Atlético Mineiro won their first ever Copa Libertadores title this season, as I had predicted they might on Just Football some months ago. But there were some good players from other teams that played in the competition.
With the dust settled and the trophy now engraved with the Belo Horizonte team’s name for the first time in history, here is a best XI team of the tournament for the Copa Libertadores 2013:
Goalkeeper: Martín Silva
He narrowly beats Atlético Mineiro’s goalkeeper Victor after making a number of very important saves throughout the competition, although the Atlético goalie saved penalties in the last three rounds of the competition, against Tijuana, Newell’s and Olimpia.
Right-back: Marcos Rocha
He was effective attacking and decent defending although he could have contributed more in the end, but he missed the last game due to being suspended.
Centre Back: Leonardo Silva
He outshone his more highly-rated teammate Réver by being both a solid and consistent defender and contributing to the title with a key goal in the final. A warrior at the heart of Leonardo’s defence who led from the front.
Centre Back: Hermínio Miranda
Miranda was one of the key players in Olimpia’s defence. Good in the air and led as an example to his teammates in defence. Also took free kicks.
Left Back: Milton Casco
(Newell’s Old Boys)
A very attack-minded left-back, that besides scoring decisive goals, such as against Vélez in the quarter-finals, also kept Atlético Mineiro’s Bernard busy having to mark him in the semifinals.
Defensive midfielder: Eduardo Aranda
A solid but discreet defensive midfielder with great positioning. The 28-year-old Paraguayan international was a big part of the reason why Ronaldinho Gaúcho did not shine in the final.
Winger: Alejandro Silva
A very versatile player who played as a midfielder, right wingback, left wingback and right winger. He was the Paraguayan team’s brain and arguably their best player in the competition.
A fast and very skilful winger who was also pretty consistent despite his young age. He scored a decisive goal against Newell’s in the semi-finals and made an assist for Leonardo Silva’s goal in the final. Has been linked with Arsenal, Porto and Shakhtar Donestsk and a move to Europe seems imminent.
Attacking midfielder: Ronaldinho
Although his performance levels dropped towards the end of the competition, Ronaldinho was one of the team’s best players in the group stage and made several assists, as well as teaming up well with Bernard, Diego Tardelli and Jô.
The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, now 33, turned back the clock with some scintillating performances and goals, and joins an elite list of players to have won both South America and Europe’s biggest competitions.
Forward: Ignacio Scocco
(Newell’s Old Boys)
A very complete forward with good speed, technique and finishing, capable of both creating chances for other players as well as scoring goals himself. Scocco had something of a renaissance in this year’s Libertadores and finished the competition as the joint second best top scorer with six goals.
Proving that Manchester City were at least onto something when they shelled out a club record fee for him, the Brazilian striker ended the competition as top scorer with seven goals. These included really crucial ones at important junctures during Mineiro’s run to the trophy, such as the all-important opening goal in the final second leg.
Although his style might not be the most beautiful, it is very effective, as he is tall and can also play with his back to goal, allowing others to score. Jo was superb in this year’s Copa Libertadores.
Manager: Ever Almeida
The Olimpia legend lead his team to another Copa Libertadores final, as he had done in 1979 and 1990 when he was the team’s goalkeeper. Almeida turned an Olimpia full of trouble off the pitch, such as unpaid wages, into a very competitive team with a solid defence, only losing the final to Atlético Mineiro on penalties. A heroic effort.
(photo credit: Christyam de Lima via Flickr)