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 By Tim Vickery

Floodlights, new River players make for Copa Libertadores knockout drama

Ignacio Scocco scored the first of River Plate's goals as they took a big step toward the quarterfinals.

It is a new Copa Libertadores with a fresh calendar -- and some of the same old problems. The match between Guarani of Paraguay and Argentina's River Plate suffered an 11-minute hold up because of an old fashioned floodlight failure -- not an uncommon event at Asuncion's Defensores del Chaco Stadium.

This was always a game likely to generate more heat than light, though, for two reasons.

One was the fact that two River Plate players tested positive in post-match drug tests towards the end of the...

 By Tim Vickery

Copa Libertadores semifinals filled with mix of old and new faces

River Plate will be hopeful the return of club legend Javier Saviola can spark them to a Copa Libertadores run.

Time to change the chip and flip the switch. Quality international football soon returns to South America; the most competitive World Cup qualifying campaign on the planet gets underway in October. But with the 2015 Copa America now part of history, the time has come to refocus on the club game and the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores, which start Tuesday.

Action shut down after the quarterfinal stage at the end of May. This year's fairy-tale club might regret that seven-week pause.


 By Tim Vickery

Guarani fairy tale continues after surviving Racing gut check

After taking down Racing, Paraguay's Guarani will now face Argentine giants River Plate in the Copa Libertadores semifinals.
After taking down Racing, Paraguay's Guarani will now face Argentine giants River Plate in the Copa Libertadores semifinals.

As the FIFA scandal rolls on, the mind-boggling sums alleged to have changed hands in bribes might be seen as a perverse tribute to the power of the game. The heart of the matter appears to lie in the transaction of TV rights and marketing. If companies can afford to pay out on the level stated and still make a profit, it is surely an indication that the product has a huge appeal.

Last Thursday night gave a hint as to why that might be the case. The final place was being filled in the semifinals...

 By Tim Vickery

Guarani among scrapping underdogs in Copa Libertadores knockout rounds

Paraguay side Guarani have a commanding 2-0 first-leg lead over Corinthians of Brazil ahead of their Copa Libertadores showdown this week.

South America's top teams went into the group phase of the Copa Libertadores some three months ago and come Thursday night, only eight of them will be left standing. This is the week when the competition defines its quarterfinalists.

One team is already there. Tigres of Mexico have played both legs of their tie against Universitario Sucre of Bolivia and came through 3-2 on aggregate.

The Bolivians put up stiffer resistance than expected but the favourites came through. The same thing may not happen...