Copa Libertadores: Atletico Nacional vs São Paulo
After nearly a 2 month break, the Libertadores is back.
Atletico Nacional convincingly made their way through the group stages, winning every game & not conceding one single goal in all 8 matches. In the round of 16, Nacional met Huracán (Argentina) where they took care of business in the second leg with a 4–2 victory at home after a nil nil draw in the first match. The quarter finals presented a little scare for the Colombian side, losing 1–0 in the first leg & conceding an away goal early in the second leg, Nacional faced an uphill battle against Rosario Central (Argentina). However, with a goal in the 48th minute of the first half & a goal with 2 minutes played in the second, El Verde were well on their way to cup glory. In typical Copa Libertadores fashion, after a few tackles with the studs showing & a multitude of injuries, the referee awarded 10 minutes of extra time. In the 96th minute, Orlando Berrio scored the goal to send Nacional through, which also got him sent off after his provoking celebration caused him & Rosario Central defender Damian Musto to get involved in the fisticuffs. Crazy, I know.
São Paulo’s road to the semi finals, was a little more hard fought. They struggled in a group with the likes of River Plate (Argentina), The Strongest (Bolivia) & Trujillanos FC (Venezuela) after not winning a single game in their first 3 group matches, São Paulo did what São Paulo always does and advanced into the next stage. In the round of 16, Deportivo Toluca (Mexico) was no match for São Paulo losing 4–0 in the first leg, Toluca would win the second leg at home but the 3–1 result was not enough for the Mexican side to advance. In the quarter finals, São Paulo faced fellow Brazilian side Atlético Mineiro. The first match was played at home & Tri Color squeaked out a 1–0 victory. In the away leg, Atlético Mineiro jumped out to a 2–0 lead in the first 12 minutes. 3 minutes later, São Paulo scored & held the away goal advantage to see them through to the semifinals.
So here we are.. Atletico Nacional welcome back 5 players who were representing Colombia in the Copa America. On the other side, a battered São Paulo side who looks to be without their #10 Ganso, and their captain Hudson. who are both carrying injuries. Nacional hasn’t reached the final of this competition since 1995, and having only raised the Copa once in 1989, El Verde are on the brink of glory. São Paulo has a lucrative history in this tournament, winning 3 times. With the last title run being in 2005, I’m sure the Brazilians are poised to return to their winning ways.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Atletico Nacional: Alejandro Guerra, Macnelly Torres
São Paulo: Christian Cueva, Alan Kardec