Football Tips

Copa Libertadores Tips: Palmeiras can achieve greatness, while River can rock the boat

Copa Libertadores
Can Palmeiras win a third straight Copa Libertadores?

"However, there appears to be more respect this time round for Palmeiras, and rightly so, having won all six of their group games, scoring 20 goals in the process and conceding just three. No other side achieved this during the group stages."

With the group stages done and dusted, South American expert Nathan Joyes analyses the knockout draw and tips up two teams to go on and potentially lift the trophy in Uruguay.

Palmeiras dare to dream


Many believed that Palmeiras were simply not good enough to make it back-to-back Copa Libertadores titles last year, but the Brazilians were able to silence their critics in style.

The Brazilians managed to knock out fellow Brazilian pair Sao Paulo and Atletico Mineiro before defeating hot favourites Flamengo in the final. This was certainly no easy route for Palmeiras, especially with many tipping both Mineiro and Flamengo to go all the way.

Now bidding for a third straight title, Palmeiras must be taken more seriously.

The spotlight remains firmly on Flamengo, however, who are once again favourites to win the tournament, but that'll suit Palmeiras just fine. However, there appears to be more respect this time round for Palmeiras, and rightly so, having won all six of their group games, scoring 20 goals in the process and conceding just three.

No other side achieved this during the group stages.

palmeiras celebrating 1280.jpg

Raphael Navarro has come in from Botafogo and delivered, scoring seven Copa Libertadores goals, while Raphael Veiga has scored six of his own during the group stage, both proving to be deadly assets from open play and set pieces for the Champions.

A rather generous draw sees them against Paraguay's Cerro Porteno, who scrapped through Group G by a single goal, in what was a rather weak group consisting of Argentina's Colon, fellow Paraguayan outfit Olimpia Asuncion and Uruguay's Penarol.

The Brazilians will avoid Flamengo, Boca Juniors and River Plate en route to the final, with only a potential repeat tie against Atletico Mineiro their main danger. However, they have failed to impress themselves so far, losing two matches, but just about managed to top their group.

It may look like an easy selection to tip the current Champions to prevail once again but considering their draw and potential route to the final, I would have them as the clear outright favourites.

Due to both these factors, I'm backing Palmeiras to reach the final at 2.757/4 and for Palmeiras to win the Copa Libertadores at 4.507/2 with a one-point stake on both.

River Plate hold every chance

Away from the top three in the market, it feels as though River Plate have been overlooked at their current price of 6.5011/2 to win the Copa Libertadores.

The Argentines won five of their six group matches, only dropping points when drawing 1-1 with Fortaleza in Brazil, who also qualified from Group F. Scoring 18 goals and conceding just three has been rather eye catching from River, in a group which was more competitive than Palmeiras'.

Having already qualified in pole position, River Plate scored eight against Alianza Lima in their last group game, in a match where Manchester City bound Julian Alvarez scored a hattrick in each half.

Yes, that sentence is accurate.

There was no mercy from the home side and it appeared as though River Plate were putting out a statement of intent to the other top sides just before the knockout draw was made.

RiverPlate.jpg

The draw itself saw them put up against fellow Argentinian side Velez Sarsfield, which admittedly isn't the easiest of matches, but Velez did prove vulnerable defensively during their group campaign, and with the first leg away from home, River Plate will look to take full advantage in the return fixture in front of their own fans.

The two teams last met domestically back in August 2021, where River Plate came out on top 2-0, which also daw River Plate finish top by seven points, scoring 53 goals and conceding just 19.

If River are to progress, a quarter-final tie against either Colon or Talleres Cordoba shouldn't concern Marcelo Gallardo's side, before a potential semi-final draw against either Flamengo, Boca Juniors or Corinthians awaits.

However, neither Boca Juniors or Corinthians impressed during their group matches - in fact Corinthians fans made it very clear to their squad how disappointed they were losing their opening match to Bolivian outfit Always Ready.

Whoever progresses out of Boca or Corinthians, I'll be surprised if either team will have enough to defeat the current market leaders, Flamengo.

Yet there's no reason why River Plate should fear last year's finalists. Although Flamengo came out of their group with five wins and a draw, they conceded six goals against Talleres Cordoba, Catolica and Sporting Cristal - three rather weak opponents and we saw this last year with Flamengo, often struggling to keep clean sheets throughout the tournament.

Flamengo rely on their attacking prowess, and that's by no means a bad tactic, especially with the likes of Gabriel Barbosa, Everton Ribeiro and Pedro within their ranks. However, River Plate, if they were to draw Flamengo, will be the Brazilians toughest Copa Libertadores opponents since Palmeiras in last year's final, and we all know how that ended.

I'd rather chance River Plate coming out on top against a possible draw against Flamengo at 6.5011/2 rather than the Brazilians at 4.507/2, who themselves may not enjoy this year's route to the final compared to last years. Back River with a one point stake to lift the trophy.

Good luck to those who follow.

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Nathan's Copa Libertadores P/L

Staked: 30pts
Returned: 36.25pts
Total: +6.25pts

2021: +14.37pts

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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.