roberto Carlos enjoying a taste of Libertadores action with Corinthians, who are celebrating their centenary this year.
Meanwhile, Adriano's Flamengo, Internacional, Sao Paulo and Cruzeiro seek to give Brazil its first Libertadores title since 2006. Mexico has five teams in this year's edition with Morelia, Monterrey and Estudiantes Tecos qualifying while Chivas and San Luis are special invitees from last year's debacle when both squads quit after CONMEBOL decided to move their home ties elsewhere following the swine flu crisis.
However, the focus will be on the six home-and-away tilts this week and next to determine which teams will complete the 40-team tournament that starts group matches beginning Feb. 9.
Here is a quick preview of the first legs (which will be broadcast on Fox Sports en Espanol):
COLON DE SANTA FE v. UNIVERSIDAD CATOLICA, 5PM
Chile's U. Catolica travel to Argentina and will have to contain a familiar face in Esteban Fuertes, Colon's marksman who is the club's all-time leading scorer with 110 goals in two stints. Fuertes plied his trade with Catolica in 2007 where he netted 21 goals in 36 matches. Catolica midfielder Milovan Mirosevic could be key to control the Chilean attack.
DEPORTIVO TACHIRA v. LIBERTAD, 8:30PM
Former Red Bulls midfielder Jorge Rojas makes his debut with Tachira, his fifth club in his homeland of Venezuela, and will look to orchestrate his side against a consistent Paraguayan side in Libertad. With four new signings, the Venezuelans have opened up their domestic season with a tie and a win and are on a momentum to continue its streak.
NEWELL'S OLD BOYS v. EMELEC, 4:30PM
Ecuador's Emelec shouldn't have trouble making their way around the city of Rosario, Argentina–their manager, Jorge Sampaoli, is from there but he won't be playing tourist guide. Instead, all focus will be on young Uruguayan forward Joaquin Boghossian, one of the revelations of the Argentine Apertura season last year. For Emelec, they could have a solution in controlling Boghossian with their own newly-signed youngster, defender Deison Mendez, who has worked in Inter Milan's youth system and has attracted attention from abroad. Emelec will also have to worry about its Paraguayan midfielder Fernando Gimenez, who is nursing an injury.
REAL POTOSI v. CRUZEIRO, 6:50PM
Brazil's Cruzeiro have been in Bolivia since Thursday, making their way to Santa Cruz and then to Sucre and plan to trek to Potosi on the day of the match. Through press reports, the Brazilians have labeled the Bolivians' strategy as "run and hit" but hope to match their physiciality in the country's highest-elevated city where shortness of breath is common among non-Bolivian teams. The Bolivians are weighing the option of deploying a three-man attack in an effort to tire Cruzeiro and try and build a large advantage.
JUAN AURICH v. ESTUDIANTES TECOS, 9:10PM
Tecos manager Miguel Herrera feels that Peruvian side Aurich don't have enough chemistry, are already displaying signs of friction among themselves and also mislabeled them as a team that fought from relegation. Herrera's analysis was a result of sloppy scouting by his assistant who attended Aurich's 2-1friendly loss last week to Costa Rica's Saprissa in a brawl-marred match. Aurich has slowly climbed to gain respectability among its Peruvian league peers, mainly because of its deep pockets that were enough to lure young Peruvian starlet Reimond Manco back home on loan from PSV Eindhoven. Aurich's Colombian manager, Luis Fernando Suarez, who guided Ecuador to the 2006 World Cup, has assembled a talented group but will have its work cut out against Tecos, which displayed a decent showing at the Interliga tournament.
JUNIOR v. RACING (Uruguay), 6:10PM
Seven new signings at Colombia's Junior Barranquilla side could give it an advantage against Libertadores newbies Racing of Uruguay. The Colombian outfit lost Teofilo Gutierrez to Turkish club Trabzonspor but still have veteran playmaker Giovanni Hernandez in midfield. Racing, a modest side in the shadows of its compatriot giants Penarol, Nacional and Defensor Sporting, fared well in last year's domestic campaign.
Are you looking forward to this year's tournament? Who can you see winning it all?
Share your thoughts on the 2010 Copa Libertadores in the comments section below.
They created that rule after brazilian teams made the final 2 followed years…
I lived in Ecuador during the Liga’s 08 run to the title (actually moved back to the US between the semis and finals). Fox Sports Espanol had the rights to the tourney, but a local tv station would televise just the Liga bench during the whole match with the audio. I’m hoping Emelec, Cuenca, or Deportivo can make some noise this year.
There is a rule in place for the semifinals. When teams of the same country make it, they have to play each other to avoid both of them making it to the final.
Nothing against brazilian teams.
listing of games on SBI…definately.
i believe it was posted on SBI yesterday. as for his brain, it seems to be recovering. once he’s recovered more, he can go to houston to get it out…better technology. he’ll be back, perhaps with head padding and having to stand off from corner kicks but he’ll be ok. as for the culprit, if cops dont get him soon some drug cartel fan of america will
seems easier to me since the games are actually on in late afternoon or nighttime. Soccer from europe on in the mornings is a hard thing to do.
If anyone here doesn’t follow or care about Libertadores, than I can safely say you no nothing about futbol. Libertadores is by far the most important tournament in the Americas. A lot of noobs in soccer in the states, so I can’t hate. 🙂
If there is any English brodcasting going on than I hope it’s those guys on Gol TV. American brodcasting is still wack to here. 🙁
Viva el futbol!
Appreciate the Libertadores updates. It’s great soccer, and you can easily catch on Fox Espanol or Gol TV. If you don’t know much about South American soccer, just follow one of these teams at random through the internet and you’ll quickly catch the fever!
I don’t know which, but I’m sure a brazilian team will win. Conmenbal has every year to change the schedule to avoid brazilian teams making the final, like it was when São Paulo was beaten by Internacional and when São Paulo defeated Atlético Paranaense.
Last 20 years finals had:
Brazilian teams: 17
Argentinean teams: 9
Other teams: 14
Please keep the Libertadores updates and breakdowns coming… Please also give TV listings if the games will be shown in the states. I love this tourney, but it gets so little coverage in the states.
My bad, this site gets updated so much and when I catch up I didnt make it past the Charlie Davis update article.
Great stuff! But there’s an O missing at the end of Ronald.
Not really. Fox en Espanol shows all libertadores, sudamericana, recopa, and FIFA club world cup games. As well as a couple of argentine league games. Combine that with Gol Tv and you have the best games from SA easily available.
It’s hard to follow US soccer in the US without the internet
“should have no problem”?
When has Corinthians ever won, or come close to winning this?
If any team in Brazil, I’d put my money on Sao Paulo …
Thanks for this–I look forward to the tourney.
Distant future. Although it would be a travel nightmare, that would be very cool.
No problem ? You are entitled to your opinion, just wondering why you think that ?
They didn’t win Brasileiro Série A.
Flamengo did, they weren’t even runners up, Internacional was.
it was yesterday
I hope that SBI follows this.
In spite of half of the FIFA Club Champions being from there and the leagues being very interesting and competitive ( something you don’t see the leagues that get the pub ), it is very hard to follow South America in US.
Why? MLS teams never win in Mexico. Why should they waste their money and time to fly to South America to lose. A mid-week game in Argentina for a team like Seattle, Vancouver or Portland would be a travel nightmare. Europe would be closer.
Did you guys read about that Paraguay striker being shot in the head in a mexico city bar bathroom and surviving? Not sure how long hes going to survive… They cant remove the bullet without it doing more damage.
Hes some badass forward for America the mexican team. Surprised this isnt posted.
Don’t care about Libertadores. Maybe english feeds would suck me in. It’s not because I don’t think the football is good, but I have never followed it. I would like to, but it seems like a lot of work to learn about all of the clubs. Maybe I’m just lazy.
Corinthians should have no problem winning this.
The FIFA World Champions tournament should be 6 teams from the 6 continents with countries: Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, North America, Oceania (Australia competes in Asia in club competitions I think). North America would be include Mexico.
A drawing would play three teams in one of two groups. Top of group A plays second of group B and top of group B play second of group A. Winners progress to final. No need for a third place.
Winning country gets first option to host the next tournament.
Seriously, before you ask such a question, do you actually take the time to click-click to see for yourself?
DC United played in the Copa Sudamericana.
wasn’t MLS invited to play in one of the South/Central American competitions a few years ago?
MLS teams should play in Copa Libertadores in the future.
2008 champions LDU Quito (Liga) is also missing from this year’s Copa Lib after a 4th place domestic finish in 2009.
great feature. the libertadores is an unbelievable competition and it gets little to no pub in the States. Keep this up.
Are any of these matches being shown on television here in the United States? I assume that one of the Hispanic channels may be showing the games (univision/galavision etc.) but any coverage on FSC, Setanta et al?
Vamos Junior! Represent Colombia against the best in South America!