Feb 12, 2008

Cry For Me Argentina! Copa Lib Groups Kick Off With Upsets

And they're off. The 2008 Copa Libertadores group stage got underway today, with Argentine sides San Lorenzo and Estudiantes both losing road games to Caracas and Ecuador's Deportivo Cuenca, respectively. It was not the first time the Venezuelan side upset a favored team from Argentina; los rojos eliminated River Plate from the 2007 version of the "Champions League of Latin America."

Ronald Vargas and Rafeal Castellin scored for the hosts, one of two Venezuelan teams in the group stage (Union Atletico Maracaibo is the other. A third, Mineros de Guayana, was eliminated in qualifying). San Lorenzo had two players sent off with direct red cards. I didn't see the match and can't pretend to know anything about Caracas' players (only one of them even has a Wikipedia page). Six San Lorenzo players, on the other hand, have played in Europe: Diego Placente (Leverkusen and Celta de Vigo), Aureliano Torres (Real Murcia), Bernardo Romeo (Hamburg SV, Mallorca and Osasuna), Andres D'Alessandro (Wolfsburg, Portsmouth and Zaragoza), Sebastian Mendez (Celta de Vigo) and Daniel Bilos (St. Etienne).

Estudiantes are not as experienced, but in Juan Sebastian Veron have arguably the second-best player in all of South America (Riquelme would be #1, I would think). And Los Pincharratas did dominate the early stages of the game but were unable to capitalize on any of their chances. Mauricio Ferradas (ironically an Argentine national) punished them on the stroke of half time. Both teams had chances for goals in the second half but the 1-0 score was final.

Caracas face Bolivian side Real Potosi next (Feb. 26). San Lorenzo host Brazil's Cruzeiro (who open tomorrow as heavy favorites against Potosi) for their next game, Feb 21. In Group 2, Estudiantes play their countrymen Lanus Feb. 26 (Lanus open Thursday against Uruguay's Danubio). Cuenca host the Uruguayans Feb. 21 in their next match. The other action this week is in Group 4, where Peru's Cienciano (doesn't that mean one hundred something?) host Uruguay's Nacional and in Group 5 (the Group of Death) where River travel to Universidad San Martin. Oh wait, I liked! There's one more, in Group 6, where Colombia's Cucuta host Brazil's Santos.

Photo taken from mediotiempo.com without permission.

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