Solely 4 out of 19 groups made it by way of to the Copa Lobertadores group phases, writes Tim Vickery.
Tim Vickery’s Notes From South America: 4 Make It Into Copa Libertadores Group Stage
Nineteen groups went into the qualifying rounds of the Copa Libertadores. Solely 4 made it by way of to the group stage.
One of many 4 was Libertad of Paraguay. They noticed off The Strongest of Bolivia, at all times harmful on the excessive altitude of their mountain stronghold of La Paz. After which, after a penalty shoot out, they bought previous the 2016 champions, Atletico Nacional of Colombia.
Libertad’s home type was patchy, and so they bought off to a sluggish begin within the Paraguayan league. However the Libertadores was the precedence. By any measure they’d made a profitable begin to the 2019 season – which turned much more profitable final week, the place they ran up the largest victory of your entire first spherical of Libertadores group section matches, beating Chilean champions Universidad Catolica Four-1.
There was a wierd reward for the membership’s Colombian coach, Leonel Alvarez. The subsequent morning he was sacked. Certainly, he was reportedly locked out of membership premises.
Aside from an evasive declaration about breaking clauses in his contract, the membership supplied no official clarification. And so the hearsay mill went into overdrive, with insinuations linking Alvarez to every kind of off subject indiscretions.
No matter has taken place, it was deemed sufficiently severe to price the coach his job. Former Argentina defender Jose Chamot was rushed in to exchange him. He has labored as an assistant and as a reserve crew coach. However Chamot’s solely expertise in command of a primary crew was a quick caretaker spell with Rosario Central in his native Argentina. And so, a couple of months wanting his 50th birthday, he’s thrown into the deep finish. His first recreation comes this Tuesday, away to 2017 winners and final yr’s semi finalists Gremio of Brazil.
Gremio have been one other crew who had an fascinating debut week. There have been two Brazilian defeats; Atletico Mineiro went down 1-Zero at house to Cerro Porteno – it actually was a splendid week for Paraguayan groups – and Athletico Paranaense misplaced by the one objective away to Tolima of Colombia. The opposite Brazilians got here again happier from their travels; there have been wins for Flamengo (at San Jose of Bolivia), Internacional (Palestino of Chile), Palmeiras (Junior of Colombia) and Cruzeiro (Huracan of Argentina).
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These are wonderful outcomes – particularly allowing for that the Argentine contingent didn’t handle a single victory. However the Brazilian triumphs weren’t at all times straightforward on the attention. On the enterprise finish of final yr’s competitors, the Brazilians have been undone by an overcautious method – and there are few indicators that this has led to a rethink.
Gremio, although, are completely different. At their finest they’re a possession primarily based facet that search to grab the initiative within the recreation, house or away, and so they took that mentality to Argentina for final week’s 1-1 draw with Rosario Central.
The 5-Zero win at house to Cerro Porteno final Could was one of many highlights of the 2018 Libertadores. Libertad, then, have some concept of what to anticipate. Veteran centre again Paulo Da Silva has an immense process organising the defence – and Chamot has a giant choice to make about one other vastly skilled former Paraguay worldwide. Can he afford to begin with Oscar Cardozo? The 35 yr previous centre ahead has appreciable virtues – he scored from his personal half at house to The Strongest. However his lack of tempo could possibly be an issue on this match. It could be preferable to cowl up in midfield and look to interrupt with velocity, leaving Cardozo on the bench for a late cost if Libertad have to chase the sport.
Every week in the past Jose Chamot couldn’t probably have imagined that he could be coping with the choice dilemmas of Libertad. He could also be delighted that the possibility has come his approach. However he’s entitled to be afraid of what he may need to look at in his first 90 minutes on the touchline.
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