Friday, May 16, 2014

Bolivar makes history in Libertadores

No Brazilian teams in Copa semis for the first time in 20+ years

The samba beats have gone quiet for now.

For the first time in 23 years, not one representative from Brazil is in the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores, representing the darkest hour for Brazilian sides since the 2011 edition when four of their teams were ousted in the quarterfinals. It's also a humiliating experience as the World Cup kicks off there in just under a month.

Brazilian teams have lifted the Libertadores trophy for the past four straight years.

This year, there will be a new champion as Bolivia's Bolivar, Argentina's San Lorenzo, Paraguay's Nacional and Uruguay's Defensor Sporting each have not taken home the continent's most coveted silverware.

The focus, however, has to be on the Bolivian side managed by Spain's Xabier Azkargorta, who led the Bolivian national team to the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. The Bolivians have never achieved the levels of success as their other South American cousins on the international side--both country and club--but have boasted several semifinals appearances back in the 1980s with Bolivar, Wilstermann and Blooming. 

The Bolivians played intelligent on the counter at home in their second-leg 1-0 win but also have the skies of La Paz to thank for and also to Lanus defender Carlos Izuierdoz for punching his way out of a fracas in the penalty area that earned him a straight red.

They're two matches away from the final and three from giving Bolivia a bit of glory. They may also have already scored tickets to the World Cup final at the famed Maracana stadium too---Bolivar's president and Miami MLS investor Marcel Claure offered them this bonus if they made it to the semis!

-Tio Pelotas