Copa Libertadores preview

Of the nine games set to take place in the 11th week of the Copa Libertadores 2010, four make up the final round of matches in Groups 4 and 7. At stake are places in the Round of 16, where Alianza Lima, Guadalajara and San Luis are currently the only sides sure to be involved. Universidad de Chile and Corinthians, for their part, could progress with one first-phase match to spare, while Lanus and Colo-Colo need big performances to keep their dream alive. anticipates the upcoming action.

Game of the week
Thursday 15 April, Estadio La Fortaleza, 19.30 (local time)

Even with title favourites Flamengo, Corinthians, Cruzeiro and Velez Sarsfield all in action this week, the decisive Group 4 duel between Lanus and Universitario will enjoy its fair share of the limelight. Both teams are still in contention for a place in the next round, with the Argentinians in third, two points behind their forthcoming visitors and section leaders Libertad.

A win would mean El Granate finished on ten points, though that tally may well not be enough to rank among the six best second-placed sides. That being the case, they also need Libertad to crash against tailenders Blooming to snatch first place and thus guarantee progression. But having won just two of their five games so far, scoring only six goals in the process, can the Buenos Aires outfit sink unbeaten Universitario?

Yet their Peruvian opponents travel to Argentinian soil under something of a cloud. Despite a weekend win over Cesar Vallejo, this will be coach Juan Reynoso’s final match in charge after a series of fallouts with the club's directors. Victory would see them through in first or second, while a draw would secure second spot but could mean they are not one of the six best second-placed teams.

Boasting ten points from four games, an away win for Corinthians over Group 1 rivals Racing Montevideo would give them the best record of any group side so far and ensure their involvement in the Round of 16 with one match to spare. Success for O Timão would also virtually rule Racing, currently on seven points, out of the race to be one of the six best second-placed sides. Mano Menezes’s charges will be determined to bounce back after dropping out of contention in the Campeonato Paulista.

While Lanus and Universitario square off in Argentina, fellow Group 4 outfit Libertad will be confident of defeating the pool's bottom side, Bolivia’s Blooming. Though they remain top of the standings, after a strong start the Paraguayan club have been held to draws in their last three group encounters.

The Group 5 action kicks off on Tuesday in Ecuador, with the finely poised duel between Deportivo Quito and Cerro de Uruguay. Having recovered from a slow start, the Ecuadorian outfit could move on to ten points and top spot with a triumph, though section leaders Internacional would have 11 points after five games played should they win away to Emelec on Wednesday. After a mixed spell, Jorge Fossati’s Inter are high on confidence after a win over Cerro on 31 March, and their qualification for the final of the second round of the Campeonato Gaucho.

Turning to Group 7, the section’s final two encounters are set to take place on Thursday. The big game is between Chile’s Colo-Colo and Brazilian side Cruzeiro, with El Cacique needing a thumping win over A Raposa to boost their goal difference and keep their hopes alive. Three points for their opponents would guarantee top spot in the group, though a draw ought to be enough to ensure Adilson Batista’s charges are among the best second-placers. Velez Sarsfield, behind Cruzeiro only on goal difference, will expect to seal their progress on home turf by beating already eliminated Deportivo Italia.

Finally, events in Group 8 will be split over two days. On Tuesday, leaders Universidad de Chile will be aiming to move clear at the top with an away win over bottom side Caracas which would take them to 11 points. Second-place Flamengo, currently on seven points after four games, visit another Chilean side in Universidad Catolica knowing that a victory would put them on the verge of qualification.

Player to watch
Walter (Internacional)
After appearing in Inter’s Libertadores group opener against Emelec, the young forward subsequently missed training for the next ten days and was ejected from the first-team squad. Thrown a lifeline in his club’s last Libertadores encounter against Cerro, a goal in that 2-0 win helped him regain the trust of coach Fossati, who was further rewarded by the forward scoring both his side’s goals in this weekend’s success against Ypiranga. What is more, Inter are yet to lose when Walter and Alecsandro have been paired up in attack.

The stat
16 – The number of goals Flamengo forward Vagner Love has scored in 17 games this season. Top of the Campeonato Carioca scoring chart on 14, he has two to his name in the Libertadores and will be Fla’s main goal threat should strike partner Adriano miss out with a back injury.

What they said
“We’re going for all three points to ensure qualification with a game to spare. We want to get the job done in Caracas so we can relax. We’re playing well and we’ve shown that we deserve to go through. But to do that we need to keep proving ourselves out on the pitch and do things properly,” Universidad de Chile defender Mauricio Victorino.

This week's fixtures
Deportivo Quito (ECU) - Cerro (URU)
Caracas (VEN) - Universidad de Chile (CHI)

Emelec (ECU) - Internacional (BRA)
Racing (URU) - Corinthians (BRA)
Universidad Catolica (CHI) - Flamengo (BRA)

Blooming (BOL) - Libertad (PAR)
Lanus (ARG) - Universitario (PER)
Colo-Colo (CHI) - Cruzeiro (BRA)
Velez Sarsfield (ARG) - Deportivo Italia (VEN)