Copa Libertadores: Semi Final – (2nd Leg)
Atlético Mineiro vs. Newell’s Old Boys
Estadio Independencia | 11/07/ 2013, 1:50am (GMT)
Argentine ‘Clausura’ Champions Newell’s Old Boys travel to Belo Horizonte, Brazil to face Atlético Mineiro in the second Leg Semi Final of the Copa Libertadores. Newell’s will be full of confidence after a terrific and dominant display over their Brazilian rivals in the first leg, defeating Mineiro 2-0 in Rosario, a score line that if truth be told is flattering to say the least for the Brazilians. Whilst unable to grab an away goal in Argentina, Mineiro, who are unbeaten in an astounding 51 home matches dating back to August 2011, will feel that along with their phenomenal home record, they have the players who can turn things around and help them progress to the Final.
Atletico Mineiro were many people’s favourites to go on and win this year’s Copa Libertadores as they have been in terrific form throughout the competition. They cruised through the group stages, winning their group by a massive 8 points, only losing once in their final match to Sao Paulo. They then defeated their Brazilian counterparts Sao Paulo in the last 16, a massive 6-1 on aggregate with terrific performances from Ronaldinho, Jo and Diego Tardelli. They may have found life a little more difficult against Mexican side Tijuana in the Quarter Finals, progressing through on away goals, but the sheer amount of talent they have at their disposal and the manner of their victories have led many to believe that this year would be the year that the team from Belo Horizonte would finally get their hands on that elusive South American title.
It wasn’t the just the defeat to Newell’s Old Boys last Thursday that surprised so many South American football fans but the manner of the defeat. Newell’s completely dominated the Brazilians from start to finish and at times Atlético were in danger of completely capitulating. Ronaldinho, Bernard, Jo and Tardelli were virtually anonymous throughout and the Argentine side thoroughly deserved their two-goal lead.
Despite losing the match 2-0 and not being able to score an away goal last week, all is not lost for the home side. Atlético clearly have the most talented individuals in the tournament and as mentioned before their home form over the last year and a half is nothing short of outstanding. If Ronaldinho and Co can step up to the task and grab an early goal, then the Argentine side will certainly be there for the taking.
Highlights from the First Leg: Newell’s Old Boys 2-0 Atlético Mineiro
Newell’s Old Boys are one of Argentina’s oldest and most famous clubs. Despite being pioneers of Argentine football, they have never won the Copa Libertadores, losing in the Final twice in their history, in 1988 and 1992. After taking such a giant step to reaching the Final, Newell’s will feel that this year they are destined to break their duck and become Champions of South American football for the first time.
Newell’s progression from the group stages was significantly more complicated than for their Brazilian rivals. They progressed in second place, level on points with Universidad de Chile but with a superior goal difference, winning three matches and losing three. In their round of 16 tie against Velez Sarsfield they lost their home tie 1-0 but produced a terrific Second leg performance and qualified on away goals, winning 2-1 at the Estadio José Amalfitani.
In their Quarter Final tie against yet another Argentine side, the giants of South America ,Boca Juniors, they qualified on penalties after two dross 0-0 draws. However, their performance in the first leg victory over Atlético Mineiro has opened many people’s eyes and, for the first time, they are considered real contenders for the Copa Libertadores title. In Rosario, Newell’s played at such a high tempo, that the Brazilians simply could not cope with the energy and quality of their attack.
Maxi Rodriguez produced a masterful display, reminiscent of his performances at Atletico Madrid and for Argentina in the 2006 World Cup. Coach Gerardo Martino, who guided the Paraguay National side to the Quarter Finals of the World Cup in South Africa and the Final of the Copa America in 2011, is a former Newell’s player and a master tactician. He will be aware that his side will have to perform at a similar level to the first leg, as the Brazilian’s have more than enough in their locker to turn this one around. Martino recently discussed the similarity in style of both sides;
“We are teams who have a very similar style, both teams like to keep possession of the ball, whoever dominates possession of the ball will surely control the match.
“ We are very focused on the second leg. We will try to repeat the performance of the first leg.”
Team News/ Key players
Atlético are mainly about attack and don’t seem to focus much on the defensive side of the game. However, with the prospect of losing an away goal, they will be aware that they can’t leave things too open at the back. In the first leg Gilberto Silva had to fill in at centre back for the suspended Réver but the giant defender will probably have to be content with a place on the bench.
Going forward, where Mineiro have been deadly in the competition so far, Ronaldinho and Bernard will provide the width, while Diego Tardelli plays just behind former Manchester City Striker Jo. Ronaldinho was anonymous in the first leg and he will need to step up and provide a similar sort of performance to the one he produced against São Paulo earlier in the competition if his team wants to keep their dream alive of a first ever South American title.
Newell’s Old Boys
I was one of Gabriele Heinze’s biggest critics over the last few years of his career, however, he has been an absolute revelation since his move back to Argentina. Heinze was absolutely fantastic at the back in the first leg alongside youngster Santiago Vergini. Newell’s will require a similar performance from their back line in order to get the result they need to progress.
Pablo Perez picked his fifth booking of the competition in the first leg and so will miss out through suspension. Peruvian International and former Chievo midfielder Rinaldo Crusado should be drafted into centre midfield to partner Bernardi and Mateo. The in form Maxi Rodriguez and Figueroa will be employed on the wings, in support of Scocco who is joint top scorer in the competition.
Probable Starting XI:
- Diego Tardelli, Jo and Ignacio Scocco are joint top scorers in the competition with 6 goals.
- Neither side has ever won the competition. Newell’s are twice beaten finalists, losing in 1988 to San Lorenzo and in 1992 to Sao Paulo.
- Newell’s Old Boys are based in Rosario, Argentina, birthplace of the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara.
90 Minute cynic prediction
After such a dominant display in the first leg, Newell’s are clear favourites to progress to the final. However, the Brazilians have such a wealth of talent at their disposal they are more than capable of turning this tie around. If they can score an early goal then Atlético will be in with a great chance. However, if Newell’s can play at a similar tempo and grab an away goal, the clean sheet they kept in the first leg could prove vital.