Eye on 2020: How qualification for the 2020 Libertadores is shaping up

Though the 2019 Libertadores has yet to fully conclude, the race is already on to secure spots in the 2020 CONMEBOL Libertadores, where all roads lead to Rio.

With league seasons reaching the stretch run, we take a country-by-country look around the continent at how qualification for South America’s biggest competition is shaping up. 

This page will be updated weekly with new information in the lead-up to the 2020 Libertadores Draw. A full list of teams qualified for the 2020 Libertadores can be found here.

Argentina


Qualification in Argentina works a bit differently than the rest of the continent, with the league working on a “European” calendar with the league running, roughly, from August-May. That means that the vast majority of 2020’s Libertadores qualifiers were settled in mid-2019. As such, we know that Racing, Defensa y Justicia, Tigre, and Boca Juniors will be in the 2020 group stage.

River Plate are guaranteed a spot in the competition as well, but could enter as low as the second stage. However if River win either the 2020 Libertadores or 2019 Copa Argentina, where they find themselves in the semifinals, they’ll go straight into the group stage.   

If River don’t lift the Copa Argentina, that means that Central Córdoba have won the title and a spot in the group stage. A 2019 Libertadores win for River would promote Atlético Tucumán to the 2020 Libertadores, entering in the second phase. If River win the Copa Argentina and the Libertadores, then the runner-up of the Copa Argentina, Central Córdoba, will qualify.


Bolivia


Long known for having the domestic season that lasts the longest in South America, a full 10 matches remain in the Bolivian Clausura, leaving us quite a ways away from knowing the full 2020 Libertadores picture.

Bolívar are assured of one spot in the group stage after winning the Bolivian Apertura. The other group stage spot will go to the champion of the Clausura, currently led by Jorge Wilstermann. The final two spots, one each in the second and first phase, will go to the top teams in the aggregate table. The Strongest are, pun fully intended, looking strong currently in second behind Apertura champions Bolívar. Nacional Potosí are four points behind them, while Wilstermann sit another point back. With a full ten matches to play however, the picture could yet change. Keep an eye on San José, sporting an impressive +33 goal differential, who could yet make a late charge.  


Brazil


Four Brazilian sides are certain of a spot in the 2020 Libertadores, Athletico Paranaense, Flamengo, Santos and Palmeiras. Behind the top three in the table, Grêmio currently occupy fourth, the final group stage spot, São Paulo and Internacional sit in sixth and seventh, which would send them into the second stage, while already qualified Athletico Paranaense are in fifth. Corinthians are just one spot off qualification in eigth with upstarts Bahia a further six points back.  Should Flamengo win the 2019 Libertadores, the fifth place side in the league will qualify for the group stage, with the seventh place side subsequently promoted into the second stage.    


Chile


Though no Chilean sides have clinched a spot in the 2020 Libertadores, the qualification picture is starting to take shape. With just 6 matches to play, Universidad Católica are 13 points clear at the top of the table, and need just one win to book a place in the 2020 Libertadores. Colo Colo and Palestino currently hold the other two Libertadores spots with Colo Colo 2 points in front at the moment. The second place finisher will proceed directly to the group stage with the team in third slotting into the second phase.  Unión La Calera are a further two points back of Palestino, with a group of 5 teams, Coquimbo Unido, Huachipato, Audax Italiano, O’Higgins and Unión Española another two points behind. A run of form for any of those sides in the final weeks could lift them into the Libertadores places.   

Chile’s final spot, another berth in the second phase, will go to the champion of the Copa Chile. Unión Española face Universidad de Chile in one semifinal while Colo Colo meet Universidad Católica in the other. Should the winner of the Copa Chile also qualify via the league, the runners-up would qualify. 


Colombia


Junior and Independiente Medellín have qualified for the 2020 Libertadores, the former as Apertura champions the latter as champions of the Colombian Cup. Junior are assured of a spot in the group stage, while DIM will enter in the second phase.  The other two spots will be determined by the results of the Clausura, which sees the semifinal stage, featuring two groups of four currently underway. Group A consists of Apertura champions Junior, Atlético Nacional, Deportes Tolima and Cúcuta. Group B contains América de Cali, Santa Fe, Deportivo Cali and Alianza Petrolera.   

The winners of each group will meet in the final, with the Clausura winner booking a spot in the group stage of the 2020 Libertadores. The highest placed team in the aggregate table not yet qualified for the Libertadores, with matches from the semifinal and final counting towards the aggregate totals, will then take Colombia’s final spot, which enters in the second phase. Deportes Tolima currently occupy that spot with América de Cali three points back. If Junior repeat as champions, the top two teams in the aggregate table will qualify, with the better placed side joining Junior in the group stage.    


Ecuador


Ecaudor’s Serie A wrapped up regular season play last weekend, with Macará and Barcelona topping the table, earning themselves a Libertadores spot. The other two spots, which send teams directly into the group stage, will go to the champion and runner-up in the playoffs, set to start next week. Macará meet up with Emelec in the quarterfinals, while Barcelona will face Aucas. The other two quarterfinals see Universidad Católica battle Liga de Quito and Delfín square off with Independiente del Valle. Should Macará or Barcelona win the title, Universidad Católica will progress to the Libertadores. If both reach the final, Delfín would also advance to the Libertadores.   

Independiente del Valle can also qualify by winning the 2019 Copa Sudamericana. If they were to qualify via both the Sudamericana and make the league final, the next best placed team in the regular season table would slot into the first phase of the Libertadores.   


Paraguay


Qualification is nearly all but decided in Paraguay, with three of the biggest sides in the country already guaranteed a spot in the 2020 Libertadores. Olimpia ran away as Apertura champions, assuring themselves a group stage spot, and have lost just twice domestically in 2019.

Cerro Porteño and Libertad have both secured Libertadores spots as well thanks to their high position in the aggregate table, but are both still fighting for a direct spot into the group stage. Whoever finishes higher in the aggregate table, both currently have 71 points, will secure the group stage spot unless the other manages to wrestle the Clausura title away from Olimpia.   

Guaraní currently sit fourth in the aggregate table, the final Paraguayan Libertadores berth, 14 points ahead of River Plate with just 6 matches to play, meaning they could seal qualification as soon as this weekend.


Peru


Peru have so far qualified three teams to the 2020 Libertadores, and will qualify a final team this weekend. Deportivo Binacional, and their magnificent crest, were Apertura champions, collecting a Libertadores berth with their trophy.

Peru’s end of year playoff structure pits the Apertura champion and the Clausura champion, provided each finish in the top nine of the aggregate table, against the top two teams in the aggregate table in a pair of semifinals. However, if the same team occupies more than one of those sports, for example if the Apertura champion is also the second best team in the aggregate table, then the field is reduced potentially to just a pair of teams, who would then square off in a final. Each team participating in the playoff qualifies for the Libertadores, with any remaining spots being filled from the aggregate table. Complicated, we know.  

What that means is that Sporting Cristal and Alianza Lima have wrapped up Libertadores berths based on their guaranteed position in the aggregate table. Universitario are in position to claim the fourth spot, but if Sport Huancayo defeat them this weekend, then they'll take the fourth Libertadores spot.


Uruguay


Uruguay will hand out a pair of spots, both in the group stage, to the champions and runners-up in 2019, with another two berths, one each in the second and first phase, going to teams via the aggregate table. Uruguay’s champion, and runner-up, will be decided by a three-team playoff, featuring the Apertura champions, Peñarol, the Clausura champions and the best team in the aggregate table. The two champions will play each other with the winner facing the top team in the aggregate table in the final.

Should either Peñarol or the eventual Clausura champion finish atop the aggregate table, currently headed up by Nacional, who have secured a Libertadores spot, then the two champions will meet in the final, and also be assured of spots in the group stage. 

All of that means that Peñarol have yet to seal a Libertadores spot, though they look to be well on their way.

Cerro Largo find themselves in third in the aggregate table at the moment with Progresso, who are also making a push at the Clausura title, in fourth. Cerro Largo can qualify with a win on Thursday against Progresso.  

Venezuela


Estudiantes de Mérida, champions of the Venezuelan Apertura have secured a spot in the group stage for 2020 and are thus far the only Venezuelan team to qualify. 

The Clausura regular season wrapped up last weekend, where two spots, via the aggregate table, were handed out to Deportivo Táchira and Caracas. Carabobo sit third in the aggregate table, but failed to qualify for the Clausura playoffs, meaning they'll need Táchira to face Caracas in the Clausura final in order to qualify.

The Clausura playoffs feature eight teams with the eventual Clausura champion entering the 2020 Libertadores in the group stage. Already qualified Deportivo Táchira are the top-seed and eliminated Metropolitanos in the quarterfianls, while Deportivo La Guaira took down Trujillanos. Second seeded Caracas, also already qualified, face Aragua. The other quarterfinal matchups see Llaneros face Deportivo Lara.

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