The draw for the next stages of this year’s Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana took place on Wednesday evening in Asunción and all ten clubs involved across the two competitions discovered what lies ahead.
The continent’s most prestigious competition, the Copa Libertadores, doesn’t usually require a draw with seeding from the group stages dictating the knockout ties but CONMEBOL changed things up this year.
Perhaps Argentina’s strongest contenders River Plate face Guaraní, the side that Marcelo Gallardo’s side defeated in the semi-final before lifting the trophy in 2015, San Lorenzo take on Emelec and Lanús face The Strongest, all in the top half of the draw, setting up potential all-Argentine clashes in the quarters and semi-finals.
In a Brazilian dominated bottom half, Argentina’s other representative Godoy Cruz face Grêmio, in what is a daunting route to the latter stages for El Tomba.
With the tournament now spread over a year, Argentine clubs are perhaps at a slight disadvantage given the timing of these knockout rounds. The first legs of these fixtures will be at the start of July, just as the Argentine football season ends but the second legs take place over a month later, before the next season begins.
Will this break in play disrupt preparations? We will find out in August.
In the Copa Sudamericana, Racing face Independiente Medellín, after the Colombian side narrowly missed out on progression from River Plate’s group in the Libertadores and Independiente were drawn against Deportes Iquique, who finished third in their Libertadores group.
Estudiantes dropped into the competition after failing to qualify in the Copa Libertadores and meet Nacional Potosí while Atlético Tucumán, another Libertadores dropout, also face Bolivian opposition in the form Oriente Petrolero.
Huracán’s miraculous comeback in the last round earned them a clash with Libertad, Defensa y Justicia face Brazilian opposition again after knocking out São Paulo, this time Chapecoense and Arsenal are up against Sport Recife.