Two Libertadores giants clash at the Bombonera on Wednesday with a place in the Copa final on the line
The CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores has reached its semi-final stage, as the delayed 2020 competition nears its end.
And Wednesday sees the action switch to La Bombonera with Boca Juniors’ clash against Santos.
With six and three Libertadores titles respectively the two sides rank among the most successful in the competition’s six-decade history, and each will be desperate to win through to a final against either River Plate or Palmeiras.
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How to watch Boca vs Santos on US TV Date Time (US PT / ET) Match Channel January 6 2:15pm / 5:15pm Boca vs Santos Fanatiz What has happened to Boca and Santos so far in the 2020 Copa Libertadores?
Boca have made steady if unspectacular progress through the Libertadores, buoyed by six goals from Argentina striker Eduardo Salvio and the ever-inspirational presence of Carlos Tevez.
The Xeneize came out top in Group H without losing a single game and conceding just one goal, and they looked set to continue in the same vein when Tevez’s strike gave them a 1-0 victory away to Internacional in the last 16 first leg.
Inter, however, struck back with their own win in the return, and the game was forced into a tense penalty shoot-out which was eventually won 5-4 by the relieved Argentines.
In the quarter-finals against Racing, a tense first leg at El Cilindro went in La Academia’s favour thanks to Paraguay international Lorenzo Melgarejo, who headed past Esteban Andrada to gives the hosts a 1-0 victory. In the return, though, Boca fought back and prevailed on aggregate thanks to goals from Salvio and Sebastian Villa.
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Santos finished top of Group G with a near-perfect 16 points from 18, although they then faced a potential banana skin in the last 16 in the shape of Ecuador Liga de Quito.
The Brazilians pulled off a major coup in prevailing 2-1 in the altitude of Quito, a result that meant they could afford to lose a bad-tempered return and still progress on away goals.
The Peixe were then unlucky to see Gremio level at 1-1 deep into injury time of the all-Brazilian quarter final, first leg, but they proved too strong in the return as a superlative performance from young sensation Kaio Jorge led them to a 4-1 thrashing at Vila Belmiro and easy passage into the last four.
Boca and Santos team news and preview
The Xeneize welcome back midfielder Diego Gonzalez from a muscular injury, and the ex-Racing and Lanus man is likely to start following two weeks’ absence from the first XI.
Gonzalez’s return means Boca will make just one change from the side that beat Racing in the quarter final second leg, with Nicolas Capaldo entering for the injured Jordan Campuzano.
Venezuela international Yeferson Soteldo missed the quarter-final clashes due to a positive Covid-19 test, but has now been cleared to return and will line up in attack at the Bombonera.
Santos will also field Lucas Verissimo, who has been sold to Benfica but will remain with the Brazilians until the end of their Libertadores campaign.
Probable Boca XI: Andrada; Jara, Izquierdoz, Lisandro Lopez, Fabra; Salvio, Gonzalez, Capaldo, Villa; Soldano, Tevez.
Probable Santos XI: John; Para, Lucas Veríssimo, Luan Peres, Felipe Jonatan; Alison, Sandry, Diego Pituca; Marinho, Kaio Jorge, Soteldo.
When does the 2020 Copa Libertadores finish?
The 2020 Copa Libertadores was originally scheduled to conclude with a single final in a neutral ground, the system which replaced the old format of home and away legs last year, at the end of November.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, the tournament suffered almost six months of interruption, meaning that the final phases had to be pushed back into the South American summer months of late December and January.
The last quarter-final tie between Boca and Racing concluded on December 23. The first leg of the Xeneize’s semi clash with Santos takes place just under 24 hours after River and Palmeiras locked horns for the first time on Tuesday, while both return matches take place next week.
The final proper is scheduled to be held at Rio de Janeiro’s landmark Maracana Stadium on January 30.
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