Lanus eye comeback, Barcelona a miracle

  • Lanus host River Plate with a 1-0 deficit to make up

  • Gremio in command of their tie with Barcelona SC after 3-0 win in Ecuador

  • The final will be played over two legs on 22 and 29 November 

The finalists of the 2017 Copa Libertadores de America will be decided this week, with the winners of the competition going on to represent South America at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 in December.

River Plate and Gremio, two sides who know what it means to lift the trophy, have the edge in their respective semi-finals, though their opponents, Lanus and Barcelona SC, have not given up hope of winning the competition for their first time.

The matches 31 October Lanus (ARG) - River Plate (ARG) (Estadio Ciudad de Lanus, Lanus, 21.15 local time)

Los Millonarios edged a tight first leg thanks to Ignacio Scocco’s 81st-minute goal, a victory made all the more valuable by the fact they did not concede an away goal. River won four away games on the trot earlier in the competition but went down 3-0 to Bolivia’s Jorge Wilstermann in their last match on the road. El Granate, who will be at full strength, have shown why their stadium is nicknamed La Fortaleza ('The Fortress'). Since losing their opening home match of the competition, they have won four in a row there, scoring 11 goals in the process and conceding none.

1 November Gremio (BRA) - Barcelona SC (ECU) (Arena do Gremio, Porto Alegre, 21.45 local time)

O Tricolor took command of the tie with an impressive performance in Guayaquil last week, recording an unexpected 3-0 win over the surprise packages of the competition. Though Barcelona went to Brazil and knocked out Palmeiras and then Santos in the previous two rounds, they will need to score four on their latest visit if they are to repeat the trick. The omens are not good. The Ecuadorians have yet to score more than two on the road in this year’s Libertadores, while Gremio have conceded fewer goals than anyone so far – a mere seven. Barcelona at least gave themselves a timely boost at the weekend by beating arch rivals LDU de Quito in the league.

Player to watch Ivan Marcone (Lanus) The 27-year-old Granate midfielder is the linchpin of Jorge Almiron’s side and has gained widespread respect in the Argentinian game thanks to his ball-winning abilities and pinpoint passing. A key member of a team that likes to play the ball along the ground, the No5 will be vital to Lanus’ hopes of countering River’s midfield pressing and exploiting space.

Did you know? In scoring the only goal of the first leg against Lanus, Scocco become the second player in River Plate’s history to rack up seven goals in the knockout stages of a single Copa Libertadores. The first? Hernan Crespo in 1996.

What they said “Yes, it’s very tough, but we’ve gone to Brazil before and won. That’s what football’s all about. We got knocked down but we’re ready to fight and pick ourselves back up again.” Barcelona SC coach Guillermo Almada