CONMEBOL: Junior FC remain 100% at halfway point
The Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the UEFA Champions League, has seen most of the teams reach the halfway point in the group stages. With a significant proportion of Matchday 3 completed with the remaining ties to be played next week Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest events in the competition so far.
Junior FC, from the Colombian city of Barranquilla, are the only team with a 100% record after three games. They have enjoyed wins against each of their Group 2 opponents, namely Gremio Porto Alegre, Leon de Huanuco and Oriente Petrolero, and have a great chance to be one of the first qualifiers for the knockout stages. Paraguayans Club Libertad and Cerro Porteno hold the leadership in their respective groups following a good week for the Asuncion-based sides. Libertad top Group 1 following a 5-1 win over previous leaders Universidad San Martin whilst Cerro Porteno’s 1-1 draw against Venezuelans Deportivo Tachira means that they have a two point lead over Chilean record champions Colo Colo who have a game in hand.
There are mixed fortunes for the Argentine contingent in this competition with only two of the nation’s five representatives topping their group. Argentinos Juniors lead the way in Group 3 after a 1-0 win away at three-time former champions Nacional Montevideo. Group 8 saw an Argentine derby on Thursday night with Godoy Cruz defeating Copa Sudamericana holders Independiente 3-1 to ensure that the former goes top of the standings and the latter remains rooted at the bottom. Estudiantes de La Plata, winners of the competition in 2009, lie second behind Cruzeiro in Group 7 following a 2-1 win at Paraguayan side Guarani. Things haven’t gone so well for 1994 champions Velez Sarsfield as they lost 2-1 to Chileans Union Espanola and remain fourth in Group 4 which is currently topped by Venezuelan champions FC Caracas who have won two of their three games, most recently against second place Universidad Catolica on Wednesday.
Brazilian teams are also enjoying mixed fortunes with Cruzeiro impressing so far in Group 7 although their winning start was halted this week thanks to a goalless draw away at Deportes Tolima in Colombia. Defending champions Internacional didn’t play this week but remain in second place and can go back on top with a win over Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann next Wednesday. Santos FC also didn’t play this week but can go top of Group 5 if they overcome the challenge of Colo Colo on Wednesday. Fluminense are struggling in Group 3 lying in third place, five points adrift of leaders Argentinos Juniors.