Copa Libertadores 2018: Qualifying Round 2 preview and predictions

(Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images) /

Bottom quarter of the draw

  • Carabobo (Venezuela) vs. Guaraní (Paraguay)
  • Olimpia (Paraguay) vs. Atlético Junior (Colombia)

The last pair of matches in the second qualifying stage offer some serious showdowns to conclude the bracket. Paraguay’s Club Guaraní is back in the Copa Libertadores after finishing with the best combined record from the Clausura and Apertura. But they will enter the competition without top scorer Nestor Camacho after his transfer to rival Olimpia. Young midfielder Rodrigo Bogarín, just 20 years old, is the catalyst for the current attack.

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The Paraguayan side takes on Venezuela’s Carabobo. Like Guaraní in Paraguay, Carabobo finished second in the Venezuelan Clausura and third in the Apertura last season to finish atop the aggregate table. That gave Carabobo passage into the second qualifying stage. Relying on an older attack led by strikers Tommy Tobar and Aquiles Ocanto, Carabobo will try to keep pace with the high-powered Guaraní offense.

In the last fixture of the second qualifying round, three-time champion Olimpia set up a showdown with Atlético Junior after taking down Montevideo Wanderers 2-0 on aggregate in the first qualifying stage. Junior, meanwhile, earned direct passage to the final 16 of qualifying thanks to its victory in the 2017 Copa Colombia.

The final for this quarter could provide a guaranteed spot for one Paraguayan club in the group stage. Guaraní has the firepower to overtake Carabobo, while Olimpia showed solid form in its first two Copa Libertadores matches of 2018.

Aggregate predictions

  • Guaraní 4, Carabobo 3
  • Olimpia 3, Atlético Junior 1