Copa Libertadores preview

Fresh from negotiating the first knockout round of the 2010 Copa Libertadores last week, the eight remaining teams are now bracing themselves for the first legs of their quarter-final ties. sets the scene for the week’s four games as the race to the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010 continues apace.

Game of the week Cruzeiro-Sao Paulo Wednesday 12 May, Estadio Mineirao, 21.50 **(local time)

Following on from the Flamengo-Corinthians tie in the previous round, these two domestic rivals are set to serve up another intriguing all-Brazilian duel, reprising their meeting at the same stage last year.

On that occasion A Raposa emerged victorious as O Tricolor Paulista suffered a fourth consecutive defeat to Brazilian opposition in the competition, with coach Muricy Ramalho losing his job as a result.

The 2005 champions have undergone many changes since then. Current coach Ricardo Gomes has scrapped their three-man defence in a bid to give the team the kind of solidity they will need if they are get past last year’s runners-up.

Cruzeiro have held on to the nucleus of the side that reached the 2009 final, including the potent strike partnership formed by Kleber and the highly promising Thiago Ribeiro, respectively the second-highest and top scorers in this year’s competition with seven and eight goals.

ElsewhereIn the first of the week’s encounters Guadalajara take on Libertad, with the Mexicans hoping to reach the last four for only the third time in their history. To do that, however, they will need put their elimination from the Torneo Bicentenario play-offs by Monarcas Morelia out of their minds. Jose Luis Real is banking on his side to reproduce the irresistible form that swept them past Velez Sarsfield in the last round and build up a handsome lead to take to Paraguay with them.

El Gumarelo, who are well out of the running in the Paraguayan Clausura, are a hard side to break down, however, and boast several players who have been named in the provisional Albirroja squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, among them Rodolfo Gamarra, Victor Caceres and Sergio Aquino.

Copa holdersEstudiantessuffered a major blow to their Argentinian Clausura aspirations when they were held to a draw at home to Rosario Central, allowing Argentinos Juniors to replace them as leaders with only one game remaining. That domestic setback was hardly the ideal preparation for El Pincha as they prepare to lock horns with Internacional at the Beira-Rio, although Jorge Fossati’s talented but inconsistent side have plenty to ponder themselves after an up-and-down state season.

In the week’s other game, group-phase rivals Universidad de Chile and Flamengo come face to face once more. The Chileans have a psychological edge after coming off better in their two section meetings, winning 2-1 at home and securing a creditable 2-2 draw at the Maracana. Even so, La U only just made it past Alianza Lima in the previous round and went down 2-1 to Universidad Catolica in Santiago’s clásico universitario at the weekend. For their part Os Rubro-Negros are full of confidence after knocking out Corinthians and resolving their recent problems on the bench with the appointment of Rogerio Lourenco as coach.

Player to watch Roberto Gamarra (Libertad) The striker has been one of El Gumarelo’s star performers in the competition to date, stealing the show in the previous round by coming off the bench to score a tie-winning double against Once Caldas. The front man turns 29 on Tuesday and would like nothing better than to mark the occasion with another goal or two against Guadalajara.

The stat 5- The number of countries who still have representatives in the competition: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Paraguay. Brazil accounts for half the remaining teams, with Cruzeiro, Flamengo, Internacional and Sao Paulo still going strong.

What they said“They are working together like a real team. They fielded five or six reserve players in their first game against San Luis and still controlled the match without any problem. And they’ve got a great coach too in Alejandro Sabella,” Inter boss Jorge Fossati has nothing but praise for their quarter-final opponents, reigning champions Estudiantes.

Tuesday Chivas (MEX) x Libertad (PAR)

Wednesday Cruzeiro (BRA) x São Paulo (BRA) Flamengo (BRA) x Universidad de Chile (CHI)

Thursday Internacional (BRA) x Estudiantes (ARG)