This week sees the first round of the 2009 Copa Libertadores come to a conclusion, with three teams in need of a miracle and another three bracing themselves for the defence of narrow first-leg leads. FIFA.com looks ahead to what promises to be an exciting three days as 12 sides battle it out for the six remaining places in the group phase.
Game of the week
Pachuca-Universidad de Chile
Wednesday 4 February, Estadio Hidalgo (Pachuca), 21.15 (local time)
After an entertaining first leg in Santiago there is every reason to expect these two sides will serve up another fascinating duel in Mexico. Los Tuzos, the only Mexican outfit to win a tournament (the 2006 Copa Sudamericana) since the country's clubs were admitted to CONMEBOL competitions, need the likes of Panamanian striker Blas Perez and Argentinian midfielder Damian Alvarez to be at their best if they are to overturn last week's 1-0 defeat. That is no easy task, however, especially with La U anxious to qualify for the group phase for the first time since 2005.
Three teams have one foot in the next round already, among them Nacional of Paraguay, who registered last week's biggest surprise by thrashing El Nacional 5-0 in Ecuador. Palmeiras can also expect a relatively straightforward evening in Bolivia after dishing out a 5-1 defeat to Real Potosi in Brazil seven days ago. The men from Sao Paulo are leaving nothing to chance, though, and will be putting out their strongest possible side in a bid to stop the Bolivians returning the favour.
Already 4-0 up against Penarol, Independiente Medellin have every right to be confident ahead of their trip to Uruguay, but again Los Rojos are taking nothing for granted, as coach Santiago Escobar explained: "We're approaching this game as if it were the first leg and we're still all square. We know the tie isn't over and that we can't afford to relax."
The two remaining ties are too close to call. Deportivo Anzoategui are well placed to advance after downing Deportivo Cuenca 2-0 at home, although it remains to be seen how the Venezuelan first-timers will react to their maiden away game in the competition. Deportivo have something of an unusual record at home in the Copa, having gone unbeaten in their last seven games, but winning only one of those matches and drawing the other six. Their last home defeat was a 2-0 reverse to El Nacional in April 1977.
And finally Sporting Cristal travel to La Plata hoping to finish off the job they started in Lima last Thursday, when they beat Estudiantes 2-1. Los Pincharratas will be boosted by the return of goalscorer Mauro Boselli, who was suspended for the first leg. The two sides served up a memorable encounter the last time they met in La Plata. After trailing 3-0, the hosts produced a dramatic late comeback to win 4-3.
Player to watch
A FIFA World Cup™ winner with Brazil at Korea/Japan 2002, the 32-year-old midfielder had a dream homecoming after 15 seasons in Europe, scoring a goal on his debut against Real Potosi. His experience will be useful as Palmeiras seek to defend their four-goal advantage in Bolivia.
9 - The number of years since Penarol last scored five in a Copa Libertadores match: on 4 April 2000 they beat Universidad Catolica de Chile 5-1 at home.
What they said
"Some people aren't sure whether the 2-1 lead from the first leg will be enough but we have to believe we can do it. Estudiantes were the favourites and now no one knows what's going to happen," Sporting Cristal forward Hector Hurtado
This week's fixtures:
Deportivo Cuenca (ECU) - Deportivo Anzoategui (VEN)
Penarol (URU) - Independiente Medellin (COL)
Pachuca (MEX) - Universidad de Chile (CHI)
Estudiantes (ARG) - Sporting Cristal (PER)
Real Potosi (BOL) - Palmeiras (BRA)
Nacional (PAR) - El Nacional (ECU)