S Am 2007 Review
2007 South American Football Review
Goal.com reflects on a 2007 in which Argentine clubs dominated South American football at a club level, while Brazil retained the Copa America title with another finals victory over fierce rivals Argentina. The year's main revelation were Sudamericana champions Arsenal...
Copa Libertadores (January 24-April 26)
Juan Roman Riquelme was the inspiration as Boca Juniors won the Copa Libertadores in sensational fashion.
It didn't start well: the Argentines only just managed to get out of their group, edging Cienciano for second place. But in the knock out rounds they proved their worth, beating Velez Sarsfield, Libertad, and Cucuta Deportivo, as they qualified for the grand final.
In the title decider they proved much too strong for Gremio of Porto Alegre, thrashing the Brazilians 5-0 on aggregate, with Riquelme scoring three of those five goals.
Probably the greatest revelation of the tournament was Cucuta of Colombia, while Defensor Sporting of Uruguay weren't too far behind.
Winner: Boca Juniors, who thrashed Gremio 5-0 on aggregate in the final.
Copa America (June 26-July 15)
Argentina were the overwhelming favourites coming into the competition, and they demonstrated that they had enough depth to win their first international title in fourteen years, crushing all opposition, as they reached the title decider against fierce rivals Brazil.
Argentina had it all, and were up against a Brazilian squad who looked extremely vulnerable throughout the competition. But Alfio Basile, and his side, were in for a rude awakening, as the inexperienced Brazilians thrashed them 3-0, to put an end to all Argentine hopes.
The likes of Riquelme, Lionel Messi, and Carlos Tevez, were all shocked, particularly because they seemed to be much too strong for their opponents before the match.
Winner: Brazil, who thrashed Argentina 3-0 in the final.
Recopa (May 31-June 7)
Last year's Copa Libertadores champions Internacional faced a Pachuca side who gave Mexico their first ever South American title after winning the 2006 Copa Sudamericana. In the two-legged final, Pachuca won 2-1 in Mexico, but were then thrashed 4-0 by Internacional in Brazil, as the Colorado cruised to a 5-2 aggregate victory.
Inter, who were knocked out in the first round of the Copa Libertadores earlier in the year, proved that the winner of this competition are always the strongest team of the continent.
Winner: Internacional, who beat Pachuca 5-2 on aggregate in the decider.
Copa Sudamericana (31 July-December 5)
Arsenal de Sarandi made history as they lifted their first international title, beating Club America of Mexico on the away goals rule after a 4-4 aggregate score-line over two legs.
The tiny Argentine club picked up a vital 3-2 win in Mexico City, but then saw themselves 2-0 behind in the return leg in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, with only minutes remaining in the decider. But six minutes before full time they scored an absolutely amazing goal, that will remain in the history of the club for eternity.
Arsenal proved that small clubs can still lift major titles in the modern game.
Winner: Arsenal de Sarandi, who went on to win on the away goals rule after a 4-4 aggregate score-line with Club America.
What to Look Ahead to in 2008
-The "Copa Santander Libertadores" (the new name for South America's most prestigious club competition) begins in late January, with a series of qualification play-off matches before the group stage begins. As always the main teams to contend for the title are Boca Juniors, River Plate, Sao Paulo, and Santos. Other teams that could stir up some trouble are: San Lorenzo, Lanus, Cruzeiro, Flamengo, Estudiantes, Danubio, Nacional, Colo Colo, Chivas, Atletico Nacional, and Fluminense.
-The '08 version of the Recopa will be an all-Argentine affair, between Copa Libertadores champions Boca Juniors and Arsenal of Sarandi, who won the Copa Sudamericana earlier in the month. This two-legged final has gained some more prestige in recent years, and promises to be even more important this year.
-The Copa Sudamericana has played second fiddle to the Libertadores since it was introduced, but Conmebol are likely to change its format next year, meaning that it will be the most exciting version of the competition ever. The fact that pulsating two-legged knock-out rounds are in from the start, means that like Arsenal in '08 there promises to be another revelation club going for the honours.
-Football fans can look forward to the restart of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, which Paraguay lead after four rounds of action. The qualifiers will heat up this year, with a number of mouthwatering clashes, including arguably the world's most important derby: Brazil vs Argentina. The Argentines will look for revenge against Brazil, who have beaten them in three consecutive finals. Fans around the world can expect football of the highest level.
Goal.com will continue to provide readers with all the latest news from the South American continent in 2008. The action will continue right throughout the year, so make sure you stay tuned.
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