In a single sense, the 2018 Copa Libertadores has nonetheless not come to an in depth. Shedding finalists Boca Juniors argue that their outdated rivals, River Plate, ought to have been disqualified for an assault by a few of their followers on the Boca staff bus and are taking their case to the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport.
However, the draw for subsequent yr’s competitors has taken place — the preliminary section kicks off on Jan. 22 — and CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez used the event to get his level throughout. After a yr of administrative issues, he accepted that his organisation made errors. However he pointed to the improved prize cash as an indication of progress. And he reserved his strongest criticism for the “win in any respect prices” mentality that may blight South American soccer, producing violence and intolerance.
In fact, the place of Dominguez has nearly definitely been strengthened by the tumultuous occasions surrounding the second leg of the 2018 closing, which was controversially taken to Madrid. It has allowed him to spotlight vices in fan tradition and the behaviour of membership administrators — and it has made for a smoother transition to the one-off closing on impartial floor.
As an alternative of the normal residence and away closing, the 2019 Libertadores will come to a climax on Nov. 23 in Santiago. CONMEBOL are already doing their greatest to hype the event, with a countdown displaying that the large occasion is 341 days away.
However which groups are doubtless to make it there? There are 15 champions within the 2019 area, three of which is able to have to struggle their manner by way of the qualifying rounds. Of these 15, seven are from one nation.
Brazil’s current document within the Libertadores is nothing short of appalling. 2017 champions Gremio are the one Brazilian aspect to have reached the ultimate previously 5 years. However the good cash may properly be on the Brazilians this time round.
Three of the large Brazilian clubs — Palmeiras, Flamengo and Gremio — are in a robust monetary place. Cruzeiro are additionally aggressive. Atletico Paranaense are the one Brazilian aspect within the area that have but to win the Libertadores, however they simply helped themselves to the Copa Sudamericana title. Internacional have bounced again properly from spending 2017 within the second division — and each Atletico Mineiro and Sao Paulo will hope to choose up momentum within the qualifying rounds and carry that by way of to the group levels.
The Brazilian contingent, then, seems horrifying. Argentina’s is rather less so. Each River Plate and Boca Juniors are again and ought to be sturdy, however they may certainly be compelled to promote among the gamers who made their 2018 squads so deep. The weak point of the Argentine forex, and the truth that many contracts are signed in dollars, would appear to go away them with little different. San Lorenzo had been champions in 2014 and may very well be fascinating outsiders, however the different Argentine sides have little current monitor document within the competitors, although home cup winners Rosario Central may be fascinating outsiders.
Argentina and Brazil have dominated the previous two years — because the competitors was prolonged to final nearly your entire calendar yr.
Threats from exterior the large two may come from Colombia, as Junior of Barranquilla have acquired some helpful expertise the previous few years. LDU of Ecuador may properly have their greatest aspect since profitable the title in 2008. Additionally, spearheaded by Olimpia, the Paraguayans can often be relied on to be aggressive.
Olimpia would appear to have completed properly out of the draw — Peru’s Sporting Cristal, Argentina’s Godoy Cruz and Chile’s Universidad de Concepcion are all fascinating rivals — however none of them is a real heavyweight.
The title “group of dying” — a mandatory award on any such event — ought to in all probability go to the buildup of Palmeiras, San Lorenzo, Junior and a aspect who make their manner by way of the qualifying rounds. This may very well be Universidad de Chile, who have the additional motivation of understanding that the ultimate can be performed on their residence floor. La U had been semifinalists in 2010 and 2012 — the one occasions this century Chilean aspect have made such progress. Certainly, one of many causes for the selection of Santiago was the likelihood that no hometown aspect would make it to the ultimate.
Chilean champions Universidad Catolica, who play their residence video games just a few miles down the street, will do their greatest, however they simply misplaced their coach and have been positioned in a bunch with Gremio and Rosario Central. The street of Universidad de Chile is far more durable, nonetheless; two rounds of qualifiers adopted by probably the most troublesome group within the competitors. For the following few weeks, although, the entire competing groups are entitled to dream of glory.