Boca Juniors through to Copa Libertadores semis to challenge Brazilian club dominance

September 1 – Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors laboured their way to the last four of the Copa Libertadores, where a trio of Brazilian clubs will look to ensure the country’s recent dominance of the competition. 

The all-Argentinean quarter-final between Boca Juniors and Racing was decided on penalties after neither side failed to find the net during the two legs. Boca prevailed 4-1 from the spot kicks to progress and meet tournament favourites Palmeiras of Sao Paulo in the semi-finals.

Abel Ferreira’s team defeated Colombia’s Deportivo Pereira 4-0 on aggregate. They had put four goals, including three first-half strikes, past their opponents in the first leg to decide the tie early on.

Under the Portuguese manager, Palmeiras hardly play attractive football, but they are ruthless and won the Copa Libertadores back-to-back in all-Brazilians finals in 2020 and 2021.

They will be favourites to win a third title in four seasons, but Fluminense of Rio de Janeiro could spring a surprise. They face Porto Alegre’s Internacional in the other semi-final after trashing Paraguay’s Olimpia 5-1 on aggregate in the last eight.

It’s however the playing style under coach Fernando Diniz that has drawn the most attention. He simply overloads the opposition with an all-out attacking philosophy.

Next week, Diniz will take the reins of the Brazil national team. He will serve as an interim coach before Carlo Ancelotti will reportedly take over next year.

In 2008, Fluminense featured in their only ever Copa Libertadores, losing to LDU Quito of Ecuador. This year’s final is slated at their home ground, the Maracana, on November 4.

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