Preview: Botafogo vs. Defensa y Justicia – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Copa Sudamericana clash between Botafogo and Defensa y Justicia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

For the first time since 2019, Botafogo and Defensa y Justicia will meet in the Copa Sudamericana beginning on Wednesday at Estadio Olimpico Nilton Santos for the opening leg of that quarter-final tie.

The Brasileiro Serie A leaders are undefeated in this competition, knocking out Guarani from Paraguay in the last round 2-1 on aggregate, while Halcon are in the last eight for the first time since 2020, after eliminating Ecuadorian side Emelec by a combined score of 3-1.

Match preview

 Botafogo striker Carlos Alberto on July 9, 2023© Reuters

Just like in their round of 32 clash versus Patronato, a strong second half by Fogo in the opening leg against Guarani was all the Brazilians would need to advance into the quarter-finals of this competition for the first time since 2009.

As a result, O Glorioso have an opportunity to break new ground at the Sudamericana, losing out at this stage of the tournament on two previous occasions (2008 and 2009), having never won a semi-final encounter in this competition.

All of their goals this month have come in the final 45 minutes, while Bruno Lage‘s men have failed to concede a single strike in three of their previous five encounters.

Wednesday will be the ninth time they face an opponent from Argentina in this competition, with Fogo still unbeaten at home against clubs from the Argentine Primera Division at the Sudamericana.

Playing in front of their fans has been a massive advantage this season for the Rio-based club, with Fogo unbeaten at Estadio Olimpico Nilton Santos since a 1-0 defeat versus Portuguesa RJ in March during the Carioca Serie A campaign.

Of all the clubs that competed in the group stage of this tournament who are still standing, Botafogo are the only ones that have yet to lose, with Corinthians also unbeaten since being relegated into the round of 32 of this competition from the Copa Libertadores.

Defensa y Justicia's Nicolas Tripichio celebrates scoring their first goal on May 4, 2021© Reuters

They left it late in their opening encounter at Emelec, but ultimately that 2-1 come-from-behind victory gave Defensa the momentum they needed heading home, with Halcon coming away with a 1-0 triumph in leg two, collecting a second clean sheet in this competition as a result.

That ended a two-match winless run for them on the road in all competitions, as this team have now won three consecutive away games at the Sudamericana after losing their opening group fixture, 3-0 at Millonarios.

Defensa are in the quarter-finals of this tournament for the first time since 2020, when this team won their only Sudamericana title to date, eliminating Brazilian sides Vasco da Gama and Bahia along the way.

Halcon are unbeaten in eight successive knockout matches at the Sudamericana and have only suffered one defeat in the final stages of this competition, losing 2-0 versus Junior in the 2018 quarter-finals and ultimately being eliminated in that round on away goals after the aggregate score was level at 3-3.

In their previous three away matches at this tournament, Julio Vaccari‘s men have not conceded a second-half strike, with Defensa netting six themselves over that stretch.

The Argentines have won their last three away encounters versus Brazilian opponents in this competition, coming back twice to defeat America Mineiro in the group stage this year (3-2) while edging Vasco (1-0) and Bahia (3-2) in the round of 16 and quarter-finals respectively in 2020.

Botafogo Copa Sudamericana form:

Botafogo form (all competitions):

Defensa y Justicia Copa Sudamericana form:

Defensa y Justicia form (all competitions):

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Team News

Botafogo's Tiquinho Soares celebrates scoring their first goal on June 25, 2023© Reuters

Gabriel Pires is likely a couple of weeks away from returning to the Fogo lineup because of a calf strain, while Rafael and Tiquinho Soares are still dealing with knee injuries.

Second-half strikes from Hugo and Tiquinho Soares enabled the Brazilians to win the opening leg of their last 16 tie, with Gatito Fernandez making three stops in the return engagement for a clean sheet as they held onto that narrow advantage.

Fernandez is one of the few surviving members of this squad who was around the last time they faced Defensa in this competition as he picked up a clean sheet in their 2019 first-round playoff victory against the Argentines (1-0), with former striker Erik netting the only goal of that contest.

Gabriel Alanis is a few weeks away from returning to the Defensa lineup after sustaining a muscle strain and Nicolas Tripichio is still experiencing physical discomfort.

Goals from Nicolas Fernandez and Gaston Togni helped them erase a late 1-0 deficit in their opening match versus Emelec, while a 62nd-minute strike from David Barbona was all they would need to win the return fixture as Enrique Bologna made four stops for the clean sheet.

Togni has netted five times for Halcon in this competition, one fewer than Fernandez, who is tied for second at this tournament alongside Federico Santander of Guarani, Estudiantes striker Benjamin Rollheiser and San Lorenzo’s Adam Bareiro, while Fernandez sits two behind Gonzalo Mastriani from America Mineiro in the Golden Boot race.

Botafogo possible starting lineup:
G. Fernandez; Di Placido, Adryelson, Sampaio, Marcal; Tche Tche, Barbosa; Segovia, Freitas; Alberto; Henrique

Defensa y Justicia possible starting lineup:
Bologna; Sant’Anna, Malatini, Cardona, Soto; Duarte, Gutierrez, Barbona; Rios, N. Fernandez, Togni

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We say: Botafogo 1-0 Defensa y Justicia

Fogo may be the stingiest defensive unit in South America, and we expect their tight marking will frustrate Defensa’s top attacking threats, allowing them to find that opening which they tend to capitalise on at home.

The Brazilians could be missing their top goalscorer in Tiquinho Soares for this match, but Lage is a resourceful manager who we believe will find a solution.

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

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data

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