Cruzeiro v Estudiantes, Copa Libertadores final second leg, July 16, 2009
The home side have high hopes of securing the premier club trophy in South America on Wednesday night and all signs are pointing to Cruzeiro securing the Copa Libertadores for the third time in their history.
Estudiantes have lost all five of their previous visits to Brazil in the Libertadores, which includes the 1968 final which they eventually won against Palmeiras in a play-off in neutral Montevideo. Besides the historical factors, Cruzeiro undoubtedly have the momentum following the first leg 0-0 draw in Argentina last week.
Early pressure from the home side was repelled by the Brazilians with goalkeeper Fabio in excellent form. Cruzeiroâ€™s captain was eventually voted man of the match and has set up his side for the second game. They could even have claimed a crucial away goal with a number of chances on goal late on spurned by forwards Kleber and Wellington.
Before the first match between these two sides, the previous two games in the group stages of the Libertadores were highlighted as indicators of what might happen. Cruzeiro lost in La Plata 4-0 in April and having avoided conceding last week will be confident of repeating their 3-0 win in February.
On that day, the Cruzeiro goal scorers were Fernandinho from the penalty spot and Kleber bagged a brace before he was sent off for two bookable offences. The 25-year-old striker is the striker Estudiantes have to keep out and with their fine defensive record they undoubtedly still have a fighting chance.
Catania-bound keeper Mariano Andujar, playing his last match for Estudiantes, has conceded just one goal in ten matches in the Libertadores and under coach Alexander Sabella (formerlyÂ a player atÂ Sheffield United and Leeds) they have been rock solid at the back.
Estudiantes are expected to name the same sideÂ that started the first game and there are no injury concerns about Juan Sebastian Veron, the heartbeat of the team. Striker Mauro Boselli could be the player to score an away goal, a feat he achieved twice in the semi-final second leg at Nacional.
Their 2-1 win in Uruguay should stand Estudiantes in good stead for what should be a red hot atmosphere with a full house of 75,000 expected at Belo Horizonte. Cruzeiro played a second string team as they lost to Atletico Mineiro on Sunday whilst Estudiantes didnâ€™t play at all due as the Argentinean league season is over.
It is set to be an emotional night in Brazil. Alongside Anjuar, Ramires will be playing his final game for Cruzeiro before he moves to Benfica and this match is set to be a cracker for two teams desperate for success. All eyes will also be onÂ Juan Veron, as he aims to win the biggest trophy on the continent at the club he grew up in and who his dad played for.