2018 Copa Libertadores Round-Up: Group Stage match day 6
Another Copa Libertadores week is in the books, and we are inching closer to decide which teams will reach the knockout stages, which ones will make it to the 2018 Copa Sudamericana, and which ones will end up in last place of their respective standings.
Without further ado, here are last week’s results:
Gremio (BRA) 5 – 0 Cerro Porteno (PAR)
Real Garcilaso (PER) 0 – 0 Estudiantes LP (ARG)
Nacional (URU) 1 – 0 Santos (BRA)
Atletico Tucuman (ARG) 1 – 0 Penarol (URU)
Junior (COL) 1 – 1 Boca Juniors (ARG)
Corinthians (BRA) 1 – 2 Independiente (ARG)
Vasco da Gama (BRA) 0 – 4 Cruzeiro (BRA)
Delfin (ECU) 1 – 2 Colo Colo (CHI)
Racing Club (ARG) 1 – 0 Universidad de Chile (CHI)
Alianza Lima (PER) 1 – 3 Palmeiras (BRA)
The Strongest (BOL) 1 – 3 Libertad (PAR)
Santa Fe (COL) 0 – 1 River Plate (ARG)
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from last week’s action:
Delfin’s embarrassing display against Colo Colo
First, let’s take a second to talk about what happened this past Wednesday in the game between Delfin (Ecuador) and Colo Colo (Chile). The match was expected to start at 01:45 AM (UK time) but roughly 10 minutes before kick-off, the power went down in one of the lightning towers due to a blown fuse. Those things could happen, sure. But they needed ONE HOUR to fix it.
There were accusations from both sides, as Colo Colo’s representatives said that “Delfin knew what was going on” and believed that this was “a strategy” to gain a psychological advantage in this game, as both needed the three points to stay alive in the race for a Round of 16. That wasn’t the case, though, as Colo Colo edged their Ecuadorian opponents 2-1. But the use of those “tactics” will certainly be monitored going forward, and CONMEBOL should do something about it if Colo Colo’s arguments deemed to be true.
Boca Juniors are hanging by a thread…
Strictly football-related… what is going on with Boca Juniors? A team that is dominating in the Argentina Super Liga is now struggling badly in the Copa Libertadores, and they do not depend on themselves to reach the next round of the competition. Sure, they got squared in a tough group alongside Palmeiras (Brazil) and Junior (Colombia), but it’s Boca Juniors we are talking about. They are a team loaded with talent and a perennial contender in the competition, but right now, they are struggling badly.
After their 1-1 away draw against Junior this past week, Los Xeneizes sit in third place of Group 8 with six points, while Junior has seven and Palmeiras already clinched their next-round berth with 13 (more about them in a while). Boca need to win against Alianza Lima at home, and hope for a Junior draw/defeat against Palmeiras in Brazil to reach the Round of 16. That’s certainly not the scenario they were hoping for when the tournament started.
Palmeiras have emerged as a viable title contender
Once the tournament started, many thought teams such as Atletico Nacional, River Plate, Boca Juniors, Corinthians and reigning-champions Gremio were among the top candidates to lift the trophy. Palmeiras were part of the conversation as well, but experts believed they were a “second-tier” candidate and a team that had the quarterfinals as a maximum ceiling. Those who said that… well, maybe it’s time they re-consider their opinion.
Palmeiras sit comfortably at the top of Group 8 standings with 13 points, thanks to four wins and one draw. Not only that’s the highest point-total so far in the group stage, but they are also one of five undefeated teams left in the competition, and one of two (along with Libertad) to have won four group-stage matches. The numbers don’t lie, and they have enough talent on their squad – led by the attacking trio of Dudu, Miguel Borja and Keno – to make a deep run in the tournament once it gets into the knockout stages.
Libertad and Racing Club have clinched a spot in the Round of 16
Two more teams clinched their round-of-16 spots this past week, as Libertad (Paraguay) and Racing Club (Argentina) have secured their spot in the upcoming stage. They join Palmeiras (Brazil) and River Plate (Argentina) as the other teams to have secured their place in the next round, while others such as Gremio and Atletico Nacional are close to grabbing their respective spots as well.
Libertad has been one of the biggest surprises in the tournament so far, as they assembled an experienced squad where Oscar “Tacuara” Cardozo certainly stands out. The Asuncion-based side has won four of their first five group stage matches, and they will be a team no one will want to face on a two-legged tie.
Meanwhile, Racing came out on top of an evenly-matched group that also had Universidad de Chile (Chile) and two Brazilian teams such as Cruzeiro and Vasco da Gama. Led by the tournament’s top scorer, Lautaro Martinez, Racing have proven to be a tough team both at home and away, and Eduardo Coudet has converted La Academia into a tough-as-nails team that features an impressive attacking line (Martinez, Ricardo Centurion and Lisandro Lopez) capable of beating any defence in the CONMEBOL region.
Without a doubt, both teams deserved to reach the next stage.