Copa Libertadores 2022: Midway assessment of the Quarterfinals

My plan to preview the Quarterfinal round of the Copa Libertadores did not work out as planned. Due to the constraints of time, my thumbnail sketches of the Quarterfinal matchups will have to be even sketchier than usual. At any rate, let’s go.

(Expected goal “slash lines” are in format: goals from open play / goals from set play / goals from penalty. Metrics are for all Libertadores matches up to first leg of Quarterfinal round.)

Flamengo vs Corinthians

xG per 90 minutes xGA per 90 minutes
Corinthians 1.34 (0.61/0.59/0.13) 1.42 (0.67/0.57/0.18)
Flamengo 2.32 (1.57/0.69/0.06) 0.94 (0.46/0.49/0.00)

Flamengo won the first leg 2-0 at Corinthians.

Corinthians didn’t play all that poorly, but the talent and experience of Flamengo shone through in the second half. Giorgian de Arrascaeta — one of the best midfielders in the Brasileirão and the Libertadores — scored a peach of a goal, and then Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa burst through to score the second. Even without the away goal tiebreaker, this tie seems over and I have a difficult time imagining Timão finding a way back.

Prediction: Flamengo win on aggregate by multiple goals.

Atlético Mineiro vs Palmeiras

xG per 90 minutes xGA per 90 minutes
Atlético Mineiro 2.24 (1.14/0.91/0.19) 1.08 (0.52/0.50/0.06)
Palmeiras 3.56 (1.66/1.69/0.21) 0.89 (0.38/0.45/0.06)

Atlético Mineiro are the strongest team remaining in the competition not named Palmeiras or Flamengo, and they have the expected goal statistics to prove it: the third highest xG per 90 minutes and the fourth lowest xGA per 90 of all teams in this season’s Libertadores. But Mineiro are overly dependent on Hulk and to a much lesser extent Ignacio Fernández. No other Mineiro player cracks the top 50 in expected goals. Palmeiras are just a fearsome side — most expected goals, most actual goals, 3.56 xG/90, a 21.1% conversion rate, 0.89 xGA/90, and two players with seven goals each. Mineiro still have a chance, and Palmeiras have lost twice at home in the domestic league, but the first leg concluded very badly for Mineiro and they need an exceptional performance to hold back the juggernaut.

Prediction: Palmeiras to advance on aggregate by multiple goals.

Talleres vs Vélez Sársfield

xG per 90 minutes xGA per 90 minutes
Talleres 1.26 (0.76/0.50/0.00) 1.29 (0.57/0.66/0.06)
Vélez Sársfield 1.84 (0.98/0.80/0.06) 1.21 (0.82/0.33/0.06)

Vélez and Talleres combined to perform the match of the round last week, La T coming back in the final ten minutes from two goals down before a final surge forward found Julián Fernández to score the winner. The two sides have similar quality in the back and midfield (Vélez is slightly better), so the difference could come from the attacking players on either side. Lucas Janson is among the best in the competition, supported by another Lucas — Pratto. Federico Girotti is Talleres’ best threat up front, but he’s scored just one goal in Libertadores. Can he be willed on by an expectant crowd at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes?

Prediction: Vélez to advance on penalties.

Estudiantes vs Athletico Paranaense

xG per 90 minutes xGA per 90 minutes
Estudiantes (La Plata) 1.73 (0.82/0.90/0.00) 1.05 (0.61/0.41/0.04)
Athletico Paranaense 1.94 (1.07/0.75/0.12) 1.60 (0.70/0.90/0.00)

Athletico Paranaense and Estudiantes drew 0-0 in Curitiba.

These two sides have had similar levels of performance in the Libertadores, but over all competitions they seem to be traveling in opposite directions. Athletico have lost once in their last five, and just twice in their last fifteen league matches. They’re also in the quarterfinals of the Copa do Brasil (second leg against Flamengo next week). In contrast, Estudiantes have one league win in their last nine and three league victories overall. Yet, Estudiantes have failed to concede a goal in three consecutive matches across all competitions. As far as individual talent goes, Leandro Díaz is the leading threat for el Pincha; Miguel Terans for Athletico. In the center of the park, Fernando Zuqui is the most dangerous creative threat on both sides, but the strikers on both sides have some knack for placing the ball in dangerous places. I went into this post expecting that Paranaense would be a better team, but I’m starting to talk myself into a Estudiantes win.

Prediction: Estudiantes advance by a single goal.

Match data used to develop match analytics have been supplied by DataFactory Latinoaméricano.


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