Survivors set for last-eight challenges

The 2011 Copa Libertadores quarter-finals are set to get under way this week, with seven countries represented by the eight remaining contenders. looks ahead at the week’s four games, including the intriguing match-up between surprise quarter-finalists Once Caldas and Santos, in Latin America’s leading club competition.

Game of the week
Once Caldas-Santos
Wednesday 11 May, 19.50 (local time), Estadio Palogrande, Manizales

This is the only tie between former Copa Libertadores champions. Juan Carlos Osorio’s side sprang the shock of the last round by beating Cruzeiro in Belo Horizonte and currently lead the way in the Colombian league, though they have yet to win at home in four attempts in this year’s competition. O Peixe, Brazil’s only survivors, lost Ganso to injury in the weekend’s Sao Paulo state final against Corinthians, which means coach Muricy Ramalho will be banking on young prodigy Neymar to turn on the style in Manizales.

Beaten by Nacional in the latest staging of the Uruguayan clásico, five-time winners Penarol will be aiming to build on last week’s shock elimination of defending champions Internacional in Porto Alegre when they entertain Universidad Catolica at the Centenario in Montevideo. The Chileans are looking for a place in the semi-finals for the sixth time in their history, having reached the last four on five occasions between 1962 and 1993.

Paraguay will be in the spotlight on Thursday when their two hopefuls take to the stage. Fresh from ousting Estudiantes on penalties, Cerro Porteno travel to the Mexican city of Chiapas to take on surprise performers Jaguares. Meanwhile Libertad face a daunting task away to Argentinian league leaders Velez Sarsfield, who made light of the injury-enforced absence of Santiago Silva to beat Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito in their own backyard last week.

Player to watch
Augusto Fernandez (Velez Sarsfield)
The right-sided midfielder has scored six goals in the last two months alone, more than he managed in his previous spells at River Plate and Saint-Etienne. Having found the back of the net already against Universidad Catolica and Liga de Quito, Fernandez is now gunning for Libertad.

The stat
0 -
The number of away games Universidad Catolica have lost in this year’s competition. Los Cruzados have collected three wins and a draw on the road, a record that augurs well for their trip to Penarol.

What they said
“Losing Ganso is a big blow for us, and it’s going to be difficult without him. I’m ready to accept the challenge of helping the team up front, though,” Santos striker Neymar gets ready for his side’s visit to Once Caldas.

Wednesday 11
Penarol (URU) - Universidad Catolica (CHI)
Once Caldas (COL) -. Santos (BRA)

Thursday 12
Jaguares (MEX) - Cerro Porteno (PAR)
Velez Sarsfield (ARG) - Libertad (PAR)