Copa Libertadores 2012, Matchday 5: Marquee Clashes In Groups 5 And 6

Marco Fabian #8 of Chivas de Guadalajara celebrates after scoring a goal against the Seattle Sounders FC. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Libertad and Vasco da Gama play the round's biggest match on Wednesday. Chivas Guadalajara and Defensor Sporting close out Tuesday's games with an important fixture.

This week's Copa Libertadores schedule is loaded with a total of 11 games, but there are a couple of clear standouts. The two late games on Wednesday night between the teams at the top of Group 5 and Group 6 are the clear marquee matches of this fixture list. In other action, there are some very good sides that are in need of wins after early struggles, while all eyes will be on Boca Juniors to see if they can recover from this weekend's shocking defeat.

Lanus vs. Emelec

Tuesday, 6:45 p.m. ET

Lanus started the season brilliantly and looked like they were finally going to play up to their talent level for the first time in around three years, but things have gone south since the end of February. They have lost all of their last four games in the Argentine Primera and Copa Libertadores. Emelec are also in a poor run of form, but they'll be excused for away losses to LDU Quito and Flamengo. If they can draw away in Argentina, they will like their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Nacional vs. Deportivo Tachira

Tuesday, 6:45 p.m. ET

Unless Cruz Azul drop an unexpected beating on Corinthians this week, both of these teams have to feel bad about their chances of going through. The two teams at the top of Group 6 already have a decent points gap on these two, and their pre-existing budget and talent gaps were always going to make things tough for Nacional and Deportivo Tachira. Neither team can feel good about their chances of going through if they do anything but grab all three points on Tuesday.

Internacional vs. The Strongest

Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. ET

The Strongest are inexplicably top of Group 1 with wins over Juan Aurich and Santos FC. This would be surprising enough from any Bolivian team, but The Strongest are actually having a very poor season domestically. This is not a powerhouse of a team. Internacional is coming off of a loss to Santos, and they should be able to break The Strongest's miracle winning streak with a victory of their own at home.

Alianza Lima vs. Nacional

Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. ET

It's been a rough start to 2012 for Alianza Lima. The scheduling gods started them off with way games against Libertad and Vasco da Gama, which they lost unsurprisingly. They have carried that negative momentum into their domestic season, where they have failed to win in their first two games. They finally get a home game this week, and nothing less than a win is going to keep them involved in this competition. Nacional is in mediocre form right now, since a roller coaster ride of results generally averages out to mediocrity. They have a win against Vasco in this competition, but lost over the weekend domestically to Racing.

Chivas Guadalajara vs. Defensor Sporting

Tuesday, 11:15 p.m. ET

The Goats got off to an abysmal start in the Primera and in Copa, but they're back into a position to do well in both. They're coming off of three straight wins in Mexico and will be eyeing up another win on Tuesday night. The battle in Group 7 looks like a tight one, and either team can establish themselves as a favorite to go through with a win on Tuesday. Defensor have not played in this competition in a month, but they're in very good form domestically.

Arsenal de Sarandi vs. Boca Juniors

Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. ET

Based on the way that Fluminense is playing, it's likely that Arsenal and Boca are fighting for second place in Group 4. Boca would normally be favorites to take this game, but all bets are off after their 5-4 loss to a terrible Independiente side in what was arguably the most shocking result of the season anywhere in top level professional football this season. Arsenal beat Zamora last time out in Copa and they're coming off an away win against Godoy Cruz domestically. This is a total crap shoot.

Fluminense vs. Zamora

Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. ET

Zamora were able to hold Boca Juniors to a 0-0 draw, but they're up against a completely different animal in Fluminense this week. Flu lost 2-0 away to Flamengo on the weekend, but they rested Deco, Fred, and their first choice defense. With those players fully rested and playing at home, there isn't much reason to believe that Zamora can keep this interesting.

Libertad vs. Vasco da Gama

Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET

This is beyond any shadow of a doubt the biggest matchup of the week, based on the way these teams are playing in all competitions and the level of talent that's going to be on the field. Both Libertad and Vasco rested some key players domestically over the weekend to make sure they would be ready for this clash. Libertad have dominated the midfield in their first two games in Copa, but they might have finally met their match in Juninho, Nilton and Eduardo Costa. Keep an eye on Victor Caceres and Luciano Civelli for Libertad, and how much defending they have to do. Vasco would like them to be more concerned about watching Diego Souza than they are about attacking.

Cruz Azul vs. Corinthians

Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET

Cruz Azul-Corinthians is the solid undercard to Libertad-Vasco that is almost a co-main event. If it were on at any other time or on any other day, it would be must-watch. Cruz Azul is performing below expectations in Mexico at the moment, but they're cruising in Copa. Corinthians need to prevent them from winning on Wednesday to feel like they have a good chance to win the group. Just like they did before last week's Copa game, they rested their stars on the weekend ahead of this match. The trip to Mexico is a long one, but their entire first choice starting XI did not play against Guarani in Brazil on Saturday. They'll be on a week's rest, while Cruz Azul's stars just lost to Chivas.

Juan Aurich vs. Santos FC

Thursday, 6:45 p.m. ET

Santos has already lost one away game to a team they should have defeated easily (The Strongest), so who's to say they can't do it again? They really shouldn't falter again, especially considering that Chiclayo is not at altitude. Juan Aurich are in poor form in Copa and in Peru and anything less than a comfortable win for Santos would be a borderline disaster.

Flamengo vs. Olimpia

Thursday, 9:00 p.m. ET

Flamengo don't have to worry about at least one worn out superstar! Ronaldinho got himself sent off at the weekend against Fluminense, so he won't be playing domestically next week and will be able to use up all of his energy against Olimpia. There's no worry about him fatiguing as a result of that. but Flamengo have not been resting key players in their state championship, the Campeonato Carioca, like most of their Brazilian compatriots and it will be interesting to see if it ever comes back to bite them. Olimpia are top of the league in Paraguay and they're coming off of a win over Lanus in Copa, so Flamengo might be in for a bit of a shock on Thursday.

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