The time has come. CONMEBOL Libertadores finally returned after the recess forced by the pandemic and promises exciting matches.
Argentine teams, which have been without activity since March due to the suspension of local football (there is no return date yet), are ready to return to the ring.
This is a real challenge for Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing Club, Defensa y Justicia, and Tigre, as they will have to face rivals who arrive with a football rhythm due to the fact that in most countries in the region domestic football returned a while ago.
This “super Thursday” will have on the grid ESPN and Fox Sports to all Argentine teams: Racing will face Nacional from 17 (Fox Sports), Sao Paulo will receive River at 19 (ESPN2), at the same time, for ESPN, Defense will play against Delfín, at 21 it will be Boca’s turn against Libertad, in Paraguay (ESPN2) and at 23 will close Tigre against Guaraní (Fox Sports).
STADIUM: Cilindro de Avellaneda
TV: FOX Sports
HOW DOES RACING GET?
The Academy arrives as one of the leaders of Group F, with 6 points over two games played. They beat Estudiantes de Mérida 2-1 in the debut and then beat Alianza de Lima 1-0.
Matías Zaracho tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, and will be absent like Iván Pillud, another of the players who suffered from COVID-19. The youth Lucas Núñez also had coronavirus and for that reason is not part of the list.
Coach Sebastián Beccacecce will have 25 players available for this Thursday’s clash against Nacional
Nacional de Montevideo fights hand-in-hand with Racing for the first place in Group F. He adds 6 points like the Academy, after the victories obtained against Alianza Lima and Estudiantes de Mérida.
Unlike the Academy, it comes with filming after the return of the Uruguayan tournament, where it leads the standings. Gonzalo Bergessio, ex-Racing among others, is one of the figures.
TV: ESPN2 (Stories and comments: Sebastián Vignolo and Gustavo López)
HOW DOES RIVER PLATE ARRIVE?
River is part of Group D, one of the most difficult in this CONMEBOL Libertadores. The area is also made up of Sao Paulo, Binacional and the Quito League.
Those of Núñez started the Cup losing 3-0 at the height of Quito before the League, but they recovered by beating Binacional 8-0 at home.
Gallardo will go to Morumbí with the base that had been playing before the pandemic: Armani, Montiel, Martínez Quarta, Pinola, Enzo Pérez, Nacho Fernández, Borré and Suárez.
Lucas Pratto, injured, and Milton Casco, positive for COVID-19 in recent days, will not be part of the list of players who will travel to Brazil. Marcos Angileri instead of Casco and Julián Alvarez in the middle of the field appear in principle as possible starters.
In the Brazilian championship, Sao Paulo is third, two behind the leader Inter. He played 10 games: he won 5, tied 3 and lost 2. Since the return of football in his country, he has already accumulated 14 games.
Pablo, the scorer, and Dani Alves, the great reference, will not be against River. The group from São Paulo have drawn 2-2 against Santos, on the last date of the local tournament.
A fact that can set off an alarm and plays in River’s favor: in the return to soccer in Brazil, Sao Paulo was eliminated, in the Paulista championship, by the modest Mirassol, a team from the fourth division.
STADIUM: Norberto Tomaghello
HOW DOES DEFENSE AND JUSTICE COME?
El Halcón is part of Group G, where it marches in the last position. He lost both games he played: first he fell 2-1 against Santos, at home, and then by the same score against Olimpia, away.
The good news for DT Hernán Crespo is that the swabs carried out at the beginning of the week were all negative, so he will have the entire squad available.
A possible 11 headline would be: Unsain; Tripichio, Rodriguez, Martinez, Duarte; Rius, Acevedo, Benitez; Pizzini, Romero and Leguizamón.
Those of Varela need a victory yes or yes to maintain the chances of fighting for a place in the round of 16 of the Cup.
The Ecuadorian team barely adds a point in the table and presents itself as an accessible rival. Delfín is ninth in the local league, with 14 points, the product of four wins, two draws and six losses.
Delfín’s only point in this Cup was the 1-1 draw against Olimpia of Paraguay, at home. It does not come at a good time, since the Argentine Carlos Ischia stopped being the DT and was replaced by Miguel Angel Zazhu.
STADIUM: General Pablo Rojas
TV: ESPN2 (Stories and comments: Mariano Closs and Diego Latorre)
HOW DOES BOCA JUNIORS ARRIVE?
Of all the Argentine clubs that will start this stage of the Cup, Boca is the one that comes with the most doubts. A failed bubble and about 30 infections generated and generate many doubts about the physical form in which the campus will arrive.
In fact, until the last moment it was discussed whether the players whose tests were positive, but who already received medical discharge, should travel to Paraguay to face Libertad.
Xeneize comes second in Group H, with 4 points, two behind Libertad, the leader. They close Caracas with one point, and Independiente Medellín, without units.
Russo’s team will in any case have a good part of the squad that came from being champion of the Superliga last March, with Andrada, Izquierdoz, Fabra, Campuzano, Pol Fernández, Salvio, Soldano and Tevez.
Libertad, led by Ramón Díaz from La Rioja, arrives with a good step in the Cup, after winning the first two games of the group. First they defeated Independiente de Medellín 2 to 1, and then Caracas 3-2.
In the Paraguayan tournament, those of Ramón come second behind Cerro Porteño, with 39 points, three units behind the leader.
STADIUM: Defenders of the Chaco
TV: FOX Sports
HOW DOES TIGRE ARRIVE?
A curious case is that of Tigre, who was relegated last season but in good law earned the right to play the CONMEBOL Libertadores after winning against Boca in the final of the 2019 Super League Cup.
Winning will be imperative for El Matador if he wants to keep the chance to continue advancing in the Cup, since he is last in Group B, behind Palmeiras, Guaraní and Bolívar.
In their presentation, Victoria’s team lost 2-0 to Palmeiras, while in the second game they also lost 2-0 to Bolívar.
Guaraní is fourth in the Paraguayan Apertura Tournament. And with 36 points he is four behind the leader Cerro Porteño. On the last date, he beat Sol de América 2 to 1.
The Paraguayan team is led by Argentine Gustavo Costas. Since the return of football, for the local tournament, he played 11 games: he won five, drew four and lost two.
In this Cup, he beat Bolívar 2 to 0 at home, but lost 3 to 1 as a visitor to the leader Palmeiras.