The group stage of the Copa Libertadores 2010 reaches its conclusion this week, with nine teams in the running for the seven remaining vacancies in the knockout phase. FIFA.com looks ahead to the upcoming 12 games.
Game of the week
Thursday 22 April, Estadio Beira-Rio, 19.30 (local time)
Deportivo Quito, who surprisingly lead the way in Group 5 on goal difference from Internacional, need just a point from their visit to Porto Alegre to make sure of their place in the next round. The Ecuadorians have scored only five goals in all, less than any of their fellow pool leaders, but the same number as the Brazilians, who need to win to go through by right. Having won both their home games to date, O Colorado will hoping to make it a hat-trick and not have to rely on results elsewhere.
One side who will be keeping an eye on events at the Beira-Rio are CA Cerro. Third in the section on seven points, the Uruguayans are at home to bottom-placed Emelec and could yet go through as one of the six best second-placed teams if they chalk up a handsome victory and Internacional fail to win.
Another Brazilian outfit with designs on a ticket to the next round are three-time champions Sao Paulo, who lie second in Group 2 on ten points and facethe already-qualified Once Caldas. O Tricolor Paulista have been ever-presents in the last 16 since 2003, but will need to pick themselves up following a heavy defeat by Santos in Sunday’s Campeonato Paulista semi-final. In the other game in the group, Monterrey and Nacional meet in Paraguay with only pride at stake.
Flamengo find themselves in an even trickier position in Group 8, where they need to beat Caracas by a handsome margin at the Maracana just to clinch second place. Universidad de Chile have already wrapped up top spot in the section but still have plenty to play for when they take on Santiago foes Universidad Catolica, whose chances of progressing have gone.
The other Brazilian side in action this week are Corinthians, who will ensure they go through with the best record of all the qualifiers if they beat Independiente Medellin at home. The Colombians are out of the running although Racing Montevideo, the team just above them in Group 1, can still advance as one of the second-placed teams if they win away to Cerro Porteno and other results go their way.
Estudiantes only need a draw at home to Group 3 frontrunners Alianza Lima to maintain their bid to defend the title they won last year. A win will take El Pincha above the Peruvians, and having gone unbeaten in three games in the Libertadores and in eight in the Argentinian Clausura, they will feel confident of doing just that. The two other sides in the pool, Bolivar and Juan Aurich, meet in La Paz with nothing to play for.
Victory in their respective home engagements with Monarcas Morelia and Deportivo Cuenca will see Group 6 leaders Nacional of Uruguay and second-placed Banfield through to the next round. With only eight points to their name, the Argentinians have no option but to win, though a draw may be enough for Nacional, provided that results elsewhere are favourable.
Player to watch
Angel Morales (Nacional of Uruguay)
The 34-year-old Argentinian playmaker is the man that makes the Bolso front line tick. Nicknamed Matute, Morales will need to bring all his intelligence and experience to bear in the decisive meeting with Morelia, a high-pressure game in which the slightest slip could prove costly.
9 - The number of teams that are already through to the first knockout round. Corinthians, Velez Sarsfield, Cruzeiro, Universidad de Chile, Alianza Lima, Once Caldas and Libertad have fought their way through the group phase, while the Mexican duo of San Luis and Guadalajara earned a bye after having to withdraw from last year’s competition due to the swine flu epidemic.
What they said
“We’ll be going all out to win even though we’re already through. We’re up against the reigning champions and we want to win the group. We can’t just go there and try to get a draw,” Alianza Lima coach Gustavo Costas.
This week's fixtures
Bolívar (BOL) - Juan Aurich (PER)
Estudiantes (ARG) - Alianza Lima (PER)
Nacional (URU) - Monarcas Morelia (MEX)
Banfield (ARG) - Deportivo Cuenca (ECU)
Nacional (PAR) - Monterrey (MEX)
Sao Paulo FC (BRA) - Once Caldas (COL)
Universidad de Chile (CHI) - Universidad Catolica (CHI)
Flamengo (BRA) - Caracas FC (VEN)
Internacional (BRA) - Deportivo Quito (ECU)
CA Cerro (URU) - Emelec (ECU)
Cerro Porteno (PAR) - Racing Montevideo (URU)
Corinthians (BRA) - Independiente Medellin (COL)