Libertad, Atletico Junior lead way in Libertadores
Paraguay’s Libertad and Colombia’s Atletico Junior are the only
teams guaranteed places in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores as
the group phase of Latin America’s top club competition reaches its
With only a couple of games left in each group, Bolivia’s
Oriente Petrolero and Paraguay’s Guarani are definitely out, while
Cruzeiro is all but assured of joining the list of qualifiers. Only
two heavy defeats could keep the Brazilian club out of the knockout
Defending champion Internacional is also well-placed, although
other favored teams have struggled.
Fellow Brazilian club Santos must improve fast to qualify from
Group 5 after taking two points from three games, while 2004
champion Once Caldas of Colombia is last in Group 1 with one match
Libertad needed just four games to reach the final 16, with
Sergio Aquino’s winning goal from the penalty spot against Peru’s
Universidad San Martin giving the Paraguayan club 10 points to
clinch a top-two place in Group 1.
A draw in the following game against Once Caldas assured
Libertad of top spot, while the second qualifying berth will go
down to the final round of matches. Peru’s Universidad San Martin
has six points, Mexico’s San Luis has five and Once Caldas has
Atletico Junior has had an even more impressive group campaign,
taking a maximum 12 points from four games to secure qualification
from Group 2 – the only perfect record in the competition.
The tournament’s top scoring team is Cruzeiro of Brazil, which
scored nine goals in its first two games and now has 15 from
The glut of goals has helped Cruzeiro striker Wallyson become
the group stage’s top scorer with five goals, while teammates
Walter Montillo and Roger have three goals apiece. Cruzeiro needs
just a draw from its match at Guarani on Wednesday to confirm
Internacional should also make the next round after taking seven
points from three games in Group 6. While Estudiantes of Argentina,
the 2009 champion, is behind Cruzeiro in Group 7 with nine points
from four games.
A draw at Colombia’s Deportes Tolima on Wednesday would put
Estudiantes through, while Internacional can take a stranglehold on
its group with a home win against Bolivia’s Jorge Wilstermann the
The real disappointment has been Santos. The Brazilian club has
a rising star in Neymar, an 18-year-old forward who has scored
three goals in three games for the Brazil national team and drawn
interest from big-spending clubs like Chelsea and Manchester
Neymar is supported by experienced players like forward Elano,
Barcelona loanee Keirrison and former Manchester United player
Rodrigo Possebon. Still, Santos has labored badly in Group 5.
With two points from three games, the Brazilian club is third in
the group behind Chile’s Colo Colo on six and Cerro Porteno of
Paraguay on five.
Keen to revive the glory years of the 1960s when Pele led the
club to two Libertadores titles, Santos must improve quickly to