Copa Libertadores 2012, Round Of 16: Giants With Work To Do

Fans of Velez Sarsfield before a match. Velez plays Atletico Nacional in the Copa Libertadores on May 8, 2012.

None of the big favorites in Copa Libertadores have their ties locked up, and both Santos FC and Universidad de Chile need to engineer comebacks.

Most of Copa Libertadores' big favorites are in front of their ties or are in a good position to advance, but no one has their tie wrapped up. Possibly the two biggest favorites entering the competition, Santos and Universidad de Chile, both lost in the first leg of their ties. Every tie is worth watching.

Vélez Sársfield vs. Atlético Nacional

Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Even though Vélez won 1-0 in the first leg of this tie in Colombia, they apparently didn't feel comfortable with their lead. With a chance to go top of the table in Argentina at the weekend, they stunningly lost at home to Argentinos Juniors. Atlético Nacional has recently hired former Manchester City assistant and MLS coaching flameout Juan Carlos Osorio to run the show. He'll inevitably gift Vélez the win by playing a 4-1-4-1 formation with Dorlan Pabón as the holding midfielder or something equally nonsensical.

Libertad vs. Cruz Azul

Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.

After they grabbed a 1-1 draw in Mexico City last week, Libertad are favorites to progress to the quarterfinals. Even though they were at home and their league campaign was over, the Blue Machine strangely decided to sit strikers Emanuel Villa and Omar Bravo, as well as first choice left-sided duo Fausto Pinto and Alejandro Vela. They could give Libertad a challenge, or they could just decide not to care.

Union Española vs. Boca Juniors

Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. ET

The first leg was a disheartening one for Union Española. They conceded early while playing well, fought back for an equalizer, then gave up the winner in the 89th minute. In stoppage time, Diego Scotti was sent off. They're down and without a first-choice defender, but there's plenty of positives for the underdogs in this tie. They're at home, with an away goal. Both teams played half-and-half first and second choice teams at the weekend in preparation for this match.

Corinthians vs. Emelec

Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET

Corinthians' sole focus is on the Copa Libertadores. They got a draw away in the first leg. There's really no good reason that, at home, with their superior talent, they shouldn't defeat Emelec by multiple goals. That is unless you consider "because it's Copa Libertadores" to not be a good enough reason. Nothing is ever certain in the strangest major club competition on Earth.

Lanus vs. Vasco da Gama

Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET

Vasco da Gama leads Lanus 2-1 in the most closely contested tie of the round, but Lanus have to like their chances to advance. Vasco's star central defender Dede might make a late return to the team, but he certainly won't be 100 percent. Teo Gutierrez had just joined the team before the first leg, and the Colombian striker could be more ready to make an impact in the second leg. However, with the status and form of both players questionable, it's tough to predict what will happen in the tie.

Santos FC vs. Bolivar

Thursday, 6:30 p.m. ET

In the first leg of this tie, Bolivar made the most of their home advantage at altitude in La Paz and defeated Santos 1-0. Santos also lost 2-1 away to The Strongest in La Paz in the group stage, then defeated them 2-0 at home. Good game, Bolivar! It would be shocking if Santos failed to win this match. At a normal altitude, in his home stadium, Neymar can do literally whatever he feels like against Bolivar if he doesn't fall victim to some act of god.

Fluminense vs. Internacional

Thursday, 9:00 p.m. ET

Internacional couldn't manage a goal at home against Brazil's best defense, so they're probably going to struggle to find one on the road. The 0-0 draw in the first leg probably suited Fluminense fine, even though they couldn't score an away goal, and they're favorites to advance in the second leg. Both teams played on the weekend, though under different circumstances. Flu played the first leg of the Campeonato Carioca final, and played their entire first team. Interacional, who are top of their group in the Campeonato Gaúcho, got to rest Leandro Damião. His fresh legs could make the difference.

Universidad de Chile vs. Deportivo Quito

Thursday, 9 p.m. ET

Those who have seen La U at their best in the last year know that they can beat any team in South America by three or four goals at their best, and that they're never to be counted out of anything. They're going to need to be at their best in the second leg of their tie this week, because they have a huge hole out of which to dig themselves. La U fell apart in the second half of the first leg, eventually losing 4-1 to Deportivo Quito. If they finish the first half up 1-0 or better, they have a chance. If not, change the channel to the other game.

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