A busy three days lie in store in the Copa Libertadores with nine games taking place up and down the continent, all of them with a huge bearing on the fate of the teams hoping to grab a place in the last 16. The most eyecatching of them all is the Group 3 showdown between Colo Colo and Boca Juniors in Santiago. And to whet your appetite FIFA.com is here with its usual Tuesday preview of the week's events in Latin America's biggest and best club competition.
Game of the week
Group 3: Colo Colo-Boca Juniors, Thursday 20 March, 21:40 (local time)
The Santiago showdown is an enticing replay of the famous 1991 semi-final when El Cacique emerged victorious after two incident-packed ties. While the duo may not be competing for a place in the big final this time around, there is still plenty at stake on Thursday evening. In what is their first home game, Claudio Borghi's men need a win to move into second place at the halfway point of the group. Los Xeneizes, who drew on their only away-day so far, will be hoping to underline their pedigree as defending champions by registering a win that will take them clear at the top of the section.
There are two potential decisive battles to be fought in Group 2 this week. Estudiantes will attempt to reprise their heroic ten-man victory over bottom club Danubio in Montevideo two weeks ago when the sides meet again on Tuesday. Roberto Sensini's men will take some beating on their home patch, having gone unbeaten in La Plata since 10 March 2007. Joint top of the section with five points apiece, Deportivo Cuenca and Lanus meet up two days later in Colombia, just a week on from their goalless stalemate in Buenos Aires.
All four sides in Group 7 are also in action this week. Atletico Nacional and Sao Paulo lead the way with four points each and will put their credentials to the test with respective trips to Audax Italiano and Sportivo Luqueno, both of whom need wins to stay in serious contention.
Group 1 pacemakers Cruzeiro face a stiff challenge to their unbeaten record when they travel to second-placed Caracas, who have shaken off their tag as surprise packages by winning both their home dates so far. Keeping a very close eye on events in the Venezuelan capital will be the rejuvenated San Lorenzo, currently lying third in the table.
And finally, Wednesday sees three other Brazilian teams take to
the field. In Group 4 Flamengo will be out for revenge when they
entertain Nacional of Uruguay, who stand top of the section after
comfortably prevailing in the first meeting between the two in
Montevideo a fortnight ago. Compatriots Santos travel to Bolivia to
take on Group 6 rivals San Jose in a duel that pits second against
fourth, and the third Brazilian outfit appearing in the midweek
trilogy is Fluminense, who lie handily placed in second in Group 8.
Flu face a seemingly awkward test in Asuncion against
Libertad and, after losing their first two games, the Paraguayans
desperately need a win if they are to maintain hopes of reprising
their charge to the last four in 2006.
Players to watch
Ramires and Marcelo Moreno (Cruzeiro)
The young duo have been the driving forces behind the Belo Horizonte outfit's push for Copa glory, scoring 9 of their side's 12 goals in the competition to date. A willowy, pacy attacking midfielder, Ramires has hit the back of the net five times already and provides the perfect foil to his imposing Bolivian sidekick. Barely in their 20s, the deadly duo will be out to plunder more goals in Venezuela on Tuesday night.
What they said
"Man-marking Juan Roman Riquelme is not part of my plans. I'm not necessarily opposed to that particular system but I always think there's a risk the player will get away from you. We'll be marking him zonally, like any other player." Colo Colo coach Claudio Borghi talks tactics ahead of the decisive clash with Boca Juniors.
This week's fixtures:
Caracas (VEN) - Cruzeiro (BRA)
Estudiantes (ARG) - Danubio (URU)
Audax Italiano (CHI) - Atletico Nacional (COL)
Flamengo (BRA) - Nacional (URU)
San Jose (BOL) - Santos (BRA)
Libertad (PAR) - Fluminense (BRA)
Deportivo Cuenca (ECU) - Lanus (ARG)
Colo Colo (CHI) - Boca Juniors (ARG)
Sportivo Luqueno (PAR) - Sao Paulo (BRA)