Copa Libertadores draw favours leading Brazilian clubs

March 19 – Flamengo, Fluminense and Botafogo were handed benign draws in the Copa Libertadores while Palmeiras and River Plate of Argentina face a tougher route to the knockout stages. 

On Monday, Conmebol, the South American football confederation, staged the draw for this season’s Copa Libertadores, which kicks on April 3. The equivalent of the Champions League, the competition unites the region’s best clubs.

In Group A, defending champions Fluminense were handed a favourable draw with Cerro Porteno of Paraguay, Alizanza Lima of Peru and Colo-Colo of Chile. The Rio club has struggled to get its 2024 on track, but should still navigate the group with ease.

Crosstown rivals Flamengo, the 2019 and 2022 champions, will also be firm favourites to win Group E with altitude trips to Bolivar of Bolivia and Millonarios of Colombia. Chile’s Palestino, a club formed by Palestinian immigrants in the 1920s, complete the group.

Placed in pot 4, Botafogo will face Copa Sul-Americana champions LDU, Peruvian league leaders Universitario and Junior of Colombia. They return to the competition for the first time since 2017 when they topped their group and reached the last eight.

Palmeiras, back-to-back champions in 2020 and 2021, will not have an easy passage to the round of sixteen. They have to play Liverpool of Uruguay, Independiente del Valle of Ecuador and San Lorenzo of Argentina in Group F.

In Group H, River Plate will encounter Libertad of Paraguay, Deportivo Tachira of Colombia and Nacional of Uruguay. Boca Juniors failed to qualify for the competition. Last season they reached the final but were defeated after extra time by Fluminense at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

This year’s final will be staged in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on November 30. The winners will get $23 million in prize money with the runners-up banking $7 million. In total, $223 million will be on offer during the competition.

The 2024 champions will join Palmeiras, Flamengo and Fluminense next year at the expanded Club World Cup in the United States.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1711664643labto1711664643ofdlr1711664643owedi1711664643sni@i1711664643tnuk.1711664643ardni1711664643mas1711664643