Copa Libertadores Semi-final Preview: Palmeiras (3) vs. (0) River Plate (Tue - 21:30h. GMT-3; Wed - 00:30h. GMT; 01:30h. CET) - Team news, possible lineups

Palmeiras moved within touching distance of their first Copa Libertadores final in just over two decades when, against the odds, they thumped River Plate 3-0 in the first leg of the semi-final last week.

River, who were outplayed, outpaced and decisively dispatched in the first leg, will have to pull off something miraculous at Allianz Parque this week if they still hold any hope of reaching the final.

Match preview

Prior to kickoff at the Estadio Monumental last week, the idea that River would go on to capitulate in the manner that they did would have been laughed at by many in Buenos Aires.

For weeks, Los Millonarios had been preparing to march on to their third Copa Libertadores final in as many seasons, undoubtedly believing that the men from Sao Paulo would be swiftly undone in Belgrano.

Within 30 minutes, it was clear that that was not to be the case, and Palmeiras, for their part, did not appear too eager to stick to the script.

The first shock of the night came when River's veteran keeper Franco Armani deflected a cross right into the path of Rony, who took advantage of the error, half-volleying the ball past the flailing Armani.

With a vital away goal secured, Verdao could have very easily parked the bus in the second half. However, Abel Ferreira's men looked hungry for more, and after the break, Palmeiras put their Argentine opponents to the sword.

It is unclear what the content of Ferreira's half-time team talk was, but whatever was said clearly galvanised Luiz Adriano.

In the 47th minute, the 33-year-old received the ball on the halfway line, turned Robert Rojas with ease, ran half the length of the pitch, and slotted in Verdao's second of the game.

15 minutes later, Matias Vina added Verdao's third of the game, taking advantage of some very dubious defending to get his head on the end of a free kick from the right flank.

It is sometimes true that scorelines do not accurately depict games, but this scoreline perfectly represented the one-sidedness of this contest.

With the final set for January 30, Marcelo Gallego's River Plate will have to score at least three goals in Sao Paulo if they are to haul themselves back into consideration. To say the pressure is on would be an understatement.

Palmeiras Copa Libertadores form: WWWDWW
Palmeiras form (all competitions): LDWWWW

River Plate Copa Libertadores form: WDWWWL
River Plate form (all competitions): WWWDLL

Team News

Ferreira rested a number of his first leg heroes in their 1-0 Brasileirao win against Sport Recife on Saturday, rotating players like Vina and Adriano.

It is unlikely that Verdao will make any changes to the team that bested River in Buenos Aires.

Similarly, Gallego, also rotated his side during their 2-0 loss to rivals Independiente at the weekend, suggesting that there will be few changes to the side that faced Verdao last week.

Interestingly, one player that took part in both games was Rojas, a move that suggests Gallego could drop the defender for the second leg.

Gallego will also be without midfield maestro Jorge Carrascal, who was sent off in the first leg for the foul that led to Verdao's third goal.

Palmeiras possible starting lineup:
Weverton; Rocha, Gomez, Empereur; Menino, de Paula, Danilo, Vina; Rony, Scarpa, Adriano

River Plate possible starting lineup:
Armani; Montiel, Pinola, Diaz, Casco; Perez, I Fernandez, Zuculini, De La Cruz; Borre, Suarez

Source: Sports Mole / Francis Buchanan 



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