Independiente Santa Fe (Colombia)
Previous best: Semifinals (1961)
The reigning Colombian champions' triumph in the Apertura tournament allowed them to claim their first league tittle in 27 years, the crowning achievement in a reasonably successful past decade that has seen runs in the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, as well as a Copa Colombia title in 2009. Some would consider Santa Fe's run of success long overdue, given their lofty status in the Colombian game, and a good showing in the Copa Libertadores would only cement their status as one of the top teams in Colombia.
Expectatations: Santa Fe have done well to strengthen the talented, young squad that won them the title a couple months ago, and should expect to get out of a fairly easy group. Whether they can get past the Round of 16 for the first time since their semifinal run in 1961 may depend on the draw, but a run to the quarterfinals this time around isn't out of the question.
Star Man: Omar Pérez
Cerro Porteno (Paraguay)
Previous best: Semifinals (1973, 1978, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2011)
The Paraguayan giants are back for more, with 2013 standing as an impressive 35th appearances in South America's top club competition. Despite never having reached the final of the Copa Libertadores, Cerro undoubtedly boast an excellent pedigree in continental competition, having qualified for either the Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana every year since 1989 and having made more than a few deep runs in both. They qualified this year by virtue of winning the 2012 Apertura tournament, their 29th Paraguayan title, and have the capabilities to continue making an impression.
Expectations: Along with Santa Fe, Cerro have a talented and complete enough squad to be considered likely shots to advance to the knockout round, and they will probably do so as first-place finishers in the group. Coached by the experienced and well-traveled Jorge Fossati, they should be capable of even more, though that all-elusive trip to the final may be too far of a reach.
Star Man: Julio Dos Santos
Real Garcilaso (Peru)
Previous best: First appearance
Less than four years after their founding, the Cusco-based Real Garcilaso – named after the legendary Inca poet – are already in their first-ever Copa Libertadores campaign. They signalled their ambitions by coming up victorious in the 2011 Copa Perú and securing promotion to the top flight and backed up their ambition by securing second place in the 2012 Torneo Descentralizado, their first-ever top flight season. They may be overmatched as they enter continental competition for the first time ever, but it is nonetheless another milestone for a club on the rise.
Expectations: It won't be easy for Real Garcilaso, they lost star forward Andy Pando – the 2012 Peruvian goalscoring champion – to Las Palmas in Spain and don't look to have the same kind of quality their group rivals have. Getting out of the group stage would be an incredible feat, but then again, they have shown capable of surprising before.
Star Man: Fabio Ramos
Deportes Tolima (Colombia)
Previous best: Semifinals (1982)
Though not in that upper echelon of big Colombian clubs, having won just one league title, Tolima have shown an impressive sticking power throughout the decades, evidenced by having played all but one season of their 58-year existence in the top flight. This year's Copa Libertadores will be just their sixth participation in the tournament, but it will also be their fourth in the past 10 years. In 2012, they boasted the top attack in Colombia, netting 66 goals over 48 games to top the annual table and qualify them for the Libertadores, even as they failed to make the finals in the Torneo Apertura and Finalización. Now, they will look to ride that attack to their first knockout round appearance since 1983.
Expectations: Tolima have a talented squad and should reasonably expect to compete with fellow Colombian side Santa Fe for a ticket to the knockout rounds, though they would be doubtful to advance beyond the Round of 16.
Star Man: Andres Andrade