Copa Libertadores 2018: Evaluating the first qualifying stage

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /
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The first qualifiers in the Copa Libertadores were played last week. How did Olimpia, Oriente Petrolero, and Deportivo Táchira advance to the next round?

Over the next 10 months, the 2018 edition of the Copa Libertadores will march on through the seasons to determine the top club in South American soccer. Three qualifying rounds precede the group stage, followed by a 16-team knockout stage that culminates in the two legs of championship matches in November.

The first steps of the long journey began over the last full week of January. Copa Libertadores play commenced with the first qualifying round, as six clubs came together over two legs on January 22 and January 26. Two of the matchups ended tied up on aggregate, with the winner advancing on away goals.

Olimpia of Paraguay advanced to play Atlético Junior of Colombia in the second qualifying round. Venezuela’s Deportivo Táchira moved on for a showdown against another Colombian side, Independiente Santa Fe. And in the third fixture, Oriente Petrolero earned a date against domestic rival Jorge Wilstermann in an all-Bolivia clash.

How did Olimpia, Deportivo Táchira, and Oriente Petrolero advance to the next round? Let’s look back at the three sets of qualifiers and evaluate whether any of the teams moving on have any shot of continuing forward in this year’s Copa Libertadores.