Preview: 2014 Copa Bridgestone Libertadores – Semi-finals
Dear Readers, we have written about Club continentali competitions several times, a lot about UEFA Champions League and Europa League, a bit about CONCACAF Champions League and AFC Champions League, and even a little bit about OFC Champions League, the highest Club Competition in Oceania, but never about Copa Libertadores, the most important competition for clubs in South America: now it’s time to do it !
Copa Libertadores is different from UEFA Champions League because it’s much more unpredictable, balanced and open, and the list of potential winners is quite long, as it is for almost every South American cmpetition, national Leagues included.
During 2014 Edition (that started in January and will end in August) Brazilian teams performed quite badly (just three of six reached the Round of 16, just one the Quarter-finals and no one the Semi-finals: maybe that was a signal for the upcoming World Cup, but almost all of the players called by Scolari were playing abroad), while Argentinian clubs performed quite well, because four of five teams reached the Round of 16, three the Quarter-finals, but just one the Semi-finals.
This Edition has been quite good for Mexican teams, two teams of three at Round of 16, and very good for Paraguaian ones (2 of 3 reached Round of 16 and one of them the Semifinals), decent for Uruguay, that has sent one team to Semi-final.
It has been a disappointing tournament for Perù and Venezuela, that lost all of their teams at Group Stage, but this isn’t a surprise, while it has been very positive and unexpected the Tournament of Bolivian teams, that usually are among the weakest of the Confederation, but this time two of them reached the Round of 16, in which The Strongest was eliminated just after PKs by Defensor Sporting (Uruguay), while Bolivar will play the Semi-finals.
So there is no dominant Nation among the last four surviving teams: because all of them are from different Countries: Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia e Paraguay.
Now we’re going to introduce them to you !
CLUB NACIONAL (PAR) – DEFENSOR SPORTING CLUB (URU)
Sfida piuttosto equilibrata e dall’esito difficilmente prevedibile, come in buona parte degli incontri di Copa Libertadores.
Club Nacional was founded in 1904 by a Group of students, and is based in Barrio Obrero of Asuncion, the Paraguaian Capital, and has won so far 9 Championships, despite not winning any Title from 1946 to del 2009 !
The most important players, managed by Gustavo Morínigo are the GK Ignacio Don, the full-backs Marcos David Miers and Ramón Coronel, the midfielders Silvio Torales, Derlis Orué and Marcos Riveros, that all has collected few caps with Paraguay, the wingers Marcos Melgarejo and Jorge Daniel Achucarro (former Paraguaian International and former Atlas, Newell’s Old Boys and Banfield player) and the strikers Fredy Bareiro (former Paraguaian International) Julián Benítez, and Julio Santa Cruz, who is Roque‘s younger Brother !
DEFENSOR SPORTING CLUB
Defensor Sporting Club was founded in 1913 in the Capital Montevideo, and has conquered so far 4 Uruguaian Championships (besides three Apertura’s Titles and three Clausura’s ones, that anyway aren’t enough to make you Champion*).
Among the men managed by Mister Fernando Curuchet we report the 21-year-old central back Ramón Arias, the full-back Pablo Pintos (former Getafe player), the experienced midfielder and Captain Andrés Fleurquín (former Uruguaian International and former SK Sturm Graz, Galatasaray AS, Stade de Rennais FC and Cádiz CF players), the midfielders Federico Gino and Mathías Cardacio (former AC Milan player), the wingers Mario Regueiro (former Uruguaian International and former Racing Santander, Valencia, Aris Salonicco and CA Lanús player) and Adrián Luna (former Recreativo Huelva player) and the 20-year-old offensive midfielder Giorgian de Arrascaeta, the brightest prospect in the team.
In the attack there are the experienced Ignacio Risso, Matías Alonso and Joaquín Boghossian (former Red Bull Salzburg and Cercle Brugge striker), who has just come back from a loan spell and we don’t know if he’ll be used: but we are most of all very pleased to point out the name of 35-year-old Andrés Nicolás Olivera (former Valencia CF, FC Sevilla, Real Vallalolid, Albacete, Puebla, Veracruz and America CF striker and former Uruguaian International, who’s the top scorer of the team, but most of all we remember him because he impressed us in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship that were played in Malaysia. He was very fast and together with his offensive partner Marcelo Danubio Zalayeta formed a lethal attacking pair: Olivera was named the best player of the Competiton, but Uruguay lost the Final to a very strong Argentina , that fielded very strong players, such as Leo Franco, Cambiasso, Samuel, Riquelme, Aimar, Cufrè, Scaloni and Placente.
*In Uruguay the Season is divided in Apertura and Clausura, but, unlike other Countries (i.e. Argentina), there’s only one Champion: they way to determine it can be quite complicated (two teams could face eachothers five times to decide the winner), so we refer to Wikipedia.
CA SAN LORENZO DE ALMAGRO (ARG) – CLUB BOLIVAR (BOL)
The Argentinians look stronger and favoritese, but anything is certain in football, and, most of all, in South American one: will Club Bolivar be able to keep on surprising ?
CA SAN LORENZO DE ALMAGRO
San Lorenzo is a Club from Buenos Aires who was founded in 1908, also thanks to the idea of a Catholic priest, Don Lorenzo Massa, who let the children, who were playing football on the road use the backyard of his Church, under the condition they would have gone to mass on Sundays, because playing in the streets was becoming very dangerous because of increasing traffic.
“El Ciclon” (one of the several nicknames of the club) is considered one of the five big Club in Argentina, and has conquered so far 15 national Championship, 1 Copa Mercosur and 1 Copa Sudamericana, and is supported by Aragorn from “The Lord of the Rings” (a.k.a. Viggo Mortensen), and, it is very known, by Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a.k.a. Pope Francis.
The team is managed by Edgardo Bauza and its most important or famous members are Cristian Alvarez (former Espanyol GK), the defenders Fabricio Fontanini, Carlos Valdés (Colombian International), Mauro Cetto (former Nantes, Tolosa, Palermo and Lille central back), Wálter Kannemann and Santiago Gentiletti, the right-back Julio Buffarini and the left one Emanuel Más, the midfielders Juan Mercier and Néstor Ortigoza (Paraguaian International), the wingers Pablo Barrientos (former FK Moskva and Catania player) and Ignacio Piatti, and the offensive midfielders Leandro Romagnoli, a former Argentinian International who was one of the club’s brightest prospect at the beginning of 2000′s and has come back to his first club in 2009 after playing abroad at Sporting de Portugal and Veracruz, and is still one of the key element of the team.
In the attack there isn’ probably a top striker, anyway there are few decent forwards, such as the Uruguaian Martín Cauteruccio, Nicolás Blandi and the 19-year-old Héctor Villalba.
Club Boivar was established in 1925 in La Paz, the Capital of Bolivia, and is the most titled Bolivian club, having won 18 Championships and 4 Bolivian Cups, and has a strong rivality with The Strongest, that is a team from the same city.
The manager is Miguel Ángel Portugal, who is Spanish despite his family name, and he can field few players who are, or have been, Bolivian Internationals: the GK Romel Quiñónez, the full-backs Edemir Rodríguez, Luis Gutiérrez and Lorgio Alvarez, the midfielder Wálter Flores, the offensive midfielder Rudy Cardozo and Juan Carlos Arce (former Corinthians and Terek Grozny offensive winger).
We also point out the Paraguaian Nelson Cabrera (former CFR Cluji and Colo Colo defender), and a small colony composed by three Spanish players, who has played mostly in Segunda Divisiòn, of whom the best ones should be Edu Moya (former RCD Mallorca and Recreativo Huelva defender) and Juanmi Callejón (former RCD Mallorca, Hercules CF and Levadiakos winger), who is José María Callejón’s twin Brother: anyway a recent signing, the very powerful Carlos Tenorio (former LDU Quito, Al Sadd and Vasco da Gama striker, and a former International for Ecuador), in maybe the best player in the squad and will have to make the difference, making with Arce a more than decent attack.