The matchups for the knockout stages of the 2019 Copa Libertadores have been decided. It’s “win or go home” time in the Libertadores after CONMEBOL held the draw Monday evening in Paraguay. From this point on, there will be no more room for mistakes or slow starts. Here is what you need to know about the eight ties that will take place beginning on July 23rd on beIN SPORTS.
River Plate (ARG) vs. Cruzeiro (BRA)
This should be one of the most entertaining matchups of the round. River Plate, the defending Libertadores champions, will face Brazilian side Cruzeiro. While River Plate may have a bigger international profile as one of South America’s most storied sides, Cruzeiro is not just any old club itself. The side from Belo Horizonte has won the Libertadores twice and the Brazilian league four times.
Defending champs River Plate went undefeated in group A. However, four of those results were draws and as a result, the Argentine side qualified in second place. Cruzeiro on the other hand, qualified first in Group B after producing five convincing wins and one loss on the final matchday. Cruzeiro’s 15 points in the group stage was tied for the most in any group.
Keep a close eye on this battle between Argentina and Brazil in the Round of 16 as the defending champs try not to get bounced early by one of this year’s hottest teams.
San Lorenzo (ARG) vs. Cerro Porteno (PAR)
Cerro Porteno has been one of the delightful surprises of the tournament so far. The Paraguayan side qualified first in group E, with a 4-1-1 record. ‘El Ciclon’ have displayed an organized brand of football and while the Paraguayans have never won the Libertadores title, San Lorenzo would be foolish to underestimate Cerro Porteno.
San Lorenzo on the other hand have a Libertadores pedigree, winning competition back in 2014. The Argentine side held its own in group F, going 3-2-1 and qualifying second behind Palmeiras. If San Lorenzo can get through to the next stage in the competition it will be to the delight of famous supporters Viggo Mortensen and Pope Francis.
LDU Quito (ECU) vs. Olimpia (PAR)
The road to Round of 16 was not easy for either of these clubs. LDU Quito of Ecuador produced an enormous 4-0 victory over San Jose on the final day of the group stage to qualify and in the process knocked out Uruguayan giants Penarol on goal difference.
Olimpia are part of this impressive class of Paraguayan clubs this year who qualified atop their groups. Olimpa fought through Group C with a 2-1-3 record and a plus-three goal differential. While the club from Asuncion should have the edge going into this matchup, it is important to note: LDU Quito is undefeated at home in the Libertadores so far so the leg in Ecuador will be a tough task.
LDU Quito have lifted the Libertadores trophy once back in 2008, while Olimpia have done so three times before (1979, 1990, 2002).
Athletico Paranaense (BRA) vs. Boca Juniors (ARG)
This matchup is particularly juicy for a number of reasons. Athletico Paranaense and Boca Juniors were in the same group and their last meeting came on the final day of the group stage, when a dramatic goal from Carlos Tevez sent Boca through in first place. The two clubs split their group matchups, with Athletico winning, 3-0 at home in the first meeting and Boca winning 2-1 at home in that dramatic final meeting. Plus, any time Brazilian and Argentine clubs get together in Libertadores it’s a charged affair.
Something else to keep in mind: Athletico is the defending Copa Sudamericana champion. At the end of the month, the Brazilian club will face Boca’s arch rival River Plate in the two-legged Recopa Sudamericana. Athletico has a big month of Argentine clashes ahead.
Godoy Cruz (ARG) vs. Palmeiras (BRA)
Palmeiras breezed through the Group Stage as perhaps the most dominant team thus far in this season’s Libertadores. Palmeiras Won Group F easily, picking up 15 points, scoring more than any other team in the competition (15 goals) and allowing the fewest (just one goal allowed). The defending Brazilian champions were dubbed one of the tournament’s favorites to lift the title this year for a reason.
Across from them in the Round of 16 are Argentine side Godoy Cruz, who qualified in second place of group C behind Olimpia due to goal difference. What Godoy Cruz lack in trophies and finances they make up in grit and courage. They only scored five goals in six group stage matches but allowed just three.
All signs point to Palmeiras passing through to the quarterfinals, however, stranger things have occurred in this crazy tournament.
Gremio (BRA) vs. Libertad (PAR)
Here is another big rematch served up in the Round of 16. Libertad and Gremio qualified first and second, respectively, from Group H. Each team won in the other’s stadium during the group stage, with Libertad taking a 1-0 win from their meeting in Brazil and Gremio winning 2-0 in Paraguay.
Libertad have raised eyebrows with some appealing soccer and the way the Paraguayan side was able to overcame a scandalous coaching change at the beginning of the group stage. While Leonel Alvarez’s majestic mullet is sorely missed, his accused adultery with his own players’ wives is probably not missed, to say the least.
Gremio won the Libertadores as recently as 2017, but after needing a win on the final day of the group to get through, the Brazilians will need better performances from an exceedingly talented roster to get past the mighty Libertad. On paper, it may seem a surprise to bet on Libertad, however, if you’ve been paying attention to this year’s tournament, Libertad seems like a club on a mission.
Emelec (ECU) vs. Flamengo (BRA)
The fourteen-time Ecuadorian champions, Emelec, will have their work cut out as they face Brazilian giant Flamengo. Emelec qualified in second place in group B while Flamengo made it out on top of group D.
While Flamengo boasts the largest following in Brazil and one of the largest in the world (and the 1981 Libertadores title), it has not had much luck playing on the road in Ecuador. That being said, the bright lights of the Maracanã Stadium are legendary and the five-time Brazilian champion should make it on through to quarterfinals.
Nacional (URU) vs. Internacional (BRA)
If historic South American clashes are what you want from the Libertadores, you’ve certainly got one here. Nacional has won the Uruguayan title no less than 46 times and has been crowned Libertadores champion three times. Internacional has three Brazilian titles to its name, two Libertadores titles and one FIFA Club World cup title (after defeating Ronaldinho’s Barcelona).
Internacional convincingly qualified atop Group A, going undefeated with four wins and a pair of draws, scoring 11 goals in the process. The Internacional attack was boosted by Peruvian talisman Paolo Guerrero who hit the ground running in his first Libertadores action after returning from his substance ban.
Nacional had far less firepower as they came out of Group E with 13 points (4-1-1) despite scoring just five goals. Defense was their strength, however, allowing two goals across six matches. That defense will have a tough test if they want to upset Internacional and make it to the Quarterfinals.