Previewing the 2021 Copa Libertadores – Odds, Analysis, and Predictions

By Ben Morris in Soccer
| April 20, 2021 5:50 am PDT

Are you ready to bet on the Copa Libertadores in 2021?

South America’s premier club soccer tournament returns on Tuesday, April 20, less than three months after Palmeiras beat Santos in last season’s all-Brazilian final.

The competition has been dominated by clubs from Argentina and Brazil in recent times, with Colombian side Atletico Nacional bucking the trend back in 2016.

Is it time for another outsider to upset the Copa Libertadores odds in 2021?

In this 2021 Copa Libertadores betting guide, I tell you everything you need to know about wagering on the tournament. After looking at the winner odds, assessing the groups, and discussing the bookmakers’ favorites, I share my Copa Libertadores predictions for 2021.

Let’s start by checking out the 2021 Copa Libertadores odds.

2021 Copa Libertadores Winner Odds

Unsurprisingly, the top of the 2021 Copa Libertadores odds list is commanded by Brazilian and Argentine clubs.

Flamengo (5.50) and River Plate (5.50) head into the tournament as joint favorites, with Boca Juniors (6.00) coming in just behind the bookies’ two frontrunners.

Defending champion Palmeiras (10.00) is also among the favorites, while Santos (19.00) – last season’s beaten finalist – sneaks into the top ten.

2016 champion Atletico Nacional (26.00) is the only team in the top 12 that isn’t from Argentina or Brazil. After that, the prices take a significant leap.

Before I analyze the 2021 Copa Libertadores betting favorites, let’s take a quick look at the groups.

Assessing the 2021 Copa Libertadores Groups

Group A

  • Palmeiras
  • Defensa y Justica
  • Universitario
  • Independiente del Valle

Palmeiras’ title defense begins with what should be a relatively straightforward group.

Defensa y Justica (Argentina) was knocked out in the first round last season, Universitario (Peru) last reached a final back in 1972, and Independiente del Valle (Ecuador) had to come through two qualifying rounds to get into the competition.

Group B

  • Olimpia
  • Internacional
  • Deportivo Tachira
  • Always Ready

Group B is one of only three groups that doesn’t feature a team from both Brazil and Argentina, with two-time champion Internacional flying the flag for Brazil here.

Olimpia (Paraguay) has reached seven finals over the years – most recently in 2013 – but last triumphed in 2002.

Deportivo Tachira (Venezuela) and Always Ready (Bolivia) shouldn’t cause Internacional and Olimpia too many problems.

Group C

  • Boca Juniors
  • Barcelona SC
  • The Strongest
  • Santos

It is no secret that Boca Juniors should cruise through Group C. After all, the Argentine giant has clinched six Libertadores titles and made it to the 2018 final.

Despite reaching last season’s final, Santos was forced to qualify for this year’s tournament, having finished eighth in the Brazilian top-flight.

Barcelona SC (Ecuador) was beaten in the 1990 and 1998 finals, while The Strongest (Bolivia) failed to qualify for the 2020 tournament.

Group D

  • River Plate
  • Indepentiente Santa Fe
  • Fluminense
  • Atletico Junior

Argentine powerhouse River Plate has reached three of the last six Libertadores finals, triumphing in 2015 and 2018. No prizes for guessing which team is expected to finish top of Group D!

This group includes two Colombian sides – 2020 Categoria Primera A winners Santa Fe and Atletico Junior.

Fluminense (Brazil) finished fifth in Serie A last term. Believe it or not, the Rio de Janeiro outfit has only ever made it to one Libertadores final – losing the 2008 showpiece.

Group E

  • Sao Paulo
  • Racing Club
  • Sporting Cristal
  • Rentistas

Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Racing Club (Argentina) are the clear favorites to advance from Group E. Sao Paulo has three Libertadores titles, while Racing has one.

Sporting Cristal (Peru) and Rentistas (Uruguay) are not expected to progress to the knockout phase, although it is worth noting that Cristal did manage to reach the 1997 final.

Group F

  • Nacional
  • Universidad Catolica
  • Argentinos Juniors
  • Atletico Nacional

Reigning Uruguayan champion Nacional is seeded first in Group F. However, the club’s last Libertadores success came all the way back in 1988.

With no Brazilian side in this group, Universidad Catolica (Chile), Argentinos Juniors (Argentina), and Atletico Nacional (Colombia) will all fancy their chances of qualifying for the next round.

Group G

  • Flamengo
  • LDU Quito
  • Velez Sarsfield
  • Union La Calera

There is no denying that Flamengo is the headline act in Group G. After winning the Libertadores in 2019, the Brazilian giant went on to clinch the 2020 Serie A title.

LDU Quito (Ecuador) and Velez Sarsfield (Argentina) both have one Libertadores triumph to their name, with the former winning in 2008 and the latter lifting the trophy in 1994.

Union La Calera (Chile) is the obvious outsider in Group G.

Group H

  • Cerro Porteno
  • Atletico Mineiro
  • America de Cali
  • Deportivo La Guaira

Having sealed the 2020 Apertura, Cerro Porteno (Paraguay) is the first seed in Group H, alongside 2013 Libertadores champion Atletico Mineiro (Brazil).

Remarkably, America de Cali (Colombia) reached four finals between 1985 and 1996 – failing to secure glory on every occasion.

Deportivo La Guaira (Venezuela) is not likely to upset the 2021 Copa Libertadores odds in Group H.

Betting Favorites for the Copa Libertadores in 2021

Flamengo (5.50)

Flamengo ended their 38-year wait for a second Libertadores triumph in 2019, beating River Plate 2-1 in the final. Having also won two straight domestic titles, the Brazilian powerhouse obviously deserves to be one of the favorites to lift the trophy this year.

Under the guidance of former Brazil goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, Flamengo was knocked out in the Round of 16 by Racing last season. But with guys like Gabriel Barbosa and Giorgian de Arrascaeta leading from the front, the 2019 champion is expected to bounce back in 2021.

River Plate (5.50)

It’s fair to say that River Plate has been one of the most consistent teams in the Libertadores in recent times. After all, La Banda has clinched two of their last six titles and was the beaten finalist in 2019.

Ever since Marcelo Gallardo took the reins at El Monumental in 2014, River has been winning trophies. With three Copa Argentina and two Supercopa Argentina triumphs coming under Gallardo’s watch, River clearly knows what it takes to win silverware.

RIVER PLATE IN THE COPA LIBERTADORES
Titles Runner-Up
4 (1986, 1996, 2015, 2018) 3 (1966, 1976, 2019)

Boca Juniors (6.00)

While River has been flying the flag for Argentina in the Liberatores recently, Boca has well and truly taken control on home soil. Indeed, Miguel Angel Russo’s men have sealed four of the past six top-flight titles in Argentina, including three of the previous four.

Ex-EPL star Carlos Tevez may be 37, but he is still a huge threat. The veteran forward has bagged 59 goals in 182 appearances for Boca and will no doubt add to his tally in the 2021 Libertadores.

Boca lost the 2018 Libertadores final before reaching the semi-finals last time around. However, the last of their six titles came back in 2007.

Internacional (9.00)

Internacional’s 2020 Libertadores campaign was ended by Boca in the Round of 16. Still, the leading online sportsbooks believe that Miguel Angel Ramirez’s side can run deep into the tournament this time around.

The Porto Alegre outfit finished just one point behind first-place Flamengo in the 2020 Serie A standings. If they are to add to their 2006 and 2010 Libertadores titles, they will need to carry their impressive domestic form onto the continental stage.

BRAZILIAN SERIE A – 2020 STANDINGS
Position Team Goal Diffrence Points
1 Flamengo +20 71
2 Internacional +26 70
3 Atletico Mineiro +19 68

Palmeiras (10.00)

Palmeiras went unbeaten in the group stage last season, scoring a whopping 17 goals while conceding just twice en route to claiming five wins and one draw.

Abel Ferreira’s men then claimed big aggregate victories over Delfin (8-1), Libertad (4-1), and River Plate (3-2), before beating Santos 1-0 in the final.

Having enjoyed an almost perfect 2020 Libertadores campaign, Palmeiras will surely be confident of defending their crown.

Unfortunately, the club only managed to register a seventh-place finish in Serie A last term. Can the seventh-best team in Brazil clinch two straight Libertadores titles?

Atletico Mineiro (10.00)

After finishing ten points clear of Palmeiras – and only three points behind Flamengo – in the 2020 Serie A standings, it feels as though Atletico Mineiro stands an excellent chance of adding to their 2013 Libertadores success this year.

Having said that, the club was knocked out in the group stage in 2019 and failed to qualify for last year’s tournament altogether. Naturally, Cuca’s men must improve on their recent continental efforts.

Can Anyone Break the Argentina-Brazil Duopoly?

We all know that clubs from Argentina and Brazil have dominated the Copa Libertadores since its inception in 1960 – and table below underlines their superiority.

But can a team from outside the two dominant nations win the title this year?

TOTAL COPA LIBERTADORES FINALS BY NATION
Nation Finals Won Finals Lost
Argentina 25 12
Brazil 20 16
Uruguay 8 8
Colombia 3 7
Paraguay 3 5
Chile 1 5
Ecuador 1 3
Mexico 0 3
Peru 0 2

Here are some Libertadores sleepers to consider.

Atletico Nacional (26.00)

Atletico Nacional’s first Libertadores success came in 1989. 27 years later, the Colombian club clinched their second title – winning the 2016 final against all odds.

After beating two Argentine teams – Huracan and Rosario Central – in the first two knockout rounds, the Medellin outfit claimed a 4-1 aggregate victory over Sao Paulo in the semi-finals.

Having finished third in the Colombian top-flight last season, Alexandre Guimaraes’ men could struggle to emulate their 2016 heroics, although they can take huge confidence from their title-winning campaign.

LDU Quito (41.00)

The only Ecuadorian team to win the Libertadores, LDU Quito has been drawn in difficult group this year. Along with Brazilian giant Flamengo, the 2008 champs face tricky assignments against Velez Sarsfield and Union La Calera.

LDU has failed to win any of the last two domestic titles but did manage to reach the Liberatores Round of 16 last term. The Ecuadorians will need to use all their past experience to go deep into the competition this year.

Nacional (41.00)

Nacional is the most successful Uruguayan side in Libertadores history, having won three finals and lost a further three. That said, it is worth remembering that the club’s last continental success came back in 1988.

Alejandro Cappucio’s team made it to the quarter-finals in 2020 but eventually fell to River. If they are to ruffle the big guns’ feathers this time around, young stars such as Gabriel Neves and Agustin Oliveros will need to be at their absolute best.

My 2021 Copa Liberatores Predictions

You only have to take one glance at the 2021 Copa Libertadores winner odds to understand just how difficult it will be for clubs from outside Argentina and Brazil to seal the title this year.

Atletico Nacional is the only team from outside the two dominant nations to have won the Libertadores in the previous 12 years, with seven Brazilian champions and four Argentine victors coming in that time.

With that in mind, backing one of the bookies’ favorites is almost certainly the way to go this year.

I really like the look of Flamengo at 5.50. Not only did they win the Libertadores in 2019, but they have also won the last two Serie A titles in Brazil.

Having said that, River Plate’s recent Libertadores record – two triumphs and one final defeat in the past six seasons – makes it difficult to bet against Gallardo’s men in 2021.

Ultimately, picking one of the powerhouses from Brazil or Argentina is a good strategy.

If you need more information to help you make your 2021 Copa Libertadores predictions, why not check out the stat leaders from the 2020 Libertadores?

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