Continental Group Stages Return, Brazil’s State Championships Finals & VAR Changes – This Week In South American Football

Continental Group Stages Return, Brazil’s State Championships Finals & VAR Changes – This Week In South American Football

It has been an action-packed week in South American football. The group stages of the Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores got underway and in Brazil, we are edging closer to knowing who the kings of each state will be. There has been plenty of action among all football betting sites as the majority of the state championship finals commenced.

The first of the three intercontinental titles available in South America, saw an upset, as Sudamericana winners, Independiente del Valle saw off Libertadores winners Flamengo over two legs back in February, however, the Ecuadorian outfit suffered on the opening night of the 2023 Libertadores Group stage as they suffered a 1-0 loss away from home against the 1985 South American Champions, Argentinos Juniors, thanks to a Javier Cabrera goal just before half-time. 

Last year’s beaten Libertadores finalists, Athletico Paranaense were also in action on opening night, as they drew 0-0 with Peruvian champions, Alianza Lima. 

Athletico can be fairly pleased with their point, as they played the final 12 minutes with ten men after Thiago Heleno was shown a second yellow card.

After the game, holding midfielder, Erick gave his thoughts, 

“They had a lot of exchanges of passes, of course, they were going to raise a lot of balls in the area, but we managed to withstand the pressure. To earn a point under the circumstances is a good result for us to take to Curitiba,” he said.

The most surprising result on opening night came at the Estadio Hernando Siles in the Bolivian Capital La Paz, where River Plate played their first Copa Libertadores match since the departure of three-time South American coach of the year Marcelo Gallardo. His replacement, Martín Demichelis didn’t get off to the best of starts, as they were beaten 3-1 by The Strongest, which saw two goals from Argentine forward Enrique Triverio. 

The loss saw River’s six match winning run come to an end; they’ll now be eager to bounce back in their opening home match against Sporting Cristal. 

In the other opening night Libertadores matches, Internacional earned a point in a 1-1 draw with Independiente Medellín and Nacional fought hard for a 2-1 away win over Metropolitanos, thanks to a stoppage time winner from LAFC loanee Francisco Ginella.

The Copa Sudamericana also got underway, and the opening night was a perfect one for the majority of the away teams with LDU Quito, San Lorenzo and Santos all enjoying wins on the road. The sole home win came from Colombian side Millonarios, who proved too strong for 2020 champions Defensa y Justicia.

After months of action, most of the Brazilian State Championships are at the final stage and last weekend saw ten first legs played out. 

Atlético Mineiro edged out America Mineiro 3-2 away from home in one of the more entertaining games of the weekend, whilst Flamengo found their rhythm since the arrival of Vitor Pereira, as they enjoyed a 2-0 victory over rivals Fluminense, setting things up nicely for the second leg. 

There was a shock in the Campeonato Paulista as minnows Água Santa beat giants Palmeiras 2-1. Although the second leg is expected to a tough test for Água Santa, they can be proud of what they have achieved already in this year’s Paulista. 

After losing in the Copa do Nordeste Semi-Final, Fortaleza earned a slight bit of revenge over Ceará with a 2-1 in the Cearense, a stoppage-time penalty from Ceara’s Danilo Barcelos could prove vital.

Bahia ended two years of Baiano struggles with a 4-1 aggregate win over Jacuipense to claim their 50th State Championship title at the Arena Fonte Nova. The success marks their first trophy since the club was taken over by the City Football Group back in December 2022.

With the 2023 Brasileirão season just around the corner, CBF, have announced changes to their rules, mainly around VAR. 

The main amendments include:

  • The referee will announce his VAR decision on audio and video throughout the stadium.
  • Whenever the attacker’s line is on top of the defender’s line, the team that scores the goal will benefit.
  • Every time the referee goes to VAR and the player runs after or disturbs during the analysis; he will receive a yellow card.
  • Increased rigidity in stoppage time (goal celebration and penalty kicks will be increased.)

Most of these are laws which fans across the world have been crying out for, particularly the one around allowing fans to hear what is going on and the thought process behind a referee’s decision, which will hopefully eradicate some of the current jeopardy around VAR.