Independiente, el rey de copas, host 2016 Libertadores runners-up Independiente del Valle. Independiente survived a dramatic late rally from Ecuador’s Universidad Católica on Thursday in Qutio, and are now rewarded with another tilt against talented Ecuadorian opposition.
Independiente’s Superliga match against Newell’s Old Boys previously scheduled for Money was postponed as a result of the quick turnaround, sparing them from featuring in action this weekend. Chilean Pablo Hernández has been impressive so far this Sudamericana, tallying the lone goal in the first leg against Universidad Católica, and hitting the mark again in the return leg.
Independiente del Valle meanwhile last featured in Sudamericana action in mid-August, scraping by Caracas 2-0 on aggregate, with both goals coming in the return leg. Since then, IDV have drawn twice and lost once in the Ecuadorian league. In fact, Independiente del Valle have won just twice since returning from the Copa América break.
The formula on Tuesday for IDV should be relatively straightforward: defend well and look to hit out on the counter-attack. An away goal, as always, could go a long way towards sealing victory in the tie, especially with the second leg set to be played in the thin air of Quito.
Action shifts to Maracaibo on Thursday, with Sudamericana surprise package Zulia hosting Colón. Zulia became the first Venezuelan side to ever qualify for the Sudamericana quarterfinals with their 3-2 loss to Sporting Cristal last week enough to see them through on away goals.
The forecast for Thursday in Maracaibo calls for sweltering conditions, a far cry from the (comparitively) chilly winter Colón are currently experiencing in Santa Fe. Zulia hit out for a quick goal in Lima last week and will surely be looking to do the same on Thursday.
Colón have lost a pair of Superliga matches, failing to score in each, since last featuring in the Sudamericana (a 1-0 win against Argentinos Juniors). Wilson Morelo tallied 9 goals in last year’s Libertadores for Santa Fe, but has yet to really find his scoring boots for Colón. If Morelo starts to fire, the path is wide open for Colón to make a run to the semifinals, or even further.
CONMEBOL Sudamericana Quarterfinals, First Legs:
Independiente - Independiente del Valle: Tuesday 6 August, 21:30 (ARG), 20:30 (EDT)
Zulia - Colón: Thursday 8 August, 16:00 (VEN/EDT)