Copa Libertadores semi-final 1st. leg preview: Boca Juniors vs. Santos (Wed - 19:15h. GMT-3; 23:15h. CET) - Team news, possible lineups

Two of South America's most iconic sides will meet at La Bombonera on Wednesday, as Boca Juniors host Santos in the first leg of this highly-anticipated Copa Libertadores semi-final.

Almost a decade has passed since Brazilian giants Santos last won the competition, and in that time Boca have been subjected to two heartbreaking defeats in the final.

Both sides will know that a comprehensive first-leg win will put them within reach of the glory their fans crave more than anything else.

Match preview

Juan Roman Riquelme proved to be the man of the hour last time Boca won the Copa Libertadores back in 2007, with the Argentine legend providing man of the match performances in both legs of the final.

This time around, Boca may well pin their hopes of Libertadores glory on another local hero, Carlos Tevez, who has always got an eye for the big occasions.

Azul y Oro were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw against their eternal rivals River Plate in the Superclasico at the weekend, and it is fair to assume that Boca may well still be feeling the after-effects of a fiery contest that saw five yellow cards and two reds.

Although there is a good chance Miguel Angel Russo's men could face River again in the final, it cannot be said that Boca are performing as well as their local rivals in the Copa Libertadores this season.

Ever since comfortably winning their group, Boca have faced tough opposition in the competition's latter stages. Against Internacional in the round of 16, the tie had to go all the way to penalties to find a victor.

Santos boss Cuca will be well-aware of Boca's flaws and will hope he can push the Buenos Aires-based outfit even further than his countrymen did last month.

However, Cuca has his own deficiencies to address too. Santos currently sit eighth in the Brasileirao this season, 17 points behind league leaders and local rivals Sao Paulo.

It is in fact a wonder in itself that Santos have progressed so far in the Copa Libertadores this season, considering the team have not won in the league since late November.

Of course, the Copa Libertadores is a different beast entirely, and success in the cup has the capacity to eclipse even the worst domestic seasons.

Boca Juniors Copa Libertadores form: DWWWLW
Boca Juniors form (all competitions): DLWWWD

Santos Copa Libertadores form: WWDWWL
Santos form (all competitions): DDLWLD

Team News

Despite their fiery encounter with River at the weekend, Miguel Russo has a relatively fit squad to choose from in this tie.

Midfield youngster Alan Gonzalo Varela is likely to return to the fray, while Miguel Russo could also reinstate Carlos Tevez in attack. Diego Gonzalez remains sidelined due to injury.

Cuca's Santos are in the midst of a burgeoning injury crisis with Fernando Pileggi, Jobson, Para, Vladimir, Carlos Andres Sanchez, Raniel and Rafael Longuine all currently unavailable.

Marinho, who secured a point against Ceara last time out, will likely retain his spot in attack.

Boca Juniors possible starting lineup:
Andrada; Mas, Zambrano, Avila, Buffarini; Villa, Capaldo, Varela, Cardona; Abila, Tevez

Santos possible starting lineup:
Furtado; Jonatan, Peres Petroni, Solda, Braga; Roberto, Alison, Pituca; Soteldo, Jorge, Marinho

Source: Sports Mole / Francis Buchanan 

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