An early final

The attention in Europe is going to be on yet another Liverpool vs. Chelsea Champions League semi-final, but in South America the Copa Libertadores is about to see the highest profile of its group matches, right at the end of the group stage: holders Boca Juniors take on Maracaibo in La Bombonera tonight, and the only way they can guarantee qualification without relying on other results is to get a five-goal win. In the first match of the competition, these sides drew in the Venezuelan capital.

Five goals will be enough to see Boca through for certain, but if they win by any less they’ll need a goal difference swing in their favour in the other match in the group, where Chilean champions Colo Colo take on Atlas of Mexico in Santiago. Should Atlas win that game, any win will do for Boca, but if it’s a draw Boca need to beat Colo Colo’s goal difference, currently two greater than theirs, and if Colo Colo win whilst Boca beat Maracaibo by fewer than five, the Argentines have to hope the margins add up to the five goal advantage Atlas currently have over them.

Carlos Ischia has already named his side for the match, which will kick off at 21:10 local time (01:10 Wednesday morning in the UK) and will be played simultaneously with the Colo Colo vs. Atlas clash. Midfielder Alvaro González will fill in at full back for the injured Hugo Ibarra, but it’s otherwise a full-strength Boca side, which backed by a roaring crowd in La Bombonera will surely get the result they need. In the Copa Libertadores, Boca just don’t fail when their backs are against the wall… do they?

The Boca side, if there are no last-minute injuries, will look something like this, although Leandro Gracián is likely to play further forward, alongside Riquelme as a ‘double playmaker’ when Boca have the ball.

Boca Juniors starting XI to face Maracaibo (managed by Carlos Ischia):

M. Caranta

A. González —- J. Maidana —- J. C. Cáceres —- L. Monzón

J. Dátolo —- S. Battaglia —- L. Gracián

J. R. Riquelme

R. Palacio —- M. Palermo

4 thoughts on “An early final

  1. Boca always come through…although sometimes they need help from a mysterious cloud of fog.

    I’m not sure I follow completely – if Colo Colo win AND Boca fail to win by 5, Boca can still get through? Does that mean the margin of Atlas’ loss, added to the margin of Boca’s win, has to overcome the 5-goal advantage Atlas currently has? In other words, Colo Colo 3 Atlas 0, Boca 3 Maracaibo 0, Boca advances?

  2. Sure is a little complicated, because if Colo Colo win by 3 gols (3-0, 4-1, etc) and Boca win by 3 gols, Atlas would be + 2 gols and Boca + 3 and yes, Boca advanced. But if Colo Colo win for only 1 gol (not 1-0 but 2-1, 3-2, etc) and Boca made only 4 (“only”, for Christ’s sake, with the difficult that is to made 4 goals to anybody nowadays!), Boca and Atlas will have the same difference of gols, but Atlas one (or more) gols converted.
    So that’s why Boca, to be sure himself and not depend on any result must make 5.
    Of course, if Atlas win, any winning result will be enough for we Bosteros.

  3. Justin, Bostero is correct – the 5 goals the Argentine media are stating Boca need are to make 100% sure, regardless of the other scoreline, that they’ll qualify. What they in fact need, should Colo Colo beat Atlas, is enough margin in both games for the goal difference to swing in Boca’s favour.

    And as stated already, a smaller win is fine if it’s a draw, and any win at all will do if Atlas win (because Colo Colo are only 2 points ahead of Boca).

  4. Well, Boca survived. I watched the Colo Colo game and Atlas was by far the better side. Colo Colo were fortunate not to lose, and were really dreadful in the second half. Playing for their lives, they barely had any possession the last 15 minutes.

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