Flamengo-Emelec set for Round of 16 duel

The draw for the CONMEBOL Libertadores Round of 16 has, as always, offered up a series of tasty ties, one of which will see Group B runners-up Emelec of Ecuador face off with Brazilian giants and winners of Group D, Flamengo.

Flamengo topped Group D with 10 points, winning a trio of games, drawing another, and losing just twice, though one of those losses was to Ecuadorian opposition in Liga de Quito. Leading the way for O Rubro-Negro was both Éverton Ribeiro and Gabriel Barbosa, who tallied a pair of goals each. Bruno Henrique also showed himself to be a danger man on the wing, and Diego Alves in goal provided some spectacular saves, including a penalty stop at a critical moment against Liga de Quito:

The Maracaña has been a fortress for Flamengo in recent years, and they will hope to parlay what is certain to be an electric atmosphere in the return leg into success, just as they did in an impressive 3-1 victory against a talented Liga de Quito side:

Flamengo’s away form was a bit more of a concern, though a portion of the difficulties can be chalked up to the fact that they played a pair of matches at altitude, a 1-0 win over San José de Oruro, and a 2-1 loss to Liga de Quito. Altitude won’t be a concern for Mengão in the Round of 16, as Guayaquil’s coastal location means the city sits just 4 metres above sea level.

As for Emelec, the Ecuadorians struggled at the start of their Group B campaign, picking up just a pair of points from their opening trio of matches, a stretch that saw them fail to record a single goal. After Deportivo Lara rallied for a late equalizer to cancel out a brace from the “Boogeyman” Brayan Angulo on match day four, qualification looked to be a difficult ask. But the Ecuadorians rallied well for a pair of wins in their final two matches, including an impressive 2-1 win away against a Cruzeiro side that had won each of their first five matches.

Angulo will be the danger man, as evidenced by the fact that he’s scored four of his side’s six goals so far in the competition. Alongside Angulo, Joao Rojas has shown himself a potential dangerman, as the midfielder picked up a goal against Cruzeiro on a tremendous strike:

As is always the case in a two-legged tie, Emelec’s result in the first leg at home will be crucial to their chances of advancing. If they can go to the Maracanã with an advantage, and without having conceded an away goal, they will give themselves a chance. If Flamengo get a positive result away from home, especially if that includes a potentially critical away goal, it could be a tough ask for the Ecuadorians in Rio de Janeiro.

Flamengo vs. Emelec, Round of 16:

1st Leg: Wednesday July 24th, Guayaquil, 19:30 (ECU) 00:30 (GMT)

2nd Leg: Wednesday July 31st, Rio de Janeiro 21:30 (BRA) 00:30 (GMT)