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Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Atletico have the class to triumph in Copa opener

Fred (left) has been banging in the goals for Atletico Mineiro
1 of 1

Copa Libertadores
10.30pm Wednesday

It's a journey into the unknown for Brazilian powers Atletico Mineiro but their extra pedigree should ensure the 2013 champ­ions get off to a winning start in this year’s Copa Libertadores.

Galo have never before played in Mendoza, yet they head for the foothills of the Andes with spirits high.

Away wins are rare indeed in the Copa and Godoy have the advantage of playing their home matches at altitude, albeit nothing like as high as some of the venues in Bolivia or Ecuador.

But they haven’t played a com­pe­titive match since December because of a strike in Argentina and were rocked by striker Javier Ayovi’s decision to head for China in the transfer window.

It leaves the Bodeguero short of firepower as well as a compe­titive edge, and new coach Lucas Bernardi, according to reports, is unsure what his best side is.

It means Atletico have to fancy their chances at the Estadio Malvinas and they are certainly in good form. Roger Machado’s side have played six and won six in the Mineiro, the state championship which precedes the league season, and are scoring goals for fun.

Scoring more than most is Fred, the former Brazil international who has banged in eight in his last five. The supply line features Venezuela’s star playmaker Romulo Otero and the ageless Robinho, so goals look pretty much guaranteed.

With Paraguayan powers Libertad also in Group Six, an early away win would be huge for the boys from Belo Horizonte and they look capable of pulling it off.

Recommendation
Atletico Mineiro
2pts 6-5 general

But they haven’t played a com­pe­titive match since December because of a strike in Argentina and were rocked by striker Javier Ayovi’s departure
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