Copa Libertadores preview

Four of the six remaining berths for the group phase of the Copa Libertadores 2010 will be filled this week. looks ahead to the preliminary-round, second-leg matches scheduled for the coming days.

Game of the week
Racing Montevideo-Atletico Junior
Thursday 4 February, Estadio Parque Central (Montevideo), 21.10 (local time)

If their exciting 2-2 draw in Barranquilla is anything to go by, this duel to decide who joins Corinthians, Cerro Porteno and Independiente Medellin in Group 1 should be a dramatic one. Los Racinguistas have the advantage going into the game but with players of the stature of Giovanni Hernandez and Martin Arzuaga lining up for Atletico, they cannot afford to take anything for granted. In a show of solidarity with the children of Haiti, the home side will be donating all gate receipts to UNICEF.

After last week’s 1-1 draw in Bolivia, 2009 runners-up Cruzeiro are well placed to advance to the next round at the expense of Real Potosi. The Brazilians have a formidable Libertadores record in their Estadio Mineirao, winning six of their seven games in the competition there last year, their only defeat coming in the final against Estudiantes. The visitors have no option but to go on the attack. Only a win or a high-scoring draw will take them through.

The prospects look far brighter for Peru’s Juan Aurich, who travel to the Mexican city of Zapopan to defend a 2-0 lead against Estudiantes Tecos. The home side are still without a win in the league, having squandered a two-goal advantage to lose 3-2 to Guadalajara at the weekend.

In the fourth and final match of the week, Libertad take on Deportivo Tachira in Asuncion with a 1-0 deficit to make up after last week’s first leg in Venezuela. A familiar presence in the competition over the last decade, El Gumarelo have the necessary experience to turn the tie around but will need to be at their best against the disciplined Venezuelans, who won their league last season and are on course to repeat that feat this term.

Player to watch
Kleber (Cruzeiro)
Raposa fans will be keeping a close eye on the gifted 26-year-old forward following the collapse of his proposed move to Portuguese giants Porto, the second time he has come close to a move to Europe. After playing a vital part in his side’s run to the 2009 final, Kleber will view Wednesday’s outing against Real Potosi as a chance to remind the football world of his undoubted qualities.

The stat
The number of consecutive appearances that Libertad have made in the Copa Libertadores. An ever-present in the competition since 2002, El Gumarelo have taken to the tournament's starting line ten times in all, their best performances coming in 1977 and 2006, when they reached the semis.

What they said
“It’s half-time in this tie and they’re going to look at this home game as a chance to make amends for what happened in the first leg. We have an advantage but it’s not a decisive one and we need to stand strong if we want to hang on to it,” Juan Aurich coach Luis Fernando Suarez.

This week’s fixtures
Tuesday 2
Libertad (PAR) - Deportivo Tachira (VEN)

Wednesday 3
Estudiantes Tecos (MEX) - Juan Aurich (PER)
Cruzeiro (BRA) - Real Potosi (BOL)

Thursday 4
Racing Club (URU) - Atletico Junior (COL)