There was no shortage of tantalising fixtures in the draw for the last 16 of this year’s Copa Libertadores but the undoubted heavyweight contest as far as Argentina’s interest is concerned is Racing Club’s clash with River Plate.
With River the only Argentine group winners the chances of a meeting with one of the nation’s five runners-up was always a distinct possibility but there could have been few more exciting clashes than when Racing Club were first from the pots.
An inspired Franco Armani performance gave River victory over Racing in Avellaneda when the two sides met in the Superliga in April but when last pitched against each other in the Copa Libertadores, La Academia triumphed on penalties in 1997.
The winner of that all-grande tie will meet Independiente after El Rojo were drawn against Santos. A Clásico de Avellaneda was on the cards in last year’s Copa Sudamericana before Racing’s elimination but the possibility of a Libertadores quarter-final derby is colossal.
Elsewhere in the same side of the draw, Estudiantes, who finished behind Santos in Group F, face defending champions Grêmio and Atlético Tucumán, in uncharted territory this far into the Libertadores, take on 2016 champions Atlético Nacional.
Which leaves Boca Juniors as the only Argentine club in the opposite side of the draw and means the only way this Copa Libertadores will produce a Superclásico is in the final.
The Superliga champions face Libertad, who topped Atlético Tucumán’s group and should Boca progress, the winner of the all-Brazilian tie between Flamengo and Cruzeiro lies ahead.
The group runners-up will play their home fixtures first between August 7-9 before the second legs during the final week of the month.