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Copa Libertadores Preview: Feb 7

February 7, 2012 By Gregory Sica
Defensor Sporting and Velez Sarsfield kick-off the group stage of the 2012 Copa Libertadores in what is expected to be a pulsating clash in Montevideo on Tuesday.
The group stage of the Copa Libertadores gets under-way on Tuesday with what are likely to be three mouthwatering Group 7 clashes.

Defensor Sporting of Uruguay take on Velez Sarsfield of Argentina in the latest instalment of the River Plate rivalry.

Fluminense of Brazil clash with Arsenal de Sarandi of Argentina, in a battle between teams from South America's two most successful Copa Libertadores nations.

While Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara lock horns with Ecuadorian champions El Nacional.

Expect fireworks in the first round of arguably one of the most evenly balanced groups of the entire competition.

Defensor Sporting take on Velez Sarsfield in what is expected to be an action packed clash at the Luis Franzini stadium in Montevideo on Tuesday.

Velez, winners of the Copa Libertadores in 1994, are one of the favourites coming into the competition, but are well aware of the fact that Defensor are likely to be very tough nuts to crack.

"It is a very complicated stadium and team," stated Ricardo Gareca, the coach of Velez, in reference to what can be expected in the Uruguayan capital on Tuesday.

Velez, who have been one of Argentina's most consistent teams in recent years, reached the semi-finals of both the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana last year, but will be hoping to better those displays this year.

Defensor, on the other hand, will be hoping to make the most of their return to South America's biggest club competition.

Gustavo Diaz, the coach of the club, will field a very attacking-minded formation to increase their possibilities of claiming the three points.

Arsenal de Sarandi travel to Rio de Janeiro to battle with locals Fluminense with their 6-0 defeat to the Brazilians in 2008 fresh in their minds.

The Argentine outfit appear to be a much more solid side this time around, and will be hoping to return to Buenos Aires with at least a point.

"A draw would be a good result, especially because in the Libertadores you have to win your home games and rescue some away points too," affirmed Arsenal boss Gustavo Alfaro.

Fluminense, who were losing finalists to Liga de Quito in 2008, count with plenty of depth in their side, with the likes of Deco, Rafael Sobis and Fred.

Abel Braga's side appear to be one of the most complete sides of the competition, but will have to be very weary of their Argentine rivals, who advanced to the group stage of the competition after claiming a comprehensive 4-1 aggregate victory over Sport Huancayo of Peru last week.

"Arsenal are very good at closing down, and they will complicate our lives. We are obligated to win, and to achieve this we have to maintain ourselves calm and balanced throughout the game," stated Flu striker Sobis.

Chivas de Guadalajara open their campaign against Deportivo Quito at the Omnilife stadium on Tuesday.

The Mexican giants come into the clash in awful form after having obtained a single point from their first five Mexican league games this season.

But the 2010 Copa Libertadores finalists will be hoping to return to winning ways in what is expected to be a complicated encounter.

Meanwhile, Deportivo Quito, the reigning Ecuadorian champions come into the clash after having suffered a frustrating narrow defeat to Macara in the first round of the local competition.

However, Carlos Ischia will rate his team's chances of returning to Quito with a valuable point, not only because of Chivas' horrible form but because of his knowledge of Mexican soccer.

Expect El Nacional to absorb heavy pressure from the locals, and look to break on swift and possibly deadly counter-attacks.

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