Copa Libertadores Football is back!By: Mauro | July 27th, 2010
Let’s catch up…
So, I get it.
I missed most of the competition.
That’s the glass half empty perspective of this situation. The glass half full perspective?
I’m here for the part of the competition that really warrants a solid look.
So let’s get started. It’s the semifinals!!
In semi-final 1, we’ve got Chivas hosting U de Chile tonight in Mexico City.
I used to say to never underestimate the Mexican teams in CONMEBOL tournaments because they always perform well and this year’s Chivas squad is no different. While they have lost their forward Javier Hernandez to the dark side of football with Darth Ferguson, this Chivas squad still should not be one to scoff at with players like Omar Arellano, Patricio Araujo, Jonny Magallón and substitute Adolfo Bautista.
Chivas put away Libertad of Paraguay over the two quarterfinal legs back in mid May, winning 3-0 on their ground in Jalisco and losing the away leg, 2-0, in Asuncíon at the storied Estadio Defensores del Chaco. With these results, they advanced on goal difference (3-2) for the semis where they face U de Chile. All without the help of Javier Hernandez who played zero quarter-final minutes.
U de Chile had to beat a tough Flamengo side to get to the semis. They pulled off the upset victory (3-2) at the Maracaná in Rio and then lost by a single goal (1-2) in front of 20,000 at the Estadio Santa Laura in Santiago. U de Chile had their work cut out for them with a star studded Flamengo side that included the likes of Adriano (of Serie A and São Pãulo fame) and Vagner Love (of Palmeiras and CSKA Moscow fame) but with a flair all their own and playing a nice brand of football.
Chivas have lost a few players since the quarters back in May, most notably Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Talk of his transfer was bigger than the Mexican team’s progress in the World Cup at one point. Good news for Chivas, Omar Bravo will be able to play for them since his contract with the club ends in early August which might mean he won’t be available for the second leg. But contract talks are in the works and Kansas City might have to wait to see him in their jersey. Also, Eduardo Solis headed to Atlante, Liborio Vicente Sanchez was loaned out to Veracruz (starting GK in the quarters), Julio Nava to Queretaro and Abraham Coronado was also transferred away but I couldn’t find out where so if any of you know, please feel free to enlighten me.
Meanwhile, U de Chile have already begun their league play again with a 2-2 draw against Audax Italiano most recently. The draw keeps them in the fight for their league only two points back from league leaders Colo Colo. U de Chile have survived the World Cup unscathed, mostly, since we’ll be seeing most of the same faces that played the quarter finals against Flamengo. Edson Puch and Walter Montillo will pair up for some nice football like they showed against the very talented Flamengo side and Juan Manuel Olivera playing up front.
So my pick for this match? Before I do that, here are some things to consider. U de Chile have a few more official matches under their belt than Chivas at this point. They also have few if no alterations to their starting line up with the exception of Álvaro Fernández who has moved to Seattle Sounders of the MLS and substitute Marco Estrada has gone to French football (Montpellier).
Chivas on the other hand have had a few players seek out brighter horizons but how their absences will impact this side is still a question mark. The match will take place at Club America’s ground (Chivas’ main regional rival), the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. This is probably because they can fit way more people in this stadium, it seats like 105,000 people but also, they played their last match in the Estadio Jalisco with their sights set on a new stadium, Estadio Chivas.
If it seems like I’m stacking the deck against Chivas, actually, I’m not. They are still a tough team, on the road or at home or now, even at a yellow and blue stadium.
So here it is. My pick. Chivas take this one 2-1 at “home” in Mexico City but not with much style. U de Chile have a great side to give Chivas all kinds of trouble but they won’t get the win. I do however give them an all important away goal. It’ll be a cracker. Don’t miss it.
The match starts at 8:15 local time, 9:15 pm US Eastern time and I’ll be watching it on Fox Sports in Español. See you after the match.