Hasta El Gol Siempre

Copa Libertadores 2015: how likely is a River v Boca last 16 tie?

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On Wednesday evening, River Plate qualified for the last sixteen of the Copa Libertadores in nail-biting fashion, beating San José of Bolivia 3-0 but needing Mexican side Tigres to get a result with their reserves away to Juan Aurich in Peru. Tigres won 5-4, meaning River scraped second place in Group 7. What that means is that we now have a very real chance of a superclásico River v Boca double-header in the last sixteen. The Libertadores knockout stage is seeded; the best group winner plays the worst runner-up, the second-best winner plays the second-worst runner up, and so on – and as the standings currently have it, that would pit Boca (who lead the group winner standings) against River. But with some groups finished, some having one game to go, and a few teams having two group games still to go, it’s not a sure thing yet. So, what needs to happen?

So in short, if Boca and Zamora – who are rubbish, remember – both win tonight, we almost definitely won’t have a River v Boca last sixteen tie. If Boca win and Zamora don’t (very likely) we almost definitely will, and if Boca draw (or lose), we might or might not. Even then, of course, if results somehow conspire to make River the second-worst runners up, only for Corinthians to next week overtake Boca as best winners, we’d have the second seeds playing the fifteenth seeds – that is, Boca v River.

I’m not Nate Silver, but about fifteen minutes before Boca kick off, I’m going to rank our chances of a superclásico double header in the next round at somewhere around 90%. Having said that, this time last night River’s chances of even being in the second round looked positively anaemic, so who even knows really?

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