The qualifying round for the 2015 Copa Libertadores gets under way this week, with 12 teams vying for six available spots in the group stage of this year’s competition. Ahead of the start of the tournament, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the past five years and see which teams have performed the most consistently over that time-frame.

The methodology is simple. I have merely counted the number of matches each team was involved in during each year’s tournament. Teams who were eliminated during the group stage were given six points, those eliminated in the round of 16 were given eight, and so on and so forth through to the two finalists, who were both awarded 14 points. Qualifying round matches were not counted.

Before I present the table, here are a few details I found interesting. Particularly so when compared to the Champions League in Europe.

  • 86 different teams qualified for the group stage during the period in question
  • only three teams qualified for all five of the tournaments reviewed. They were Emelec (Ecuador), Nacional (Uruguay) and Velez Sarsfield (Argentina)
  • Velez Sarsfield (Argentina) were the only side to reach the knockout stages in all five of the tournaments reviewed

And here’s that table.

Team Total
Velez Sarsfield (Argentina) 46
Libertad (Paraguay) 36
Universidad de Chile (Chile) 36
Emelec (Ecuador) 34
Nacional (Uruguay) 34
Cerro Porteno (Paraguay) 32
Penarol (Uruguay) 32
Corinthians (Brazil) 30
Internacional (Brazil) 30
Cruzeiro (Brazil) /Fluminense (Brazil) 28

Velez Sarsfield’s run of consecutive appearances in the knockout stages will end this year following their defeat to Boca Juniors in a “stupid tie-breaker for a Libertadores place that shouldn’t be being played,” in the words of the esteemed Sam Kelly. Fluminense and Penarol also failed to qualify, while Cerro Porteno, Corinthians and Nacional face qualifying round ties against Deportivo Tachira, Once Caldas and Deportivo Palestino respectively.

Libertad and Universidad de Chile have again qualified for the group stage, as have Cruzeiro, Emelec and Internacional.


Estadio Garcilaso

The South American qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup are done and dusted and the inquiries into what went wrong for the four countries who failed to qualify can now begin.

Of the four, Peru have perhaps the blankest canvas to work with. Sergio Markarian is set to leave his post as national team coach and a number of players are reaching an age at which international retirement is likely. Read More

Courtesy of AP

Courtesy of AP

In 2007 I began to take my first tentative steps towards the vocation that I now, somewhat laughably, refer to as my career. I knew that I wanted to write about the sport that I loved and at the time the best approach seemed to be to set up a blog. And so, El Espectacular, a now-abandoned blog on Latin American football, was born.

One of my first posts on El Espectacular saw me pick 10 young Latin American prospects from the then recently concluded 2007 U20 World Cup in Canada. There were two very simple rules: the players had to be from a country in Latin America and could not already be contracted to a European club. The second of those stipulations ruled out Sergio Aguero, who was undoubtedly the star of the tournament-winning Argentina side.

With the 2013 U20 World Cup in Turkey soon due to kick off, I thought it would be interesting to look at the 10 players I picked out back in 2007 and see whether their careers have progressed as I expected them to. The results, it is fair to say, are mixed:

Read More