Rafael: Cerro games mean nothing now
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Santos goalkeeper Rafael has downplayed the relevance of their previous matches against Cerro Porteno ahead of their Copa Libertadores semi-final.

The teams meet in Brazil tomorrow night in the first leg of the semi-final tie having already faced each other twice in the group stage - Santos were held to a 1-1 draw in Brazil but claimed a 2-1 win in Asuncion.

Rafael said: "We already know their qualities. They are strong and good at dead balls. The two previous games are a measure, but this is a totally different point in the championship. These are the semi-finals."

Rafael also highlighed the away win over Cerro last month as a key moment in their Libertadores campaign. "Everybody thought we were out," he said. "We won in Paraguay and here we are."

Santos overcame Once Caldas of Colombia in the quarter-finals, while Cerro eliminated Mexican side Jaguares. Defender Danilo stressed the importance to Santos of keeping a clean sheet in the first game at the Estadio Pacaembu. He said: "The important things are winning and not conceding goals. If we clinch a good result here, we can then win in Paraguay as we did in the group stage."

The two previous games are a measure, but this is a totally different point in the championship. These are the semi-finals.
Rafael, Santos goalkeeper

Much of the attention is focused on Santos forward Neymar, who has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, but Cerro Porteno midfielder Ivan Torres warned his team-mates not to get obsessed with the teenager.

"He is a very good player, but to me, he is not the only dangerous one," he said. "The entire Santos team is strong and tough. Beating them here in Brazil will not be easy at all, but it's not impossible."

Defender Pedro Benitez added: "We've already talked about Neymar. We have to use two players to mark him all the time. His dribbling is superb."

Santos are not playing home games at their own Vila Belmiro stadium as it is being redeveloped for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, but Cerro's Argentinian midfielder Javier Villarreal does not believe Santos will be unduly affected.

"I don't think Santos will feel the fact of not playing at their own venue, but we'll try to do our best to clinch the lead we need," said Villarreal. Paraguayan side Penarol meet Argentinian league leaders Velez Sarsfield in the other semi on Thursday night.