In the early hours of Thursday a violent storm broke over Buenos Aires -- mere prelude, perhaps, to the matchup in the semifinal of the Copa Libertadores that has been both desired and dreaded. Historic rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate will meet over two legs in October for the right to play in this year's final. Last year, of course, it all proved too much and, following fan violence outside River's stadium, the decisive second leg was controversially switched to Madrid. The rumblings have yet to die down, with the case under review by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. There was no chance of a home and away meeting in the final this year -- the format has been changed to a one-off game on neutral ground -- but as fate would have it, the teams will clash instead in the semis. Boca's place in the last four was never in doubt after their hugely impressive first leg win, dealing immaculately with the altitude of Ecuador's Quito to beat Liga, often referred to as LDU, 3-0. At home … [Read more...] about Boca vs. River headlines Copa Libertadores semis
On Sunday River Plate meet Boca Juniors in Argentina, while Flamengo face Palmeiras in Brazil. These are huge league games involving giant clubs who are fighting for the domestic title. And by strange coincidence, they may also serve as rehearsals for the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League. The last four of the competition will be defined over the next three days and, on the evidence of last week's quarterfinal first legs, the most likely scenario in the next round is that River Plate will meet Boca Juniors, while Flamengo will face Palmeiras. The Argentine clash looks especially likely. After all the controversy over the meeting between the two historic rivals in last year's final, it would be the home and away tie that some are eagerly awaiting, and others are dreading. - Boca vs. River: The greatest game never playedBoca, River must beat tough foes to set up Superclasico Boca would seem to have at least a foot and a half in the semifinals. Their … [Read more...] about A dress-rehearsal for the Copa Libertadores semis?
CONMEBOL did not win any fans in Argentina when football's governing body in South America last month decided to move the return leg of the Copa Libertadores final out of the country. They have lost even more since the trophy was awarded to River Plate after Sunday's 3-1 triumph over bitter arch-rivals Boca Juniors in Madrid. CONMEBOL's tweet of a photo of the Copa Libertadores trophy, the plinth of which has plaques of all the previous winners, alerted everyone to a mistake. The current winners' plaque was placed underneath the 2009 champions, Argentinian side Club Estudiantes De La Plata with the name of the club misspelled "Club Estudientes." CONMEBOL, which also tweeted a video of the latest plaque being added to the trophy, received a backlash in social media for the typo. One fan called it "unforgivable" while others asked for more professionalism from CONMEBOL and many requested for the error to be immediately corrected. While Estudiantes players -- including then captain … [Read more...] about Copa Libertadores trophy has club’s name misspelled on winners’ plaque
CONMEBOL on Monday officially announced planned expansion for the Copa Libertadores tournament, with two more qualifying spots awarded to Brazil and one more apiece to Argentina, Colombia and Chile to bring the South American club competition to 44 teams. South American football's governing body also shifted the calendar for the Copa Sudamericana. Beginning in 2017, the two tournaments will be run more concurrently with Copa Libertadores play beginning in February and running through the end of November or to December. Copa Sudamericana will now run from March until the beginning of December. Brazil will now have seven teams in Libertadores, six from the first division and one from the Copa de Brasil. The Brazil Football Confederation also confirmed the news on Sunday via their Twitter account. CONMEBOL also confirmed the proposed changes to the Libertadores final, which will now be played in November at a neutral stadium and be one single match. The changes mean the South … [Read more...] about CONMEBOL expands Copa Libertadores to 42 weeks and 44 teams
There are few more explosive issues in Brazil than the thorny question of how many genuinely big clubs the country can count on. It is a subject where once the touch paper has been lit, it is advisable to retreat to a safe distance. A leading local analyst of football finance was in the eye of the storm last week for arguing that, in truth, just four of Brazil's clubs are currently worthy of the title -- Flamengo of Rio plus the trio of Sao Paulo and their local rivals Palmeiras and Corinthians. To the fury of fans of other traditional outfits, he declared plenty of others to be ex-big clubs, losing status as a consequence of financial limitations. The conventional view is that Brazil has 12 traditional giants; the big four from Rio (Vasco, Fluminense and Botafogo as well as Flamengo), four from Sao Paulo state (Santos plus the three mentioned above), and two each from Belo Horizonte (Atletico Mineiro and Cruzeiro) and Porto Alegre (Gremio and Internacional). The leading clubs from the … [Read more...] about Athletico Paranaense must deliver in Copa Libertadores to confirm ‘big club’ status