Dreaming of Sudamericana glory
There's only one Boca Juniors. After its extraordinary 4-0 demolition of LDU Quito in the first leg of its Copa Sudamericana round of 16 matchup on Tuesday, the Argentine giants may be the team to beat in Latin America's second-biggest club tournament.
Despite fielding a team entirely made up of reserves (so Boca's regulars can concentrate on league play), the two-time Sudamericana winners completely dominated the Copa Libertadores champions. If it wasn't for several fine saves by Liga goalkeeper
Boca's depth is simply mind-blowing, and the players who have emerged from the club's youth ranks in recent years promise to become household names in the near future.
With veteran striker
Still, there's a long way to go in the Copa Sudamericana, and several other clubs have shown signs of things to come as well. One such team is Estudiantes de La Plata, which beat defending Sudamericana champ Arsenal de Sarandí 2-1 in Wednesday's other clash.
Here's a breakdown of the rest of the round-of-16 matchups, all of which should be a thrill to watch. Despite the fact that Brazilian clubs have yet to win the title after six editions of the tournament, Palmeiras and Internacional are looking particularly strong.
Chivas may be struggling in the Mexican Apertura Championship, with only two wins in its first nine games, but the fact that it meets an Atlético side filled with reserves means it has a great shot at reaching the last eight of the Copa. The Brazilians find themselves only one point above the drop zone of their own domestic league, and head coach
This promises to be an intriguing contest between two teams that like to play attacking soccer. Botafogo cruised into this stage of the tournament after a 8-3 aggregate demolition of fellow Brazilians Atlético Mineiro, and
Meanwhile América, which finds itself in the midst of an internal conflict related to unpaid wages, hasn't let this affect its on-field performance this season.
Both clubs are relative minnows in their respective leagues, but this matchup brings together two teams who have improved a great deal in recent years. To the surprise of many, San Luis is currently on top of the overall Mexican league standings, and will be hoping to win a trophy one way or another this season. However, if
You've probably never heard of Sport Áncash before, but since joining the Peruvian First Division in '04, the small-time club has surpassed all of its expectations and now has a stab at international glory. Unfortunately, its dream run is likely to come to an abrupt end as it clashes with in-form Brazilian giants Palmeiras.
Católica may be struggling in Chile, but its form in the Sudamericana has been great thus far. The Chileans have looked extremely solid, particularly when playing in Santiago, and have the potential to give Internacional a run for its money. Inter, which knocked out crosstown rival Grêmio in the previous round, hasn't lived up to expectations in the Brazilian league this season, and will feel pressure to win the Sudamericana. With
Whenever the champions from Argentina and Uruguay clash, you're guaranteed quality soccer. This meeting promises to be all that and much more. River already eliminated Defensor from the quarterfinal stage of the competition last year on the away-goals rule, and the hard-working Uruguayans will be seeking sweet revenge. What boosts Defensor's chances of advancing is the fact that River is currently in an embarrassing 17th place in the 20-team Argentine First Division, with only one win in its first seven matches. Despite its deep struggles, River will welcome the return of Uruguayan striker and former Defensor player