Copa Libertadores 2012: Group Stages Wrap Up This Week

Velez

Velez Sarsfield hosts Defensor Sporting in Tuesday's best game. Wednesday is light on intrigue before a fantastic Thursday closes out the Copa Libertadores group stages.

Two of the groups in Copa Libertadores' second stage have wrapped up play, and the other six will conclude group stage play in this week's round of games. Four knockout stage places are still up for grabs, while some of the teams that have already clinched a spot are still fighting to improve their standing this week. The biggest games in this round of games take place in Group 1 and Group 3, where spots in the knockout round are still up for grabs.

Deportivo Quito vs. Chivas Guadalajara

Tuesday, 7:15 p.m. ET

Chivas are still alive, though only just barely. They need to win by four goals and hope Defensor Sporting fail to win if they want to advance. Deportivo Quito are currently in the drivers' seat for second place with seven point. Defensor Sporting sit on six points and Chivas sit on four.

Velez Sarsfield vs. Defensor Sporting

Tuesday, 7:15 p.m. ET

The good news for Defensor is that Velez have clinched first place in Group 7, and that they're also involved in a title race in Argentina. They'll be tempted to rest most of their first team players in this match. Defensor needs Deportivo Quito to drop points no matter what, and can only go through with a draw if Chivas lay a five-goal beating on their opponents.

Atletico Junior vs. Union Española

Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. ET

With first place virtually locked up for Union Española and Junior eliminated from contention, this match is almost certainly not worth anyone's time.

Bolivar vs. Universidad Catolica

Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Conversely, this match is worth everyone's time. Bolivar progresses to the next round with a win or a draw, while UC goes through with a win. There's no question that the Chileans have the more talented squad, but winning in La Paz is a tricky proposition for any team from outside of Bolivia, regardless of the opposition. When the two teams met in Santiago, Chile, they drew 1-1.

Arsenal de Sarandi vs. Fluminense / Boca Juniors vs. Zamora

Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Fluminense are simply fighting to hold off Boca Juniors in first place; both teams have clinched knockout stage places. Boca and Arsenal are both fighting for a title domestically, so they could opt to rest players for these relatively meaningless games. FUN FACT: Boca Juniors striker Santiago Silva won't be playing because he broke his hand punching a Tigre fan on Sunday. I wish I was making this up.

Corinthians vs. Deportivo Tachira / Cruz Azul vs. Nacional

Wednesday, 8:50 p.m. ET

Another group in which the knockout stage participants have already been decided. Corinthians lead Group 6 with 11 points, and Cruz Azul sit second with eight points. Cruz Azul are in a very tough fight for the Mexican Liguilla playoffs and are unlikely to risk anyone they consider to be valuable to that push.

Juan Aurich vs. Internacional

Thursday, 6:45 p.m. ET

And here's where things get really interesting. Brazilian giants and the last two champions of this competitions, Internacional and Santos FC, were expected to run away with Group 1. Instead, The Strongest of Bolivia are still in contention. With an away win against struggling Juan Aurich, Internacional can clinch a knockout stage place, but the Peruvians might like the idea of playing spoiler. If they fail to win, their fate is in the hands of Santos and The Strongest. A loss is the same as a draw for them, provided they do not lose by nine goals.

Santos FC vs. The Strongest

Thursday, 6:45 p.m. ET

The Strongest defeated Santos in La Paz on the first matchday, and Muricy Ramalho's team probably wants to exact a bit of payback. The Bolivian side has been magnificent in La Paz and terrible away from home, and it would be surprising if that trend did not continue in Brazil. If Internacional win, The Strongest can only go through with a five-goal victory. That is the only scenario that would prevent Santos from going through. If Internacional fail to win their game, a win of any margin by The Strongest would put them and Santos through.

Peñarol vs. Godoy Cruz

Thursday, 9:00 p.m. ET

Congrats on being the only entirely meaningless game of the week!

Universidad de Chile vs. Atletico Nacional

Thursday, 9:00 p.m. ET

These teams are both through, but they should both be interested in locking up first place in the group. Atletico Nacional has a one-point lead on La U, so they will claim first place with a win or draw. Like the other two teams in the group, La U had no answer for Dorlan Pabon when they first met in Colombia. It is very stupid that Dorlan Pabon still plays in Colombia. Even though he's likely to be the best player on the pitch, Universidad de Chile have won their last two games in the Libertadores as well as their last eight domestically, and they're favorites in this one.

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