Wednesday’s Field of Play: Champions League times three, Copa Lib and MLS

1 Comment

Today’s match in London will likely garner the most column inches, but look south and west to Brazil and you’ll find a match that’s difficult for Chelsea-Benfica to upstage. While you may have to look long and hard for a way to watch it, you’re unlikely to be disappointed by South America’s best player against the 2010 Libertadores champions.

But in less exotic locals, there’s still a number of quality, more accessible matches, with Major League Soccer as well as CONCACAF Champions League in action tonight.

But let’s start in England:

UEFA Champions League

  • Salamon Kalou’s goal has Chelsea (England) up 1-0 ahead of today’s second leg at Stamford Bridge against Benfica (Portual). Having won seven of their last 10, it’s difficult to think the Blues anything but a prohibitive favorite to advance and face Barcelona. (Match kicks off at 2:45 p.m. ET)
  • Real Madrid (Spain) brought back a three-goal lead from Nicosia last week. If APOEL (Cyprus) had little chance before kick off last Tuesday, what shot do they have now? Winner meets Bayern Munich in the semifinals. (2:45 p.m. ET)

Copa Libertadores

  • Group 1’s top teams (and the tournament’s last two champions) meet in Porto Alegre, where holders Santos (Brazil) will be visiting Internacional, the clubs locked in a three-team race with Bolivia’s The Strongest for two knockout round spots. Santos comes into the match having won three straight after their opening round loss La Paz. (8:50 p.m. ET)
  • Suadamericana champions Universidad de Chile can lock-up a knockout round spot with a win at Godoy Cruz (Argentina). Flip side of that coin: With a loss, they give the Argentines the inside track to advance with group-leading Atlético Nacional. (6:30 p.m. ET)
  • The dysfunction that is Flamengo (Brazil) was given second life on Tuesday when Olimpico was routed at Lanús. On Wednesday, Fla can reclaim Group 2’s second place with a win at Emelec (Ecuador). (8:50 p.m. ET)
  • Universidad Catolica (Chile), coming off their first win of the tournament, can take control of their knockout round destiny with a win at Group 3 cellar-dwellers Junior (Colombia). If later Unión Española draws Bolivar, Catolica will be top of the group at the end of the round. (8:50 p.m. ET)

CONCACAF Champions League

  • Nobody gave Toronto a chance when, having only drawn at home, they went on the road in the quarterfinals. While winning Wednesday in Torreón seems a higher hurdle than knocking off LA Galaxy at Home Depot (given what we now know about the Galaxy), Aron Winter’s always found a way, to this point. Santos Laguna may just be that next point. (8:00 p.m. ET)
  • Monterrey may be the best team in the region right now. Having survived an early winter scare that almost saw Humberto Suazo move back to Chile, the Rayados look set to defend their CCL title. They’ll get the chance to do so, provided they hold on to their 3-0 lead at Pumas. (10:00 p.m. ET)

Asian Champions League

  • Defending J-League champions Kashiwa Reysol host Dario Conca and Guangzhou Evergrande (China). Winner moves second in Group H, assuming … (6:00 a.m. ET)
  • Burinam United (Thailand) maintains their perfect record after hosting Jeonbuk Motors. The Koreans have given up 10 goals through their first two matches and look set to be group doormats. (7:00 a.m. ET)
  • In the third Australia-versus-South Korea match of the week, Brisbane Roar – currently sitting bottom of Group F – travel to Ulsan, who are tied at the top of the group. (6:30 a.m. ET)
  • The team with which they’re tied? FC Tokyo, a club that’s also off to a strong start in their domestic campaign (sitting third in the J-League) They are in China to face Beijing’s Guoan. (8:00 a.m. ET)
  • On the western half of the schedule, Uzbekistan’s Pahktakor welcomes Qatari side Al Arabi. Both teams are looking for their first wins. (9:00 a.m. ET)
  • Saudi power Al Hilal, held to two draws in their opening rounds, are in the United Arab Emirates to face Al Shabab, a team that’s allowed six goals through their first two Group D matches. Al Hilal’s scored 15 times in their last four games. (11:30 a.m. ET)
  • Group D’s leaders, Persepolis (Iran), at in Qatar to face an Al Gharafa side with Zé Roberto, Edmilson, Diego Tardelli and Aruna Dindane on their books. The Iranians counter with Éamon Zayed, who scored three goals in the first 54 minutes when Al Shabab visited Teheran two weeks ago. (11:35 a.m. ET)
  • And in the day’s final match, Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) – off to a perfect record and a +6 difference after two rounds – look to lock down Group B against visiting Bani Yas (UAE). With a win, Al Ittihad will have a five-point lead on the group. (1:45 p.m. ET)

Major League Soccer

  • Last but certainly not least, Real Salt Lake welcomes the Montreal Impact for the expansion team’s first visit to Rio Tinto. While it looks like a lop-sided matchup (between the second and 19th-ranked teams in PST’s rundown), RSL did lose to Chivas USA in their last home game. (8:00 p.m. ET)