Copa Libertadores 2018: Qualifying Round 1 preview and predictions

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Olimpia (Paraguay) vs. Montevideo Wanderers (Uruguay)

Olimpia made it into the tournament this year as the fourth team from Paraguay, by virtue of their combined finish in both the Apertura and Clausura. The most successful Paraguayan club in Copa LIbertadores history thus must try to qualify for the main group stage from the first qualifying round onward.

Their opponent in the first round is Montevideo Wanderers, a club with a long and colorful history in the Uruguayan game. The Wanderers made it through the first round last season, taking down Universitario de Sucre 7-5 on aggregate. Then Montevideo collapsed to Bolivian opponents The Strongest in the second qualifying stage, getting blanked 6-0 over the two legs.

Olimpia last made it to the group stage in 2016. Wanderers was there in 2015. These two clubs have never met before on the pitch, so there is no previous history to cloud the present. The Paraguayans have won each of their past four matches, while Wanderers enters the match on a 3-1-4 run over the same stretch.

The first leg takes place in Uruguay, but it probably won’t matter. Look for Olimpia to grab a couple of critical away goals and set themselves up for easy passage through to the next stage in the return leg in Asunción on January 26. Néstor Camacho, a midseason 2017 acquisition from Guaraní, could especially play a decisive role in Montevideo. Camacho scored six goals over the past two editions of the Copa Libertadores with Guaraní before joining Olimpia.

Aggregate Prediction: Olimpia 5, Montevideo Wanderers 2