The tournament overview
Due to changes in the tournament mode, agreed upon in October 2020, the 2021 edition of the Copa Sudamericana wants to better represent the distribution of teams across the many South American countries. The fans in each of their countries wanted to have a more equal chance to cheer on their teams, and the committee therefore decided to now open the cup up to more participants, so more clubs will get a chance to fight the path to The Great Conquest. This has resulted in certain changes to the mode and an expansion of the team number from 54 to 56. With this higher number of teams the tournament complexity reflects on the mode that is more involved than most other competitions in the world.
Before the actual group stage there is the first stage that has been divided into two legs. This stage lets all teams compete so that finally 32 teams may enter the group stage based on their results. The winners of each group participate in the round of 16 while the 8 spots left are filled by the eight third-placed teams of the Copa Libertadores group stage.
The interim results
The CONMEBOL Sudamericana™ season of 2021 has finished its group phase two weeks ago. From mid-March to end of May 32 teams have been competing within 8 groups to achieve the top spot of their group table to be able to proceed to the round of 16. Each team had to face its 3 opponents of the group 2 times, each on its home and away turf. In total, 6 games have been played by each team in each of the 8 groups, which amounts to 96 games played with all groups combined.
In theory a total of 18 points can be achieved, which in real life no team has managed to do, due to the strong performance and strength of all competing teams in the tournament. The closest to a perfect score was reached by the Brazilian team Grêmio. They managed to score 5 wins and only one draw, with no losses at all. Secondly, it was the team with by far the most scored goals (21) and the best goal difference (21:5 or 16). The second-best team as of goal difference was Peñarol with 15:3 (or 12), but they have only been placed fourth in terms of points, after Athletico Paranense (15) and Independiente (14).
The team with the least success has been Guabirá Montero from Bolivia. After 6 games the team can only account for losses. The best game was the first where it scored its only goal in the competition, but lost 1:3. The goal difference is a final 1:18 (17) which marks the worst result of all group stage losers. Hopefully, they’ll get another chance in the future because we all know that hard work sometimes just doesn’t pay off.
The group phase was a fierce competition with lots of great games and intense emotion. The people at home in front of their TVs and computer screens could experience many breathtaking goals and see their favorite players shine throughout this first phase of the CONMEBOL Sudamericana™.
The overall best player until now based on pure game statistics is Ferreira of Grêmio. The 23 years old Brazilian born in Dourados close to the Paraguayan border managed to add to his legacy to become a memorable football player. During this competition his market value skyrocketed from 750k to 7.5m USD – in just two months. After a series of solid above-average performances his ultimate moment of glory happened in the game against Lanús on 14th of May. Grêmio won 3:1 and 2 of the goals have been scored by Ferreira. Additionally, he gave the assist for the third one. With 81 minutes played and a pass success rate of 90%, this game has made history for him and his team.
Although Ferreira being a midfielder, he scored 5 goals overall during this competition which sets him amongst the top scorers, placed fourth next to Bernardo Cuesta who plays at the club Melgar and Humberto Osorio who plays at Jorge Wilstermann. The top scorer with 8 goals is Augustin Álvarez Martínez who plays for Peñarol.
In the overall ranking the 2nd and 3rd ranked players are Vina from Ceará SC (Brazil) and Óscar Romero from San Lorenzo (Argentina). Both showed solid performances, but on average couldn’t match the stellar appearances of Ferreira.
The round of 16
All fans in South America had to wait, anticipating the draw of the next matches that took place on June 1st. With 8 teams of the Copa Libertadores joining, the field got mixed up with new teams that have different styles of play. We at PayRetailers and all fans at home can be excited to see the round of 16 unfold. As an Official Sponsor of the CONMEBOL Sudamericana™ we are proud to be part of this journey to The Great Conquest. Let the games continue!