Copa Santander Libertadores
Copa Libertadores now enters its decisive stages and their knockout stage proves to be as entertaining as its counterpart on the European end.  Unlike the Champions League where there is a draw, Copa Lib has a 1-16 seeding as the top eight teams end up playing the bottom eight in a home and away format.

The seeding does not discriminate based on group or country which makes this round so intriguing.

Below are the matchups for the upcoming round of 16 which will start next week.

Cruzeiro (BRA) – Once Caldas (COL)

After bein down and out 2004 champs Once Caldas were able to sneak in as the number 16 seed with a convincing 2-0 win on the road against Universidad San Martín.  Juan Carlos Osorio’s team do have a chance to be the dark horse of this tournament, but the task will be tough as they will face the team with the best form in the tournament so far.

Libertad (PAR) – Fluminense (BRA)

The reigning Brasilerão champs were able to get in after a battle (literally) against Argentinos Juniors that helped them advance into the tournament over Uruguayan side Nacional.   Meanwhile Libertad have shown good form in the tournament and domestically, but this could be the time in which Flu can get back into the swing of things and make another run to the finals.

Internacional (BRA) – Peñarol (URU)

This is probably the most intriguing matchup of the lot.  Five-time champs face the reigning champs in what can prove to be either a goalscoring orgy or an absolute brawl.  This is Inter’s time in this tournament in recent years and Celso Roth’s side want a second chance to redeem themselves on the international stage after their embarrassment last December in Abu Dhabi.

Diego Aguirre’s side look poised to make the next big leap after winning the Uruguayan title last season and there could be a possibility of The Manya to be able to pickup a player of the caliber of former Juventus man Marcelo Zalayeta to shore the offense up a bit for this tournament as they prepare to fight for the top spot domestically as well.

Junior (COL) – Jaguares (MEX)

This matchup features two teams with some of the most erratic play right now.  Both teams are struggling mightily on the domestic front.  Junior find themselves in 14th place in the Colombian league while Jaguares are in the cellar of Group C in the Mexican league.  Although Junior was built to play on two fronts, Oscar Quintabani’s side has struggled to produce the results expected.  Jaguares are in a tailspin but would look to focus solely on this tournament.

Cerro Porteño (PAR) – Estudiantes de La Plata (ARG)

Leo Astrada will be facing an old friend in Eduardo Berizzo in this match.  The Paraguayans were able to get past Colo Colo on the road coming back from a two-goal deficit and

Universidad Católica (CHI) – Gremio (BRA)

Former Barcelona goalscorer Juan Antonio Pizzi leads U Católica against a Grêmio side that virtually cruised in to the next stage alongside Junior in group 2.

Liga de Quito (ECU) – Vélez Sarsfield (ARG)

This matchup was one that Vélez fans groaned about.  Having to play the return match in the altitude of Quito is not the most pleasurable of experiences, making their away leg match at the José Amalfitani that much more important.

Liga started out slow, but were able to emerge on top of a tough group 8. Now they are looking good in order to make a run at another international title.

América (MEX) – Santos (BRA)

The Brazilians missed out on the top spot of their group by two goals, but many would prefer to play an erratic América over a grizzled Estudiantes.  Watch out what you wish for, though.  Club América have been a tough opponent at the Estadio Azteca and have been a very tough customer on the road especially for Brazilian sides.

Check out Copa Lib bracket

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