By NESTOR F. SEBASTIAN
The Copa Libertadores group stages ended last night with little surprise as Boca Juniors and Cuenca completed their schedules and advanced as the last two teams to complete the Round of 16 matchups, which will involve all of Brazil's five representatives, leaving little doubt on how strong of a league that country boasts.
Now that the knockout stages are set, CONMEBOL is still trying to figure out what to do with Mexico's two teams, Chivas and San Luis, in the midst of the rising swine flu epidemic that has swept that country as well as other parts around the world.
The South American federation attempted to enlist the city of Bogota, Colombia as the Mexican teams' "home" base but Colombian authorities wasted no time in shooting that notion down, leaving CONMEBOL scrambling to figure out its next move in anticipation of the Round of 16 games slated to start next week.
Although this is pure speculation, there have been murmurs that the Mexican teams could host their South American counterparts in Los Angeles. That in itself would be historic since Copa Libertadores has never been played outside of South America and Mexico.
Nacional of Uruguay and Brazil's Sao Paulo, both of whom are to travel to Mexican to face San Luis and Chivas, respectively, for the first legs, have already let their concerns be known to CONMEBOL, who are now soliciting input from all federations whose teams are involved in the knockout phase.
The dilemma will leave fans curious as to what will happen next but the rest of the matchups should leave them yearning for the matches to begin as Boca Juniors meets up with Uruguay's Defensor Sporting in what is always a classic rivalry when Argentine and Uruguayan teams clash, especially in two-legged affairs. Paraguay's Libertad takes on Argentina's Estudiantes de la Plata while two group-stage foes, Sport Recife and Palmeiras, both of Brazil, meet again in the knockout round.
Here is the full slate of Round of 16 matchups:
- Gremio v. San Martin
- Boca Juniors v. Defensor Sporting
- Nacional v. San Luis
- Sao Paulo v. Chivas
- Brazil's Cruzeiro v. Universidad de Chile
- Sport Recife v. Palmeiras
- Libertad v. Estudiantes de la Plata
- Caracas v. Deportivo Cuenca
What do you think about the matchups? Which do you think is the best Round of 16 match-up? Do you think CONMEBOL is overreacting to the Swine Flu epidemic? Could the Mexican teams be able to host their matches?
Share your thoughts below.