Steeped in tradition and class, the Copa Libertadores is the premier club competition in South America, and with an almost religious following, betting on the Copa Libertadores is a huge market! For more vital information about the competition and tips on betting, you’ve come to the right place!

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The most prestigious club competition in South America, think of the Copa Libertadores as the Champions League with a lot more flare and an even more fanatic fan base. Let's take a look at the tournament structure.

Pre – Tournament

The first step for every team to have a chance to get into the CONEMBOL Copa Libertadores is through qualifying in their respective countries. Teams that win their respective cup competition automatically enter the qualifying stage.

Each country has a select number of automatic qualification spots, qualification round spots, and implements a different system of qualification.

Argentina, Brazil and Chile implement a European system of qualifying depending on the position the team finishes in the league. The rest of the countries implement a system of Apertura and Clausura, in which the league is split in two and there are two champions. Some use a mix of the two. These teams are given a spot in either the groups stage or in one of the qualification rounds.

There are two spots reserved for the defending champions as well as the winners of the Copa Sudamericana. A total of 47 teams are involved in this process. The table below shows each nations qualification spots.

Country1st Round2nd RoundGroup Stage
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    Qualification Round 1 The first round is played between six teams that finish in either 3rd or 4th place of their respective country’s competition. The fixtures are chosen at random and played over two legs. The winning three teams enter the 2nd qualification round.

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    Qualification Round 2 The second round features 13 teams who are automatically seeded into it as well as the three teams who have advanced from round 1. The teams are placed into pots and fixtures are chosen at random. Teams who qualify from round 1 are always placed in pot 2. The matches are played over two legs and the winners advance to the final qualification round.

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    Qualification Round 3 The final qualification round is contested between the eight winners of round 2 and follows the same process. Games are played over two legs, with four winners coming out on top and entering the group stage alongside the 28 automatically qualified teams.

Competition Proper

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    Group Stage

With the qualification process complete and 32 teams decided, the competition proper can commence. Teams are selected from four pots and placed into eight groups at random. The four teams play each other in a round- robin style twice. The teams will play one home and one away game against each opponent.

Totaling six matches per group and 96 games total, the top two teams based on a points system advance to the knockout rounds. The 3rd placed teams in each group enter the round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana.

The point system works just like any other major competition with a similar format. Three points are awarded for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss. If teams end in a tie after all group matches are played, the following are taken into consideration in this order:

1. Goal difference
2. Goals scored
3. Goals scored away
4. Number of wins
5. Number of away wins

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    Knockout Stage

The 16 teams to advance to the knockout stage are placed into two pots — one for the winners and the other for the runners-up. They are randomly pitted against each other, and there are not restrictions on who can or can’t play against each other.

The competition continues with the winners over two legs advancing to the next round. Rather unusually, there is no extra time, and the tie goes straight to penalties if the second game ends in a cumulative draw.

The pattern continues up until the final, which is played as one leg in a pre-determined location. Extra time will be used here if needed, followed by penalties, with the winner being crowned the Champion of South American Football.

The winner will guarantee their spot in the next edition of the FIFA Club World Cup and the Copa Libertadores. Finally, they will compete in the Recopa Sudamericana against the winner of the Copa Sudamericana in a super cup style one-off match.

The Copa Libertadores is one of the oldest international cup competitions in the world and boasts a great history.

During the 1930’s, Argentina and Uruguay competed in the Copa Aldao, seeing the champions of each nation face off in a single game. In 1947, Colo-Colo invited the champions of six other countries for a league-style competition to decide the Champion of Champions. Vasco Di Gama from Brazil won the only edition of the tournament. This model eventually sparked the idea for the European Cup, now known as the Champions League.

In 1958, the Uruguayan side Peñarol drafted the first rules of an continental club competition, and after much planning, the first Copa de Campeones de América was formed in 1960.

The first iteration of the Copa América as we know it featured seven teams. Six met in a two-leg knockout, with three teams progressing to the next round. Olimpia was given a bye and played in the semi-final. They were eventually losing finalists to inaugural winners Peñarol, who actually drew more games than they won.

The next edition expanded to nine champions from nine confederations. Peñarol retained their crown. The next edition in 1962 featured two teams from the same country for the first time, with Peñarol returning as defending champions and Nacional as the Uruguayan representative. Santos became the first Brazilian team to win the competition.

The next decade was a forming phase for the competition as the number of competing teams changed every year. However, they followed a similar structure of a three group, group-stage, and a two group semi-final. The 1970’s saw a massive increase in teams, averaging around 20 teams and featured five groups.

The Argentinian teams saw huge dominance, winning 12 out of 15 titles between 1964 – 1978. The competition continued to grow in popularity and prestige, and many more teams won the competition, nine different teams won the trophy between 1980 and 1990, and the trend continues till today.

The year 2000 saw some big changes as the tournament expanded from 21 teams to 32, and implemented eight groups of four teams. The tournament is still structured in this way. Argentinian and Brazilian teams have been the dominant forces throughout history. The last three finals have featured only Brazilian teams and the last five of six editions were won by a Brazilian team.

The final has been played over two legs since the tournament’s inception, with a playoff round and extra time plus penalties played if needed. In 2019, the final began being played over a single leg, meaning there have so far been four one-legged finals.

Recent Champions

Below are the previous winners of the competition, starting from the first 32 team tournament in 2000. 16 different teams have won it in this time, coming from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Columbia, Paraguay, Chile and Ecuador.

YearWinnersScore (Agg)Runners-Up
2022Flamengo1-0*Athletico Paranaense
2019Flamengo2-1*River Plate
2018River Plate5-3Boca Juniors
2016Atlético Nacional2-1Independiente del Valle
2015River Plate3-0UANL
2014San Lorenzo2-1Nacional
2013Atlético Mineiro2-2 (4-3p)Olimpia
2012Corinthians3-1Boca Juniors
2008LDU Quito5-5 (3-1p)Fluminense
2007Boca Juniors5-0Grêmio
2006Internacional4-3São Paulo
2005São Paulo5-1Athletico Paranaense
2004Once Caldes1-1 (2-0p)Boca Juniors
2003Boca Juniors5-1Santos
2002Olimpia2-2 (4-2p)São Paulo
2001Boca Juniors1-1 (3-1p)Cruz Azul
2000Boca Juniors2-2 (4-2p)Palmeiras

*Finals played over one leg.

Performances by Clubs

The competitiveness of the competition from the get-go has halted any club — like Real Madrid in the Champions League — from running away with all-time wins. Below is a list of the best teams in the competition.

ClubTitlesRunners – UpYears Won
Independiente701964, 1965, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1984
Boca Juniors651977, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007
Atlético Peñarol551960, 1961, 1966, 1982, 1987
River Plate431986, 1996, 2015, 2018
Estudiantes411968, 1969, 1970, 2009
Olimpia341979, 1990, 2002
Nacional331971, 1980, 1988
São Paulo331992, 1993, 2005
Palmeiras331999, 2020, 2021
Santos321962, 1963, 2011
Grêmio321983, 1995, 2017
Flamengo311981, 2019, 2022
Cruzeiro221976, 1997
Internacional212006, 2010
Atlético Nacional211989, 2016

All-Time Top Scorers

#1Alberto Spencer5487
#2Fernando Morena3777
#3Pedro Virgilio Rocha3688
#4Daniel Onega3147
#5Julio Morales3076
#6Gabriel Barbosa2949
#6Antony de Ávila2994
#6Juan Carlos Sarnari2962
#10Juan Carlos Sánchez2653
#10Luis Artime2640

Alberto Spencer (#1) was the top scorer in the first (1960) and third (1962) ever CONMEBOL Libertadores competitions.

Seven out of the 10 players on the list have all made their Libertadores debuts in the 1960s and 1970s. The other three are Antony de Ávila (#6)(1983), Luizão (#6)(1998) and Gabriel Barbosa (#6)(2018).

Gabriel Barbosa (#6) is the only player from the list who is still actively playing today. Still only 26 years of age, we have no doubt that he’ll end his career with plenty more goals to his name. Barbosa was the top scorer in the 2019 and 2021 Copa Libertadores campaigns.

The 2023 edition of the competition is set to start in April, with the qualifiers beginning 2 months earlier in February. Until then, we don’t have any fixtures and results to present to you. However, here’s a quick recap of what happened in the 2022 competition.

In the group stages, three teams remained unbeaten in six group matches: River Plate, Palmeiras — who won all their group games, and eventual winners Flamengo.

By far the most interesting group was group B, which featured loosing finalists Club Athletico Paranaense, Club Libertad, The Strongest, and Caracas. Until the final round of fixtures, one point separated the top two and bottom two teams, meaning whoever won their match would go through. Athletico and Libertad won their respective matches to progress to the next round.

The round of 16 featured a surprise exit for River Plate after losing to fellow Argentinian side Vélez Sarsfield, who finished 26th in the league in the same campaign. Vélez made a superb run to the semis before losing to Flamengo. The rest went on as normal and Athletico and Palmeiras also made it to the semis.

Flamengo ended Vélez Sarsfield run convincingly with 4-0 and 2-1 wins. It was much closer on the other side of the bracket, with Athletico winning 1-0 at home before holding a 2-2 to Palmeiras away.

The final was another closely fought match with the only goal of the game coming in the 45th minute thanks to a Gabriel Barbosa strike. Athletico were handed a red card just a few minutes before the goal and weren’t able to recover. Flamengo were crowned Champions for the 3rd time in their history.

With the competition still being far off and the final crop of teams still yet to be decided, there are currently no odds for the 2023 CONMEBOL Libertadores. However, we will keep you up to date on any updates in this section.

The major leagues in South America as well as the Copa Libertadores all start in 2023, so it may be too early to tell just who will be lifting the trophy in November. However, there are a number of trends we can follow to make our predictions a bit more accurate. Here are our ‘Early Bird Special’ Copa Libertadores predictions.

Brazilian Dominance

Seven out of the last 10 finalists have been Brazilian. That is an insane statistic and one which is unlikely to be repeated by any other nation. Brazil do have a chance to extend that, with some supremely talented club sides.Reigning champions Flamengo will have an excellent shot at retaining the title with a strong squad. Palmeiras are always close by in the competition and won the two tournaments prior to 2022. Other major contenders include Internacional, Corinthians, and last year’s finalists Athletico Paranaense will be looking to bring it home for the first time.

Argentinian Resurgence

The remaining three teams from the last 10 finalists were Argentinian. The last year with an Argentinian finalist was in 2019, while the last all- Argentina final was in 2018.The two current South American giants are River Plate and Boca Juniors, who faced each other in the 2018 final. River plate ran out as victors, and in their title defense they fell at the final hurdle to Flamengo. They’ll be looking to put Argentina back in the top spots.

Best of the Rest

Just like the FIFA World Cup and the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers, Brazil and Argentina reign supreme over their opponents. That doesn’t mean that an underdog can’t reach the top of the South American game.

The last time a team from outside those two countries made it to the final was 2016, featuring Atlético Nacional (Columbia) vs Independiente del Valle (Ecuador). Both could be great contenders. Barcelona (Ecuador) have also done very well in previous competitions and could be a surprise winner.

The Copa Libertadores takes place over a single calendar year, much like the rest of the continent’s national leagues. Here are the most important dates from the very beginning of the tournament up until the last kick off.

Qualifying Rounds

While the date for the draws for the qualifiers has yet to be decided, the dates for the matches are as follows:

StageFirst LegSecond Leg
1st Round7-9th February 202314-16th February 2023
2nd Round21-23th February 202328th February – 2nd March 2023
3rd Round7-9th March 2023 14-16th March 2023

Group Stage

Once all the qualifiers are completed and the 32 teams are confirmed, the teams will be drawn at random from four pots. The group draw will commence on the 22nd of March 2023. This will be followed by six matchdays as each team will play each other home and away.

Matchday 14 – 6th April 2023
Matchday 218 – 20th April 2023
Matchday 32 – 4th May 2023
Matchday 423 – 25th May 2023
Matchday 56 – 8th June 2023
Matchday 627 – 29th June 2023

Knockout Stages

The draw for the round of 16 is the 5th of July 2023. From then on, the rounds are not randomised and follow the normal elimination progression. These are the dates for all the rounds with the single-legged final being played at a predetermined location.

Round1st Leg Dates2nd Leg Dates
Round of 1618–20th July 202325–27th July 2023
Quarterfinals22–24th August 202329–31st August 2023
Semi-finals26–28th September 20233–5th October 2023
Final11th November 2023#colspan#

Outright Betting Market

The simplest and most common form of betting with the best football bookies is betting on an outright winner. This means that you will need to decide who will win the event before or during a tournament. In this case, wageringing on a Brazilian team is probably your best bet.

However, we suggest waiting until the qualifiers are over and the final 32 teams are decided before making any outright predictions. Similar to this is betting on the top goalscorer and best player.

Betting on Red Cards

The South Americans love a red card. With one seemingly happening every game, betting on a red card may offer great value if you know where to look. We suggest you use our cards and booking points: stats and guide page to check out more detailed info.

To put it into comparison with the European equivalent of the tournament, the Copa América on average sees double the number of red cars each year. Betting on the red is high risk yet high reward, even in an event which sees them relatively regularly.

Year the
Competition Ended
Copa Libertadores
Red Cards
Champions League
Red Cards

Making Use of Bet Builders

Football bet builders have become insanely popular over the years as punters can create their own personalised bets with multiple markets. Bet builders are great for getting the most out of your bet, allowing you to accumulate odds and combining smaller bets to make large ones.

Using bet builders and accumulators are great for this sort of tournament. With so many games being played over a short period of time, its easy to see that the Copa Libertadores will give you an opportunity to place accas and know the outcome of your slip in a matter of days or even less.

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    The first COMNEBOL Libertadores took place in 1960, and Peñarol were the first Copa Libertadores winners.

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    Club Atlético Independiente are the most successful team in the competition with seven wins.

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    Independiente are also the only team to win the competition four times in a row (1972-1975)

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    Boca Juniors have made it to the final on 11 occasions winning six times.

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    The top score in a single season is Daniel Onega with 17 goals in 1966.

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    In the all-time standings, River Plate have won the most matches. Winning 183 games in 374 matches, winning four titles.

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    Nacional have played the most games, 407, winning the title three times.

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    6th September 2022 – 10th June 2023: UEFA Champions League – The European equivalent of the Copa Libertadores. The cChampions League is the premier club competition in Europe.

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    8th September 2022 – 31th May 2023: UEFA Europa League – The secondary European club competition, for the teams that fail to qualify for the Champions League.

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    7th March – 28th October 2023: Copa Sudamericana – The second most prestigious South American club event, the Sudamericana is reserved for the teams who failed to qualify for the Copa Libertadores.

The CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores is the pinnacle of South American football and is hotly contested by all the elite clubs on the continent. With so much great football to be watched and bet on, our guide and predictions are a great way to stay on top of it all.

The Qualification rounds start on the 7th of February, while the group stage will start on the 4th of April 2023. The final will take place on November 11th, 2023.

The reigning champions are Flamengo, who beat Athletico Paranaense 1-0 in last year’s final.

Club Atlético Independiente are the most successful team in the competition, with seven titles to their name. They have never been losing finalists.

47 teams take part in the Copa Libertadores, with a total of 32 making it to the official group stage.

WRITTEN BY Jeremy Sant Fournier View all posts by Jeremy Sant Fournier

If there’s one thing Jeremy loves, it’s sports. A football fanatic at heart, Jeremy can always been found watching, playing or talking about sports. It’s in his blood, and with a keen interest in sports betting, sports writing is a match made in heaven.

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