Heavy defeats but little surprise in Libertadores last 8.

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Deportivo Quito and Emelec hammered and eliminated in the Copa Libertadores.

It was a humiliating week for the Ecuadorian teams in the Copa Libertadores as they were both bounced out of the competition with a whimper.

Despite needing only to protect a 4-1 lead in Santiago, Deportivo were thumped 6-0 in an amazing last 16 turnaround contributing to a final 7-4 aggregate score.

The current Ecuadorian champions were awful and constantly cut open by Universidad.  Junior Fernandez scored the first two goals then Marcelo Diaz levelled the tie before half time. If anything Deportivo were worse after the break conceding 3 more goals and surrendering the tie in the most embarrassing fashion. Unlike the first tie Quito did not have the benefit of an extra man for the majority of the match and Universidad broke through a porous defence at will.

Emelec fared no better on Wednesday as they were leathered 3-0 in Sao Paulo. The team from Guayaquil had secured a credible 0-0 home win in the first leg and could have progressed with a score draw. However Corinthians were far too strong and controlled the match after Fabio Santos’s 7th opener. The Brazilians missed a plethora of chances before doubling their lead through Paulinho in 64 mnutes leaving Alex to round up the games with 5 minutes to go.

Corinthians will now face fellow Brazilians Vasco De Gama after they beat Lanus 5-4 on penalties.

Despite Deportivo Quito’s humbling it was not the rounds biggest defeat as Bolivar were spanked     8-0 away by Santos. Ganso and Elano each grabbed a brace but it was the Brazilian superstar Neymar that stole the show. Setting up 5 of the goals he also chipped in with a double to become the highest goal scorer for Santos in the post Pele era. It was a harsh lesson for Bolivar who had historically beaten the current Libertadores champions in La Paz last week.

Paraguay’s Libertad beat Cruz Azul of Mexico 2-0 to move to the next round while Riquelme rolled back years to inspire Boca to a 3-2 in Chile against Union Espanola.

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Riquelme scored 1 and set up 2 for Boca

Last 16 2nd leg results and aggregates

  Santos FC            8-0 (9-2)               Bolívar   

 Fluminense FC  2-1 (2-1) Internacional

    Universidad de Chile       6-0 (7-4)              Deportivo Quito

 Unión Española  2-3 (3-5) Boca Juniors

      Corinthians        3-0 (3-0)              Emelec

                          Lanús          2-1 (3-3)        CR Vasco da Gama  

  (Vasco win 5-4 in penalties)

                    Vélez Sarsfield    1-1 (2-1)             Atlético Nacional

        Libertad              2-0 (3-1)            Cruz Azul

The last 8 is dominated by 4 Brazilian teams reflecting the financial spending available to the South American giant. Argentina has 2 representatives with both Boca and Velez facing Brazilians in Santos and Fluminense. The luck of the draw ensures either a Paraguayan or Chilean team shall progress to the semis while the all Corintians vs Vasco tie means there will be at least one Brazilian team in the last 4.

Quarter-final Draw

Fluminense vs Boca Juniors

Corinthians vs Vasco De Gama

Universidad De Chile vs Libertad

Santos vs Velez Sarsfield

 

First legs to be played 15/05/12 and 2nd legs 22/05/12

Independiente continue to lead the pack

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Photo courtesy of Futbolecuador

I managed to get along to the Atahaulpa again on Sunday to witness an entertaining game between El Nacional and Liga de Quito. The final score of 1-1 was hard on the home team especially as they protected their lead for so long with only 10 men. In the end however they failed to heed the warnings and a beleaguered defence finally relented in extra time.

The home crowd was none too happy at the final whistle (more of which to follow in match report) and their coach was later accosted outside the stadium although only by some over-exuberant teen.

Liga played poorly for much of the match and once again failed to catch up with leaders Independiente who also battled to a draw against Deportivo Quito at the same time. The 0-0 stalemate in Sangolqui ensured Independiente remain 2 points ahead of Liga keeping the impossible dream of championship alive.

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Independientes current success is very surprising given their relative size (stadium capacity 8,000) and recent promotion form Serie B in 2010. However their strength lies in their young players, the best of which, Christian Ramirez, is on trial at Spurs.

League standings after this weekends results.

PTS

GD

1

Independiente del Valle

26

+9

2

(LDU) Liga de Quito

24

+12

3

Deportivo Cuenca

23

-3

4

Emelec

22

+10

5

Barcelona

22

+9

6

Liga de Loja

22

+2

7

Deportivo Quito

18

+7

8

Macara

16

-4

9

El Nacional

16

-9

10

Manta F.C

14

-4

11

Tec Universitario

11

-9

12

Olmedo

8

-20

With only Barcelona of the “big teams” managing to win at the weekend (4-0 vs Manta) the league is still open and only 8 points separate the first 7 teams

The Guayaquil giants Emelec and Barcelona are only 4 points of the pace and both of the Deportivos (Quito and Cuenca) not far behind. If all the teams can maintain their form the run in should be fascinating.

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A very popular cafe/restaurant chain in Ecuador

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This picture may help illustrate the difference of opinion in cultures with the term “negro”.

Although i would never use the word myself, the Ecuadorians use it as a term of affection rather than an insult.

In this case (or as my students tell me) the menestras del negro or “The Black Guy’s Beans” is meant as a compliment as Afro-Ecuadorians are regarded as the best cooks.

The caricature maybe takes things a bit far.

I am not making any judgement with my picture as Ecuador is a very mixed, multi- ethnical, forward looking country.

One only has to look at the national football team where most of the players are of Afro-Ecuadorian origin to see how integrated the country is.

However i think this picture gives us food for thought.

SOUTH AMERICAN (CONMEBOL) WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION (PART 2)

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In last week’s blog I started to assess the World Cup qualification chances of each CONMEBOL nation. With only 3 or 4 games having been played it is still early days but already the more established countries are rising to the top. The only exception seems to be perennial qualifiers Paraguay who despite currently being 7th in the table should rise to an automatic qualifying spot.

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With Brazil qualifying as hosts, the rest of the countries will battle for the best 4 places and a 5th place play off place against a country from the Asian zone.

The next country in the current table is Columbia with 4 points from 3 games (2-1 away against Bolivia, 1-1 home draw against Venezuela and 2-1 home lost against Argentina). Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers) have a healthy mix of players in teams from Europe, South America and Mexico and are managed by the experienced Argentine, Jose Pekerman.

Their internationally based stars are completed by a smattering of Columbian based players, the best of which is the creative midfielder, Dorlan Pabon. Skillful Pabon can produce opportunities for his attackers as well as chip in with a few vital goals.

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Columbia’s Dorlan Pabon

Falcao of Atletico Madrid is their star striker and he has had a stellar season since his €40 million move form Porto last year and if he can partner up successfully with Rodallega of Wigan they may yet push for the play off place.

However, Columbia has not qualified for a World Cup since 1998 and last year’s Copa America showing was largely disappointing so they will have  to turnaround their recent form to qualify.

QUALIFICATION CURRENT STANDINGS

Team                    P              W            D             L              GF          GA          Pts

Uruguay               3              2              1              0              9              3              7

Argentina            4              2              1              1              7              4              7

Venezuela            4              2              1              1              3              3              7

Ecuador                3              2              0              1              5              2             6

Chile                       4              2               0              2              7            10           6

Colombia              3              1              1              1              4              4              4

Paraguay              4              1              1              2              3              6              4

Peru                       3              1              0              2              4              6              3

Bolivia                  4                0              1              3              4              8              1

If Chile manage to qualify for Brazil they will be hoping they don’t meet the hosts during the tournament. In their last two appearances (1998, 2010) Brazil convincingly eliminated Chile in the 2nd round.

At the moment Chile lie in 5th position with 6 points from 4 games (a 4-2 home win against Peru, a 2-0 home win against Paraguay,  a 4-1 away defeat to Argentina and a 4-0 away defeat to Uruguay).

Despite no longer having the likes of Ivan Zamorano or Marcelo Salas, La Roja can call on the likes of Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona) and Arturo Vidal (Juventus) to spearhead their attack.

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With an average age of 23 most of Chile’s foreign based stars play in Italy’s Seria A but their real strength is in the core players of Universidad de Chile and Union Espanola, both of which have progressed to this year’s last 16 of the Copa Libertadores.

Chile should be in the mix for a qualification spot but their away form has been dreadful and more heavy defeats will seriously hamper their chances.

Ecuadorian football has been in somewhat of a renaissance in the last 10 years. Two appearances at World Cups in 2002 and 2006 were followed by a first ever Ecuadorian Copa Libertadores win in 2008 with LDU Quito.

Non-qualification for South Africa 2010 and a poor showing in last year’s Copa America looked to have ended their purple patch however a strong start to this terms qualification may signal a return to form.

Ecuador have 6 points from 3 games (two 2-0 home wins against Venezuela then Peru and a 2-1 away loss to Paraguay) and sit in 4rth place above Chile on goal difference.

The majority of their players come from the major teams of Ecuador’s Serie A but their main goals threat come from Mexico’s Premier Division in Christian Benitez (America) and Jaime Ayovi (Pachuca).

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Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) and Christian Noboa (Dynamo Moscow) are the team’s superstars and will be key to El Tri’s possible qualification. If they can hold their current position it would be deemed a major success.

To be continued.

Copa Libertadores 1st leg last 16 – Deportivo Quito shine

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Deportivo Quito rounded up the last of the Copa Libertadores last 16 matches with an emphatic 4-1 win against Universidad de Chile last night.

Universidad, who are current Copa Sudamerica champions (equivalent of UEFA cup) were heavy favourites for the quarter finals but their progress looks unlikely now.

Despite winning 5-0 versus Colo Colo at the weekend and being currently ranked as the 3rd best team in the world (www.iffhs.de) Universidad were largely outclassed, outplayed and outfought in the Atahualpa Stadium.

Argentinean striker Matias Alustiza opened the scoring for Quito in the 29th minute after a quick break from defence smashing the ball past the Chilean goal keeper. Despite their early lead Deportivo suffered barely 1 minute later when midfielder, Freddy Olvio received a 2nd yellow card for a late tackle. This in turn spurned Universidad into action and they equalised through Matias Rodriguez 5 minutes later.

The match seemed delicately poised as half time loomed when Luis Checa rose above the Universidad defenders to head into the goal giving the 10 men a deserved lead.

By this time it had already been too much for Universidad coach, Jorge Sampaoli, to handle as he was sent to the stand for protesting too vociferously. And his nightmare continued early in the 2nd half as Alustiza claim his 2nd goal then saw his one man advantage disappear with Osvaldo Gonzalez’s dismissal.

This hole in the defence led to Quito’s 4rth goal when Fidel Martinez waltzed through the back line too thunder past Jonny Herrera and probably ensure Quito’s passage into the last eight.

The rest of Libertadores ties will be more balanced going into next week’s 2nd legs.

The all Brazilian tie of Internacional vs Fluminense ended up a 0-0 stalemate leaving the 2nd leg wide open but with Fluminense having home advantage.

Also on Thursday Bolivar recorded a historic 2-1win against Brazilian giants, Santos. However it is likely that Santos will overcome the Bolivians especially with an away goal, the marauding attack of Ganso and Neymar and without the thin air of La Paz.

On Tuesday night Velez Sarzfield (Argentina) recorded the competitions only away victory 1-0 against Atletico Nacional in Columbia. Ivan Bella scored early in the first half to ensure Velez’s first victory on Columbia soil in continental competitions.

On the same night La Libertad secured a valuable 1-1 draw against Cruz Azul in Mexico City and should be confident of progressing next week in Asuncion.

The bulk of the competitions matches were played on Wednesday with Boca Juniors and Vasco De Gama scraping a 2-1 home wins to Union Espanola of Chile and Lamus of Argentina respectively. While in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Emelec could only draw 0-0 to Corinthians and must at least score and draw in Sau Paulo to continue to the last eight.

Full results

Internacional 0-0 Fluminense

Bolivar 2-1 Santos

Cruz Azul 1-1 Libertad

Atletico Nacional   0-1 Velez Sarsfield

      Boca Juniors   2-1 Union Espanola

Vasco De Game 2-1 Lanus

Emelec 0-0 Corinthians

Deportivo Quito 4-1 Universidad de Chile

League standings and this weekends results.

photo courtesy of futbalecuador

I’m just back from a couple of days in Banos so just catching up with the results.

I managed to get to the Estadio de Liga Deportiva Universitaria or Casa Blanca (White House) for the first time on Sunday for the LDU Quito vs Barcelona game. It is a an impressive stadium which has a huge north stand which rises to a big television at the top.

Despite being only 15 years old it looks pretty beat up from outside but it’s a palace compared to largely uncovered Atahaulpa Studium of Deportivo Quito, El Nacional and the national team.

The east and west stands have three tiers of corporate boxes and seating below. I chose the north stand, in among the standing throngs which had a good atmosphere but pretty limited view.

The game itself was dominated by LDU but a couple of defensive lapses let Barcelona in to equalize twice. There were good passages of play and it was a much faster game than those at the Atahaulpa, probably because the surface seemed to be so much better.

The draw for LDU means they still trail the leader, Independiente who continue to surprise all despite being relative minnows.

Deportivo Quito secured a 2-0 home win against Olmedo ahead of their Copa Libertadores match with Universidad de Chile on Thursday night. While Emelec fought to a draw against Independiente in preparation for their Libertadores tie against Brazilian giants, Corinthians.