Copa Sudamericana quarter final preview
The coming week will see all four Copa Sudamericana quarter final, first leg ties take place. With a place in next year’s edition of the Copa Libertadores up for grabs, it is very much all to play for as we enter the final stretch of the continental tournament.
Libertad V Racing
The first game sees Paraguayan side Libertad host Argentine club Racing at the Nicolás Leoz Stadium on Tuesday night (24 October). The Paraguayans will be looking to secure an advantage ahead of a difficult return match on 1 November.
Libertad’s recent form has been anything but reassuring, however, with four defeats in a row meaning they come into this game under severe pressure. Racing, for their part, have won just two of their last six and this is unlikely to be a free flowing contest for the ages.
Neither of these teams is in good form ahead of what is a pivotal game for both sets of players. Libertad are 10th in the Paraguayan league, while Racing are all the way down in 18th in the Super Liga.
Yet with home advantage, the burden remains with Libertad to play on the front foot on Tuesday. Yet with two sides in desperately poor form, this is likely to be a scrappy affair which ends in a draw.
Odds: Libertad (2.21), Racing (3.41), (3.15)
Nacional Asuncion V Independiente
Next up is another clash between a Paraguayan and Argentine club, with Nacional Asuncion hosting Independiente on Wednesday night. And again, just like Tuesday’s game, this is a tie between two teams in poor form.
Nacional have not won any of their last four matches, and to make matters worse they are up against one of the most successful clubs in the history of South American club football. The club’s last two matches have been at home and both ended in a 1-1 draw, something that will need to change if they are to make it through to the semi-finals in this tournament.
Independiente, by way of comparison, look to be turning around their own fortunes. Following three losses in a row the side have now won their lost two, and can go into this cup tie with their confidence now on the up.
In their last away game they won 2-1 away to Chacarita Juniors on 15 October, and the same score line in this match would serve them well. Given Nacional’s recent woes, expect the visitors to come away with an important away win.
Odds: Nacional (2.96), Independiente (2.44), draw (3.16)
Fluminense V Flamengo
City rivals Flamengo and Fluminense will lock horns at the Maracanã Stadium on Wednesday night in what looks to be the stand-out tie of the round. With neither side in with a chance of winning the title and Flamengo having lost the Copa do Brasil final on penalties to Cruzeiro, this represents a final chance to lift a trophy in 2017.
Fluminense had started the national league campaign brightly before the loss of forward Richarlison to Watford sent the side spiralling downwards. However, two wins in a row against Avaí and São Paulo have given coach Abel Braga a timely boost ahead of this clássico.
Flamengo, by way of comparison, have a squad jam packed with stellar names, with the likes of Diego Alves, Réver, Everton Ribeiro, Diego and Paolo Guerrero all donning the famous red and black shirt. However, the league campaign has been somewhat of a disappointment, with the club lying in sixth place, a massive 13 points off league leaders Corinthians.
Both of these sides have won their last two matches and there is very little to separate them. This first leg is likely to end in a stalemate.
Odds: Fluminense (2.40), Flamengo (3.10), draw (3.24)
Sport Recife V Junior Barranquilla
The final game comes from the Ilho do Retiro, as Brazilian club Sport Recife host Colombians Junior Barranquilla on Thursday evening. After flirting with the top six and then briefly the relegation zone, Sport now look to be finding their feet again and are unbeaten in their last three, although they have only won one of those games.
Junior, on the other hand, can come into this tie in fine form and with confidence on a high. The Colombians are unbeaten in their last five, winning four of those games and conceding just two goals.
If they can keep a clean sheet in Recife it would be an excellent feat prior to a return leg on their own patch, and given their recent defensive discipline it is a distinct possibility. Expect this first leg tie to also end honours even.
Odds: Sport (1.82), Junior (4.80), draw (3.44)