Balls on the block for Copa Lib

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After flunking big-time in the previews for the round of 16 – calling an impressive five matches out of eight wrong – here I am again to fearlessly entertain you with my so-called predictions of the Copa Libertadores, which closes its quarter-final phase this week.

This time, to avoid further shame, I delayed my prognoses until after the first legs. But since no team set up a definitive advantage after the initial 90 minutes of action, the only thing I got with this delay is being called a coward.

Fluminense (BRA) vs São Paulo (BRA) Wed, first leg 0-1
This is one of São Paulo’s poorest team in years; they’re being pushed along by Adriano’s performances alone – once again, he netted the winner last week. Fluminense have a top quality squad, with many talented players, but the fact that it’s their first Libertadores in almost 23 years might hurt them. If São Paulo get one, Renato Gaúcho’s boys won’t have punch to score three. And will they be able to hold Adriano? São Paulo are the safer choice.

Atlas (MEX) vs Boca Juniors (ARG) Wed, first leg 2-2
Drawing 2-2 away would be a great advantage if your opponents weren’t Boca Juniors. In the Libertadores, you simply can’t rule the Bosteros out. Boca have overcome greater deficits away from home, and I’m afraid they will do so again. Some might point out that they already lost 3-1 to Atlas in Mexico during the group stage. But this is the playoffs, folks. With their heads on the line, the Argentinians will deliver again.

Atlas have fun in Buenos Aires; will they be celebrating again?

LDU Quito (EQU) vs San Lorenzo (ARG) Thu, first leg 1-1
It’s up for grabs here. San Lorenzo’s keeper gave the Ecuadorians an early Christmas gift last week, but, as mum tells us, Christmas comes but once a year. I’ve seen LDU play well the whole competition and still get knocked out – that’s why I have a major issue with betting on them. San Lorenzo don’t inspire my trust either, but after sending River Plate home, I’ll give them credit for another win. San Lorenzo to triumph on away goals (how daring am I...?)

Santos (BRA) vs America (MEX) Thu, first leg 0-2
No one ever thought America would overcome their 4-2 defeat to Flamengo, but they won 3-0 at Maracanã. Now, few people think they will blow their excellent two-goal advantage over Santos at Vila Belmiro. But I’m one of them. In Kleber Pereira the Brazilians have a striker able to score three goals in less than a half. If Santos manage to net at least one in the first 45 minutes, America’s gates will open. Count on that.

So that’s it. Two Brazilian teams, two Argentinian teams. Remember, you read here first. Or simply forget about it...