With just hours to go until the start of the 53rd edition of the Copa Libertadores, FIFA.com whets your appetite with some fascinating stats from Latin America’s premier club competition.
the total number of points (based on three for a win) accumulated by Nacional of Uruguay, the leading team in this category. El Bolso managed the feat over the course of 38 appearances in the competition and remain slightly ahead of Montevideo rivals Penarol (512 in 39) and Argentina’s River Plate (502 in 30). Next on the list are Boca Juniors (401 in 22) and Paraguayan duo Olimpia (381 in 35) and Cerro Porteno (367 in 34), the latter being the sole member of that sextet never to win the trophy. The most successful Brazilian side in this category are Sao Paulo, who rank 11th with 268 points in 15 editions.
the numbers of Libertadores games played by naturalised Paraguayan Ever Almeida, a tournament record. The Uruguayan-born former keeper is still the only player to have reached the 100-mark, a feat he achieved with just one club, Olimpia of Paraguay. Along the way he won the coveted title twice, something neither of the two men next to him on the list – Colombia’s Anthony De Avila (94) and Bolivia’s Vladimir Soria (93) – managed to do. Spare a thought, however, for De Avila, who finished a losing finalist no fewer than five times, four with America de Cali and once with Barcelona de Guayaquil.
the number of goals netted by the tournament’s all time leading-scorer, the Ecuadorian Alberto Spencer. Cabeza Mágica (The Magic Head), as he was known, found the target 48 times in 70 appearances for Penarol before adding six more in 17 games with Barcelona. All told he took part in nine editions, finishing top scorer during the inaugural tournament in 1960 and sharing the distinction in 1962. However, the record for the most goals scored in a single edition belongs to the Argentinian Daniel Onega, who plundered an incredible 17 for River Plate in 1966, the same year Spencer won his third and final Libertadores title with Penarol.
the number of clubs taking part in the 2012 edition, in accordance with a tournament format now in its eighth year. Twelve sides contest the preliminary phase, widely referred to as the play-off round, with the six winners of the two legged-ties proceeding to the group phase. There the 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four and battle it out home and away for the top two spots in each section and qualification for the Round of 16. Thereafter it is a straight knockout over two legs up to and including the final.
the number of Libertadores titles won by clubs from Argentina, the country with the most champions in the competition’s history. Brazil is second with 15, followed by Uruguay (8), Paraguay (3), Colombia (2), and Chile and Ecuador (1). Peru is yet to produce a winner, although they have twice had runners-up, as has Mexico, whose teams have been invited to take part since 1998. No club from Venezuela or Bolivia have ever reached the final.
the number of times Independiente have claimed the Copa Libertadores crown, making them the most successful club in the competition’s history. Even more impressively El Rojo have never lost a final. Hot on their heels with six wins are Boca Juniors, while Penarol and Estudiantes de La Plata boast five and four respectively. Four clubs have won it three times: Nacional of Uruguay, Olimpia, Sao Paulo and Santos, the latter achieving the feat with victory in last year’s edition. Of these former champions, Independiente, Estudiantes and Sao Paulo will not be adding to their totals this year after failing to qualify.
the number of coaches who have won the Libertadores with different clubs. Especially impressive is the feat of Argentinian Carlos Bianchi, who has tasted glory three times with Boca Juniors and once with Velez Sarsfield, making him the most successful coach in the tournament’s 52-year history. The other two multiple winners are both Brazilian, Luiz Felipe Scolari going all the way with Gremio and Palmeiras, and Paulo Cesar Autuori matching him with Cruzeiro and Sao Paulo.
the number of Copa Libertadores titles won by Pele, who shone in the all-conquering Santos side of the early 60’s. O Rei won his continental crowns in 1962 and 1963, and also top-scored with eight goals in 1965, a year when his beloved Peixe crashed out in the semis to beaten finalists Penarol. All told, Pele played 15 games in this competition, all in the colours of Santos, netting 17 goals in the process.