Qualifying for the 2008 edition of the Champions Cup has been underway for the past two months almost with the UNCAF Toreno Interclubes taking place. It is now down to the Semi Finals.
In one semifinal Alajuelense will face Deportivo Saprissa in the Clásico Costarricense while in the other semifinal, Honduran powerhouses Motagua will face off against one-time winners of the tournament and possibly the biggest club in Guatemala, Municipal.
My (biased) pick for the Clásico is Alajuelense, who are overdue a win anyways, while my pick for the other semifinal is Municipal, who look to have a good squad this year.
Alajuelense beat Once Municipal (El Salvador) and Real España (Honduras) to get to the semis, while Saprissa beat F.C. Belize and fellow Costa Rican side Herediano to reach the semis. Motagua handily beat Real Estelí (Nicaragua) before disposing of San Francisco F.C. (Panama) while their opponents thumped Real Madriz (Nicaragua) before overcoming fellow countrymen Xelajú M.C. in a penalty-shootout.
The two finalists and the third-placed team of the tournament go on to the CONCACAF Champions Cup proper.
Vamos La Liga!
On the Carribean side of things, the winner of the Carribean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship will advance to the Champions Cup. The competition will take place later in 2007.
In North America, two teams have already qualified, Pachuca as the Mexican Clausura 06/07 Champion and D.C. United as the MLS Supporter's Shield winners. The Mexican Apertura 07/08 Champion and the MLS Cup winner will also receive berths.
Historically, the Champions Cup (or its equivalent) has been dominated by Mexican teams, with Mexico notching up 23 wins. Cruz Azul and Club América have 5 wins apiece, making them the most successful clubs in the tournament. The next most successful country is Costa Rica, with six titles shared between Saprissa (3), Alajuelense (2), and Cartaginés (1). Costa Rican teams have been powerful, even recently with Alajuelense and Saprissa winning titles in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Since the inception of the MLS, American clubs have won twice, D.C. United in 1998, and LA Galaxy in 2000.
The last time a Carribean team won the cup was Defence Force, from Trinidad & Tobago in 1985 defeating C.D. Olimpia of Honduras 2-1 on aggregate. Other Carribbean teaams to have won are S.V. Transvaal of Surinam (1973, 1981), and two Haitian teams, Racing Club Haïtien (1963) and Violette AC (1984).
For more info on the competition, check out the Wikipedia article:
Or the RSSSF page:
Games are occasionally shown on FSC in the United States.