By Gabriel Pessoa - beIN SPORTS
The group stage of Copa Libertadores 2019 is nearly upon us. All that remains is the third and final qualifying round to uncover which teams will secure the four coveted remaining group stage spots.
FBC Melgar (PER) vs. Caracas FC (VEN)
Tuesday @ 7:20pm ET live on beIN SPORTS
Melgar and its youth-filled squad from Peru has been raising eyebrows throughout the qualifying rounds.
Having defeated Universidad de Chile in the previous round, Caracas FC should seem manageable to Jorge Pautasso and co.
Caracas FC will have to beware of Melgar’s right wing. The combination plays and movement between midfielder Jhonny Vidales and fullback Carlos Neyra are dangerous.
📷 Nos enfocamos al 100% en el partido de mañana y el ambiente es óptimo.— FBC Melgar (@MelgarOficial) February 19, 2019
🚨 Recuerda que no se venderán entradas en el 🏟 estadio, por remodelación. ⚠️ De venta a través de https://t.co/XcTmrETLkH 👉 https://t.co/m73H0j3HMq 📲 pic.twitter.com/QGHHLsJE2p
But the Venezuelans come into the final round of qualifying with momentum after sending round one sweethearts Delfin on their way.
The winner from this matchup will find themselves in the company of Junior Barranquilla (COL), Palmeiras (BRA) and San Lorenzo (ARG).
Talleres Cordoba (ARG) vs. Palestino (CHI)
Wednesday @ 5:05pm ET live on beIN SPORTS
The team from Cordoba is currently on top of the world after eliminating the Brazilian big boys of Sao Paulo.
An amazing display from Talleres’ followers at Sao Paulo’s Morumbi helped the club qualify to the third round. However, the Argentines should not expect Palestino to surrender as easily as its former Brazilian opponent.
Independiente Medellin and Palestino had to decide their fates in a penalty shootout in Colombia. The Chilean side prevailed. Surely, Palestino will not want the struggle of the second round to go to waste.
¡Vamos! 💪🏼💪🏼🇵🇸🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/oSevnJGyE3— CD Palestino SADP (@CDPalestinoSADP) February 19, 2019
When all is said and done, one of these two squads will qualify to Group A. And it’s a potential group of death situation with returning champions River Plate (ARG), Internacional (BRA) and Alianza Lima (PER).
Defensor Sporting (URU)_vs. Atletico Mineiro (BRA)
Wednesday @ 7:20pm ET live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT
Atletico Mineiro will face its second Uruguayan rival in this Copa Libertadores.
The Brazilian ‘Galo’ displayed a Jekyll and Hyde match last Tuesday. Beautiful passing, sensei-like plays courtesy of the tournament’s leading scorer, Ricardo Oliveira, and hustle by all involved were predominantly displayed in the first half. In the second, the team seemed to think it had already sealed its passage to the third Libertadores qualifying round. Danubio almost took full advantage of this and gave the fans at the Independencia a good scare.
‘Galo’ will have to learn from this lesson as Defensor Sporting is the kind of team that will take a mile if you give it an inch. The Uruguayan side qualified mainly due to an unfortunate mishap from the Ecuadorian football federation against Barcelona SC.
Once again, we have our sights set on 🇺🇾. After eliminating Danubio in @TheLibertadores 2nd round, we play Defensor Sporting in the 3rd round.— Atlético 🇬🇧 🇺🇸 (@atletico_en) February 18, 2019
Uruguay is a great neighbor & a lovely place to visit, but this is no vacation. We are on a mission.
It continues on Wednesday! 🐓🔥🏆 pic.twitter.com/KnTVft4Icq
The Ecuadorian side fielded midfielder Sebastian Perez, who was ineligible to play in the first leg. So even though the first leg match ended in a 2-1 victory for Barcelona, the result was overruled by the bigwigs at Conmebol and turned into a 3-0 deficit as a punishment for the violation.
However, we will give credit where credit is due: Defensor Sporting held its own all the way in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The pitch for the return leg was in an awful condition and the altitude in Ecuador was no joke either. This has intriguing matchup written all over it.
The victor will proceed to group E with Nacional (URU), Cerro Porteno (PAR) and Zamora FC (VEN).
Libertad (PAR) vs. Atletico Nacional (COL)
Thursday @ 7:20pm ET live on beIN SPORTS
The Paraguayan side has provided us with some fantastic goals and the best hair style of the tournament thus far. Take a bow, Leonel Alvarez. The Colombian manager’s luscious mullet is groovier than a ‘70’s dance floor.
Libertad qualified after handing a 5-1 beating to The Strongest. Spirits are certainly high within the Libertad locker room.
Atletico Nacional barely squeezed by Deportivo La Guaira thanks to an away goal by Sebastian Gomez. The Colombian heavyweight will need to bring a bit more to the field if it wants to get to Group Stage competition.
The winner between Libertad and Atletico Nacional will end up in group H with Gremio (BRA), Rosario Central (ARG) and Universidad Catolica (CHI).
Take a deep breath and buckle up folks. Group stages have yet to begin and we’ve already been treated to award-worthy goals, a penalty shootout and off-field controversy. This Copa Libertadores thing is fun.