Santos FC might have the best players in South America, but talent alone doesn't help anyone run for 90 minutes in La Paz, Bolivia. Just like when they had to play The Strongest in La Paz, Santos struggled on Wednesday night against Bolivar in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie. In the other tie that got underway this week, Fluminense took the advantage over Internacional.
Bolivar will be thrilled with their 2-1 win over Santos, but it's unlikely to be enough to see them through. Santos were always going to struggle away in this tie, even against a team that isn't nearly as talented, but kept the deficit to one goal and grabbed an away goal heading home to Brazil. Bolivar was obviously much more accustomed to the altitude to their opponents, getting off 18 shots to Santos' six. This game was simply damage control for Santos, and their stars will probably look much better at home and pull off a comfortable win.
In the all-Brazilian tie, Leandro Damiao was contained by the rock-solid Fluminense defense. They allowed just four goals in the group stages and have the best defensive record in the Campeonato Carioca. With Andres D'Alessandro out of the Internacional lineup, they struggled to create and Flu's defense won the day in a 0-0 draw.
The game was very heavy on fouls and light on chances, which probably suited the visitors just fine. Internacional's best chance came on a penalty kick in the 57th minute, but Diego came up big with a save on Jesus Datolo. Jo had a great chance for Inter in stoppage time, but hit the post with a fierce shot.