Argentine giants Boca are on a six-game winning run
Copa Libertadores final second leg|Santos v Boca Juniors|Wednesday.
Forty years ago Santos of Brazil beat Argentina's Boca Juniors in the final of South America's Copa Libertadores.
If history is to repeat itself then Santos will have to play a fantastic
second leg on Wednesday in São Paulo.
They are 2-0 down after last week's first leg in Buenos Aires, and are up against a team who have hit top form
at the right time.
The key to Santos' first leg defeat was that Boca are the team with the better balance between attack and defence.
Santos had more possession, enjoyed territorial domination, attacked in numbers but left space behind.
And Boca coach Carlos Bianchi has his team well set up to take advantage.
Santos found it very difficult to cope with Boca's speed on the break.
The Argentine giants may not have created many clear chances, but this is partly explained by the fact that Santos stopped their counter attacks with fouls.
The Brazilian champions had right back Reginaldo Araujo sent off.
Centre back Pereira was taken off at half time because he was close to receiving the red card.
His substitute Andre Luis could easily have gone, as could
midfield anchorman Paulo Almeida.
Santos may have seen much more of the ball but Boca created the danger and the Brazilians have to find a way to
make sure that the second leg does not go the same way.
Santos are struggling to find the attacking fluency that came so easily at the start of the competition.
Boca's approach will be unchanged. Last week in their Bombonera stadium they played as if they were the away side, and they will do the same in São Paulo.
They will keep nine men behind the ball and break at speed. It
worked for them in the semi-finals when, also 2-0 up from the home leg, they
picked off America of Cali on the way to a 4-0 win in Colombia.
Santos, though, are a better side than America. They were in the same group
as the Colombians, and beat them 5-1 away and 3-0 at home.
But their problem is that they are struggling to find the attacking fluency that came so easily at the start of the competition.
Centre forward Ricardo Oliveira is the top scorer in this year's
But he has still to regain full sharpness after spending over
a month out injured.
And winger Robinho, so irresistible a few months ago,
is having a hard time.
He usually plays on the left, looking to cut inside
onto his stronger right foot.
Opponents have realized this, and are now
able to block him. He has lost confidence as a result.
A return to form by Robinho and Ricardo Oliveira would clearly boost Santos'
chances of turning the score round in the second leg.
But even without, all hope is not lost.
Despite its many virtues, this is not a great Boca side.
The midfield can
be very pedestrian.
They will defend deep, and though they will be hard to
play through, they will almost certainly commit fouls some 30 metres away
from their own goal.
If Santos can hit the target from the free kicks, they
may yet emulate the feat of Pelé and the gang from 1963.