Saturday, March 19, 2016

If the group stage ended today... - Copa Libertadores

Today, I thought it would be fun to see who would play against each other in the Copa Libertadores round of 16, assuming the group stages ended today.

Marcelo Barovero and Fernando Cavenaghi with the trophy. (Photo:
Obviously, I took into account that some teams played less games than others thus far. Big teams made it through, others missed out on the knockout stages.

Here are the current matchups:

Atlético Nacional - Grêmio
Atlético Mineiro - Sporting Cristal
Toluca - Bolívar
The Strongest - Deportivo Táchira
Pumas - River Plate
Corinthians - Independiente del Valle
Nacional - Santa Fe
Racing Club - Rosario Central

Standing out so far have been Atlético Nacional, but thanks to Grêmio's rather average form so far, the Colombians might face a tough challenge in Brazil despite being perfect in 4 games. Another Brazilian squad might have it a little easier: Robinho's Atlético Mineiro would play Sporting Cristal in the round of 16. 

The most exciting ties on paper might just include Argentine clubs. Racing and Rosario Central would battle in an all Argentine duel due to their respective point totals. Title holders River Plate might have a trip to Mexico on their hands, as Pumas await them. 

Personally, I would very much look forward to Nacional and Santa Fe against each other as well. On the Colombian's road to the Copa Sudamericana title at the end of last year, both teams met and Santa Fe only advanced in very lucky fashion. I'm sure that Uruguay's champions would not mind some revenge. 

Not in the round of 16? Boca Juniors are out of it right now, as are Cerro Porteño or Colo Colo. Luckily, they still have time to play themselves in in reality. But a little bit of fun never hurt anyone halfway through the group stage.


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