Newell’s Old Boys (Argentina)
Previous best: Runners-Up, 1988 &1992
Gerardo 'Tata' Martino has revolutionised the Rosario outfit since arriving from the Paraguay national team last year. When he turned up, La Lepra were facing a serious relegation battle; by the end of 2012, despite visibly running out of steam towards the end of the campaign, they could lay claim to playing the finest football in Argentina. Maxi Rodriguez and Gabriel Heinze have added some quality and experience, while in Ignacio Scocco they have one of the in-form strikers on the continent. Their lack of progress in the transfer window does leave the squad a little light, however.
Expectations: Martino’s brand of Bielsan football could well see them go all the way, but juggling the tournament with domestic action will take its toll.
Star Man: Ignacio Scocco
Universidad de Chile (Chile)
Previous best: Semi-Finals, 1970, 1996, 2010 & 2012
In 2011, under Jorge Sampaoli, La U were best team on the continent - by a country mile. 2013, however is the beginning of a new era, as life post-Sampaoli begins. The majority of the stars that led them to the 2011 Copa Suamericana have also moved on, and new coach Dario Franco is charged with overseeing the transition. Cesar Cortes and Ramon Fernandez have arrived, as has talented young striker Isaac Diaz. They won’t be as fun as they were under Sampaoli, but the less frenetic approach will be a welcome change for those who ran so tirelessly for so long under Diaz’ predecessor.
Expectations: To continue their recent intercontinental traditions. In reality, however, a repeat of last year’s run to the semi-finals would be a huge achievement.
Star Man: Gustavo Lorenzetti
Deportivo Lara (Venezuela)
Previous best: N/A
2013 sees them make their Libertadores debut. They were only founded in 2006 – and only took their current name three years ago. 2012 saw the culmination of a remarkable few years when they won both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments to be crowned champions of Venezuela. While the club may be young, their playing staff certainly is not: 37-year-old Rafael Castellin was the star of their league-winning campaign, notching 20 goals, and fellow veteran Jose Manuel Rey provides the experience and organisation at the back alongside 34 –year-old Argentine Marcelo Maidana. Captain and Venezuela international Miguel Mea Vitali is their midfield linchpin and will take responsibility for leading the club on their first Libertadores adventure.
Expectations: They will hope to emerge from the group.
Star Man: Rafael Castellin
Previous best: Winners, 1979, 1990, 2002
Paraguay’s most successful club fell short of both the Apertura and Clausura titles least year, but secured their passage to the Libertadores by amassing the highest points total of the non-champions, meaning they had to navigate their way past Defensor Sporting in the preliminary round. New coach Ever Almeida was desperate to plug his leaky defence and his brought in six new players over the break.
Expectations: Almeida may struggle to squeeze all his new faces into one side, and anything past the last 16 would be surely be seen as a successful campaign.
Star Man: Richard Ortiz