Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Copa Libertadores: Group stage preview Part 1

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on February 10, 2010
Estudiantes de La Plata

Estudiantes de La Plata, the defending Copa Libertadores champions, have been drawn in Group 3

The 2010 Copa Libertadores, South America’s elite club tournament, is now in the group stage. “Stoppage Time” will, over the next two days, preview all of the eight groups in this year’s tournament. Today we start off with groups 1-4:

GROUP 1: Corinthians (BRA), Cerro Porteno (PAR), Independiente Medellin (COL), Racing (URU)

Corinthians, who qualified for this competition thanks to their 2009 Copa Brasil triumph, have high hopes of finally getting their hands on the Libertadores in their centenary year due to the recent signings of Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos. They are in what appears to be an easy group although Paraguayans Cerro Porteno will be making their 33rd appearance in the tournament’s history. Medellin, winners of Colombia’s Copa Mustang II, and Racing, the Uruguayan team who qualified for the group stage after a two-legged play-off against another Colombian team Junior, are expected to fight it out with Cerro for second place.

GROUP 2: Sao Paulo (BRA), Nacional (PAR), Once Caldas (COL), Monterrey (MEX)

Three times champions of South America Sao Paulo are amongst the favourites to win the competition again despite finishing last year empty-handed. Once Caldas, surprise Libertadores champions in 2004, and Mexican champions Monterrey are expected to give the mighty Brazilians a tough fight for top spot. Nacional, who won Paraguay’s Torneo Clausura in 2009 to qualify for this tournament, are making only their third appearance in the Libertadores and aren’t expected to trouble the others too much.

GROUP 3: Estudiantes de La Plata (ARG), Bolivar (BOL), Alianza Lima (PER), Juan Aurich (PER)

After winning the Libertadores for the fourth time in their history in 2009 (see picture) Estudiantes, under the guidance of club talisman Juan Sebastian Veron, are looking to defend their title and don’t appear to have too strong a group to negotiate their way out of. Bolivian Torneo Apertura champions Bolivar are far from expected to equal their best ever performance in this competition (1986 semi-final) but do harbour hopes of making it to the first knockout stage. However a double assault from Peru in the form of Alianza Lima and Juan Aurich (who won their first stage encounter against Mexicans Estudiantes Tecos) may not prove to be so easy.

GROUP 4: Lanus (ARG), Blooming (BOL), Universitario (PER), Libertad (PAR)

This is arguably the most open group in the tournament as none of these teams will be considered amongst the favourites to win the trophy. Peruvian champions Universitario and Bolivians Blooming both won national titles last year whilst Argentinians Lanus and Paraguay’s Libertad only qualified due to being placed best of non-champion teams in their respective leagues. Libertad also had to beat Venezuelan side Deportivo Tachira in the first stage, overcoming their opponents 3-2 on aggregate. All in all, a tough group to predict.

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