Preview: Internacional vs. River Plate – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Copa Libertadores clash between Internacional and River Plate, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

River Plate can punch their ticket into the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores with a win or draw at Estadio Beira-Rio on Tuesday when they face Internacional in the second leg of that round of 16 tie.

A pair of second-half strikes a week ago enabled the Argentines to capture a 2-1 triumph, extending the winless run for Colorado at that time to three successive matches in all competitions.

Match preview

Internacional's Fabricio Bustos celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on July 29, 2023© Reuters

For a second successive campaign, Internacional head into the second leg of a round of 16 tie facing a deficit, losing last week for the second time in all competitions despite notching the opening goal.

At the 2022 Copa Sudamericana, Clube do Povo bounced back after losing the opening leg versus Colo Colo (2-0) in the last 16, winning the second match 4-1 and advancing on aggregate.

In three previous meetings against River Plate, Internacional have never come out on top despite having a second-half advantage each time, though they have only suffered one home defeat after 90 minutes versus an Argentine opponent in this competition.

Eduardo Coudet‘s men will enter this decisive encounter unbeaten in their previous five home matches played in this competition, though they are winless in their last four competitive matches played at Estadio Beira-Rio.

The Porto Alegre-based club have crashed out at the last 16 of this competition in three of the past four seasons, failing to advance from a knockout stage tie at the Libertadores when losing the opening leg since 2015, when they erased a 1-0 deficit versus Santa Fe to book their place into the semi-finals.

Internacional have scored the third-fewest goals in the Brazilian top-flight this season (16), but they have been much more decisive in the attacking third at the Libertadores, with 11 goals in seven matches, five fewer than their entire output after 18 domestic affairs.

River Plate coach Martin Demichelis during the match on August 2, 2023© Reuters

Heading into another decisive knockout stage game at the Copa Libertadores, River Plate find themselves in the unfamiliar position of leading after the opening leg, the first time they have managed that in the last 16 of this competition since 2017.

La Banda have advanced beyond this stage of the Libertadores in four of the past five seasons, though the four-time winners at this event failed to make it into the last eight a year ago, without a goal in both legs versus Velez Sarsfield, losing 1-0 on aggregate, leading to their first elimination at that stage of the tournament since 2016.

History is on the side of the reigning Argentine Primera Division champions coming into this fixture, as River have won or drawn eight straight second-leg encounters in the last 16 of this competition, conceding only once over that stretch.

In his first campaign in charge of this team, Martin Demichelis has unlocked their attacking potential with quick passing in possession, scoring more goals than anyone in the opening phase of the 2023 Argentine top-flight campaign (50), while his side have netted in every encounter at the Libertadores this year.

His aggressive approach, however, has come with some drawbacks, as their defensive deficiencies in the group stage of this tournament, both collectively and individually, were often exposed, with Los Millonarios conceding as many goals in the opening phase as they had scored (11).

While they have never lost a competitive fixture versus Internacional, River Plate have only captured five Libertadores encounters in Brazil, with the last one dating back to 2018 when they defeated Gremio 1-0 in their opening leg semi-final tie before eventually lifting the trophy for the fourth time.

Internacional Copa Libertadores form:

Internacional form (all competitions):

River Plate Copa Libertadores form:

River Plate form (all competitions):

Team News

Internacional coach Eduardo Coudet on July 29, 2023© Reuters

Lucas Ramos was absent for Internacional in the opening leg of this tie as he is still dealing with a knee injury, while there were four newcomers in the opening lineup versus River Plate who did not start for them on matchday six with Sergio Rochet, Charles Aranguiz, Carlos de Pena and Enner Valencia replacing John, Romulo, Mauricio and Luiz Adriano.

Valencia had their only goal in the opening leg of this tie, while Alan Patrick leads the team with three so far in this competition.

Elias Gomez sat out of the opening leg for River Plate because of an ACL injury, while we only saw one newcomer in the starting 11 who did not begin their matchday six encounter with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez replacing Robert Rojas in central defence.

A second-half brace from Pablo Solari helped turn the tide in their favour a week ago, putting him at three for this tournament, drawing even with Lucas Beltran for the team lead.

Internacional possible starting lineup:
Rochet; Bustos, Vitao, Mercado, Rene; Campanharo, Cardoso, Romulo, Wanderson; Patrick, Valencia

River Plate possible starting lineup:
Armani; Casco, Pirez, P. Diaz, E. Diaz; Perez, Aliendro; Fernandez, Palavecino, Barco; Suarez

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We say: Internacional 1-1 River Plate

The River Plate backline have left a lot to be desired at the Libertadores this year, however, they seem to be able to put it all together in these knockout stage affairs, and we believe their dynamic attack and experience in these big games will carry them into the next round.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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