Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Copa Libertadores: First Stage Preview

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 27, 2010
Newell's Old Boys

Newell's Old Boys from Argentina begin in the first stage of the 2010 Copa Libertadores against Ecuadorian team Emelec

The Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club competition, begins again this week as twelve teams fight it out in the first round in order to qualify for the group stage which begins next month. “Stoppage Time” previews the impending match-ups which are played over two legs during the next couple of weeks:

JUNIOR (Colombia) v RACING (Uruguay)

Junior qualified for the Copa Libertadores as the best placed non-champion team in Colombia’s Copa Mustang competition in 2009 whilst Racing fought it through a tough pre-Libertadores ‘Liguilla’ (mini league) competition in Uruguay and qualified as runners-up. Whereas Racing will be making their maiden appearance in the Libertadores Barranquilla based side Junior have a little more experience in what will be their tenth tournament, their best finish coming in 1994 when they reached the semi-finals. The team who qualifies for the group stage will find themselves against Corinthians (Brazil), Cerro Porteño (Paraguay) and Independiente Medellín (Colombia) in Group 1.

JUAN AURICH (Peru) v ESTUDIANTES TECOS (Mexico)

Both sides are little known outside their borders and should prove to be a tough encounter seeing as they are making their third and first appearances in the Libertadores respectively. Juan Aurich qualified as the best placed team that didn’t win any of the two groups during the ‘Descentralizado’ whilst Tecos had to play in a post-season “InterLiga” for those teams that didn’t directly qualify for the Libertadores for fill up the two final berths. Despite beating Puebla in their last match they finished runners-up behind Monterrey who qualified directly. South American champions Estudiantes de La Plata (Argentina), Bolivar (Bolivia) and Alianza Lima (Peru) await the winners in Group 3.

DEPORTIVO TÁCHIRA (Venezuela) v LIBERTAD (Paraguay)

Deportivo Táchira compete in their thirteenth Libertadores having qualified for the tournament as the best placed non-champion with the best aggregate points total at the end of the Opening and Closing tournaments whilst Libertad got through in a similar fashion having accumulated the most points in the Paraguayan championship. Libertad have plenty of experience in the Libertadores, their best performance coming as recently as 2006 where they were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual champions SC Internacional. Deportivo also have some history in the tournment having reached the quarter-finals in 2004. The winners from this tie will play in one of the weaker groups of the tournament against Lanús (Argentina), Blooming (Bolivia) and Universitario (Peru) in Group 4.

NEWELL’S OLD BOYS (Argentina) v EMELEC (Ecuador)

The side from Argentina’s second city of Rosario have come close on two occasions to winning the Libertadores but were defeated in the 1988 and 1992 competitions. They begin in this year’s tournament having qualified with the third best average points total among non-champion clubs. They face an Emelec side who finished third in Ecuador’s ‘Serie A’ after beating 2008 Libertadores champions LDU Quito in a two-legged play-off. Whoever comes through the two matches will be in the same group as SC Internacional (Brazil), Cerro (Uruguay) and Deportivo Quito (Ecuador) in Group 5.

REAL POTOSI (Bolivia) v CRUZEIRO (Brazil)

Bolivia’s Real Potosi are making their fifth appearance in the competition having won an end of season play-off whilst Cruzeiro guaranteed their berth by finishing fourth in the Campeonato Brasileiro on the final day of the 2009 season. The Brazilian side have a distinguished history in the Libertadores having been crowned champions on two occasions in 1976 and 1997 whilst the Bolivians are making only their fifth ever appearance amongst South America’s elite. Velez Sarsfield (Argentina), Colo Colo (Chile) and Deportivo Italia (Venezuela) await the winners in Group 7.

COLÓN SANTA FE (Argentina) v UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA (Chile)

Colón qualified for the Libertadores thanks to having the second best average among non-champions in Argentina whilst Universidad Católica were the best placed non-champion in the 2009 Torneo Clausura. The Chileans came close to winning the competition in 1993 but succumbed to the superiority of their opponents São Paulo whilst Colón have only ever made one appearance in 1998 where they reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out by compatriots River Plate. The winners of this tie will meet up against Flamengo (Brazil), Universidad de Chile (Chile) and FC Caracas (Venezuela) in Group 8.

LDU Quito in a Liga of their own

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 3, 2009
Copa Sudamericana Logo

The Copa Sudamericana is South America's version of the UEFA Europa League

Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, better known as LDU Quito, have won the 2009 Copa Nissan Sudamericana after what became an angst-ridden 5-4 aggregate victory in a two-legged final against Brazilian giants Fluminense. This is the third continental success for the Ecuadorians after winning the 2008 Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League), again beating Fluminense, and the 2009 Recopa (a South American version of the European Super Cup) in which they defeated another Brazilian team Internacional of Porto Alegre 4-0 over two legs. It has been a meteoric rise for the club who have steadily built a good footballing side and have become the dominant force in Ecuador. Their appearance in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup final against Manchester United made the football world take notice despite their narrow defeat to a lone Wayne Rooney strike.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for LDU this year. In the 2009 Copa Libertadores they came crashing back down to earth after the previous year’s joy of success. LDU finished bottom of their group behind Sport Recife, Palmeiras (both from Brazil) and Chilean representatives Colo Colo. Thankfully for LDU they finished second in the first stage of the Ecuador Serie A championship, thus qualifying for the Sudamericana, and from there they rediscovered their form in continental competition. After a first round 2-1 aggregate win against Libertad of Paraguay LDU then went on to beat Argentinians Lanus 5-1 (agg.) and Velez Sarsfield 3-2 (agg.) to set up a semi-final tie with Uruguay’s River Plate. A 7-0 drubbing of their opponents in the first leg meant that LDU could afford to take their foot off the gas in the second leg, which they lost 2-1. This set up a second major final with Fluminense who had overcome Paraguayans Cerro Porteno 3-1 (agg.) in their semi-final.

In the first leg of the final in Quito it was the Brazilians that struck early, Marquinho giving the visitors the lead after sixty seconds. After that though LDU dominated with Edison Mendez scoring a hat-trick before the hour mark and two late goals from Franklin Salas and Ulises de la Cruz securing a 5-1 lead to take to Rio de Janeiro. In the second leg the Ecudorians were on the defensive from early on as Dieguinho and Fred gave “Flu” a 2-0 lead at half-time. Any ideas that LDU may have had before the game of cruising this second leg were dashed even further eighteen minutes from the end when Gum made it 3-0 on the night to the Rio side. However despite the best efforts of Fluminense they couldn’t get the fourth goal necessary to take the match into extra-time (away goals not counting in this tournament) and the party could start once again in the Ecuadorian capital after LDU held out to win the final 5-4 on aggregate. LDU are now the envy of Ecuador having shown that they are in a league of their own for handling the big occasion. As a reward for this victory LDU will play Estudiantes de la Plata, the team that replaced them as Copa Libertadores champions in 2009, in the 2010 Recopa final.