Two giants clash on Wednesday night as Botafogo host Chileans Colo Colo in the preliminary qualification rounds of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier continental competition.
Botafogo have competed in the competition on 6 occasions, twice reaching the semi finals in 1963 and 1973 respectively. They last competed in 2014, going out of a tight group on 7 points, having earlier knocked out Deportivo Quito 4-1 over two legs in the qualifying round. Since that participation they have managed to get relegated, win promotion and re-qualify for the tournament. They take to the field tonight courtesy of their strong showing in their first season back in the top flight, finishing 5th with a record of 17-8-13.
Keen followers of South American football need no introduction to Colo Colo. The 31 time Chilean champions, winners of the Libertadores in 1991, have been a constant fixture in the tournament over the years. They competed in the last years edition, but were eliminated from the group stages after finishing on 9 points, having only lost one of the six games contested. They have qualified on the basis of winning the Chilean Cup. Manager Pablo Guede arrived last summer from Argentine side San Lorezno, but his side gave a fairly poor showing by Colo Colo standards in the Apertura, finishing 5th with a record of 6-5-4.
The hosts have been dealt a blow in the build-up to the game. Key defender Joel Carli has been ruled out with a calf injury, while Bruno Silva is touch and go. The hosts struggled at the back last season when Carli was unavailable and they will be far less confident in a clean sheet without him. Other than the above two, there are no other concerns, and new signing Joao Paulo could slot into the following eleven:
Fernandez, Jonas, Fonseca, Silva, Luis; Airton, João Paulo, Camilo, Montillo; Pimpão, Roger.
Captain Esteban Paredes has set his stall out in the pre-match press conference, stating that his Colo Colo side is “not going to sit back, and will go out to win the match”. We expect Colo Colo to line up in an adventurous 3-5-2 formation. Ex Liverpool man Mark Gonzalez is injured but there are no other new injury concerns and we could see them line up as follows:
Villar; Zaldivia, Barroso, Baeza; Pavez, Valdés, Figueroa, Véjar, Fernández; Rivero, Paredes
It should be a fairly entertaining encounter in Rio. Botafogo will want to open up an advantage prior to the second leg, but Colo Colo will not be phased by playing on the continental stage and have already stated attacking intentions before the game has even started. Without Carli, the hosts will be less stable at the back, and with Colo Colo’s attacking line up we think they will get on the scoresheet. Equally Botafogo are coming from a higher quality league, have home advantage and some quality players in attacking areas. We think odds of 2.00 at various bookmakers for both teams scoring looks good value and that is out tip for this match.
Bet: BTTS at odds of 2.00.