Lightning strikes twice: Boca Juniors and River Plate to renew Copa Libertadores battle

August 30 – In a rematch of last year’s tumultuous Copa Libertadores final Boca Juniors will play Buenos Aires rivals River Plate in the last four of the competition after eliminating Paraguay’s Cerro Porteno. In the other semi-final, Flamengo will meet Gremio in an all-Brazilian affair. 

The 2018 Copa Libertadores was – for better or for worse – one of the most memorable club finals in history as the second leg of the two-legged showpiece event was moved to the Spanish capital Madrid over safety concerns following.

Before the second leg of the 2018 final the bus carrying the Boca team bus was attacked by rival fans, hospitalising two players. The kick-off was delayed several times before the game was postponed 24 hours, only to be called off again when Boca said they were not in a fit state to play.

Argentina and Conmebol will brace itself again for a high-poctane derby with the Buenos Aires giants meeting for a second year running in South America’s prime club competition.

Boca Juniors completed the semi-final line-up after drawing scoreless with Ecuador’s LDU Quito. The Argentineans however had all but sealed their passage to the last four in the first leg, defeating their hosts 3-0. River Plate eliminated Cerro Porteno 3-1 on aggregate.

On the other side of the draw, Gremio caused an upset by eliminating Brazilian champions Palmeiras. The Sao Paulo club coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari had taken a valuable 0-1 win from Porte Alegre, but had to bury their Copa Libertadores dreams after a 1-2 defeat at home. Rio giants and league leaders Flamengo continued their rich vein of form under newly-appointed Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus by eliminating other Porte Alegre club Internacional 3-1 on aggregate.

“During the 90 minutes, we were the best team, no doubt,” said Jesus. “It is important for any team to go to the final, be it in the Libertadores, be it in the Champions League… It is also our goal, we work for it. But we have won nothing, we have just passed a knockout round. We aim to reach the final. Step by step, two games left. We remain serene, aware of the difficulties, and humble.”

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601332664labto1601332664ofdlr1601332664owedi1601332664sni@o1601332664fni1601332664