The Copa Libertadores is the premier club competition in South America. With an almost religious following, thus , watching and betting on the Copa Libertadores is a huge market. For more vital info about the competition and tips on betting, you’ve come to the right place!
The Copa Libertadores is steeped with tradition and class. The most prestigious club competition in South America, think of it as the Champions League with a lot more flare and with an even more fanatic fan base.
Pre – Tournament
The first step for every team to have a chance to get into the CONEMBOL Copa Libertadores is through qualifying in their respective countries. Every team who wins their respective cup competition automatically enters the qualifying stage.
Each Country has a select number of automatic qualification spots, as well as some qualification round spots. Each country implements a different system of qualification.
Argentina, Brazil and Chile implement a European system of qualifying depending on the position the team finishes in the league. The rest of the countries implement a system of Apertura and Clausura in which the league is split in 2 and there are 2 champions. Some use a mix of the two. These teams are given a spot in either the groups stage or in one of the qualification rounds.
There are 2 spots reserved for the defending champions as well as the winners of the Copa Sudamericana. A total of 47 teams are involved in this process. The table below shows each nations qualification spots.
Country1st Round2nd RoundGroup Stage
Qualification Round 1
Qualification Round 2
The second round features 13 teams who are automatically seeded into it as well as the 3 teams who have advanced from round 1. The teams are placed into pots and fixtures are chosen at random. Teams who qualify from round 1 are always placed in pot 2. The matches are played over 2 legs and the winners advance to the final qualification round.
Qualification Round 3
With the qualification process complete and 32 teams decided, the competition proper can commence. Teams are selected from 4 pots and placed into 8 groups at random. The 4 teams play each other in a round robin style twice. The teams will play one home game and one away game against each opponent.
Totaling six matches per group and 96 games total, the top 2 teams based on a points system advance to the knockout rounds. The 3rd placed teams in each group enter the round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana.
The point system works just like any other major competition with a similar format. 3 points are awarded for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss. If teams end in a tie after all group matches are played, the following are taken into consideration in this order:
Goals scored away
Number of wins
Number of away wins
The 16 teams to advance to the knockout stage are placed into 2 pots, one for the winners and the other for the runners up. They are randomly pitted against each other. There are not restrictions on who can or can’t play against each other.
The competition continues with the winners over two legs advancing to the next round. Rather unusually, there is no extra time, and the tie goes straight to penalties if the second game ends in a cumulative draw.
The pattern continues up until the final which is played as one leg in a pre-determined location. Extra time will be used here if needed, followed by penalties with the winner being crown the Champion of South American Football.
The winner will guarantee their spot in the next edition of the FIFA Club World Cup and the Copa Libertadores. Finally, they will compete in the Recopa Sudamericana against the winner of the Copa Sudamericana in a super cup style one off match.
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History of the Copa Libertadores
The Copa Libertadores is one of the oldest international cup competitions in the world and is filled to the brim with pedigree and boasts a great history.
During the 1930’s Argentina and Uruguay competed in the Copa Aldao. Seeing the champions of each nation face off in a single game. In 1947 Colo-Colo invited the champions of six other countries for a league style competition to decide the Champion of Champions. Vasco Di Gama from Brazil won the only edition of the tournament. This model eventually sparked the idea for the European Cup, now known as the Champions League.
In 1958 the Uruguayan side Peñarol drafted the first rules of an continental club competition and after much planning the first Copa de Campeones de América was formed in 1960.
The first iteration of the Copa America as we know it featured 7 teams. 6 met in a two-leg knockout with 3 teams progressing to the next round. Olimpia was given a bye and played in the semi-final. They were eventually losing finalists to inaugural winners Peñarol, who actually drew more games than they won.
The next edition expanded to 9 champions from 9 confederations. Peñarol retained their crown. The next edition in 1962 featured 2 teams from the same country for the first time. With Peñarol returning as defending champions and Nacional as the Uruguayan representative. Santos became the first Brazilian team to win the competition.
The next decade was a forming phase for the competition as the number of competing teams changed every year. However, they followed a similar structure of a 3 group, group-stage, and a 2 group semi-final. The 1970’s saw a massive increase in teams, averaging around 20 teams and featured 5 groups.
The Argentinian teams saw huge dominance winning 12 out of 15 titles between 1964 – 1978. The competition continued to grow in popularity and prestige, and many more teams won the competition, 9 different teams won the trophy between 1980 and 1990 and the trend continues till today.
The year 2000 saw some big changes as the tournament expanded from 21 teams to 32 teams and implemented 8 groups of 4 teams. The tournament is still structured in this way. Argentinian and Brazilian teams have been the dominant forces throughout history. The last 3 finals have featured only Brazilian teams and the last 5 of 6 editions was won by a Brazilian team.
The final has been played over two legs since the tournament’s inception, with a playoff round and extra time + penalties played if needed. In 2019 the final began being played over a single leg meaning there have so far been 4 one legged finals.
Below are the previous winners of the competition, starting from the first 32 team tournament in 2000. 16 different teams have won it in this time, coming from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Columbia, Paraguay, Chile and Ecuador.
2018River Plate5-3Boca Juniors
2016Atlético Nacional2-1Independiente del Valle
2013Atlético Mineiro2-2 (4-3p)Olimpia
2008LDU Quito5-5 (3-1p)Fluminense
2005São Paulo5-1Athletico Paranaense
2004Once Caldes1-1 (2-0p)Boca Juniors
2002Olimpia2-2 (4-2p)São Paulo
2001Boca Juniors1-1 (3-1p)Cruz Azul
2000Boca Juniors2-2 (4-2p)Palmeiras
*Finals played over 1 leg.
Performances by Clubs
The competitiveness of the competition from the get-go has halted any club from running away with all-time wins like Real Madrid in the Champions League. Below is a list of the best teams in the competition.
ClubTitlesRunners – UpYears Won
Independiente701964, 1965, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1984
Boca Juniors651977, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007
Atlético Peñarol551960, 1961, 1966, 1982, 1987
River Plate431986, 1996, 2015, 2018
Estudiantes411968, 1969, 1970, 2009
Olimpia341979, 1990, 2002
Nacional331971, 1980, 1988
São Paulo331992, 1993, 2005
Palmeiras331999, 2020, 2021
Santos321962, 1963, 2011
Grêmio321983, 1995, 2017
Flamengo311981, 2019, 2022
Atlético Nacional211989, 2016
All Time Top Scorers
#3Pedro Virgilio Rocha3688
#6Antony de Ávila2994
#6Juan Carlos Sarnari2962
#10Juan Carlos Sánchez2653
Alberto Spencer (#1) was the top scorer in the first (1960) and third (1962) ever CONMEBOL Libertadores competitions.
7 out of the 10 players on the list have all made their Libertadores debuts in the 1960s and 1970s. The other 3 are Antony de Ávila (#6)(1983), Luizão (#6)(1998) and Gabriel Barbosa (#6)(2018).
Gabriel Barbosa (#6) is the only player from the list who is still actively playing today. Still only 26 years of age, we have no doubt that he’ll end his career with plenty more goals to his name. Barbosa was the top scorer in the 2019 and 2021 Copa Libertadores campaigns.
2022 Copa Libertadores Recap
The 2023 edition of the competition is set to start in April with the qualifiers beginning 2 months earlier in February. Until then we don’t have any fixtures and results to present to you. However, here’s a quick recap of what happened in the 2022 competition.
In the group stages 3 teams remained unbeaten in 6 group matches River Plate, Palmeiras who won all their group games and eventual winners Flamengo.
By far the most interesting group was group B which featured: loosing finalists Club Athletico Paranaense, Club Libertad, The Strongest and Caracas. Until the final round of fixtures 1-point separated the top 2 and bottom 2 teams meaning whoever won their match would go through. Athletico and Libertad won their respective matches to progress to the next round.
The round of 16 featured a surprise exit for River Plate who lost to fellow Argentinian side Vélez Sarsfield who finished 26th in the league in the same campaign. Vélez made a superb run to the semis before losing to Flamengo. The rest went on as normal and Athletico and Palmeiras also made it to the semis.
Flamengo ended Vélez Sarsfield run convincingly with 4-0 and 2-1 wins. It was much closer on the other side of the bracket with Athletico winning 1-0 at home before holding a 2-2 to Palmeiras away.
The final was another closely fought match with the only goal of the game coming in the 45th minute thanks to a Gabriel Barbosa strike. Athletico were handed a red card just a few minutes before the goal and they weren’t able to recover. Flamengo were crowned Champions for the 3rd time in their history.
Copa Libertadores Betting Odds
With the competition still being far off, and the final crop of teams still yet to be decided, there are currently no odds for the 2023 CONMEBOL Libertadores. However, we will keep you up to date on any updates in this section.
Copa Libertadores Tips and Predictions
The major leagues in South America as well as the Copa Libertadores all start in 2023. This may be too early to tell just who will be lifting the trophy in November. However, there are a number of trends we can follow to make our predictions a bit more accurate. Here are our ‘Early Bird Special’ Copa Libertadores predictions.
7 out of the last 10 finalists have been Brazilian. That is an insane statistic and one which is unlikely to be repeated by any other nation. Brazil do have a chance to extend that however with some supremely talented club sides.
Reigning champions Flamengo will have an excellent shot at retaining the title, with a strong squad. Palmeiras are always close by in the Competition and won the 2 tournaments prior to 2022. Other major contenders include Internacional, Corinthians and last year’s finalists Athletico Paranaense will be looking to bring it home for the first time.
The remaining 3 teams from the last 10 finalists were Argentinian. The last year with an Argentinian finalist was in 2019, 4 years ago. The last all Argentina final was in 2018.
The 2 current South American giants are River Plate and Boca Juniors who faced each other in the 2018 final. River plate ran out as victors, and in their title defense they fell at the final hurdle to Flamengo. They’ll be looking to put Argentina back in the top spots.
Just like the FIFA World Cup and the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers, Brazil and Argentina reign supreme over their opponents. That doesn’t mean that an underdog can’t reach the top of the South American game.
The last time a team form outside those two made it to the final was 2016 (7 years ago) featuring Atlético Nacional (Columbia) vs Independiente del Valle (Ecuador). Both could be great contenders. Barcelona (Ecuador) have also done very well in previous competitions and could be a surprise winner.
CONMEBOL Libertadores Important dates
The Copa Libertadores takes place over a single calendar year, much like the rest of the continent’s national leagues. Here are the most important dates from the very beginning of the tournament up until the last kick off.
The date for the draws for the qualifiers has yet to be decided but the dates for the matches are as follows:
StageFirst LegSecond Leg
1st Round7-9th February 202314-16th February 2023
2nd Round21-23th February 202328th February – 2nd March 2023
3rd Round7-9th March 2023 14-16th March 2023
Once all the qualifiers are completed and the 32 teams are confirmed, the teams will be drawn at random from 4 pots. The group draw will commence on the 22nd of March 2023. This will be followed by 6 matchdays as each team will play each other home and away.
Matchday 14 – 6th April 2023
Matchday 218 – 20th April 2023
Matchday 32 – 4th May 2023
Matchday 423 – 25th May 2023
Matchday 56 – 8th June 2023
Matchday 627 – 29th June 2023
The draw for the round of 16 is the 5th of July 2023, from then on, the rounds are not randomised and follow the normal elimination progression. These are the dates for all the rounds with the single legged final being played at a predetermined location.
Round1st Leg Dates2nd Leg Dates
Round of 1618–20th July 202325–27th July 2023
Quarterfinals22–24th August 202329–31st August 2023
Semi-finals26–28th September 20233–5th October 2023
Final11th November 2023
Copa Libertadores Betting Markets
Outright Betting Market
The simplest and most common form of football betting is betting on an outright winner. This means that you will need to decide before or during a tournament, who will win the event. In this case betting on a Brazilian team is probably your best bet.
However, we suggest waiting until the qualifiers are over and the final 32 teams are decided before making any outright predictions. Similar to this bet include betting on the top goalscorer and best player.
Betting on Red Cards
The South Americans love a red card. With one seemingly happening every game betting on a red card may offer great value if you know where to look. We suggest you use our Cards and booking points: stats and guide page to check out more detailed info.
To put it into comparison with the European equivalent of the tournament. The Copa America on average sees double the number of red cars each year. Betting on the red is high risk yet high reward, even in an event which sees them relatively regularly.
Copmetition EndedCopa Libertadores
Red CardsChampions League
Making use of Bet Builders
Bet builders have become insanely popular over the years as punters can create their own personalised bets with multiple markets. But builders are great for getting the most out of your bet, allowing you to accumulate odds, combining smaller bets to make large ones.
Using bet builders and accumulators are great for this sort of tournament. With so many games being played over a short period of time, its easy to see that the Copa Libertadores will give you an opportunity to place accas and know the outcome of your slip in a matter of days or even less.
Copa Libertadores Key Stats
The first COMNEBOL Libertadores took place in 1960 and Peñarol were the first winners.
Club Atlético Independiente are the most successful team in the competition with 7 wins.
Independiente are also the only team to win the competition 4 times in a row (1972-1975)
Boca Juniors have made it to the final on 11 occasions winning 6 times.
The top score in a single season is Daniel Onega with 17 goals in 1966.
In the all-time standings River Plate have won the most matches. Winning 183 games in 374 matches, winning 4 titles.
Nacional have played the most games, 407, winning the title 3 times.
Similar Tournament to the Copa Libertadores
6th September 2022 – 10th June 2023: UEFA Champions League – The European equivalent of the Copa Libertadores. The champions league is the premier club competition in Europe.8th September 2022 – 31th May 2023: UEFA Europa League – The secondary European club competition, for the teams that fail to qualify for the Champions League.
7th March – 28th October 2023: Copa Sudamericana – The second most prestigious South American club event, The Sudamericana is reserved for the teams who failed to qualify for the Copa Libertadores.
ThePuntersPage Final Say
The CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores is the pinnacle of South American football and is hotly contested by all the elite clubs on the continent. With so much great football to be watched and bet on, our guide and predictions are a great way to stay on top of it all.
Jeremy is a die hard Evertonian and a massive sports fan. If he’s not watching Everton, he’s either playing football or watching whatever sport he can find on TV. With a keen interest in sports betting, sports writing is a match made in heaven.