Estudiantes vs. Crueiro Copa Libertadores Preview and Pick

Estudiantes vs. Cruzeiro Copa Libertadores 6:50 PM ET Wednesday July 8, 2009
by Jason Green of Predictem.com

On Wednesday night in the Copa Libertadores each team looks to gain an advantage in the first leg of the biggest club competition in South America. This is a match of Estudiantes from Argentina and Cruzeiro from Brazil and there will surely be some exciting soccer in this huge game. These two teams do not have the best history and there is even more tension now, as Cruzeiro would not travel to Argentina because of the swine flu affecting the country. They are finally there, but Estudiantes was not happy with the stance of Brazil and the visiting club will get a hostile reception once they hit the pitch.

Estudiantes has not won the Copa Libertadores in 39 years. They finished Group 5 in 2nd place behind Cruzeiro, as they lost 3-0 in Brazil, but won 4-0 in La Plata, which is where this game will be held. Estudiantes has not given up a goal at home in 7 matches in this competition and goalie Mariano Andujar will be hoping to keep another clean-sheet against Cruzeiro. He has set a record, as he has not given up a goal in 767 minutes.

Cruzeiro reached the final after they beat Gremio, also of Brazil, 5-3 on aggregate in the semis. They will try to learn to their 4-0 schooling by Estudiantes, especially on defense. They have to play better defense then they did in that loss or they will be in trouble. They are solid at home, so they will be ok if they play to a draw in this match. That will not be easy, as the match will be played at Cuidad de La Plata stadium, which is very intimidating for any away team.

Cruzeiro Recent form:

7/2/2009 Gremio 2 Cruzeiro 2 (Copa Libertadores)
6/24/2009 Cruzeiro Gremio 1 (Copa Libertadores)
6/18/2009 Sau Paulo 0 Cruzeiro 2 (Copa Libertadores)
5/27/2009 Cruzeiro 2 Sau Paulo 1 (Copa Libertadores)

Estudiantes Recent Form in Copa Libertadores

7/4/2009 River Plate 1 Estudiantes 2 (Argentina - Clausura)
7/1/2009 Nacional 1 Estudiantes 2 (Copa Libertadores)
6/25/2009 Estudiantes 1 Nacional 0 (Copa Libertadores)
6/21/2009 Estudiantes 1 Colon 3 (Argentina - Clausura)

Estudiantes is the favorite in this match posted at 1.90 with Cruzeiro as the underdog posted at 3.80 with a draw at 3.55.

Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastian Veron will be back from a calf injury and he will play in this match. Defender Cristian Cellay may not play in the match, which is a big blow, because of a lingering knee injury. If he dies not play he will be replaced by Juan Manuel Diaz of Uruguay.

Cruzeiro is relatively healthy for this match and they should have a full squad. Head coach Adilson Batista may play a very defensive game in this match and keep some forwards back to help on D.

Juan Sebastian Veron is the South American Footballer of the Year and how he plays in the midfield may determine the outcome of this match. He has to have accurate passes and set up the scoring opportunities for Estudiantes.

Cruzeiro will have to have a solid game from Kleber, who is a striker that is being looked at by many big clubs in Europe. He has to break through and help the visiting team break through with some offense. Kleber can set up goals or take it to the house.

Since Cruzeiro may be pulling a lot of guys back on D they have to take advantage of any counter attack.

The opening of the game should see a lot of action and the pace of the game will be set in the first few minutes.

Estudiantes G Mariano Andujar has a lot of pressure to keep his scoreless streak alive and this may be a low scoring game, so he has to be at the top of his game.

Jason’s Pick: I see a scoreless first half, but for Estudiantes to play better in the second half behind their home crowd and win this game by a score around 2-0 or 2-1.