BUENOS AIRES - Estudiantes will be up against the superior ball skills of Cruzeiro and the weight of their poor results in Brazil when the sides meet in the second leg of the Libertadores Cup final.
Cruzeiro, whose goalkeeper and captain Fabio was outstanding, came away from La Plata with a 0-0 draw in the first leg last week that makes them favourites to win the trophy for the third time.
Estudiantes, in their first final since 1971 and looking to add to the titles they won from 1968 to 1970, have lost on all five previous visits to Brazil in the Libertadores Cup including the 1968 final, when they needed a playoff in neutral Montevideo to overcome Palmeiras.
Two almost inexplicable misses by forwards Kleber and Wellington at the end of last week's match denied Cruzeiro a first-leg lead but it is hard to imagine them making similar mistakes at the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte.
"We're going to create options to win the match. The players are well aware of the importance of winning the match and taking the title," Cruzeiro coach Adilson Batista told reporters in Belo Horizonte.
Estudiantes, traditionally good at set pieces, failed to profit from at least 15 corners or free kicks and will have fewer opportunities on Wednesday when they can expect to be pinned back by the flowing attacks of Cruzeiro, who beat them 3-0 at home in the group stage.
"The idea was to go for the near post but they defended very well," said Rolando Schiavi, whose centre back partner Leandro Desabato had one good header on target only for Fabio to dive to his right to make a save.
Estudiantes will hope that Schiavi's experience of winning the tournament with Boca Juniors in 2003, when they beat Brazil's Santos at home and away, will rub off.
"Better if they think they have an advantage with the draw because they will be over-confident," the 36-year-old defender, on loan from Newell's Old Boys for the last two rounds of the tournament due to injuries, told reporters.
Also playing his last match for Estudiantes is Catania-bound Argentina goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, who has conceded only one goal in 10 matches since midway through the group stage in March.
"We came come back with the title. The draw (in La Plata) suited both (sides) and we have to realise that finals are decided in the second leg," he told reporters.comments