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.
The tie hangs in the balance after Botafogo notched a narrow 2-1 win in Brazil last week. It was an even game, Colo Colo fielded an attacking 3-5-2 formation and secured an all important away goal, but Botafogo did just enough to bring a lead to Santiago.
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 Lorenzo, but his side gave a fairly poor showing by Colo Colo standards in the Apertura, finishing 5th with a record of 6-5-4.
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.
Colo Colo opened their domestic campaign with a fine 3-0 away win over Union Espanola, one of the better sides in Chile. They made a few changes for that game, making the win even more impressive. Tonight Matias Zaldivia and Mark Gonzalez are the only absentees and they could line up as follows:
Villar; Meza, Barroso, Baeza; Figueroa, Valdés, Pávez Gonzáles, Fernández; Rivero, Esteban Paredes
Botafogo were also in the action over the weekend, playing Macae in a state league match. It was an entirely reserve team that won 2-1, meaning tonight’s team will be fresh, having not played since the first leg last week. Key defender Joel Carli looks like missing out once more, with the visitors set to line up as follows:
Fernández; Victor Luis, Emerson Silva, Marcelo, Jonás; Bruno Silva, Joao Paulo, Airton, Montillo, Lindoso; Roger
Colo Colo will fancy themselves on home soil to turn the tie around. The bookmakers also do with the home win priced at 1.5. That being said, Botafogo are not a bad side and will not roll over for the hosts. They are likely to play more defensively than in last weeks game, but will have to abandon that strategy if/when they concede after conceding an away goal last week. We think Colo Colo will look to make a high intensity start to the game, pinning the visitors back in their half with the help of the home crowd. We see value in the first half corner market. Colo Colo should get some early corners from early pressure while Botafogo will have plenty of space in what should be a stretched game with the hosts playing an attack 3-5-2 formation.
Tip: First Half Asian Corners: Over 4.5 at odds of 1.9 with bet365.
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