The Copa Libertadores – arguably the greatest club comptetition on the planet, thanks to its penchant for chaos (we`re looking at you, Felipe Melo), upset and unpredictability – is in full swing, with six Argentine teams still competing for a place in the knockout rounds. Being the chaotic beast that it is, however, means its pretty tricky to keep up with. Here’s the latest on what teams need to do to be in with a chance of reaching the next phase:
Estudiantes – Group 1
Estudiantes won the competition for the first time in their history back in 2009, with captain and club legend Juan Sebastian Verón taking them all the way against Cruzeiro. The 41 year-old is back in action for the La Plata side, and will need every ounce of experience if his team are to advance to the last 16. Estudiantes are third in the table with three points, having lost two matches before picking up their first win against cup holders Atlético Nacional last week. Brazil’s Botafogo and Ecuador`s Barcelona are well ahead with seven points apiece, and with only the top two teams qualifying, they will need a win against Nacional next week if they are to keep any hopes alive.
River Plate – Group 3
Winners of the Copa in 2015, River Plate are enjoying a second half of the season rebirth under Marcelo Gallardo and look firmly on their way to making it out of their group.
Last night saw them defeat Ecuador`s Emelec 2-1 away from home, giving them a 100% win record in the three matches played so far. They sit three points clear of Colombia`s Independiente de Medellin and can confirm their place in the next round when they play the reverse fixture agaisnt Emelec on May 10.
San Lorenzo – Group 4
Like Estudiantes, it was only in this decade that San Lorenzo managed to lift their first Copa Libertadores, under recently departed Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza in 2014. Their days in this year`s competition may well be numbered, however, as they sit at the foot of their group with just four points. They visit group leaders Atlético Paranaense next Wednesday and must win to stay in the competition, should Flamengo defeat Chile`s Universidad Católica. San Lorenzo`s run in the Copa this year has largely reflected the inconsistency they`ve shown in the league, with coach Diego Aguirre facing growing questions over their poor form.
Atlético Tucumán – Group 5
Everyone`s favorite underdog Atlético Tucumán entered this year`s edition for the first time in their history back in Janaury, largely thanks to a speedy coach driver and the Argentina u-20s`generous kit-man. Their time in the competition has certainly been no easy ride, but El Decano can remain positive as they sit in third spot, two points behind Bolivia`s Jorge Wilstermann. They must win their next game against Uruguay`s Peñarol if they`re to keep qualification in view, but, whatever happens, they`ll always have the memory of their 2-1 victory over Wilstermann last week, watched in front of a packed out Estadio José Fierro.
Godoy Cruz – Group 6
Despite falling to 17th place in the league, Mendoza`s Godoy Cruz are cruising towards the knockouts of the Libertadores. They defeated Bolivia`s Sports Boys 3-1 last night and need only a draw against Paraguay`s Libertad next Thursday for them to go through to the next round.
Lanús – Group 7
Last year`s Primera Division champions Lanus, like Godoy Cruz, have seemlingly prioritised Libertadores over league this year and have more or less confirmed their place in the octavos de final. They sit level on seven points with Uruguay`s Nacional and will advance to the next round with a win over Chapecoense next week.