Analysing Group D of the CONMEBOL Libertadores 2019: Peñarol, Flamengo, Liga and San José

Peñarol, Flamengo, Liga de Quito and San José will fight it out for a place in the last 16. It's a group which contains three former Libertadores winners.

Peñarol

Very few teams have more mystique than Peñarol when it comes to the CONMEBOL Libertadores: their new stadium, five previous victories and 46 appearances in total (more than any other side). And if they needed more mystique, they're in next season's tournament after winning the Uruguayan league. They beat historical rivals, Nacional, thanks to a goal which came during extra time in the final.

And, if that wasn't enough, the late extra time goal was scored by one of their most iconic players: Cristian Rodríguez. The captain, 'El Cebolla', scored from the penalty spot at the Centenario stadium to earn the title for his side. It's hard to imagine Peñarol without the influence and added quality of Rodríguez.

Diego López's side love to play a direct style of football and they have the ideal striker in Lucas Viatri to shield the ball from the defenders. Other options include Fabián Estoyanof, Maxi Rodríguez, Agustín Cannobio and Gabriel Fernández. Walter Gargano is the midfield general who looks to win the battle for his side.

Peñarol are strong and technical. They are capable of causing any side, at home or away, problems. After enjoying domestic success, they come into the CONMEBOL Libertadores with their sights firmly set on continental glory.

Flamengo

A lot of what we see from Flamengo is down to their firey coach: Abel Braga. This is a man who has already won the CONMEBOL Libertadores with Inter de Porto Alegre and creates counter-attacking sides which are able to defend resolutely but then strike with venom. It's a reason why they have created such a strong squad.

They enter the competition after a strong performance in the Brasileirao, ultimately coming second to Palmeiras. A lot of their best work is down to the class of Lucas Paquetá. His technical ability is unrivalled and this is why plenty of scouting parties have been out to spy on the midfielder's progress. Diego Ribas, after a long career largely spent in Europe, is back in Brazil and continues to make the difference in attack.

Flamengo have a squad full of many established stars. Former Real Madrid man Diego Alves can be found between the sticks and ex-Lazio midfielder Ederson takes control in midfield. In the upcoming campaign Flamengo will hope their two deadly strikers, Fernando Uribe and Henrique Dourado, make the difference. The pair arrived from fellow Brazilian side Fluminense in one of the country's biggest transfers.

The project at Flamengo is an interesting one. They've stepped it up in the national league but with Braga they will want to get closer to CONMEBOL Libertadores glory and add to their only victory to date (1981). As one of the sides to have made the most appearances in the competition, they'll hope their experience will make the difference next year.

Liga de Quito

Less than a week after Liga de Quito beat Emelec in the final of the Ecuadorian tournament the team has already announced the third new arrival to Pablo Repetto's squad. The message is clear: they are taking this competition very seriously.

Juan Anangonó was key in the league. The striker scored 16 goals as Liga fought until the end. At the start of the season the team found it difficult to find the winning goal: drawing 10 times and finishing third in the table. Although, in the final, they claimed the grand prize.

Adrián Gabbarini is their goalkeeper. One of the men the team looks for is Cristian Martínez Borja. He's benefited from the pace of academy graduates Anderson Julio and Jhojan Julio, who have brought needed freshness to the side. But, without any doubt, the team's captain Edison Vega is the spine of the starting eleven. 

San José

San José reclaimed their championship after an 11-year wait. In the final fixture of the Clausura 2018 they drew with Royal Pari and were crowned Bolivian league winners. That triumph has a lot to do with their goalscoring Colombian, Jair Reinoso, who finished with 20 goals to his name.

With 53 points they finished just ahead of The Strongest (50). San José are a side who likes to dictate the play and love to go toe-to-toe with anyone. Although that style carries plenty of risk, they feel comfortable with it. In fact, it saw them concede 38 goals but that pales in comparison to the 71 the team scored.

The Argentine Javier Sanguinetti is another important member of the squad. He scored 12 times throughout the league and is an expert from the penalty spot. The midfielder is the creative hub of the team and continues to shine under Eduardo Villegas' command. San José qualified for the CONMEBOL Libertadores as Bolivia 2 and, although they have a tough group, they'll hope the bravery which makes up part of their DNA will see them reach the knockout rounds.

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