Boca, Corinthians eyeing Copa final
Brazilian champion Corinthians and Boca Juniors of Argentina are in pole position to reach the final of the Copa Libertadores, Latin America's top club competition.
Boca Juniors will face Universidad de Chile on Thursday after a 2-0 home win in the first leg of the semifinals last week, while Corinthians will take a 1-0 advantage into the home leg against host Brazilian rival and defending champion Santos.
Boca Juniors, a six-time champion, will be trying to reach its 10th final, while Corinthians will be looking to play for the title for the first time.
Boca Juniors hasn't lost an away match in this year's tournament, winning twice and drawing once on the road in the group stage. It then defeated Union Espanola 3-1 in the round of 16 and drew 1-1 at Fluminense in the quarterfinals.
The only match Boca Juniors has lost in this year's Copa Libertadores was a 2-1 defeat to Fluminense at home in the group stage.
Universidad de Chile has won four of its five matches at home so far, two of which were by more than two goals - 5-1 against Godoy Cruz in the group stage and 6-0 over Deportivo Quito in the round of 16. Universidad de Chile's only draw at home was against Libertad in the quarterfinals, but it still advanced on penalties.
Universidad de Chile has never won the Copa Libertadores and is trying to reach the final for the first time. Colo Colo is the only Chilean club to have won the competition, in 1991 in a final against Paraguay's Olimpia.
Boca Juniors has won four of its six titles in the past 12 years, but hasn't lifted the trophy since 2007. It also won the competition in 2003, 2001 and 2000.
Corinthians, seeking its first Copa Libertadores title, hasn't lost a match at home or away this year.
With a stellar defensive set-up, Corinthianshas allowed only one goal so far, none at home. When playing at Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo, which will stage of Wednesday's match against Santos, Corinthians has outscored its opponents 13-0. It has a 7-4 overall record.
"This isn't happening only because of our defenders, the entire team is helping out. It makes it easier for us to do our job," defender Leandro Castan told Brazilian media. "The whole team has to be praised."
Corinthians is a popular club in Brazil but has never had much success internationally. It won the inaugural Fifa Club World Cup in 2000, when it was invited as the host team.
Coach Tite has been resting some of its regular starters in the Brazilian league, and the team is last in the 20-team standings after losing four of its first five matches.
Santos, looking for its fourth Copa Libertadores title, was outplayed during most of the first leg against Corinthians at home. Neymar was ineffective, as was the rest of the team, even after Corinthians striker Emerson was sent off near the end of the match.
Santos has won only one of its five away matches so far in this year's Copa Libertadores - 3-1 against Juan Aurich of Peru in the group stage.