The Brazilian Palmeiras and the Argentine Defense and Justice, the current champions of the two most important club tournaments in South America; They will share a group in the Copa Libertadores 2021, which will begin to be played on April 20 with the region submerged in a second wave of coronavirus infections.
The São Paulo team, winner of the last edition of the Libertadores, and Defensa, which won the South American Cup, make up Group A together with Universitario (Peru) and the winner of the preliminary phase duel between Independiente del Valle de Colombia and Gremio de Brazil, according to the draw carried out on Friday at the headquarters of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) in the Paraguayan city of Luque.
At a time when South America is suffering the effects of the second wave of coronavirus and several of its governments imposed harsh restrictions, CONMEBOL president Alejandro Domínguez called for the responsibility of players, technicians and leaders so as not to alter the development of competitions in a year of “Tight schedule” for the Copa América in June and the qualifying rounds for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
“We need a little more, we cannot lower our guard now,” Domínguez insisted. “If you take care of yourself … you are taking care of the South American football product. That is very important because there is a very tight schedule. If we do this as a team, it is feasible, possible, to meet the schedule. I ask you from my heart to make this effort together ”.
Boca Juniors, the club with the most Libertadores won (6) of those that will compete this year, will reissue the semifinal duel of the last edition against runner-up Santos from Brazil if the São Paulo team liquidates the series (3-1) against San Lorenzo Argentina for the preliminary round.
In the same Group C were Barcelona (Ecuador) and The Bolivian Strongest, a local in the height of La Paz.
While River Plate, the other semifinalist in 2020 and five-time champion, will share Group D with Independiente (Colombia), Fluminense (Brazil) and the survivor of the clash between Bolívar, also from La Paz, and Junior Barranquilla for the preliminary phase.
The powerful Flamengo of Brazil will face Liga de Quito (Ecuador); Vélez Sarsfield (Argentina) and Unión la Calera (Chile) in Group G.
The three-time continental champion Olimpia (Paraguay) will share Group B with Internacional (Brazil), Deportivo Táchira (Venezuela) and an Always Ready (Bolivia) that returns to competition after 50 years.
For his part, the three-time continental champion Sao Paulo (Brazil) heads Group E which has Racing Club (Argentina); Sporting Cristal (Peru) and newcomer Rentistas (Uruguay).
Nacional from Uruguay, another three-time champion; Universidad Católica (Chile) and Argentinos Juniors are part of Group F, which will define its last member after the rematch between Libertad and Atlético Nacional in the preliminary round.
In Group H were Cerro Porteño (Paraguay), Atlético Mineiro (Brazil), América de Cali (Colombia) and Deportivo La Guaria (Venezuela).
The group stage will begin and conclude on May 27. The first and second of each will qualify for the round of 16, which will be played between July 13 and 22. The eight third parties will play the round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana.
The quarterfinals of the Libertadores are scheduled between August 10 and 19 and the semifinals between September 21 and 30.
The only final will be on November 20 in a stadium to be defined. The champion will receive $ 15 million as a prize.
SOUTH AMERICAN CUP:
With more teams (32) and a new format, the Copa Sudamericana also defined its groups in the draw.
The two-time Independent champion of Argentina, one of the South American clubs with the longest tradition in international competitions, heads Group B that will share with Bahía (Brazil), Guabirá (Bolivia) and the winner of the preliminary phase series between the Uruguayan Torque and the Argentine Fénix, which will be defined on Wednesday.
Corinthians of Brazil, another heavyweight from the South American continent, remained in Group E with Sport Huancayo (Peru), River Plate (Paraguay) and the winner of the playoff between Uruguayans Cerro Largo and Peñarol, to be resolved on Tuesday.
In Group A are Rosario Central (Argentina); Huachipato (Chile) and October 12 (Paraguay), which will be joined by San Lorenzo from Argentina or Santos from Brazil, the last runner-up of the Libertadores.
Jorge Wilstermann (Bolivia), Arsenal (Argentina), Ceará (Brazil) and Bolívar de La Paz or Junior Barranquilla are in Group C, while Atlético Paranaense (Brazil), Melgar (Peru), Aucas (Ecuador) and the debutant Metropolitanos (Venezuela) make up Group D.
Group F enlists Newell’s (Argentina), Palestino (Chile) Atlético Goianiense (Brazil) and Libertad from Paraguay or Atlético Nacional from Colombia. Group G has Emelec (Ecuador), Deportes Tolima (Colombia), Talleres (Argentina) and Bragantino (Brazil).
For its part, Lanús (Argentina), champion of the 2013 edition, leads a Group H that is also made up of La Equidad (Colombia), Aragua (Venezuela), and either Independiente del Valle, champion in 2019, or Guild of Brazil.
The group stage will be played from April 20 to May 27.
The final is scheduled for November 6, in a stadium to be defined. The champion will receive four million dollars.