|Boca Juniors: Ready to defend their title
Defending champ Boca Juniors drew Chile’s Colo Colo, Union Atletico Maracaibo of Venezuela and the winner of a preliminary round meeting between undetermined teams from Mexico and Bolivia for the first round of the Copa Libertadores.
Boca, which was beaten by AC Milan for the Club World Cup title on Sunday, leads the 38 clubs competing in the 49th edition of South America’s premier club championship.
Also in the draw, held at the CONMEBOL headquarters in Asuncion before an audience of celebrities and VIPs, Brazil’s Flamengo was paired in Group 4 with Nacional of Uruguay, Bolognesi of Peru and the winner between Cienciano and Wanderers.
River Plate led Group 5 with San Martin of Peru and undetermined teams from Chile and Mexico, while Sao Paulo was placed in Group 7 along with Luqueno of Paraguay, Colombia’s Atletico Nacional and either Colombian team or Audax Italiano.
In the two-leg preliminary phase that will be staged between January 28-Feburary 5, Olmedo of Ecuador was paired against Lanus of Argentina, Cruzeiro of Brazil will face Cerro Porteno of Parguay, Copa Sudamericana champion Arsenal will face Mineros of Venezuela, and Peru’s Cienciano will face Uruguay’s Wanderers.
The runner-up at Mexico’s InterLiga in early January will face a third side from Bolivia to get into Group 3 with Boca, while a third team from Colombia will take on Audax to join Sao Paulo’s group.
Two teams from each group will emerge from first-round play between February and April.
Match schedules are to be developed in coming days by CONMEBOL working with team and television executives.