Copa Sudamericana 2011, Semifinals: First Legs Kickoff Wednesday

The Copa Sudamericana trophy. Velez Sarsfield, Vasco da Gama, Universidad de Chile and LDU Quito are the remaining semifinalists, fighting for the trophy and an automatic place in the 2012 Copa Libertadores.

The 2011 Copa Sudamericana semifinals kick off on Wednesday

The semifinals of the 2011 Copa Sudamericana kick off on Wednesday, and all four teams are among the best in South America. All four also hail from different countries and all but Universidad de Chile have won a modern era Copa Libertadores, the top continental competition in South America. However, La U is arguably the hottest side in South America right now and features a number of Chilean internationals. They're hardly underdogs.

La U faces Vasco da Gama in the first semifinal on Wednesday. Vasco has played reserve sides, then mounted absolutely massive comebacks in the previous two rounds of the tournament. They are expected to play their first team now that they're in the semifinals of the competition, but are dealing with numerous injury issues. Vasco defender Dede is the man to watch in this tie, as he's expected to be making a move to Europe in January. Also primed for a European move is La U forward Eduardo Vargas, now a mainstay in his national team. That match kicks off at 6:50 pm ET.

LDU Quito and Velez Sarsfield face off in the other semifinal tie, starting on Thursday. Velez lost Ricky Alvarez, Maxi Moralez and Santiago Silva, arguably their best three attacking players in the summer transfer window. They've rebounded well to get to the Copa Sudamericana semifinals and reach third place in the Argentine Primera table, but they may lack the firepower to get by LDU Quito. That trio helped Velez to a 5-0 aggregate win over Quito in the 2011 Copa Libertadores Round of 16, but this is obviously not the same Velez side. LDU Quito rested leading scorer Hernan Barcos on the weekend, and he should be fit and tough to contain for Velez. That match kicks off at 7:15 pm ET on Thursday.

All of the matches can be found on FOX Deportes in the USA.

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