Argentines Banfield host Uruguayans Nacional in Wednesday’s Copa Libertadores final qualification round, first leg. Despite the stakes being so high with a group stage place on the line, plenty of action is expected at both ends.
As was the case in Banfield’s tie with Independiente del Valle in the last round. After a 1-1 draw on home soil, El Taladro faced a daunting return leg at high altitude, but managed to progress in the dying moments of the game, with Mauricio Sperduti’s 91st minute goal making it 2-2 on the night and seeing the side through on away goals.
Those that made the trip to Ecuador have had plenty of time to recharge their batteries, with a reserve team fielded in Sunday’s domestic 1-0 defeat away at Talleres, as legendary boss Julio César Falcioni looks to make his team’s first Libertadores campaign since 2010 a memorable one. Although typically a very strong home team, Banfield are actually now 7 games without a win at the Estadio Florencio Sola, and improvement is going to have to be found on that front if they are to avoid leaving themselves with an uphill battle in the second leg.
Opponents Nacional made it through their clash with Chapecoense in far less dramatic fashion, running out 2-0 aggregate winners after two 1-0 wins. Los Albos put in impressive showings in both games, and confidence is very high in the camp, with Alexander Medina’s troops having also made a perfect start to their domestic campaign, winning both of their opening fixtures.
The visitors have fared well in continental action in recent years, and certainly carry more Libertadores experience than Banfield. The side have made it beyond the group phase of the competition in the last two seasons, and will be hopeful of achieving similar this time around. Nonetheless, all focus must first be on navigating what looks to be a tricky tie here, with calling a winner over two legs looking difficult.
Whilst knockout Libertadores games tend to be tight and lacking action, with these two involved, we can be assured of an exciting watch. Both outfits are expansive and possess talented attacking players and as such, backing both nets to be hit looks the way to play and provides good value at current odds.
5 of Banfield’s last 6 in the Libertadores have seen both sides score, as well as 6 of their last 9 games overall and with Nacional having found the net in 10 consecutive away games, there’s no reason to bet against the trend. As for the result itself, it looks difficult to separate the two, with a 1-1 draw on the cards.
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