CONMEBOL Sudamericana Finalists to be decided this week

Just four teams remain in the CONMEBOL Sudamericana, and at the end of Thursday’s action, that number will be cut to two with the completion of the semifinals.

In the thin air of Quito on Wednesday night, Independiente del Valle welcome Brazilian giants Corinthians. Following an impressive showing in São Paulo last week that resulted in a richly deserved 2-0 win, the Ecuadorians are the favorites to advance to the final in Asunción, with Corinthians hoping to turn the table.

IDV are not only an in-form side following last week’s showing, but sport an impressive home record, unbeaten in their last 21 matches at home in CONMEBOL competitions. Corinthians then, will be forced to combat not only the altitude, but also a home side that will surely be buzzing with confidence. Timão have been dangerous in the air so far this Sudamericana, tallying a quartet of goals from headed efforts. IDV will need to be wary of giving away cheap free-kicks, particularly those that will allow Corinthians’ bigger players, including Vagner Love, a chance to contest for the ball in the air. 

As a pacy side, playing with the advantage is what Indpendiente del Valle does best. Both goals against Corinthians came from open play, and Corinthians will hope to limit the counter-attacking options for the home side on Wednesday. However as the match wears on, Corinthians will need to push more and more numbers forward, leaving themselves dangerously open on the back end, something IDV will look to exploit. Gabriel Torres grabbed the headlines with a brace in the first leg, and he could find the back of the net again Wednesday. 

On Thursday, the other spot in Asunción will be up for grabs when Argentine side Colón take a 2-1 aggregate lead to face Atlético Mineiro in Belo Horizonte. In last week’s first leg, Atlético took a first half lead when Yimmi Chará deflected a clearance attempt into the back of the net, but Colón impressed in the second half, and Pulga Rodríguez made it count late, smashing home to grab the winner in emotional fashion.

However Colón’s lead is a slender one, a 1-0 win for the hosts on Thursday would send them through to Asunción. Atlético come into Thursday’s clash on a string of bad results both internationally and domestically, but a berth in an international final would surely make those results forgettable. If Galo are to win, expect the talented but sometimes inconsistent pairing of Juan Cazares and Yimmi Chará to play some part in things. If those two fail to make their mark, watch for Rômulo Otero and his dead ball ability to mix things up off the bench.

For Colón, it was Pulga Rodríguez who stole the show in the first leg, and the expectation is that Pulga will again be the headliner in the second leg if they’re to advance to their first ever international final. Wilson Morelo, himself with an impressive record recently in international play, is another one to keep an eye on as Colón look for what could be a decisive goal on Thursday night.

CONMEBOL Sudamericana Semifinal Second Legs:

Wednesday: Independiente del Valle-Corinthians (2-0 aggregate), 19:30 (ECU), Quito

Thursday: Atlético Mineiro-Colón (1-2), 21:30 (BRA), Belo Horizonte