Saturday, March 18, 2017

Copa Libertadores Week 2 - The good, the bad, the ugly

Week 2 of Copa Libertadores action is in the books and the last teams played their first games, including holders Atlético Nacional from Colombia. How things went the past week and what was special can be read in this week's edition of "The good, the bad, the ugly".

Palmeiras' Jerry Mina celebrating his goal against Jorge Wilstermann (Photo:

The good: Ultimate unpredictability

What a week of games it was in South America's elite competition. Just when you thought you could predict the outcome of a game, the teams would prove you wrong again. Not a single one of the clubs that got a win in week 1 could produce the same success the second time around. 

In particular group 7 stands out, where teams collected four away wins on four occasions so far. After being pretty much without a chance against Nacional the past week, CA Lanús came back with a win away to Chapecoense. While the Brazilians even took the lead early in the second half, Argentina's champion struck back with three goals from Nicolás Aguirre, José Sand and Lautaro Acosta. Not anyone would have expected Venezuelan side Zulia celebrate a victory in Montevideo as they faced Nacional away from home, yet they came away with a 0-1 win after a great performance from Juan Arango and a little luck from a not given penalty.

The other club from Montevideo, Peñarol, did its job at home a little better and won 2-1 over Atlético Tucumán after just having their behinds handed to them by Jorge Wilstermann a week ago (6-2). In Brazil, that same Wilstermann side was defeated 1-0 by Palmeiras. It was close however, considering Yerry Mina's decisive goal came in the last minute. 

Flamengo, up in the power rankings after a stunning week 1 victory over San Lorenzo, disappointed away to Universidad Católica in Chile, losing 1-0 to a Santiago Silva strike. The group is now led by that same Católica and Atlético Paranaense, while Flamengo and San Lorenzo find themselves out of a round of 16 spot at the moment. 

One of the biggest outsiders of the competition, Melgar from Peru, celebrated a win in their first match this season. Luis García's goal was enough to get by Ecuadorian side Emelec 1-0. Lastly, we have Botafogo and Barcelona leading group A instead of Atlético Nacional and Estudiantes. If you are a betting man, you probably have lost every last hair during the past week.

Take a look at the goal of the week, Roger's wonder strike for Botafogo:

The bad:

It has been two weeks and we still cannot be too certain where the Argentine teams actually stand. Despite River's good performance (see below) and Lanús' win away to newly built Chapecoense, the others still struggled. Estudiantes might have been competitive against Botafogo, but only so long. When it got towards the end of the game, it was all Botafogo, including Rodrigo Pimpao's goal after 79 minutes.

San Lorenzo is still without a point after their previous two disastrous Copa Libertadores campaigns. They appear on the verge of waving goodbye to the competition early on yet again. Their loss against Atlético Paranaense was not really deserved, considering the home team's large advantage in shots on goal. The only problem: They could not use any of their chances. In the 76th minute, San Lorenzo even missed a penalty from Nicolas Blandi. Ironically, the team's foolproof penalty taker Nestor Ortigoza had been substituted three minutes before.

Atlético Tucumán is another story, as it is a surprise they even qualified for the competition. However, when taking an away lead in Montevideo after an hour, you would think to strengthen your defense immediately and do everything to keep that lead. That was not so much their idea, which is why Peñarol scored two goals in the 67th and 68th minute to turn around the match in their own favour. 

The ugly: Rain chaos in Medellín

Wait a minute, what was that? Medellín was under water for the first match of group 3. Independiente Medellín faced River Plate in what turned out to be a 3-1 away win for the Argentines. Until we got there, it took longer than usual. Referee Wilton Sampaio had to take the players inside after 26 minutes, before coming back out nearly an hour later. What followed after was a beautiful display of football from River who scored three unanswered goals from Lucas Alario, Sebastián Driussi and Lucas Martínez. Right before the end, the Colombians got one back via penalty from Juan Quintero. Considering the conditions, we saw a decent game including a surprising amount of offense, especially from the visitors.

Week 3 will have to wait a little due to the international break. The next game is scheduled to take place on April 11 when Jorge Wilstermann welcomes Atlético Tucumán at home. The Bolivians can distance themselves by six points from their Argentine counterparts. 


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