Action at the Copa Sudamericana is about to heat up, as the final stages of the secondary CONMEBOL tournament are set to begin.
Sao Paulo looks intent on defending their title and qualifying for the 2014 Copa Libertadores, 2014 Recopa Sudamericana and the 2014 Suruga Bank Championship, but there are several clubs from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay that will add some serious parity to the thrilling tournament.
Let's take a look at when to catch each home-and-away battle, along with a preview of the opening Round of 16 matches.
Round of 16 Schedule
Velez Sarsfield at La Equidad
Qualifying as the 2012-13 Primera Division super champion, Argentinian outfit Velez Sarsfield earned a dramatic win over Belgrano in the second stage.
Entering the second leg down 1-0, El Fortin got a crucial 2-0 victory to advance when Ezequiel Rescaldani scored in the 28th minute and Lucas Pratto finished from the penalty spot for the match-winner in the 71st minute.
La Equidad, meanwhile, earned a spot in the Copa Sudamericana by finishing second in Colombia's aggregate Primera A table, finishing just five points away from a bid to the Copa Libertadores, CONMEBOL's premier club tournament.
The Aseguradores squeezed past Trujillanos, 1-0, in the first stage and Cobreloa, 1-1 via away goals, in the second.
La Equidad's Wilson Morelos will be the one to watch, as he has already netted seven goals in seven appearances this season.
With both clubs in similar form (nine points in seven matches for Velez, 13 in eight for La Equidad), expect the Colombian outfit to control play at Estadio Metropolitano and earn an early advantage in the aggregate.
Universidad de Chile at Lanus
Universidad de Chile—here after defeating Universidad Catolica in a thrilling Copa Chile final in May—has cruised through the opening two stages. Los Azules used a 5-0 second leg at home to advance past Real Potosi before taking care of Independiente Teran, 4-2 on aggregate.
Lanus, who qualified out of the Argentinian Primera division, needed a 2-0 win at home in the second leg against Racing Club to earn a spot in the Round of 16. Granate has notched 12 points in seven league matches so far, piling up a table-best goal differential of nine.
The duo of Santiago Silva and Lautaro Acosta (seven combined goals) has been a major part in that success, while the defense has conceded just four times.
It would be a mistake to overlook Universidad de Chile. Marco Antonio Figueroa's squad has netted 14 goals in seven contests and features a lot of different options on the explosive attack.
But Lanus is undefeated—4-1-0—across all competition at Estadio Ciudad this season, and it would be surprising if they didn't continue that trend on Wednesday.