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The Copa Libertadores is down to the quarter-finals after last week’s eight games that saw plenty of goals, lots of controversy, many red cards and some improbable comebacks.
Holders Boca Juniors, despite being written off by many – including myself, are through after beating Brazilian side Cruzeiro 2-1in Belo Horizonte and once again the Riqueleme-inspired side will be challenging for the title. With Lanus going out to Mexican side Atlas and Estudiantes falling to Ecuador’s Quito there will only be one other Argentinian side in the last eight and that is San Lorenzo who made it after a remarkable 2-2 draw against River Plate. Holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg, San Lorenzo found themselves 2-0 down and two men down with an hour gone yet fought back to draw 2-2 and knock out their more illustrious rivals who were jeered from the pitch by their furious supporters after the match.
But that comeback was nothing compared to the one that Mexican side America pulled off against Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo. Having won 4-2 away from home, the Brazilian side was odds-on favourite to qualify yet they ended up being thrashed 3-0 and crashing out of the competition. In the quarter finals America will play Santos, while Brazil are guaranteed at least one semi-finalist with the Sao Paulo – Fluminense match up. Boca will play Atlas while underdogs Quito face San Lorenzo. Though Mexican and Ecuadorian fans may beg to differ, I am going for two Argentinian and two Brazilian teams in the semi finals.
Yeah, it’s quite a nervy time for Manr United fans at the moment because this league really should have been put to bed before now. Man United had three away games: Chelsea; Blackburn and Middlesbrough to secure a win, which I think would have guaranteed them the title. They failed to do it, two points from nine, and now it’s all or nothing on the final game against Wigan, who themselves are in good form. Prior to Steve Bruce’ arrival, they hadn’t taken a point off any of the top four since their return to the Premiership but they’ve now drawn with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, with Liverpool at Anfield and at home to Arsenal earlier in the year. So this isn’t a gimmee for Man united and of course a draw for Man United mightn’t be enough because I think Chelsea will definitely take care of Bolton at home … at Stamford Bridge. So, nervy time I think obviously the early goal is important and if Man United can get that perhaps Alex Ferguson will be celebrating his tenth title. But my overriding emotion would be one of nervousness.
While the fans of Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United will be nervously cheering their teams on as they battle it out for the title at the top of the league, supporters of Reading and Fulham will be equally anxious as their teams fight for survival at the foot of the table.
Reading travel to Pride Park to face Derby, now officially the worst Premier League team ever with only 11 points, hoping that the pride has been knocked out of the Rams and they roll over, preferably allowing the Royals an 8-0 victory. Goals are important as Reading are 6 goals behind Fulham on goal difference with the same points.
Fulham are also on the road, all the way to the south coast where they face FA Cup finalists, Portsmouth. They will also be travelling with hope: they will be praying that Portsmouth have their eyes on the FA Cup final and that their players will not be willing to charge into tackles and run all day. Portsmouth don’t have anything else to play for, as their chance of a place in the UEFA Cup via the league went with a 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough.
It really is squeaky-bum time for Fulham fans, but I think they must be safe. They’ve had a great run recently with 3 victories out of five. On the other hand, Reading are in free-fall without a win in six. But wait a minute what about Birmingham?Mathematically they can still do it if both reading and Fulham lose.
Sorry, I can’t see it. Reading, Birmingham and dreadful Derby to go down.