Copa Libertadores 2018: the path to glory begins

32 teams will battle for the title starting Feb. 27, but which are the favorites?

Copa Libertadores 2018: the path to glory begins

Last Thursday, February 22, the last preliminary round of the Copa Libertadores of America ended, and Vasco da Gama of Brazil, Santa Fe of Colombia, Nacional of Uruguay and Junior of Colombia were installed in the group stage of the tournament clubs most important America. The group stage has 32 clubs throughout South America, will begin on February 27 and end on May 24, but what is the outlook for each group?


  • Gremio: this is the undisputed favorite to rank first in the group. It is the current champion of the Copa Libertadores and Recopa Sudamericana. Porto Alegre club has Luan Viera, the best player in America in 2017, so it has all the arguments to be first in the group.

  • Cerro Porteño: current champion of Paraguayan soccer. It has not had the expected start in the current league, but it can get complicated rivals in the cup.

  • Defensor Sporting: current runner-up in the Uruguayan league and Intermediate Tournament. Its direct rival is the Cerro Porteño.

  • Monagas: Copa Libertadores debutants and reigning Venezuelan first division football. It is perhaps the weakest team in the group.


  • Atletico Nacional: Champion first half of 2017 of the Colombian league and runner-up if the Super League 2018 after losing against Millonarios. The club is going through a transition period so it does not arrive in good time, but copera experience positions it with Colo-Colo as one of the favorites of the group.

  • Bolivar: current champion of the Bolivian league. It is expected to be strong locally, as usual, as the altitude of La Paz is always its strong point.

  • Colo-Colo: Transition Tournament champion Chile 2017 and  of the Supercopa de Chile. This is the Chilean team cupbearer, so its experience will dispute the first place with Atletico Nacional and Bolivar.

  • Delfín: debutante of the Copa Libertadores. It won its share by winning the first stage of the Ecuadorian league 2017, but lost the final against Emelec. On paper, it is the team least likely to advance from this group.


  • Peñarol: the five-time champion of the competition comes to this edition as the champion of Uruguayan football. It is the undisputed favorite of the group because of its present and copera mystique.

  • Freedom: Champion first half of 2017 the Paraguayan league. He reached the semifinals of the Copa Sudamericana in 2017 and has had a prominent role in the 2018 league start.

  • The Strongest: Torneo Apertura 2016 Champion of Bolivia, but in 2017 was runner - up in both the Apertura and Clausura.

  • Atletico Tucuman: Argentina Cup runner - up after losing against River Plate. The club is located in a prominent time in its history, so it may surprise in this group.


  • River Plate: Argentina Cup champion. It does not have a big present, it is in the second half of the table of Superliga of Argentina, however Franco Armani, Juan Fernando Quintero, Ponzio, Pratto and Scocco, among others, give it a high potential to overcome the phase groups.

  • Emelec: Ecuadorian champions league. It has a system effective enough game, but this group seems to be a step below River Plate and Flamengo.

  • Flamengo: runner - up Brazil Cup and the Copa Sudamericana 2017. This is a club with great copera experience, and in this edition puts his faith in Vinicius Junior, a young Brazilian talent and was hired by Real Madrid but still on Fla on loan.

  • Santa Fe: current runner of Colombian football. He exceeded the preliminary stages, where Morelo striker scored six goals. However, in the local league it is located in the last positions, so it is unclear what their participation in the cup.


  • Cruzeiro: champion of the Brazil Cup. Rafael Sobis, Fred, Thiago Neves, Mancuello, and Lucas Silva are the figures of the team. In this group there is no clear favorite to win first place.

  • Universidad de Chile: Chilean league champion in the first half of 2017 and runner - up of Copa Chile Gonzalo Jara and 2017. Jean Beausejour are the key players on the team.

  • Racing Club: it is currently more than 14 points behind the leader of the Superliga Argentina. In 2017 he reached the quarterfinals of the Copa Sudamericana.

  • Vasco da Gama: it comes after many difficulties to eliminate Jorge Wilstermann of Bolivia in the preliminary phase. Wagner, Wellington and Desábato are their top players.


  • Santos: third place in the Brazilian league 2017. This seems to be the underdog of the group.

  • Estudiantes de La Plata: Argentina third in the league in 2016-17 and is currently disputing the top of the Superliga Argentina. No matter how little is the favorite of the group.

  • Real Garcilaso: current runner-up of Peruvian soccer. He does not have much experience in continental tournaments.

  • National: Intermediate Champion 2017 tournament in Uruguay. He finished third in the Uruguayan league 2017. Banfield of Argentina eliminated in the preliminaries.


  • Corinthians: League champion Brazil. Danilo, Fellipe Bastos and Cássio are key players. His great strength is his power at home.

  • Independent: the club more time champion of the competition. Copa Sudamericana champion and runner-up of Recopa Sudamericana. It is the favorite of the group with Corinthians.

  • Millonarios: champion second half of 2017 Colombian and Colombian League Superliga 2018. It has a short template, leaving the club a notch below the favorites, but one above the Deportivo Lara.

  • Deportivo Lara: Venezuelan Clausura tournament champion and current runner-up in the First Division of Venezuela. It seems the weakest team in the group.


  • Boca Juniors: six-time champion of the competition comes as the champion of the Argentina Leauge 2016-17 and current leader of the Superliga in its country. It is the favorite of the group.

  • Palmeiras: Brazilian championship runner-up. Dudu, Borja, and Felipe Melo are some of the figures of the team. Its direct rival is the Boca Juniors.

  • Alianza Lima: Champion Torneo Apertura and Clausura 2017, so is the national champion. It is a step below Palmeiras and Boca Juniors.

  • Junior de Barranquilla: Colombia Cup champion and a semifinalist in the 2017 Copa Sudamericana 2017. Teofilo Gutierrez and Yimmi Chará are the most important players in the club.

Copa Libertadores of America, as usual, promises full meetings of talent, passion, skill and spectacle. The group stage is set and the whole world will not miss any exhibition. After the group stage of the competition will enter a 3 - month break due to the World Cup Russia 2018, so that the second round will be played until August. The final of the most important club of America is scheduled for late November, so it is guaranteed a full year of the world's most passionate football.


Latin American Post | Javier Aldana

Copy edited by Laura Rueda Rocha

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