Copa Sudamericana quarter-final preview
All four Copa Sudamericana quarter-final second leg games are due to take place this week, and with a place in the final four of the continental cup competition up for grabs, it is likely to be a nerve wracking few days for the clubs involved.
Racing Club v Libertad
First up, Argentine side Racing host Paraguayan outfit Libertad on Wednesday night (1 November). Racing lost 1-0 in Asuncion last week and now need at least two goals if they are to progress in the tournament.
In their favour is their fantastic recent form when playing on their own soil. Racing have won nine and lost just two of their last 15 home matches, and the players will surely be confident of completing the job this week.
Admittedly, the side are coming into this one on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Atlético Tucumán in their domestic league this past weekend, but they will be at full strength for this clash with Libertad. The visitors meanwhile can boast a relatively good recent away record with six wins in their last 15 matches, but this will be an intense atmosphere they are walking into.
The Paraguayans’ advantage is a slender one, and given the fact that Racing has home advantage in this game then the Argentines are the favourites. Expect them to win this one and make it into the semi-finals.
Odds: Racing (1.70), Libertad (5.33), draw (3.37)
Flamengo v Fluminense
Wednesday’s second match takes us to the Maracanã, where Rio de Janeiro city rivals Flamengo and Fluminense will meet. Flamengo won the first leg 1-0 at the same ground last week and will be confident of recording another victory in the second game.
Neither side is coming into this game on the back of great form, but Flamengo’s technical superiority should ultimately make a telling difference. Both sides have won just two of their last five league matches, but it is Flamengo who have built the stronger squad and sit higher up the league table with just seven rounds left to play.
Fluminense are still not free from the threat of relegation, and currently sit five points above the dreaded drop zone. Since the sale of forward Richarlison to Watford the side has not had the same balance, and the relatively recent losses of Gerson and Kenedy, with the proposed transfer of midfielder Wendel to Paris Saint-Germain, mean that tough times are ahead for the club and its supporters.
This should be a low quality encounter with both sides in poor form. However, expect Flamengo to win a scrappy game, wrap up the tie and head to the final four.
Odds: Flamengo (1.89), Fluminense (4.40), draw (3.20)
Independiente v Nacional Asuncion
Thursday evening (2 November) sees another clash between an Argentine and Paraguayan club, with seven-time Libertadores champions Independiente hosting Nacional Asuncion. With the Argentines running out comprehensive 4-1 winners in the Paraguayan capital last week, they have one foot in the semi-finals already.
Independiente come into this one on the back of some excellent recent form. They are undefeated in their last four and have won three matches in a row, a run that in all likelihood will be extended to four by the end of Thursday night.
Nacional, by way of comparison, find themselves in the midst of an alarming and concerning slide, and it does not look like it will get better any time soon. The side have not won any of their last six games across all competitions, and turning around a 4-1 deficit away from home can hardly be a task they are relishing right now.
Put simply, this should be a comfortable evening’s work for the Argentine outfit. Expect Independiente to win this match and breeze through to the semis.
Odds: Independiente (1.31), Nacional (9.48), draw (5.10)
Junior Barranquilla v Sport Recife
The final game comes from Colombia, as Junior Barranquilla look to defend the 2-0 advantage they picked up in Brazil against Sport Recife. That first leg defeat for Sport led to the dismissal of veteran coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, but there was no immediate reaction this past weekend from the players – the side lost 4-3 at home to Coritiba, one of their direct rivals in the battle to avoid relegation to the country’s second tier of league football.
Sport’s recent form has been dreadful, with just one win in their last 10 games and three defeats on the bounce. Junior, in stark contrast to their opponents, are in fine form, having lost just one of their last nine outings and winning six of them.
With that two goal cushion already safely secured, this should be a fairly comfortable night for Junior. Expect the Colombians to win again and book their place in the next round.
Odds: Junior Barranquilla (1.90), Sport Recife (4.50), draw (3.19)