The moment of truth
The group phase of the 2009 Copa Libertadores begins this week with nine games spread over three days. FIFA.com previews all the action, with Argentinian and Mexican sides taking top billing.
Game of the week
Lanus (ARG) - Chivas (MEX)
Wednesday 11 February, Estadio Ciudad de Lanus (Buenos Aires), 18.20 (local time)
Coached by 28-year-old Luis Zubeldia, Lanus are one of the most attractive sides in the Argentinian league. After kicking off their Clausura championship bid with victory at the weekend, El Granate are hoping to follow up with a win against Chivas and avenge last year's exit to another Mexican side, Atlas. Despite having three key figures away on international duty, the men from Guadalajara are intent on making a fast start themselves as they seek to erase memories of last year's disappointing first-round exit.
Grabbing the limelight on Tuesday are America de Cali, who return to the competition after a three-year absence. The losers of four Copa finals over the years, the Diablos begin their Group 4 campaign with a high-risk visit to Uruguay's Defensor Sporting, who are coached by none other than Jorge Da Silva, an America idol back in the 1990s. With Sao Paulo and Independiente Medellin completing the section, the three points at stake are vital to both sides' hopes.
In the day's other two games Guarani host Deportivo Tachira in Asuncion in Group 2, while Aurora, from the Bolivian town of Cochabamba, get the ball rolling in Group 7 with a home tie against Colombia's Boyaca Chico.
Wednesday sees Argentina's San Lorenzo begin yet another quest to land a title that has eluded them throughout their history when they entertain Mexico's San Luis, the revelations of the Mexican league last year and Copa Libertadores debutants. In action on the same day are their Group 8 rivals Libertad and Universitario, who face off in the Paraguayan capital, with Nolberto Solano making his debut for the Peruvians.
Group 3 gets underway on Thursday evening, with River Plate, the leading point scorers in the competition, taking their bow at home to Nacional. The Paraguayans showed what they are capable on the road when they beat El Nacional 5-0 in Ecuador in the preliminary round. In the other game in the section, Nacional of Montevideo play host to Peru's Universidad San Martin, who are making their second consecutive appearance in the tournament.
And in the final game of the week Universitario de Sucre host Group 5 opponents Deportivo Quito in Bolivia.
Player to watch
Nolberto Solano (Universitario)
At the age of 34 and after a 12-year odyssey overseas, El Ñol has returned to Peru to lead Universitario on their latest Copa adventure. Solano's first assignment is a testing trip to Libertad, where he will need to bring all his experience to bear.
4 - The number of goals scored by Jorge Nunez for Paraguay's Nacional in the first phase, making him the top scorer in this year's Copa. The in-form goalgetter is aiming for more against River Plate.
What they said
"The big question is whether Bolivian teams can change history by qualifying from the group phase. I can tell you Aurora will be giving everything to do just that." Aurora coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso talks up his side's chances.
This week's fixtures
Guarani (PAR) - Deportivo Tachira (VEN)
Defensor Sporting (URU) - America de Cali (COL)
Aurora (BOL) - Boyaca Chico (COL)
Lanus (ARG) - Chivas (MEX)
San Lorenzo (ARG) - San Luis (MEX)
Libertad (PAR) - Universitario (PER)
River Plate (ARG) - Nacional (PAR)
Nacional (URU) - Universidad San Martin (PER)
Universitario de Sucre (BOL) - Deportivo Quito (ECU)