The 2022 Copa Libertadores knockouts get underway this week, with South America’s biggest and best battling it out for ultimate continental glory.
The perennial big boys have made it through to the latter stages of South America’s Champions League equivalent, with Boca Juniors, River Plate, Palmeiras, Flamengo and Corinthians all in the mix to claim the most coveted prize across the Atlantic.
Odds* to win the 2022 Copa Libertadores
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The Copa Libertadores is one of football’s most impassioned and celebrated competitions, involving the biggest clubs in South America. It has a long and storied history across the pond, but of course, has made an impression on Europe, particularly after the Superclasico was contested at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu following crowd trouble in Argentina. That 2018 Copa Libertadores showpiece in the Spanish capital saw River Plate claim the title at the expense of Boca Juniors, but served well to emphasis the importance of the silverware in South America. It’s a tournament fraught with bad blood, skill and flair on the turf, and atmospheres set to deafening decibel levels.
Who are the favourites to win the 2022 Copa Libertadores?
Last season’s runners-up and the champions from 2019 under Jorge Jesus’ famous side, inspired by the likes of Filipe Luis, Gabriel Barbosa, Gerson and Bruno Henrique, Flamengo are once again in the mix for South America’s ultimate crown this summer. Now coached by seasoned tactician Dorival Junior, the Scarlet-Black eased through Group H unbeaten and will fancy their chances of getting past unfancied Colombian outfit Deportes Tolima in the last-16.
The reigning champions Palmeiras are the most succesful Brazilian club in this competition and will be hoping to win the competition for the third successive season, having taken down compatriots Flamengo and Santos in the 2021 final and 2020 final respectively. Abel Ferreira’s Plain Parakeet made light work of Group A with a perfect winning record and take on Paraguayan side Cerro Porteno in their last-16 fixture.
The current Brazilian champions have come alive in recent years, winning their first Copa Libertadores in 2013, their first Copa do Brasil in 2014, their second Brasileiro Serie A last season and their second Copa do Brasil in the same year. The Rooster boast a creatively-abundant squad containing the likes of Hulk, Eduardo Vargas and Matias Zaracho, and will back themselves to make the quarter-finals with a last-16 tie against heavily-unfancied Emelec.
The four-time winners still have esteemed coach Marcelo Gallardo at the helm, who delivered success in 2018, so he certainly knows what is required to navigate these latter stages. The Buenos Aires club currently have the second-highest scorer in the competition leading their line in Manchester City loanee Julian Alvarez, who netted a double hat-trick last month in an 8-1 win over Lima Alliance Club.
Unfortunately, he is set to leave at the end of the last-16 and link up with Pep Guardiola’s men for pre-season, so this round will be the final opportunity for River Plate fans get to see him in action.
“Julian is days away from leaving and he plays every game as if it were his first,” Gallardo told reporters.
“That effort is contagious. Replacing Julian is difficult, so it’s important to replace him with performance.
“Today he is a player of great status, he has had impressive growth, and that is why he is going to [Manchester City].”
The Bombonera club are the second-most succesful side in Copa Libertadores history and will hope said history insulates them from elimination. Failing that, Sebastian Battaglia will be looking to his band of Boca stars to dislodge Corinthians from the last-16. If they make it to the semis, a potential tie against Superclasico rivals River Plate could be in store.
Odds* to win the 2022 Copa Libertadores Top Goalscorer