Oct 30, 2007

Copa Sudamericana Semifinals Set

River Plate became the fourth and last semifinalist to qualify today, thanks to their scoreless home draw with Defensor Sporting of Montevideo, Uruguay. The teams had previously played a 2-2 game in the first leg. I saw most of tonight's game and it wasn't exactly beautiful soccer. River dodged one bullet after another, most of which were caused by their own sloppy defending, but Defensor weren't able to put one past River goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo. The 23 year old, who was on Argentina's bench at the Copa America this summer, had one nearly fatal flaw of his own midway through the second half. After leaving his line (a questionable decision in its own right), he mishandled a deep ball and had to chase it outside his own area, where, instead of clearing it into touch he booted it up the field--right into the path of an opposing player, whose long-range shot was headed off the line by (I think) Fernando Belluschi. Other than that Carrizo actually played very well. One of very few River players I can say that about.

In the semis, Daniel Passarella's men will face fellow Argentine side Arsenal (no relation to a certain London club) because the Copa has a rule that prohibits teams from the same country playing each other in the final. If they face each other in the semis, they can't face each other in the final (I'm assuming the Copa Sud folks limit entries to two per country?) The other semifinal will feature Mexico City's Club America and Millionarios out of Bogota, Colombia, with the first leg at the Azteca on Thursday, Nov. 8. The first leg of River-Arsenal will also be played that night, though I'm not exactly sure where.

Figure River and America to be favored, perhaps even heavily favored. Millionarios' traditional home field advantage--high altitude--will be largely nullified as Mexico City is just as high as Bogota (I think. Too lazy to look it up at this point). America, currently 13th in my top 25 ranking of worldwide clubs, appears to be peaking at the right time for this tournament, having just defeated Chivas in an impressive showing over the weekend. River clearly has to play better than they did tonight though. Arsenal also just defeated Chivas (in their quarterfinal match-up of the Copa Sudamericana) but more impressively, they pulled it off on the road at Guadelajara. I have the sense they could give River trouble.


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  2. I watched the same crappy game. But i think that Defensor did as well as they could, they just ran out of gas in the last 15-20 minutes, which is were they needed to score and win.
    River vs Arsenal will be a great match-up.
    Although i agree with you that Millonares is the BIG under dog, we still must keep in mind that this is the same team that beat River at Nuñez 0-1 earlier in the year. I think that they are the under dogs cause nobody has really heard of them and the fact that their budget is probably a tenth of America's (the mexican club once had a coach that needed to be be choffered via chopter to the practices...!)

  3. I'll take the River-Arsenal winner in the final. Too bad there's no Brazilian teams left.