Amongst the eight pairings in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores, one that catches the fancy is the Palmeiras-Barcelona matchup.
It is a showdown that pits the reigning Campeonato Brasileiro Serie champions Palmeiras and the Ecuador Serie A titlists Barcelona.
Both sides will test each other’s mettle when they collide in the first leg on Thursday at Estadio Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Palmeiras advanced after topping Group 5 in the group stages, while Barcelona finished second in Group 1.
After defending champion Atletico Nacional of Colombia were eliminated in the group stage, Palmeiras have emerged as one of the favorites to make a strong run for the title.
Verdao (Big Green), Palmeiras’ monicker, are one of the most successful clubs in Brazilian football, having won the national crfown 13 times, more than and other club in the South American country.
The team from Sao Paolo were declared Champion of the Century in Brazilian football back in 1999, one of the numerous accolades that has dotted their multi-titled campaign.
If head coach Cuca wants their attack to be more lethal, he can always count on Willian who scored four goals in the group stages.
Forwards Dudu, the team captain, and Miguel Borja should also spell danger for the opposition.
However, Barcelona, nicknamed Toreros (Bullfighters) and Idolo del Ecuador (Ecuador’s Idol) have nothing to lose but everything to gain in this matchup.
The squad from Guayaquil are the most successful football team in their country, having won the Serie A title a record 15 times, the last one coming in 2016.
They are also proud owners of six regional titles (five in the professional era) and were the first Ecuadorian side to make it to the Copa Libertadores, doing it twice already.
Winners of the 2017 Copa Libertadores will qualify as CONMEBOL representative to the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, and also earn the right to face the winners of the 2017 Copa Sudamericana in the 2018 Recopa Sudamericana.
This will mark the first time both sides will cross paths so it will be interesting to find out who draw the first blood.