Copa Libertadores Recap: Which teams advanced to the quarter-finals?
And then there were eight.
The 2018 edition of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent to the UEFA Champions League, is about to enter its decisive stages. With the quarterfinals around the corner after the international break, it’s crunch time.
Four Argentinian teams dominate the field: River Plate, Boca Juniors, Atletico Tucuman and Independiente. Three Brazilian sides are in the mix, too: Palmeiras, Cruzeiro and Gremio. That leaves room for one more. Chilean powerhouse Colo Colo join the fun. Los Albos reached the knockout stage for the first time since 2007. Now, they're among CONMEBOL’s elite despite their complicated situation in the Chilean Primera Division.
How did these teams get here in the first place? Do they have what it takes to go further? Let’s find out.
Independiente rank among the competition's all-time winners. El Rojo dispatched Santos in a controversial manner. The first leg ended in a scoreless draw but Santos played Carlos Sanchez who was suspended for a 2015 red card. The Brazilians forfeited, giving the Argentines a 3-0 victory. The second leg in Avellaneda was then suspended in the 80th minute when the two sets of fans came to blows in the stands. Did I mention this is South America?
To advance further in the tournament, Independiente must score some goals.
Although the aggregate score matches Independiente v Santos, there was no forfeit in this encounter.
The two Argentine sides went head to head in the Round of 16 but didn't put on the anticipated show. The first leg ended goalless. Racing wasted a good chance to pull the upset at Estadio Monumental. Los Millonarios made them pay in a wild return leg in which three red cards were issued, one to River, two to racing. The former potted all three goals, however, to set a quarterfinal date with another Argentinian foe fond of parking the bus, Independiente. The 36-time Primera Division champions are in the hunt for a fourth Copa Libertadores crown.
Atletico Tucuman are the biggest surprise in this year’s Copa Libertadores. A relatively small Argentinian side, they accomplished the daunting task of knocking off Atletico Nacional, Copa champions in 2016. A 2-0 victory at El Monumental Jose Fierro through goals from Leandro Diaz and Guillermo Acosta was enough to take down the Colombian outfit even though Nacional took their home leg 1-0.
El Decano reached the tournament’s quarterfinals for the first time in club’s history but are a long shot to progress much further.
This was Round of 16's most tightly contested tie by a mile. Estudiantes won the first leg 2-1 at home. Gremio returned the favour, delivering the same result in front of their own crowd. The Brazilians were more accurate from the spot in the end. Andre’s decisive penalty lifted the reigning champions to the next stage following Fabian Nogueira’s miss.
O Rei de Copas [the King of Cups] must be favourites now to reach the finals.
Other than me and Alexis Sanchez, who would have thought Colo Colo would make their way into the quarterfinals? The team who seemed left for dead during the Group Stage won seven of their final nine points to reach the knockout rounds for the first time in 11 years. Corinthians were a tough opponent but the 1-0 win at Estadio Monumental David Arellano gave El Cacique the edge heading to Sao Paolo. Lucas Barrios’ goal on Brazilian soil made all the difference, putting Colo Colo in the quarterfinals for the first time in more than 20 years.
Can we call this tie a disgrace? A shame? They're strong words but accurate. Palmeiras wasted time, at home, no less, transforming what should have been a test of skill into one of bone and muscle. Felipe Melo’s furious challenge cost him a red card before the 5-minute mark in the second leg. There were three red cards shown in this match, as well, but Deyverson and Marcos Caceres were offsetting from a 95th-minute tussle. The Brazilians held on to lose by just one goal and advance on aggregate but make no mistake, they'll need to be much better to reach the semifinals.
No team was as dominant as Boca Juniors in the Round of 16. El Xeneize won both matches, 2-0 at La Bombonera, then 4-2 in Asuncion when the Paraguayans opened up to chase the tie. The Argentines displayed all the traits needed to win the Copa Libertadores. Pace, intensity, quality, strength. Look out, because Boca looks ready to pick up where they left off in 2007.
Last but not least, we have Cruzeiro and Flamengo. Two of the most iconic sides in Brazilian football went toe to toe. Cruzeiro had the edge and held it win on aggregate after a two-goal away win at the Estadio Luso Brasileiro. Flamengo's lone goal at the Mineirao wasn't enough. A Raposa reached the quarterfinals. They'll be a complicated team for anyone who faces them.
- River Plate vs Independiente
- Gremio vs Atletico Tucuman
- Colo Colo vs Palmeiras
- Boca Juniors vs Cruzeiro