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The 43rd Libertadores Cup by Julio Lopez
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The 43rd Libertadores Cup had more teams more prize money more goals and a neater format. Started in the 1960 as
a competition for the South America's national club champions that later included the top three per country and for
the past five years has invited Mexican clubs. That club was Olimpia of Paraguay who won the trophy for the first
time and also ended a dominance of Brazilian and Argentinan clubs by beating Sao Caetano in the final. A pity that it
had to be with a penalty shoot-up after 1-0 and 1-2 results. Olimpia's victory meant that Paraguaian clubs have won
the trophy three times only Argentina with 18 followed by those from Brazil with 11 and Uruguay 8 have won more
Libertadores Cup. This was the only the second time that Olimpia had past the second round. Ever since the Mexican
clubs were invited they had prove that they can play against South America clubs. In the 2000 edition America were
just three minutes away from became the first Mexican club to reach the Libertadores cup final but Walter Samuel
ended that dream. Last years Cruz Azul did what Ameica could not do they reach the Libertadore cup final becoming
the first Mexican club to do it were they lost to Boca Juniors in a penalty shoot-up. This year was the turn of America
again winning the group playing good soccer and reaching the semi-finals again were they lost to Sao Caetano. They
Mexican clubs have reach the quarter-final semi-final and the final ever since they were invited in 1997.But next years
Libertadores cup could be the last for Mexican because Venezuela soccer federation don't want their clubs to play the
qualifier anymore. Eight first round groups through produced much sharper competition for the second place clubs not
like in previous years were the top three from five groups of four teams qualified for the knockout phase. They were
plenty of goals in this edition an average of 2.84 goals per match with Gremio Rodrigo Mendez scoring ten goals
in the tournament the highest score in was Crobreloa of Chile 5-0 defeat of Peru's Alianza Lima. Despite the goals there
was an element of caginess about the group stage.Many clubs chose to play understrenght teams beacuse they were also engaged
in a heavy domestic league. Nevertheless on the base on crowd figures TV ratings and the attitude of the clubs the Libertadores
Cup renained the continent's premier club tournament in spite of the competition from the Mercosur Cup that
inviteds the region's most popular clubs to participate and slightly more prize money.The habitual contenders were there
Argentina's Boca Juniors, Uruguay Penarol Brazil Flamengo but none of them got to the semi-final.Congratulations to
Olimpia of Paraguay for winning the 2002 Libertadores Cup.