Preview: LDU Quito vs. Universitario – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Copa Libertadores clash between LDU Quito and Universitario, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Fighting for the right to play Copa Sudamericana football for the remainder of the year, LDU Quito and Universitario conclude their Copa Libertadores Group D campaign at Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado on Tuesday.

Neither side can force their way into the top two of the four-team section with just one game remaining, but the Peruvian side are currently in control of their third-placed destiny, albeit only just.

Match preview

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The defending Copa Sudamericana champions may be presented with the opportunity to retain their second-tier continental crown in a few months’ time, having struggled to compete with the big boys of South America in this year’s Copa Libertadores.

Indeed, Quito have only amassed four points from their five Group D fixtures so far and have lost each of their last two to Botafogo and Junior, who are sailing off into the last-16 sunset while the Ecuadorian outfit endeavour to avoid finishing bottom of the pile.

One point adrift of Universitario with only three left to fight for, it is win or bust for Patricio Hurtado‘s side on Tuesday night, and the recent 1-0 loss to Junior in their penultimate Group D affair marked the third game in a five-match winless sequence for the hosts.

However, Quito timely snapped that disappointing sequence in Liga Pro action on Saturday, edging out Universidad Catolica 2-1 to confirm a third-placed finish in the first phase of the 2024 season, but there is work to be done if they are to retain their Ecuadorian honour.

That triumph marked a first success for the recently-appointed Hurtado in his first match in charge – Quito parted ways with Josep Alcacer amid their dampening winless run – and the 53-year-old now bids to prolong that 100% record to ensure the Whites’ place among the Sudamericana troupe.

Likewise, upcoming visitors Universitario also have some matchday five wrongs to right in their closing performance, having slumped to their own 1-0 home loss in their most recent Copa Libertadores affair; Jeffinho‘s solitary strike for Botafogo proved telling on May 16.

Nevertheless, on account of drawing one more and losing one fewer match than Quito, Universitario need only hold out for a draw on Ecuadorian soil to clinch a third-placed finish and transfer to the Sudamericana, bidding to add a first-ever continental honour to their 27 Peruvian titles.

Los Cremas are currently on course to be crowned national champions for the 28th time, as a 4-0 thrashing of Los Chankas over the weekend kept them top of the aggregate table in Liga 1 – above Sporting Cristal on goal difference – and Jeffinho’s winner for Botafogo is the only goal that Fabian Bustos‘s side have shipped in their last 270 minutes of football.

The reigning Peruvian champions also triumphed 2-1 over Quito in April’s Copa Libertadores battle on home turf, but they have failed to win or indeed score in any of their previous three visits to the Whites’ home, most recently being destroyed 4-0 in the 2006 edition.

LDU Quito Copa Libertadores form:

LDU Quito form (all competitions):

Universitario Copa Libertadores form:

Universitario form (all competitions):

Team News

It is one in, one out as far as LDU Quito are concerned on the team news front this week, as striker Michael Estrada is available again following a Liga Pro suspension and could partner top scorer Alex Arce in attack.

However, Hurtado will be forced into an alteration in the middle of the park, as 20-year-old Oscar Zambrano – who played the full 90 in the beating of Catolica – was not included in the hosts’ Libertadores squad.

Consequently, either Ezequiel Piovi, Marco Angulo or Joseph Espinoza will be called upon to deputise for the youngster, but the quick turnaround from Saturday’s game could see all three come into contention alongside veteran winger Lisandro Alzugaray.

As for Universitario, centre-back Matias Di Benedetto received a straight red card for a professional foul in the second half of Saturday’s top-flight encounter, but as his ban is only applicable to domestic matches, the 31-year-old is fine to man the rearguard on Tuesday.

Midfielder Martin Perez Guedes will play no part owing to a hamstring injury, though, while striker Christopher Olivares is dealing with an ankle sprain and will miss out as well.

Yuriel Celi – on loan from EFL Championship side Hull City – is an option to deputise for Perez Guedes in one of the two number 10 positions, but Edison Flores and Jorge Murrugarra are both ahead of him in the pecking order.

LDU Quito possible starting lineup:
Dominguez; Ade, Zanini, Mina; Estupinan, Piovi, Angulo, Ramirez; Alzugaray; Ache, Estrada

Universitario possible starting lineup:
Britos; Corzo, Riveros, Di Benedetto; Murrugarra; Polo, Flores, Gonzalez, Portocarrero; Varela, Rivera

We say: LDU Quito 1-1 Universitario

An encounter as closely-fought as the standings would suggest should be in store on Tuesday, as Quito are ostensibly enjoying the new manager bounce but are still finding their feet under Hurtado’s leadership.

The free-scoring Ache can certainly make an inconsistent Universitario tremble, but the Peruvian champions have found a streak of defensive resilience and can hold out for the draw required to save their continental bacon in the Copa Sudamericana.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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