By Gabriel Pessoa - beIN SPORTS
The Copa Libertadores group stage kicked off last week and the tone for the remainder of the tournament has been set, with viewers instantly inundated with madcap storylines: a power outage in Venezuela, last-minute equalizers in Peru, a nine-goal match in Chile and a heroic goalkeeping display in Argentina.
So, what do we have in store for us this week?
Palmeiras (BRA) vs. FBC Melgar (PER) – Group F
Tuesday at 6:15pm ET / 3:15pm PT live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT 5
Palmeiras pulled out a valuable win in Colombia last week against Junior FC. Tuesday the reigning Brazilian champion will make its Libertadores home debut at the Palestra Italia.
Hoping to spoil the hosts’ home debut are the sweethearts of qualifying stages, Melgar.
Jorge Pautasso’s boys, who drew at home against San Lorenzo last week, have all the tactical nous and high energy you’d come to expect from a team drilled by Tata Martino’s long-term right-hand man. Will the Peruvians rise to the occasion under the bright lights of Sao Paulo, or will the shadow of ten Brazilian titles and one Copa Libertadores trophy prove too intimidating?
Tune in to find out!
Boca Juniors (ARG) vs. Deportes Tolima (COL) – Group G
Tuesday at 6:15pm ET / 3:15pm PT live on beIN SPORTS
Another pre-tournament favorite making its home debut this week is Boca Junior.
Tolima, one of only two Colombian teams in the competition, makes its way to one of soccer’s most iconic stadiums, La Bombonera, braced for its toughest test of the group stage.
Whatever about the tricky task of squaring up to last season’s runners-up, Alberto Gamero’s men will also have to contend with one of world sport’s most hostile atmospheres. Boca Juniors supporters are a loud, passionate bunch whose ceaseless jumping up and down literally causes the stands to shake. The decibel levels get so ear-piercing in fact that opposition players regularly say it is difficult to concentrate.
🎥 La llegada al Estadio, la intimidad del vestuario y la emoción de pisar el césped de la Bombonera. ¡Todos los detalles de un día a histórico para las Gladiadoras! pic.twitter.com/wMt1k4PuVT— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) March 10, 2019
After an away draw last week to Jorge Wilstermann, Boca will look to get a victory against group G table-toppers Deportes Tolima, who ran out 1-0 winners over Athletico Paranaense on matchday one. Tune in to see if the burgundy and gold can hold onto first place.
Gremio (BRA) vs. Libertad (PAR) – Group H
Tuesday at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT live on beIN SPORTS
Gremio’s last home game in the Copa Libertadores ended in heartache with the Brazilian side bowing out of semi-final stage of last year’s competition to eventual winners River Plate.
Renato Gaucho’s men were able to make a comeback in Argentina against Rosario Central and earn a draw in what was perhaps the best match of the week. Everton, one of our Brazilians to watch, scored the game-tying goal and certainly showed that he means business this year.
Some news on the visiting team, Libertad: Leonel Alvarez of splendid mullet fame was sacked from his managerial duties just one day after guiding the team to a 4-1 victory over Universidad Catolica. South American media outlets report the coach was fired due to alleged affairs (plural!) between Alvarez, two of his players’ wives and a club director’s wife.
To add even more drama to the Leonel Alvarez departure, Club Libertad are not allowing him and his coaching staff to enter the club HQ. https://t.co/gtgM7xcsyJ— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) March 6, 2019
Those are plenty of distractions ahead of what promises to be a tough test for the Paraguayan side.
Internacional (BRA) vs. Alianza Lima (PER) – Group A
Wednesday at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT 7
The action continues in Porte Alegre on Wednesday with Internacional hosting Alianza Lima less than nine miles away from the Arena do Gremio, at the at the Beira Rio Stadium.
A cheeky Rafael Sobis free-kick saw the Brazilians nab a narrow away win over Palestino in Chile last week. Heading into this game, Internacional stands alone at the summit of group A.
Alianza Lima is tied with River Plate in points after holding the defending champions to a draw in Peru.
Keep an eye out for Internacional’s Wellington Silva (not the boot, the right winger), a speedy and technical winger who signed with ‘Inter’ in the off-season.
Flamengo (BRA) vs. LDU Quito (ECU) – Group D
Wednesday at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT live on beIN SPORTS
Gabriel Barbosa, also known as Gabigol, scored the only goal in Flamengo’s hard-fought win against San Jose. Everton Ribeiro proved to be a game-changer before the start of the second half.
LDU Quito also got off to a three-point start last week, and is tied with the club from Rio de Janeiro in Group D.
The fabled Maracanã will be the stage for the clash between the two former Libertadores champions.