The first match is an all-Brazilian affair between Grêmio and Botafogo in Porto Alegre. The first leg ended in a goalless draw last week at the Engenhão in Rio de Janeiro, meaning there is all to play for in the return encounter.
In all honesty, Grêmio were probably the better side seven days ago, and would look to be the favourites going into this second leg. Coach Renato Gaúcho has forged an offensive and dangerous team, capable of hurting just about any opponent across the continent.
However, Grêmio’s recent league form has been patchy at best. The side sit in second place in the Campeonato Brasileiro, 10 points behind league leaders Corinthians, having lost three of their last five outings, including their last two.
The team are without a win in their last three in all competitions and, to make matters worse, they are without a goal in those games as well. This past weekend, Grêmio lost 1-0 at home to a struggling Chapecoense team – for Botafogo, the timing of this tie could not be much better.
However, Grêmio’s recent home form should give their supporters a timely confidence boost ahead of this Libertadores clash. The side have won their last four games at the Arena do Grêmio, managing to amass an aggregate score of 13-4.
Botafogo, for their part, led by the 38-year-old Jair Venture, are in pretty decent form themselves. The side sit seventh in the Brazilian league table, with 37 points from their 24 league games thus far, having won their last three matches in a row.
This past Saturday afternoon, the Rio club comfortably saw off high-flying Santos 2-0 at the Engenhão in a dominant performance. The side has also kept two successive clean sheets, and if they can score the first goal in this one then they may well look to shut out the game with their organisation and well drilled back line.
If Botafogo are to progress here, then they will need to remain tight and focused throughout. Not for nothing are Grêmio known as the most dangerous attacking force in Brazilian football.
Botafogo have in fact won three of the last five meetings against Grêmio. However, this next encounter would appear to be a bridge too far, and Grêmio should just about edge what will doubtless be a narrow and tactical encounter.
Odds: Grêmio (1.70), Botafogo (5.50), draw (3.40)