Copa Libertadores Football competition by CONMEBOL
Copa Libertadores Football competition
The CONMEBOL Libertadores, also known as the Copa Libertadores de América, is an annual international club football competition organized by CONMEBOL since 1960. It is the highest level of competition in South American club football.
Current champion: Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras
Most successful club(s): Independiente; (7 titles)
Region: South America
Related competitions: Copa Sudamericana
Qualifier for: Recopa Sudamericana; FIFA Club World Cup
Founded: 1960; 62 years ago
The CONMEBOL Libertadores, also known as the Copa Libertadores de América (Portuguese: Copa Libertadores da América), is an annual international club football competition organized by CONMEBOL since 1960. It is the highest level of competition in South American club football. The tournament is named after the Libertadores (Spanish and Portuguese for liberators), the leaders of the South American wars of independence, so a literal translation of its former name into English is “America’s Liberators Cup”.
The competition has had several formats over its lifetime. Initially, only the champions of the South American leagues participated. In 1966, the runners-up of the South American leagues began to join. In 1998, Mexican teams were invited to compete and contested regularly from 2000 until 2016. In 2000 the tournament was expanded from 20 to 32 teams. Today at least four clubs per country compete in the tournament, with Argentina and Brazil having the most representatives (six and seven clubs, respectively). A group stage has always been used but the number of teams per group has varied.
In the present format, the tournament consists of eight stages, with the first stage taking place in late January. The four surviving teams from the first three stages join 28 teams in the group stage, which consists of eight groups of four teams each. The eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the knockout stages, which end with the final in November. The winner of the Copa Libertadores becomes eligible to play in the FIFA Club World Cup and the Recopa Sudamericana.
Independiente of Argentina is the most successful club in the cup’s history, having won the tournament seven times. Argentine clubs have accumulated the most victories with 25 wins, while Brazil has the largest number of winning teams, with 10 clubs having won the title. The cup has been won by 25 clubs, 15 of them more than once, and seven clubs have won two years in a row.
Most teams qualify for the Copa Libertadores by winning half-year tournaments called the Apertura and Clausura tournaments or by finishing among the top teams in their championship. The countries that use this format are Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Peru and Ecuador have developed new formats for qualification to the Copa Libertadores involving several stages. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are the only South American leagues to use a European league format instead of the Apertura and Clausura format. However, one berth for the Copa Libertadores can be won by winning the domestic cups in these countries.
Peru, Uruguay and Mexico formerly used a second tournament to decide qualification for the Libertadores (the “Liguilla Pre-Libertadores” between 1992 and 1997, the “Liguilla Pre-Libertadores de América” from 1974 to 2009, and the InterLiga from 2004 to 2010, respectively). Argentina used an analogous method only once in 1992. Since 2011, the winner of the Copa Sudamericana has qualified automatically for the following Copa Libertadores.
For the 2019 edition, the different stages of the competition were contested by the following teams:
The winners of the previous season’s Copa Libertadores are given an additional entry if they do not qualify for the tournament through their domestic performance; however, if the title holders qualify for the tournament through their domestic performance, an additional entry is granted to the next eligible team, “replacing” the titleholder.
The current tournament features 47 clubs competing over a six- to eight-month period. There are three stages: the first, the second and the knockout stage.
The first stage involves 12 clubs in a series of two-legged knockout ties. The six survivors join 26 clubs in the second stage, in which they are divided into eight groups of four. The teams in each group play in a double round-robin format, with each team playing home and away games against every other team in their group. The top two teams from each group are then drawn into the knockout stage, which consists of two-legged knockout ties. From that point, the competition proceeds with two-legged knockout ties to quarterfinals, semifinals, and the finals. Between 1960 and 1987 the previous winners did not enter the competition until the semifinal stage, making it much easier to retain the cup.
Between 1960 and 2004, the winner of the tournament participated in the now-defunct Intercontinental Cup or (after 1980) Toyota Cup, a football competition endorsed by UEFA and CONMEBOL, contested against the winners of the European Cup (since renamed the UEFA Champions League) Since 2004, the winner has played in the Club World Cup, an international competition contested by the champion clubs from all six continental confederations. It is organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. Because Europe and South America are considered the strongest centers of the sport, the champions of those continents enter the tournament at the semifinal stage. The winning team also qualifies to play in the Recopa Sudamericana, a two-legged final series against the winners of the Copa Sudamericana.
Format And Rules
Unlike most other competitions around the world, the Copa Libertadores historically did not use extra time, or away goals. From 1960 to 1987, two-legged ties were decided on points (teams would be awarded 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss), without considering goal differences. If both teams were level on points after two legs, a third match would be played at a neutral venue. Goal difference would only come into play if the third match was drawn. If the third match did not produce an immediate winner, a penalty shootout was used to determine a winner.
From 1988 onwards, two-legged ties were decided on points, followed by goal difference, with an immediate penalty shootout if the tie was level on aggregate after full-time in the second leg. Starting with the 2005 season, CONMEBOL began to use the away goals rule. In 2008, the finals became an exception to the away goals rule and employed extra time. From 1995 onwards, the “Three points for a win” standard, a system adopted by FIFA in 1995 that places additional value on wins, was adopted in CONMEBOL, with teams now earning 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss.
Top 10 Performances by club
Bolivia and Venezuela are the only countries never to reach a final. Beyond them, Peru (and Mexico in their invitational period) are the only ones never to win a final.