Balls on the block for Copa Lib
After flunking big-time in the previews for the round of 16 Ã¢ÂÂ calling an impressive five matches out of eight wrong Ã¢ÂÂ 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 SÃÂ£o Paulo (BRA) Wed, first leg 0-1
This is one of SÃÂ£o PauloÃ¢ÂÂs poorest team in years; theyÃ¢ÂÂre being pushed along by AdrianoÃ¢ÂÂs performances alone Ã¢ÂÂ once again, he netted the winner last week. Fluminense have a top quality squad, with many talented players, but the fact that itÃ¢ÂÂs their first Libertadores in almost 23 years might hurt them. If SÃÂ£o Paulo get one, Renato GaÃÂºchoÃ¢ÂÂs boys wonÃ¢ÂÂt have punch to score three. And will they be able to hold Adriano? SÃÂ£o 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 werenÃ¢ÂÂt Boca Juniors. In the Libertadores, you simply canÃ¢ÂÂt rule the Bosteros out. Boca have overcome greater deficits away from home, and IÃ¢ÂÂm 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
ItÃ¢ÂÂs up for grabs here. San LorenzoÃ¢ÂÂs keeper gave the Ecuadorians an early Christmas gift last week, but, as mum tells us, Christmas comes but once a year. IÃ¢ÂÂve seen LDU play well the whole competition and still get knocked out Ã¢ÂÂ thatÃ¢ÂÂs why I have a major issue with betting on them. San Lorenzo donÃ¢ÂÂt inspire my trust either, but after sending River Plate home, IÃ¢ÂÂll 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 MaracanÃÂ£. Now, few people think they will blow their excellent two-goal advantage over Santos at Vila Belmiro. But IÃ¢ÂÂm 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, AmericaÃ¢ÂÂs gates will open. Count on that.
So thatÃ¢ÂÂs it. Two Brazilian teams, two Argentinian teams. Remember, you read here first. Or simply forget about it...