What: Copa Libertadores Final Second Leg
Who: Corinthians vs Boca Juniors
When: Wednesday 4th July, 2012, 21:50 local time, 01:50 UK time (5th)
Where: Estadio do Pacaembu, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Hard Bit Done?

Corinthians coach Tite was delighted with the 1-1 draw his players gained in La Bombonera and with a vociferous home support of their own to call on in the second leg will be relatively confident that his team can now finally end the club’s long search for Copa Libertadores glory.

That said, the nature of the Timao’s performance in the first leg must raise some doubts over whether they are capable of taking the initiative and getting the win that would secure them the title. It was a very defensive display, with possession ceded to the home side and very little threat offered on the counter-attack, especially once Jorge Henrique was replaced by the ineffectual Liedson late in the first half.

Corinthians’ attacking midfielders Alex and Danilo – the only players in the squad to have previously won the Copa Libertadores – struggled to stamp their authority on the match and despite Paulinho’s best efforts to link the defensive and attacking portions of the midfield there was very little fluidity to the team’s play. The defence, Alessandro in particular, were the standout performers and much more will be required of those further up the pitch if a positive result is to be achieved here.

Missed Opportunities

For Boca Juniors, the first leg will be remembered mostly as an opportunity spurned as despite dominating possession they were unable to build an advantage ahead of the return. The Argentine giants will look back with regret to a couple of second half chances that went begging, most notably when Dario Cvitanich struggled in vain to readjust his body to divert the ball into the back of an empty net after Lucas Viatri’s injury time header had bounced back off the crossbar into his path.

It had been a frustrating night for the hosts, as Corinthians strong, deep-lying defence effectively barred their path to goal. There was a palpable sense of relief inside the stadium when Facundo Roncaglia prodded Boca into the lead with just over quarter of an hour remaining, but then some sloppy defending from Clemente Rodriguez allowed Romarinho to run in behind him onto Emerson Sheik’s pass and aim a delightful clipped finish over Agustin Orion for an 85th minute equaliser.

Despite that disappointment, Boca coach Julio Cesar Falcioni remains confident ahead of the second leg, believing that with the emphasis on the home side to attack, his team can take advantage of the additional space that will eventually open up. “They are a team who do not leave much space, but they will have to leave a little more and we will try to find that space in the second half,” he commented ahead of the match.

Recent form


Corinthians 1-1 Santos (20/06; Copa Libertadores)
Corinthians 2-1 Palmeiras (24/06; Brazilian Serie A)
Boca Juniors 1-1 Corinthians (27/06; Copa Libertadores)

Boca Juniors:
Universidad de Chile 0-0 Boca Juniors (21/06; Copa Libertadores)
All Boys 3-1 Boca Juniors (24/06; Argentine Primera Division)
Boca Juniors 1-1 Corinthians (27/06; Copa Libertadores)

Players to watch

Corinthians – Emerson Sheik: From the opening minute of the first leg Emerson looked the most dangerous of all Corinthians’ attackers and so it proved when he turned strongly before playing a nicely weighted through-ball to Romarinho to assist the late equaliser. He had been embroiled in an intense physical battle with Facundo Roncaglia for much of the match, a tussle that could well have ended in the Boca full-back receiving his marching orders for two first half fouls. Stocky, strong and deceptively quick, and with three goals and three assists already to his name in the competition, Emerson is better placed than most to make a telling contribution to the second leg.

Boca Juniors – Juan Roman Riquelme: Although not at his majestic best in the first leg, Riquelme still produced a number of nice passes, particularly in combination with Clemente Rodriguez and Pablo Mouche, and could very well be key to Boca’s chances of producing a winning performance in the second leg. He will be required to exercise all of his experience in dictating the tempo of play, holding possession if required to dull the home crowd before adroitly picking the correct moment to spring a pass in behind the Corinthians defence. If Riquelme is on form Boca will feel confident of claiming their seventh Copa Libertadores crown. 

Match Prediction

The decisive second leg is very hard to call as there is clearly not a great deal of difference between the two teams. A lot will depend on Corinthians’ ability to take the initiative and produce a more decisive attacking performance than they mustered at La Bombonera. The nervousness of a home crowd desperate for Copa Libertadores success is likely to filter through to the Corinthians players, which, allied to Boca’s previous winning experience in the competition could allow the Argentine side to shade it and win yet another continental title.