Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Copa América Previews - Group C

So, we've covered Groups A and B, now we are onto the Group C. The final group to look at and it's looking like a two horse race for the last eight.


Tournament Best: Runners up in 1955, 1956, 1979, 1987
Head Coach: Claudio Borghi

Squad (Domestic Unless Stated):

Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad. Spain), Miguel Pinto (Atlas, Mexico), Paulo Garcés (Universidad Católica)
Defenders: Pablo Contreras (PAOK Salonika, Greece), Gonzalo Jara (West Bromwich Albion, England), Waldo Ponce (Cruz Azul, Mexico), Marco Estrada (Montpellier, France)
Midfielders: Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras, Brazil), Matías Fernández (Sporting CP, Portugal), Gary Medel (Sevilla, Spain), Rodrigo Millar (Colo Colo), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta, Italy), Luis Jiménez (Cesena, Italy), Mauricio Isla (Udinese, Italy), Gonzalo Fierro (Flamengo, Brazil), Francisco Silva (Universidad Católica), Arturo Vidal (FC Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Germany), Felipe Gutiérrez (Universidad Católica)
Forwards: Humberto Suazo (Monterey, Mexico), Alexis Sánchez (Udinese, Italy), Jean Beausejour (Birmingham City, England), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Carlos Muñoz (Santiago Wanderers)

La Roja put up a good show 12 months ago in South Africa when the made the last 16 but eliminated by a team they could face in this competition, Brazil. Jean Beausajour was one of the heroes 12 months ago when he got the vital goal to give La Roja a 1-0 victory over Honduras. Despite the departure of Mareclo Biesla and arrival of Claudio Borghi, Chile will hope to continue in the fashion that gained them lots of admirers in South Africa last year and with Alexis Sanchez currently one of the most wanted players by the big European teams we hope it doesn't prove to be too much of a distraction for them. They should be more than good enough to make the knock out stages.
Key Man: Arturo Vidal is also hot property at the moment
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Alexis Sanchez. Oh, er, hang on a minute or two.

Invitees - Runners up in 1993 and 2001
Head Coach: Luis Fernando Tena

Squad (Domestic Unless Stated)

Goalkeepers: Luis Ernesto Michel (CD Guadalajara), Liborio Sánchez (Querétaro), Carlos Felipe Rodríguez (Morelia)
Defenders: Kristian Álvarez (CD Guadalajara), Oswaldo Alanis (Estudiantes) Miguel Ángel Ponce (CD Guadalajara), Dárvin Chávez (Monterrey), Hiram Mier (Monterrey), Paul Aguilar (América), Nestor Araujo (Cruz Azul), Diego Reyes (América), Héctor Reynoso (CD Guadalajara)
Midfielders: Diego de Buen (UNAM) Édgar Pacheco (UANL), Javier Aquino (Cruz Azul), Antonio Gallardo (CD Guadalajara), Emilio Orrantía (UNAM), Jorge Enríquez (CD Guadalajara)
Forwards: Giovanni Dos Santos (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Alan Pulido (UANL), Ulises Dávila (CD Guadalajara), Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna), Rafael Márquez Lugo (Morelia),

After winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup last Sunday in Los Angeles against the USA, Mexico are straight back into tournament action as they look to go one better than 1993 and 2001. Of the squad only Dos Santos and Reynoso will be in Argentina as most of the big European clubs pull rank on their players. The goal of Dos Santos in the Copa de Oro final was an absolute belter but Mexico have gone for untried and untested talent as regular boss Jose Manuel de la Torre takes and break and lets Luis Fernando Tena take control. Add in Jonathan dos Santos, Nestor Vidrio, Javier Cortes, David Cabrera, Nestor Calderon, Israel Jimenez, Jorge Hernandez and Marco Fabian have been sent home for violating team rules just before a final squad needed to be submitted to CONMEBOL means it's going to be hard work for El Tricolor.
Key Man: Giovanni Dos Santos, excellent in the Gold Cup, decent in Spain, shit in England.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Anyone not accused of a serious sexual offence


Winners: 1939, 1975
Head Coach: Sergio Markarián

Squad (Domestic Unless Stated)

Goalkeepers: Salomón Libman (Alianza Lima), Raúl Fernández (Nice, France), Leao Butrón (Universidad San Martin)
Defenders: Santiago Acasiete (Almería, Spain), Walter Vílchez (Sporting Cristal), Renzo Revoredo (Universitario de Desportes), Christian Ramos (Alianza Lima), Giancarlo Carmona (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Yoshimar Yotún (Sporting Cristal), Alberto Rodríguez (Sporting CP, Portugal), Aldo Corzo (Universidad San Martin), Orlando Contreras, (Universidad San Martin)
Midfielders Antonio Gonzales (Universitario de Desportes), Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina, Italy), Adán Balbín (Universidad San Martin), Carlos Lobatón (Sporting Cristal), Michael Guevara (Sport Boys), Rinaldo Cruzado (Juan Aurich), Josepmir Ballón (River Plate, Argentina)
Forwards: Paolo Guerrero (SV Hamburg, Germany), Raúl Ruidíaz (Universitario de Deportes), Luis Advíncula (Sporting Cristal), André Carrillo (Sporting CP, Portugal)

Claudio Pizarro omitted and Jefferson Farfán injured means Peru's chances of pulling themselves off the bottom on CONMEBOL's ranking table is pretty slim. It seems La Rojiblanca will be just there to make up the numbers after the omission of Pizarro and the injury that has wrecked Farfán's chances of turning out. Sergio Markarián could well be looking for new employment at the end of this one as they will fight it out with Mexico for the chance of sneaking into the last eight from third place.
Key Man: Paolo Guerrero need to reproduce his Bundesliga form to give Peru any hope.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Josepmir Ballón, talented midfielder who won't fancy being in Primera B Nacional with River come September

Uruguay Winners: 1916, 1917, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1935, 1942, 1956, 1959, 1967, 1983, 1987, 1995
Head Coach: Óscar Tabárez

Squad (Domestic Unless Stated)

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (SS Lazio, Italy), Juan Castillo (Colo Colo, Chile), Martín Silva (Defensor Sporting)
Defenders: Diego Lugano (Fenerbahçe, Turkey) Diego Godín (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Mauricio Victorino (Cruzeiro, Brazil), Maxi Pereira (Benfica, Portugal), Andrés Scotti (Colo Colo, Chile), Martín Cáceres (Sevilla, Spain), Sebastián Coates (Nacional)
Midfielders: Walter Gargano (Napoli, Italy), Cristian Rodríguez (FC Porto, Portugal), Sebastián Eguren (Sporting de Gijón, Spain), Álvaro Pereira (FC Porto, Portugal), Nicolás Lodeiro (Ajax, Holland) Diego Pérez (Bologna, Italy), Egidio Arévalo Ríos (Botafogo, Brazil), Álvaro González (SS Lazio, Italy)
Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Napoli, Italy), Luis Suárez (Liverpool, England), Diego Forlán (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Sebastián Abreu (Botafogo, Brazil), Abel Hernández (Palermo, Italy)

The joint most successful side in Copa history, Uruguay have real hope of adding another to their impressive haul. After making the last four in South Africa with the same group of players, that's the minimum requirement here. Look at the forwards. Go on - look! How impressive is that, with Palermo hot-shot Abel Hernandez as fifth choice. That's depth in quality most sides anywhere in the world would give a right arm for. At the back too, Diego Godín and Martin Cáceres are as good as any other pair in the tournament and Fernando Muslera has had a great season with Lazio on the back of his outstanding World Cup. And if they need a reserve keeper, there's always Luis Suárez.
Key man: Godin. A leader of men, a fantastic tackler and under-rated ball player. If he goes well, Uruguay go well. Diego Forlán is still vital too.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Nicolás Lodeiro. He's not made a huge impact at Ajax yet as the Dutch giants look to bring him on carefully, but a decent tournament and everyone will want a sniff of the boy.

Copa América previews - Group B

We've had a look at group A which featured tournament favourites and hosts Argentina. Now let's look at group B which features the other big boys and the biggest threat to the hopes of the Albiceleste.


Tournament best: Winners 1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007

Head coach: Mano Menezes

Squad (domestic unless stated):
Goalkeepers: Júlio César (Internazionale, Italy), Victor (Grêmio), Jefferson (Botafogo)
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona, Spain), Lúcio (Internazionale, Italy), Thiago Silva (AC Milan, Italy), André Santos (Fenerbahçe, Turkey), Maicon (Internazionale, Italy), Luisão (Benfica, Portugal), Adriano (Barcelona, Spain), David Luiz (Chelsea, England)
Midfielders: Lucas Leiva (Liverpool, England), Ramires (Chelsea, England), Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Elano (Santos), Elias (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Lucas (São Paulo), Jádson (Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine)
Forwards: Robinho (AC Milan, Italy), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan, Italy), Neymar (Santos), Fred (Fluminense)

A typically strong Seleção, though the fitness of Alexandre Pato is in question which would be a huge blow as they're going a little light up top. Dunga was offed as head coach after not playing the 'right' way and this side seems set up in that idiom with a midfield lacking a certain amount of flair, but with the more pragmatic Sandro, Ramires and Lucas Leiva. Jádson, however, can fill the Ronaldinho Gaucho shaped hole in the side.
Key man: Probably Alexandre Pato. If he's fit, then Brazil will have an attack of great depth and quality. Without him, less so.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Not Elano or Robinho, that's for sure. But Jádson might just fit the bill at Eastlands.


Tournament best: 4th 1959, 1993

Head coach: Reinaldo Ruida

Goalkeepers: Marcelo Elizaga (Deportivo Quito), Máximo Banguera (Barcelona), Alexander Domínguez (LDU Quito)
Defenders: Geovanny Caicedo (LDU Quito), Frickson Erazo (El Nacional), Luis Checa (Deportivo Quito), Walter Ayoví (Monterrey, Mexico), Néicer Reasco (LDU Quito), Norberto Araujo (LDU Quito), Diego Calderón (LDU Quito), Gabriel Achilier (Emelec)
Midfielders: Oswaldo Minda (Deportivo Quito), Christian Noboa (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Michael Arroyo (San Luis, Mexico), Édison Méndez (Emelec), Segundo Castillo (Pachuca, Mexico), David Quiroz (Emelec), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United, England), Geovanny Nazareno (Barcelona)
Forwards: Felipe Caicedo (Levante, Spain), Christian Benítez (América, Mexico), Edson Montaño (Gent, Belgium), Narciso Mina (Independiente José Terán)

A relatively inexperienced squad is hoping to better Ecuador's best ever finish of fourth place in the competition. Safe to say, they won't do that. Too much relies on too few players - the vastly experienced Édison Méndez, defensive veterans Walter Ayovi and Geovanny Caicedo and, of course, Antonio Valencia. Valencia ended the season really well with Manchester United having missed much of the year with injury. He should be fresh and that's key to their hopes of getting out of the group.
Key man: Valencia. Obviously.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Felipe Caicedo is still a Man City player of course, so if they haven't been put off Ecudorians for life, then a good tournament could see Edson Montaño getting his agent on the phone.


Tournament best: Winners 1953, 1979

Head coach: Gerardo Martino

Goalkeepers: Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño), Roberto Junior Fernández (Racing Club, Argentina), Justo Villar (Valladolid, Spain)
Defenders: Antolín Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic, England), Marcos Cáceres (Racing Club, Argentina), Paulo da Silva (Real Zaragoza, Spain), Elvis Marecos (Guaraní), Iván Piris (Cerro Porteño), Aureliano Torres (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Darío Verón (UNAM, Mexico)
Midfielders: Édgar Barreto (Atalanta, Italy), Víctor Cáceres (Libertad), Néstor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo, Argentina), Hernán Pérez (Villarreal B, Spain), Cristian Riveros (Sunderland, England), Jonathan Santana (Kayserispor, Turkey), Enrique Vera (LDU Quito, Ecuador)
Forwards: Pablo Zeballos (Olimpia), Lucas Barrios (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Marcelo Estigarribia (Newell's Old Boys, Argentina), Osvaldo Martínez (Atlante, Mexico), Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn Rovers, England), Nelson Haedo Valdez (Hércules, Spain)

Coming off the back of an encouraging World Cup, hopes are high for Paraguay to do something at this tournament. Certainly, getting out of the group shouldn't be too tricky, but anything further than that might prove tricky. But they're a talented bunch as we saw in South Africa, have plenty of options up top and a steely backbone. With a fair wind, the last four is a possibility.
Key man: Midfield dynamo Víctor Cáceres, the Libertad stalwart. The heartbeat of the side.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Need an ageing goalkeeper to provide cover for your international hot-shot? The captain Justo Villar should be on your shopping list.


Tournament best: Quarter-finals 2007

Head coach: César Fárias

Goalkeepers: Renny Vega (Caracas), José Leonardo Morales (Deportivo Anzoátegui), Dani Hernández (Real Murcia, Spain)
Defenders: José Manuel Rey (Mineros de Guayana), Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Deportivo Anzoátegui), Gabriel Cichero (Newell's Old Boys, Argentina), Roberto Rosales (FC Twente, Holland), Grenddy Perozo (Boyacá Chicó, Colombia), Alexander González (Caracas), José Luis Granados (Real Esppor)
Midfielders: Giácomo Di Giorgi (Deportivo Anzoátegui), Tomás Rincón (Hamburger SV, Germany), César Eduardo González (Gimnasia La Plata, Argentina), Luis Manuel Seijas (Santa Fe, Colombia), Franklin Lucena (Caracas), Juan Arango (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany), Yohandry Orozco (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany), Jesús Meza (Atlas, Mexico)
Forwards: Nicolás Fedor (Getafe, Spain), Giancarlo Maldonado (Atlante, Mexico), Alejandro Moreno (Chivas USA, USA), José Salomón Rondón (Málaga, Spain), Daniel Arismendi (Deportivo Anzoátegui)

A tough task for La Vinotinto, but they'll be looking to build on making the quarters last time round on home soil. They've the core of a decent side, but they'll need more than that to get out of this group and they'll most likely be battling Ecuador for third.
Key man: The veteran Juan Arango will be looked on to hold things together in midfield along with Roberto Rosales at the back.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Hamburg midfield excitement machine Tomás Rincón. Like a cultured Nigel de Jong without the penchant for heart-endangering tackles.

Copa América previews - Group A

We're a couple of days away from the start of the 2011 Copa América in Argentina, so let's have a look at the teams involved. Group A sounds like the best place to start.


Tournament best: Winners 1921, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1991, 1993

Head coach: Sergio Batista

Squad (domestic unless stated):
Goalkeepers: Juan Pablo Carrizo (River Plate), Mariano Andújar (Catania, Italy), Sergio Romero (AZ, Netherlands)
Defenders: Ezequiel Garay (Real Madrid, Spain), Pablo Zabaleta (Man City, England), Nicolás Burdisso (Roma, Italy), Gabriel Milito (Barcelona, Spain), Javier Zanetti (Internazionale, Italy), Nicolás Pareja (Spartak Moscow, Russia), Marcos Rojo (Spartak Moscow, Russia)
Midfielders: Esteban Cambiasso (Internazionale, Italy), Ángel di María (Real Madrid, Spain), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, Spain), Lucas Biglia (Anderlecht, Belgium), Javier Pastore (Palermo, Italy), Éver Banega (Valencia, Spain), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid, Spain)
Forwards: Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid, Spain), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Carlos Tévez (Man City, England), Sergio Agüero (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli, Italy), Diego Milito (Internazionale, Italy)

Little introduction needed for a side picked almost exclusively of Europe-based players. The forward line is embarrassingly strong, but the eternal question remains over their ability to get the best of that impish genius Lionel Messi. He's had pelters from domestic press for not playing for the Albiceleste as he does for Barcelona, but then he doesn't have Iniesta and Xavi in the national side. In trying to cram the best eleven players, Batista doesn't necessarily always field his best team. He'll have to put a nose or two out of joint to achieve that, but talent alone is enough to justify their short odds favouritism.
Key man: We'd say Messi, but that'd be obvious. It's Sergio Batista.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Even the Abu Dhabi oil millions wouldn't be enough to get Barcelona to part with Messi, but Esteban Cambiasso fits their style of combative midfielder.


Tournament best: Winners 1963

Head coach: Gustavo Quinteros

Goalkeepers: Carlos Erwin Arias (Maccabi Netanya, Israel), Sergio Galarza (Blooming), Daniel Vaca (The Strongest)
Defenders: Lorgio Álvarez (Bolívar), Santos Amador (Nacional Potosí), Luis Gutiérrez (Oriente Petrolero), Miguel Hoyos (Oriente Petrolero), Ronald Raldes (Colón, Argentina), Ronald Rivero (Bolívar), Christian Vargas (San José)
Midfielders: Jhasmani Campos (Oriente Petrolero), Rudy Cardozo (Bolívar), José Luis Chávez (Blooming), Wálter Flores (Bolívar), Ronald García (Bolívar), Edvaldo Hermoza (Naval, Portugal), Jaime Robles (Aurora), Joselito Vaca (Oriente Petrolero)
Forwards: Juan Carlos Arce (Oriente Petrolero), Marcelo Martins (Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukraine), Ricardo Pedriel (Sivasspor, Turkey), Alcides Peña (Oriente Petrolero), Mauricio Saucedo (Oriente Petrolero)

The days of Bolivian talent filtering through to the bigger leagues around the world is a long time ago now. Experience is thin on the ground with only one player with more than 50 caps to his name, Ronald Raldes with 55, and international goals are even fewer and further between. While La Paz is something of a fortress, they have a poor away record and little suggests that will change in Argentina over the next few weeks. These boys will do well to finish third in the group.
Key man: With eight goals in 22 internationals, Shakhtar Donetsk striker Marcelo Martins is the man most likely.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Joleon Lescott isn't much cop, so veteran defensive rock Raldes should be expecting the Garry Cook call.


Tournament best: Winners 2001

Head coach: Hernán Dário Goméz

Goalkeepers: Nelson Ramos (Millonarios), Neco Martínez (Once Caldas), Bréiner Castillo (Independiente Medellín)
Defenders: Cristián Zapata (Udinese, Italy), Mario Yepes (AC Milan, Italy), Yulian Anchico (Pachuca, Mexico), Pablo Armero (Udinese, Italy), Luis Amaranto Perea (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Juan David Valencia (Junior), Juan Zúñiga (Napoli, Italy), Aquivaldo Mosquera (América, Mexico)
Midfielders: Gustavo Bolívar (Deportes Tolima), Carlos Sánchez (Valenciennes, France), Abel Aguilar (Hércules, Spain), Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Udinese, Italy), Fredy Guarín (Porto, Portugal), Elkin Soto (Mainz 05, Germany)
Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Porto, Portugal), Hugo Rodallega (Wigan Athletic, England), Dayro Moreno (Once Caldas), Teófilo Gutiérrez (Racing Club, Argentina), Gustavo Adrian Ramos (Hertha BSC, Germany), Jackson Martínez (Chiapas, Mexico)

An attack-minded squad for a resurgent Colombia who have a blend of youth and experience, of overseas-based and domestic talent reminiscent of the mid- to late-nineties. These boys might not make it all the way - maybe next time if current rates of progress can be maintained - but they've got the look of kingmakers about them. A semi-final is definitely not out of the question.
Key man: Radamel Falcao gets all the headlines, but just as - if not more - important is the midfield dynamo Carlos Sánchez.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Falcao who is coming off the back of a great season in Portugal and looks every inch the subject of tedious, drawn-out tabloid rumour-mongering.

Costa Rica

Tournament best: First appearance as invited guests

Head coach: Ricardo La Volpe

Goalkeepers: Minor Álvarez (Belén Siglo XXI), Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Danny Carvajal (San Carlos)
Defenders: Francisco Calvo (San Jacinto College, USA), Jhonny Acosta (Alajuelense), José Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Heiner Mora (Saprissa), Pedro Leal (Puntarenas), Óscar Duarte (Saprissa), Kevin Fajardo (Santos de Guápiles)
Midfielders: Jorge Gatgens (Alajuelense), David Guzmán (Saprissa), Hanzel Arauz (Santos de Guápiles), Luis Miguel Valle (Alajuelense), José Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Allen Guevara (Alajuelense)
Forwards: Randall Brenes (Cartaginés), César Elizondo (Saprissa), Jorge Castro (Saprissa), Diego Madrigal (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay), Joel Campbell (Saprissa), Josué Martínez (Saprissa)

A first showing for Costa Rica, replacing initial invitees Japan who withdrew after the earthquake and tsunami which, as well as causing huge death and devastation, saw the J-League rescheduled. And tragedy struck the Costa Ricans in the lead-up to the tournament with the death of highly promising defender Dennis Marshall in a road accident in San José. The 25-year old had scored his first international goal the day before in a win over Honduras in the Gold Cup. Argentinian boss La Volpe is also denied the services of talisman Bryan Ruiz. The FC Twente striker struggled all year with injury and his absence denies them their one truly class player.
Key man: La Volpe. Man manager extraordinaire, he'll relish the chance to cause an upset in his home country.
Most likely to be linked with Man City: Diego Madrigal. Crazy name, crazy guy.

Copa América 2011

The Copa América, the worlds oldest international football tournament kicks off in La Plata, Argentina on Friday. This will be the 43rd edition of the tournament as Brazil look to defend the title they won in Venezuela in 2007. This is unique competition as well, as there is NO qualification process as all ten CONMEBOL countries are represented. The field is then made up to 12 by two invited sides, this year Mexico and Costa Rica make up the entrants. Costa Rica were late entries into the tournament after Japan were forced to withdraw when the top European club sides refused, as is their right, to release players for the competition. Mexico, after just winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup, have sent a pretty much reserve squad made up of players from their domestic competition barring Giovanni Dos Santos of Tottenham Hotspur.

Despite all their FIFA World Cup success, Brazil have only won this competition eight times in their history and the trail current leaders Uruguay and Argentina who have fourteen victories each. Argentina last won in 1991 in Ecuador while 1995 was Uruguay's last triumph which came on home soil. Paraguay and Peru have two titles each while Colombia and Bolivia have one title each. Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador have yet to taste success while none of the invited teams have yet to triumph.

This year's competition will take place in Argentina and kicks off on Friday in La Plata where the host nation takes on Bolivia. The last time Argentina stages the competition was in 1987 when Uruguay defeated Chile in the final. One big change to the format this year is that extra time will be played in the knock out stages, previously ties went straight to kicks from the penalty mark if things were level at the end of regulation.

In a bid to take football to the masses in Argentina, all games barring the final will be held outside of the capital Buenos Aires.

The venues are

Córdoba - Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes - 57,000
Junjay - Estadio 23 de Agosto - 23,000
Mendoza - Estadio Malvinas Argentinas - 40,268
Salta - Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena - 20,408
San Juan - Estadio del Bicentenario - 25,000
Santa Fe - Estadio Brigadier General Estanislao López - 47,000
La Plata - Estadio Ciudad de La Plata - 53,000
Buenos Aires - Estadio Monumental - 57,921

The draw for the tournament was made in La Plata last November and the groups are as follows

Group A

Costa Rica

Group B


Group C


From here, the top two teams qualify automatically for the knock out stages and the best two placed runners up. There are all sorts of tie-breakers for the Group Stage, the end of the line is the drawing of lots by the CONMEBOL Committee.

After that, it's a straight knock out down to the final in El Monumental on July 24th.

Viewers in the UK can catch live action on ESPN.

This is just an overview for now, we'll be back with a more detailed group by group breakdown.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Copa Sudamericana 2011 Draw

The draw for the opening two stages of the 2011 Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana were made today at the Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires. The last place in the competition will be decided after the play off in Chile between Deportes Concepción and Universidad de Chile which takes place at the end of July.

Sixteen teams start in the first qualifying stage, the eight winners then join 22 other clubs in the second stage, with Argentinian and Brazilian clubs seeded to meet each other at this stage. The holders Independiente of Argentina, who defeated Goiás of Brazil in the final last year, join the 15 other qualifiers at the Round of 16. The winners qualify for the Recopa Sudamericana and the Sugura Bank Championship

All games are played on a two legged home and away basis, The ties are settled on a points basis with three points for a win and one for a draw. If the two teams are level on points they are seperated by a: goals scored; b: higher number of away goals scored or c: kicks from the penalty mark. There is no extra time played after the second leg. The rules, as ever, are different for the final but we'll cross that bridge further down the line.

Stage One Draw

Match A: San José (BOL) v Nacional (PAR)
Match B: Universidad César Vallejo (PER) v Santa Fe (COL)
Match C: Deportes Concepción/Universidad de Chile (CHI) v Fénix (URU)
Match D: Deportivo Quito (ECU) v Deportivo Anzoátegui (VEN)
Match E: Olimpia (PAR) v The Strongest (BOL)
Match F: La Equidad (COL) v Juan Aurich (PER)
Match G: Bella Vista (URU) v Universidad Católica (CHI)
Match H: Yaracuyanos (VEN) v LDU Quito (ECU)

Stage Two Draw

Match 1: Argentinos Juniors (ARG) v Vélez Sarsfield (ARG)
Match 2: Winner Match C v Nacional (URU)
Match 3: Vasco da Gama (BRA) v Palmeiras (BRA)
Match 4: Winner Match F v Libertad (PAR)
Match 6: Winner Match D v Universitario (PER)
Match 7: Arsenal (ARG) v Estudiantes (ARG)
Match 8: Winner Match B v Deportivo Cali (COL)
Match 9: Atlético Mineiro (BRA) v Botafogo (BRA)
Match 10: Winner Match E v Emelec (ECU)
Match 11: Lanús (ARG) v Godoy Cruz (ARG)
Match 12: Winner Match H v Trujillanos (VEN)
Match 13: Ceará (BRA) v São Paulo (BRA)
Match 14: Winner Match A v Aurora (BOL)
Match 15: Flamengo (BRA) v Atlético Paranaense (BRA)
Match 16: Winner Match G v Deportes Iquique (CHI)

Round of 16

Winner Match 1 v Winner Match 16
Winner Match 2 v Winner Match 15
Winner Match 3 v Winner Match 14
Winner Match 4 v Winner Match 13
Independiente (ARG) v Winner Match 12
Winner Match 6 v Winner Match 11
Winner Match 7 v Winner Match 10
Winner Match 8 v Winner Match 9

Game schedule will be released shortly, it's all a mix and match for the first two stages with some second stage ties completed before some first stages ties are played. The competition won't start until the close of the Copa América.

Premier Sports will be covering the competition from start to finish.

Premier Sports is the home of live South American Football in the UK
You can subscribe at or by calling 0870 633 9000

Monday, 27 June 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 6

Flamengo 4-1 Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Paranaense 0-2 Bahia
Cruzeiro 2-1 Coritiba
Corinthians 5-0 São Paulo
Botafogo 2-1 Grêmio
Avaí 0-1 Fluminense
Ceará 2-0 Palmeiras
Internacional 4-1 Figueirense
Atlético Goinaiense 0-1 Vasco da Gama
Santos P-P América Mineiro

The weekend action saw the Premier Sports TV camera's witness Flamengo snap their 4 draw run with a come from behind victory of Atlético-MG at the Engenhão. Dudu Cearense headed the visitors ahead six minutes after the break and they held onto the lead for quarter of an hour before Ronaldinho Gáucho levelled for the Rubro-Negro. Thiago Neves put Fla ahead fourteen minutes from time and as Atlético-MG chased the game a double from Deivid in the last four minutes wrapped things up. Adilson Batista became the latest coaching casualty as his winless Atlético-PR side fell to defeat at home to Bahia. Marcone put Bahia ahead twenty minutes into the second half and Lulinha wrapped things up four minutes from time to give the newly promoted club a second straight win on the road. The late Saturday game saw Cruzeiro finally register in the win column when they accounted for a Coritba side slowly losing it's way. Walter Montillo put the home side ahead from the penalty spot seven minutes after the break but Marcos Aurélio though he'd earned the visitors a point eleven minutes from time. Up stepped Montillo to get his second six minutes from time to give Cruzeiro a winning start for new coach Joel Santana.

São Paulo's 100% start was destroyed by bitter rivals Corinthians as they ran riot in "O Majestoso" at the Pacaembu. São Paulo were reduced to ten five minutes before the break after Carlinhos Paraiba was sent off for a second yellow card. Corinthians opened the scoring two minutes after the break when Danilo broke the São Paulo resistance. Then it became the Liédshow. The former SC Portugal strike stunned São Paulo with a hat-trick in the space of 24 second half minutes to put Corinthians four up. Jorge Henrique rounded off the rout with the fifth eight minutes from time. Botafogo made it four unbeaten when they overcame Grêmio at the Engenhão. Grêmio were reduced to ten men half way through the second half when Fernando was shown a second yellow card and two minute later Marcelo Mattos put the Alvinegro ahead. Elkeson wrapped up the points in injury time with Botafogo's second but they couldn't rest easy after Rafael Marques pulled an immediate Grêmio goal back. The Premier Sports TV cameras were at the Ressacada on Sunday as Fluminense collected all three points against Avaí. Dario Conca put Fluminense ahead seven minutes before the break but the Tricolor suffered a blow two minute later when striker Rafael Moura was sent off. You begin to wonder now if Avaí are actually going to register a win this season.

The good run of Palmeias was ended at the Castelão as Ceará picked up their second win of the season. Washington put Ceará ahead with just seven minutes on the clock and Thiago Humberto doubled the lead on the stoke of half time. It's a first defeat of the season for the Big Green and a missed opportunity to close the gap at the top of the table. The late Sunday games saw Internacional make it four undefeated as they snapped Figueirense's three match unbeaten run in convincing fashion at the Beira-Rio. Internacional were two up inside the opening twenty minutes thanks to Bolívar and Oscar. Leandro Damião made it three just short of the hour and Ricardo Goulart added a fourth ten minutes from time. Wellington Nem got Figueirense a consolation goal two minutes from time. Finally Vasco da Gama are looking to build confidence on the back for the Copa Kia do Brasil success as they made it three unbeaten after a good win on the road at Atlético-GO. One goal was enough and came within the opening 60 seconds of the game. On their first trip into Atlético-GO territory the ball fell to Felipe on the edge of the area and he smashed the ball home.

The game between Santos and América Mineiro will take place next Saturday after being postponed to allow the Peixe time to recover from their exploits on Wednesday night.

Due to the start of the Copa América next weekend, there will be a midweek round of fixtures and they line up like this

Vasco da Gama x Cruzeiro
Grêmio x Avaí
América Mineiro x Flamengo
São Paulo x Botafogo
Figueirense x Santos
Bahia x Corinthians
Palmeiras x Atlético Goianiense
Coritiba x Ceará
Fluminense x Atlético Paranaense
Atlético Mineiro x Internacional

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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Copa Libertadores Final Second Leg

Santos 2-1 Peñarol
Santos wins 4-1 on points

After 48 years between drinks, Santos are finally Copa Libertadores champions for the first time since 1963 after they defeated Peñarol at the Pacaembu in São Paulo. After the Peñarol fans put a show on last week this time fireworks and huge home support welcomed the sides onto the pitch.

Santos were much the better side on the in the opening exchanges enjoying the lions share of possession and look to attack down the flanks at any opportunity. Elano tested Peñarol keeper Sebastian Sosa early door but the keeper was more than up to the task posed by the for Manchester City player's shot. Later in the half, it was Elano again who tested Sosa from a free kick but the keeper was perfectly positioned to keep out the attempt.

The breakthrough came a minute into the second half, Arouco allowed time and space to wade through the Peñarol defence and he found Neymar who beat Sosa at his near post. After his first half efforts it was a poor effort from the Peñarol goalkeeper who could have done a lot more to keep the shot out. The second came twenty minutes from time, Danilo getting down the right cutting into the penalty area and his well placed left foot shot was out of the reach of Sosa. Cue the Pacaembu going wild as the home fans, and Pelé in a rather fetching red jacket, were finally beginning to believe this was their year.

Not that the Santos fans had a comfortable last ten minutes after Durval deflected a cross into his own net to leave the Uruguayan side a chance of forcing extra time and another thirty minutes to try and claim their sixth crown. But Santos held on and nearly extended their leas but Neymar hit the post and they held on to lift the trophy for a third time and claim a place at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December.

Before the presentation came the stupidity, some good old fashioned South American football biffo. Started by a few stray Santos fans who made it on to the Pacaembu pitch, the boots were flying and arms were waving as they two sides traded insults. It all seemed to calm down before a Peñarol player came flying in Bruce Lee style, the Military Police decided to step in a split the two factions up so the presentation could be started.

So, after finally getting the trophy the party started, Muricy Ramalho and Pelé celebrated hand in hand and the party continued late into the night. A good job the CBF have given Santos the weekend off by rescheduling their game.

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Monday, 20 June 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 5

Fluminense 0-1 Bahia
América Mineiro 1-1 Cruzeiro
Palmeiras 5-0 Avaí
Flamengo 0-0 Botafogo
Grêmio 1-1 Vasco da Gama
Figueirense 2-0 Atlético Paranaesne
Ceará 0-2 São Paulo
Atlético Mineiro 2-1 Atlético Goianiense
Coritba 1-1 Internacional
Santos P-P Corinthians

The weekend started with just one early game on the Saturday and in front of yet another pitiful crowd at the Engenhão, Fluminense crashed to a shock defeat against Bahia in front of the Premier Sports TV Cameras. The result, to be honest, was little more than the battling performance of Bahia deserved but they left it late to strike. Jóbson with the goal as the game went into injury time. The last Saturday game saw the first Belo Horizonte derby of the season as América-MG came from behind to claim a point against Cruzeiro. Things seemed to be going well for the struggling visitors when Fabrício put them ahead with fifteen minutes on the clock but América-MG got themselves back into the game nine minutes after the break when Fábio Júnior levelled matters. It was too much for Cruzeiro coach Cuca who quit post game after picking up just three points out of a possible fifteen and ex-Botafogo coach Joel Santana has been hired. Sunday opened with Palmieras keeping the pressure on at the top of the table after comfortable disposing of a wretched Avaí side at the Canindé. Avaí shot themselves in the foot with the opener, George Lucas putting the ball into his own net with eighteen minutes gone before Luan doubled the lead four minutes later. Two more in two minutes just before the break, a second from Luan and Kléber meant the Big Green went into the break four up. The rout was completed nineteen minutes from time when Kléber got his second after converting from the spot.

A much larger crowd in at the Engenhão on the Sunday as the first big Rio derby of the season finished goalless between Flamengo and Botafogo. Chances were at a premium in what wasn't the best of games, Dario Botinelli took most of the headlines though after managing to get himself sent off with just twenty two minutes gone after some simulation saw him receive a second yellow card. Flamengo were happy to hang on for a point to keep their long unbeaten run against Botafogo going. Cross town rivals Vasco da Gama were denied victory on the road in Porto Alegre as they were denied by a late Grêmio goal. Bernardo's fourth goal of the season, he's now joint top of the goal charts, put Vasco ahead fifteen minutes from time but Roberson grabbed Grêmio a point five minutes from time. Promoted Figueirense moved up to fourth in the table after Atlético-PR became their latest victims. Two goals in four first half minutes were enough for Figueirense to take the points, Heber with the opener with eighteen minutes on the clock before Juninho Barbosa got the second.

The Premier Sports TV cameras witnessed São Paulo remained the only side with a 100% record after coming away with the points from the long trip up to Ceará. Marlos put São Paulo ahead ten minutes before the break and youngster Lucas, currently hot property with European clubs, doubled the lead twenty minutes after the break. It leaves São Paulo with a four point buffer at the top of the table from local rivals Palmeiras. Entertainment central in Sete Lagoas as Atlético-MG and Atlético-GO shared the points. Marcão put the visitors ahead with half an hour gone before Atlético-MG levelled fourteen minutes from time courtesy of Renan Oliveira. The game was level for four minutes before Atlético-GO took the lead again through Vítor Júnior and Atlético-MG rallied and levelled four minutes from time through Guilherme. Despite impressive form early in the year in the Copa do Brasil and the State Championship, Coritiba are still struggling to get to terms with life in the top flight but will take heart from a battling performance against Internacional. Gladyson put Inter ahead five minutes after the break but the home side got themselves a point and an equalising goal sixteen minutes form time when Davi finally found a way through.

The game between Santos and Corinthians was postponed until the 11th August due to the home sides involvement in the Libertadores final in midweek.

Next week again only nine games as the fixture involving Santos has been put back a week to allow them some recovery time.

Flamengo x Atlético Mineiro - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Atlético Paranaense x Bahia
Cruzeiro x Coritiba
Corinthians x São Paulo
Botafogo x Grêmio
Avaí x Fluminense - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Ceará x Palmeiras
Internacional x Figueirense
Atlético Goianiense x Vasco da Gama

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Copa Libertadores Final First Leg

Peñarol 0-0 Santos

It's all to play for in the Copa Libertadores Final when over 60,000 fans packed the Estadio Centenario for the first leg last night. Several clear chances were wasted by both sides as it finished goalless in Montevideo.

Both teams had early chances to take the lead. Inspired by a display of lights and flags from their fans, Alejandro Martinuccio tested Rafael when he got possession at the top of the box. Unfortunately the Argentine lost his footing and the shot was poor. Juan Manuel Olivera nearly put Peñarol ahead from close range but Rafael blocked the shot.

It was a positive start by the home side, looking to take an early advantage over their Brazilian rivals but Santos began to find their feet. Their best opportunity of the first half came after Neymar took on the Peñarol defenders before finding Alex Sandro, who tested home custodian Sebastian Sosa. Santos then came even closer when a Bruno Rodrigo header hit the woodwork moments later.

Peñarol finished the half stronger firstly Guillermo Rodríguez was left unmarked but headed straight into the hands of Rafael and moments later an attempted lob from Dario Rodríguez just went over the bar.

With the second half moments old Santos wasted the best chance of the game. Zé Eduardo wasting a golden opportunity when with only Sosa to beat the goalkeeper somehow kept his shot out. 20 minutes from time, Santos again could have broken the deadlock when Neymar found Sandro on the overlap and the cross found Zé Eduardo on the back post who headed inches wide.

Peñarol then had three chances of their own. Martinuccio again failed to test Rafael, substitute Fabian Estoyanoff did test Rafael who was up to the task and moments later Juan Manuel Olivera's effort was just wide.
With five minutes to go Peñarol thought they had broken the dealock when Diego Alonso finally put the ball in the back of the net after Rafael had fumbled a shot. The Centenario went bonkers only to be denied by the upraised flag of the Paraguayan assistant, who was proved correct by television replays.

Despite being five time winners Peñarol have never actually lifted the trophy on home soil, this year marks the 50th anniversary of their second title and ironically, the second leg is at the Pacaembu in São Paulo which was the site of that triumph against Palmeiras in 1961. Remember away goals do not count in the final of this competition and if we are level after regulation next week then extra time will be played with a penalty competition to follow to decide the outcome if we are still level.

The game is next Thursday morning at 0150 and will be live on Premier Sports TV.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Copa Libertadores Final Preview

In the early hours of tomorrow morning the first leg of the final of the 52nd Edition of the Copa Libertadores takes place in the historical Estádio Centenario in Montevideo as five time champions Peñarol take on two time winners Santos of Brazil. Peñarol were the first ever winners of the competition, winning the first two editions in 1960 and 1961 before losing their crown to Santos in the 1962 final. Santos then retained the title in 1963 and have yet to record another victory in the competition since. It's also been a long time between drinks for Peñarol as well, their last victory coming in 1987 against América of Colombia with a last minute extra time goal in the play-off final.

Santos struggled to get out of their group, scraping through on the last day of the group stage thanks to winning their last three group games after opening with two draws and a defeat. Peñarol also squeezed out of their group on the last day of the group stage despite losing at home to Independiente of Argentina. Their group campaign same them suffer a 5-0 humping at LDU Quito. The knockout stages have been a different kettle of fish for both sides with them both finally finding some form.

Santos will be without Paulo Henrique Ganso, who is still struggling with a thigh injury but will welcome back Bruno Aguair and Bruno Rodrigo, who both missed the trip to Asunción for the second leg of the semi final. They have also had a warning from Santos legend Pelé to respect their opponents after he called into their training camp after their arrival in Montevideo. For Peñarol, if it ain't broke don't fix it, as they will go with the side that got them to the final despite their defeat to Vélez Sarsfield in that game.

Also up for grabs is a place in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup which takes place in Japan in December where a likely meeting with UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona awaits.

Possible Line Ups

Peñarol - Sosa; G Rodriguez, D Rodriguez, Gonzalez, Valdez; Aguiar, Freitas, Corujo, Mier; Olivera, Martinuccio.

Santos - Rafael; Bruno Aguiar, Bruno Rodrigo, Edu Dracena, Sandro; Adriano, Arouca, Danilo, Elano; Ze Eduardo, Neymar.

Peñarol - Route to Final

Group Matchday 1 - Independiente 3-0 Peñarol
Group Matchday 2 - Godoy Cruz 1-3 Peñarol
Group Matchday 3 - Peñarol 1-0 LDU Quito
Group Matchday 4 - LDU Quito 5-0 Peñarol
Group Matchday 5 - Peñarol 2-1 Godoy Cruz
Group Matchday 6 - Peñarol 0-1 Independiente
Round of 16 1st Leg - Peñarol 1-1 Internacional
Round of 16 2nd Leg - Internacional 1-2 Peñarol
Quarter Final 1st Leg - Peñarol 2-0 universidad Católica
Quarter Final 2nd Leg - Universidad Católica 2-1 Peñarol
Semi Final 1st Leg - Peñarol 1-0 Vélez Sarsfield
Semi Final 2nd Leg - Vélez Sarsfield 2-1 Peñarol

Santos - Route to Final

Group Matchday 1 - Deportivo Táchira 0-0 Santos
Group Matchday 2 - Santos 1-1 Cerro Porteño
Group Matchday 3 - Colo Colo 3-2 Santos
Group Matchday 4 - Santos 3-2 Colo Colo
Group Matchday 5 - Cerro Porteño 1-2 Santos
Group Matchday 6 - Santos 3-1 Deportivo Táchira
Round of 16 1st Leg - Santos 1-0 América (MEX)
Round of 16 2nd Leg - América (MEX) 0-0 Santos
Quarter Final 1st Leg - Once Caldas 0-1 Santos
Quarter Final 2nd Leg - Santos 1-1 Once Caldas
Semi Final 1st Leg - Santos 1-0 Cerro Porteño
Semi Final 2nd Leg - Cerro Porteño 3-3 Santos

The game is live on Premier Sports TV at 0145 with friend of the site Will Downing calling the action.

The return leg takes place a week later at the Pacaembu and will also be covered by Premier Sports TV

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Monday, 13 June 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 4

Avaí 2-2 América Mineiro
Cruzeiro 1-1 Santos
São Paulo 3-1 Grêmio
Vasco da Gama 1-1 Figueirense
Bahia 1-1 Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Goianiense 4-1 Ceará
Internacional 2-2 Palmeiras
Corinthians 2-0 Fluminense
Atlético Paranaense 1-1 Flamengo
Botafogo 3-1 Coritiba

Avaí picked up their first point of the season at the Ressacada against América-MG but left it late to claim a share of the spoils. The visitors took the lead eight minutes before the break when Alessando curled in the opener but Avaí levelled nine minutes after the break when Juliano levelled from the spot. Two minutes later, América where ahead again two minutes later, Avaí keeper Aleks conceding the spot kick and Fábio Junior levelled from the spot. Avaí levelled in the last minute when Cássio headed home and to compound things there was still time for Marcos Rocha of América to see red. Santos, with things on their mind will be happy coming away from Sete Lagoas with a point against Cruzeiro with yet another last minute strike and playing almost all of the second half with ten men. The red card came for Vinicius Simon four minutes after the break and Cruzeiro took the lead when Argentinian Walter Monitllo converted from the spot six minutes later. The ten minute didn't give up and got their reward in the last minute when Borges levelled matters. The Premier Sports TV cameras witnessed São Paulo remain the only team with a 100% record in the league after they accounted for Grêmio at the Morumbi. Casimiro put São Paulo with just thirteen minutes gone but his own goal seven minutes after the break levelled things for Grêmio. Marlos restored the São Paulo just after the hour and Jean wrapped things up six minutes from time. Grêmio finished the game with ten men after Rafael Marques was sent off in injury time. The final Saturday game saw Copa Kia do Brasil winners Vasco da Gama throw two points away against Figueirense. Elton put Vasco ahead with just eighteen minutes gone but the visitors snatches a point a minutes from time when Aloisio grabbed an equaliser for the Floriánapolis based side.

Sunday started with newly promoted Bahia making it two from two draws at home as the were held by Atlético-MG. Bahia took the lead five minutes after the break when Souza converted from the penalty spot. Atlético-MG levelled fourteen minutes from time through Neto Berola, who was then sent off three minutes from time. After back to back defeats Atlético-GO went goal crazy as they came from behind to defeat Ceará at the Serra Dourada. Thiago Humberto put Ceará ahead with twenty-two minutes on the clock but the lead lasted all of two minutes before Anselmo levelled. Atlético-GO went into the break ahead when Adriano struck with eight minutes of the first half left and Bida made it three on the hour. Anselmo picked up his second, and Atlético-GO's fourth, sixteen minutes from time to wrap things up. Another late late goal at the Beira-Rio rescued a point for the home side this time as Palmeiras came so close to taking all three points at Internacional. The home side took the lead five minutes after the break when Marcos Araujo put the ball into his own net but four minutes later Kléber came to his rescue to level for the Big Green. Luan then put Palmieras ahead half way through the second half, but write Internacional off at your peril and Leandro Damião came to the rescue in injury time go give Inter a point and frustrate Felipão.

The Premier Sports TV viewers were treated to Corinthians remaining unbeaten and keeping the pressure on São Paulo at the top of the table after a comfortable home victory over the Champions, Fluminense at the Pacaembu. Two goals in the opening half hour from Willian, the second from the penalty spot was enough to give the Muskateers the victory and possible help under fire coach Tite keep his job for another week. The task facing Abel Braga grows week upon week if he is to lead the Tricolor to back to back successes. Flamengo have a shocking record at the Arena de Baixada and will be happy to escape with a point after falling behind to a Madson goal on the hour. The misfiring Argentinian Dario Botinelli was removed at half time by Vanderlei Luxemburgo and his replacement Deivid got the equalising goal ten minutes from time. Finally Coritiba are still struggling to life back in the top flight after they went down to Botafogo at the Engenhão despite taking a first minutes lead through Bill. Maicousel levelled for the Alvinegro with sixteen minutes gone and recent signing Elkeson put Botafogo ahead Linkseven minutes before the break. Coritiba were reduced to ten men just after the hour when Emerson was sent off and the victory was sealed in injury time as Coritiba chased the game, substitute Alex securing all three points.

Week 5 sees just the nine games as the clash between Santos and Corinthians has been rescheduled to August 11 to give the home side valuable preparation time for their clash with Peñarol on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Libertadores final in Montevideo. A couple derbies thrown into the mix as well in Sete Lagoas and the Engenhão.

The rest though line up like this

Fluminense x Bahia - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
América Mineiro x Cruzeiro
Palmeiras x Avaí
Flamengo x Botafogo
Grêmio x Vasco da Gama
Figueirense x Atlético Paranaense
Ceará x São Paulo - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Atlético Mineiro x Atlético Goianiense
Coritiba x Internacional

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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 3

Palmeiras 1-0 Atlético Paranaense
Fluminense 2-1 Cruzeiro
Ceará 2-2 Botafogo
Figueirense 2-0 Atlético Goianiense
Flamengo 1-1 Corinthians
Grêmio 2-0 Bahia
Coritiba 5-1 Vasco da Gama
Santos 3-1 Avaí
América Mineiro 2-4 Internacional
Atlético Mineiro 0-1 São Paulo

Saturday saw Palmeiras go top of the table temporarily after victory over Atlético-PR at the Estádio Canindé. The visitors had Rômulo sent off just short of the hour fora second yellow card and the Big Green won the game when Chico struck fifteen minutes from time. The Premier Sports TV cameras saw Fluminense made it back to back wins after defeating title rivals Cruzeiro in front of just 6674 at the Engenhão. Close season signing from Goiás Rafael Moura put the Tricolor ahead on the stroke of half time but substitue Anselmo Ramon levelled for Cruzeiro half way through the second half. The teams were level for just five minutes before a second from Rafael Moura won the game for Fluminense. Botafogo's problem last season was too many draws and they had to come from behind to claim a point at Ceará. Recent signing Elkeson put the Alvinegro ahead just before the half hour but Ceará were quickly level through Osvaldo. Michel put Ceara ahead on the hour Antônio Carlos levelled for Botafogo fifteen minutes from time. The late Saturday game saw promoted Figueirense pick up their second consecutive home win, this time Atlético-GO were the victims. Both game came in the space of five second half minutes, Heber got the first half way though the second half before Édson Silva ensured the victory for Figueirense.

Sunday the Premier Sports TV cameras saw Corinthians knock Palmeiras off top spot after the were held to a draw by Flamengo at the Engenhão but denied Dejan Petkovic a victory in his farewell appearance. In contrast to the evening before 42000 turned up for this one and the majority were stunned when Willian put Corinthians ahead with twenty minutes gone. Flamengo levelled six minutes before the break when Renato Abreu's 30 yard free kick flew past Julio César in the Corinthians goal. Bahia are finding it tough on their return to the top flight and they are still searching for their first win after defeat at Grêmio. Júnior Viçosa put Grêmio ahead with just five minutes gone and his second seven minutes after the break wrapped up things for the home side as they registered back to back wins. Coritiba and Vasco da Gama met for the second time in three days after the latter 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa Kia do Brasil final in midweek. This time a totally different Vasco team were put to the sword by the home side as they picked up their first Série A win of the season. Tcheco put Coritiba ahead with just three minutes gone the then an Anderson Aquino hatrick in the space of nine minutes had the home side four up inside twenty minutes. Maranhão made it five for Coritiba twenty minutes after the break before Elton grabbed a consolation two minutes later. Coritiba won the second leg 3-2 on Wednesday night but Vasco da Gama got their place in the 2012 Copa Libertadores thanks to those two away goals.

Avaí remain pointless after defeat to a second string Santos side that rested players after the trip to Asunción in midweek. Borges put Santos ahead with ten minutes gone and he doubled the lead 8 minutes after the break. Avaí made it interesting when Mauricio Alves pulled a goal back in the last minute but Rychely restored the two goal advantage deep into injury time. Another promoted side, América-MG are finding life tough after they fell to defeat at home to Internacional. América were blown away in the opening part of the first half three goals in eight minutes from Andres D'Alessandor and a brace from Oscar put them three up with 22 minutes gone. Rodriguinho pulled a goal back eleven mintues after the break but Fernando Cavenaghi restored the three goal Inter cushion just three minutes after. Alessandro pulled another goal back from América-MG six minutes from time but it was mere consolation for the home side. The week closed on Wednesday night when two unbeaten sides in Atlético-MG and São Paulo clashed in Sete Lagoas. Both 100% records were on the line and it was the visitors who took home the points and retain their record in the division after Casimiro got the only goal of the game after twenty minutes.

Week 4 takes place this weekend and they line up like this

Avaí x América Mineiro
Cruzeiro x Santos
São Paulo x Grêmio - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Vasco da Gama x Figueirense
Bahia x Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Goianiense x Ceará
Internacional x Palmeiras
Corinthians x Fluminense - Coverage on Premier Sports TVAtlético Paranaense x Flamengo
Botafogo x Coritiba

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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Copa Libertadores Semi Final Second Leg

Cerro Porteño 3-3 Santos
Santos advances 4-1 on points

Santos continue their quest for their first title since 1963 after advancing to the final after ending up drawing in Asunción against Cerro Porteño. With just two minutes on the clock Santos doubled their aggregate lead and got a vital away goal when Zé Eduardo headed home an Elano free kick. A bizarre own goal doubled the Santos lead, Pedro Benítez attempted head the ball back to his keeper Diego Baretto but the stopped ended up punching the ball into his own net. Cerro Porteño got a foothold on the night four minutes later when César Benitez headed home a corner from substitute Juan Iturbe. Santos seemed to have nailed the lid shut on the tie when they restored their two goal lead right on the break, Neymar firing home from the edge of the area. The home side didn't give up and reduced the deficit on the hour when Juan Lucero volleyed past Rafael. With nine minutes to go, Jonathan Fabbro levelled with the goal of the night to produce a climax but Santos had their away goals in the bank as a safety net. Santos will be without captain Edu Dracena for the first leg of the final after he stupidly got himself sent off in injury time but they are in the final for the first time since 2003, when they lost to Boca Juniors of Argentina.

A couple of things away from the action, the laser pens were again much in evidence again on Wednesday night with Neymar and Rafael targeted on a number of occasions. Also, some credit to the groundsman who produced a quite amazing pitch pattern which you can see on the highlights.

Vélez Sarsfield 2-1 Peñarol
3-3 on points, Peñarol advances on the away goal rule

Peñarol will meet Santos in the two legged semi final after some late drama saw them qualify courtesy of the away goals rule against Vélez Sarsfield. The visitors opened the scoring and grabbed a vital way goal with thirty-four minutes gone. Midfielder Matias Meir fired home after good work from the forward partnership of Juan Manuel Oliveira and Alejandro Martinuccio. Vélez were denied when Juan Manuel Martínez was ruled offside, despite video evidence to the contrary and Santiago Silva had a penalty claim turned down. Just before the break, Vélez were level on the night when Peñarol goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa fumbled a Maxi Moralez free kick and and substitute Fernando Tobio put the ball over the line. Juan Manuel Oliveira should have put the tie to bed for Peñarol half way through the second half but he put his shot wide and within a minute Vélez were ahead. Juan Martínez setting up Santiago Silva whose shot went in off the post. Vélez were now a goal away from advancing but they were reduced to ten men just two minutes later when Fernando Ortiz was sent off for his second yellow card of the game. The drama didn't end there, with fifteen minutes left the home side were awarded a penalty when Martínez was bought down and the Uruguayan Santiago Silva had the chance to dump his countrymen out of the competition but he slipped when taking the kick and it ended up in row Z leaving Peñarol to hang on a claim their final berth.

So Peñarol are in with a chance of their first title since 1987 and it's been 48 years between drinks for Santos. The first leg of the final is in Montevideo on June 16 with the return at the Pacaembu a week later. Both games will be live on Premier Sports TV

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You can subscribe at or by calling 0870 633 9000