Copa Libertadores 2022: Previewing the Semifinals

The Copa Libertadores are back with its Final Four. Who will advance to the final in Guayaquil in October? Can Vélez Sársfield crash the all-Brazilian party?

(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 Semifinal round.)

Athletico Paranaense vs Palmeiras

xG per 90 minutes xGA per 90 minutes
Athletico Paranaense 1.79 (0.99/0.69/0.11) 1.77 (0.71/1.06/0.00)
Palmeiras 3.31 (1.54/1.59/0.19) 0.89 (0.39/0.44/0.06)

On paper, this tie appears to be a mismatch. Palmeiras have been, in a statistical sense, the best team in Brazil and South America. No other side that has played at least six matches in this season’s Libertadores has scored more goals or allowed fewer than they. Three of their players rank in the top ten in Libertadores goals scored, and one player in the top 20 in expected assists. Athletico have been a middling side, and they did suffer an embarrassing result in the group stage (0-5 away to The Strongest). Yet they have progressed through the group and knockout stages without losing a match at home. A home draw or win would put some demands on Palmeiras for the second leg. But in the end, Palmeiras have too much talent not to advance to the final.

Prediction: Palmeiras on penalty kicks.

Vélez Sarsfield vs Flamengo

xG per 90 minutes xGA per 90 minutes
Vélez Sársfield 1.72 (0.93/0.75/0.05) 1.18 (0.79/0.35/0.05)
Flamengo 2.31 (1.58/0.68/0.05) 0.93 (0.47/0.46/0.00)

Again, on paper this looks like to be a mismatch. But on the field it actually is, in my opinion. Vélez do have an attacking threat in the two Luc’s: Lucas Janson and (to a lesser extent) Lucas Pratto. Flamengo, however, have several threats in leading goalscorer Pedro and Gabriel Barbosa, who has been more of a creator recently. O Mengão have additional creative threats in the names of Giorgian de Arrascaeta and Éverton, and both of them have scoring ability from distance. Vélez will find it very difficult to get the ball, much less get it to their forward tandem. It could be a very long and a very painful pair of matches for them.

Prediction: Flamengo to advance by multiple goals.

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


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