Thursday evening brought the conclusion of Group 5 and a key match in Group 2 of the 2015 Copa Libertadores, and with the results of those games, one of the last 16 ties is now known. The Libertadores knockout stages are seeded, with the best group winner playing the worst runner-up, second best winner playing second worst runner-up, and so on. Boca Juniors’ 2-0 win over Chilean side Palestino, and Corinthians’ later 0-0 draw at home to reigning champions San Lorenzo, means Boca can’t be caught as the best winners – and therefore will play the worst runners-up, guaranteed to be Boca’s bitter rivals River Plate, who qualified by the skin of their teeth on Wednesday night. The first leg will be in River’s Estadio Monumental during the first week of May, with the return at La Bombonera the following week. Just days before the first leg, on Sunday the 3rd May, the two sides will meet in the league, so we’re in for quite a high-octane week and a half in Buenos Aires.
Highlights of River’s 3-0 win over San José on Wednesday, which combined with Tigres’ 5-4 win away to Juan Aurich sent River through. For a bit of context, River needed to win and hope Juan Aurch didn’t; Tigres, already guaranteed top spot and with a clásico of their own coming up this weekend, sent a reserve side…
The other Argentine sides have all either already qualified, or still have a chance of doing so. Racing have topped Group 8, which has already finished; San Lorenzo in Group 2 have to beat Uruguay’s Danubio at home next week, and hope Corinthians get at least a draw, and preferably a win, away to local rivals São Paulo (if the game in Brazil ends in a draw, San Lorenzo have to beat Danubio by four or more, though a three-goal margin would be enough as long as they scored enough in the process and the draw in Brazil isn’t too high-scoring). In Group 3, Huracán are currently in third, and are away to bottom-placed Mineros on the last day. If they win that game they’ll definitely qualify, because the two teams above them play one another – a win for Huracán would carry them above at least one of Universitario de Sucre and Cruzeiro, who can’t both pick up three points. Estudiantes, who’ve just replaced Mauricio Pellegrino with Gabriel Milito in the manager’s seat, are in a similar situation; beat Barcelona de Guayaquil in Ecuador, and they’ll definitely finish above at least one of Atlético Nacional and Libertad, who face off in Medellín and both have one point more than Estudiantes at present. The concluding match all take place next week.
Goals from Boca’s 2-0 win over Palestino on Thursday evening