Last year’s two finalists have ground to make up in the return legs of the quarter-finals of the 2010 Copa Libertadores. FIFA.com assesses their chances of success and also looks over the week’s other two ties in Latin America’s leading club competition.
Game of the week
Thursday 20 May, Estadio Centenario (Quilmes), 19.45 (local time)
El Pincha will need to draw on their fabled cup pedigree if they are to overturn the 1-0 deficit they incurred in the first leg in Porto Alegre and keep their Copa defence alive. That will prove easier said than done, however, especially after they were pipped to the Clausura championship by Argentinos Juniors last weekend. The men from La Plata at least signed off in style by thumping Colon 4-1, three of the goals coming from Mauro Boselli.
The Brazilians are in relaxed mood going into the game, having kept a clean sheet in the first leg. They also know what it takes to beat Estudiantes on their own patch, achieving what no Brazilian side has ever managed in the Copa Libertadores by claiming victory in La Plata in the final of the 2008 Copa Sudamericana. Given that precedent and their failure to score in Brazil, the reigning champions will need to tread carefully.
Cruzeiro, the side the Argentines beat in last year’s final, find themselves in an even trickier position after going down 2-0 at home to Sao Paulo last week. That somewhat surprising result leaves O Tricolor Paulista perfectly placed to exact revenge for last year’s quarter-final exit at the hands of A Raposa. Sao Paulo coach Ricardo Gomes appears to have pulled off a masterstroke with the acquisition of wily striker Fernandao, who impressed in the first leg, justifying Gomes’s decision to relegate proven goalscorer Washington to the bench.
With their 3-2 win over Flamengo at the Maracana, Universidad de Chile have given themselves every chance of progressing to only their third ever Copa semi-final and their first in 14 years. Yet even though they hold an important advantage, Los Azules cannot afford to relax against the likes of Adriano or Vagner Love. That said, the celebrated strike pair will need to be at their predatory best if Os Rubro-Negros are to check into their first Copa semi since 1984.
In the week’s other game Guadalajara have a 3-0 lead to defend against Libertad in Asuncion. Encouragingly for the Mexicans, on the two previous occasions they reached the semi-finals they did so without losing a game. Unbeaten in their back yard, Los Gumarelos face an extremely tall order, though they did manage to put four goals past Blooming without reply in the group phase. A repeat of that scoreline would do the Paraguayan side just nicely.
Player to watch
Liborio Sanchez (Guadajalara)
The 20-year-old goalkeeper has been a feature of El Rebaño Sagrado impressive run so far. After making a vital contribution in the defeat of Velez Sarsfield in the last 16, Sanchez chipped in with another in the quarter-final first leg against Libertad, denying Carlos Gamarra from the penalty spot.
8 - The number of times that Universidad de Chile have hosted Brazilian opposition in the Copa Libertadores. La U have recorded three wins and a draw in those games, the other four ending in defeat - nearly half the total number of home games they have lost in the competition.
What they said
“We’ll get through, and the main reason why I’m saying that is the mystical power of the Flamengo shirt. You feel as if you’re one of the chosen few when you pull on the colours,” Flamengo midfielder Kleberson.