While a draw would guarantee top spot for Boca, their Venezuelan visitors must win and hope second-placed Deportivo Pereira do not also take three points.
In completing a double over Chilean champions Colo Colo at the start of June with a 1-0 win, Boca Juniors cemented their place in the last 16 of South America’s premier club competition.
Sitting top of their group table after losing only one of their first five matches, Boca are therefore already anticipating the draw, as they aim to go deeper into the Copa Libertadores this year, having been eliminated by Brazilian clubs in the first knockout round for the past two seasons.
Some sluggish domestic form does not suggest, though, that a tilt at the title is in the offing for Jorge Almiron’s men, who were recently held to a 1-1 draw by Lanus – when a late equaliser was required at La Bombonera – and then thumped 4-0 by Godoy Cruz last time out in the Argentine Primera Division.
Mired in mid-table, Boca already find themselves 22 points behind arch-rivals River Plate, who sit 10 points clear at the summit of the standings. Therefore, cup competitions represent their only real route to silverware this term.
Back in April, Los Xeneizes kicked off their quest for a seventh Libertadores crown with a goalless draw against Monagas in Maturin, and they now close out the group phase by reconvening with the Venezuelan outsiders in Buenos Aires.
Despite frustrating Boca on the opening matchday, Monagas went into their high-stakes clash with Colombia’s Deportivo Pereira earlier this month bottom of Group F, having picked up just two points from their first four matches.
However, a vital 1-0 win at Estadio Monumental de Maturin – secured by a first-half penalty from Edanyilber Navas – hauled them within two points of Deportivo, who will finish their campaign at home to Colo Colo.
As a result, should Jhonny Ferreira’s side upset the odds and win in Argentina this week, they would jump into second place if the result in Colombia goes their way – to complicate matters, Colo Colo could also still sneak through with a victory.
Runners-up in the 2022 Venezuelan Primera Division, Los Azulgranas have started the current campaign in similar style to Thursday’s hosts, as they sit 10th in the table after losing seven of their first 15 matches; averaging less than a goal per game.
Beaten by Caracas FC on Saturday, Monagas have never before made the Copa Libertadores last 16, but at least a window of opportunity exists when they kick off in the cauldron of La Bombanera. Even if they come up short, finishing third would drop them into the Copa Sudamericana.
Boca Juniors Copa Libertadores form:
Boca Juniors form (all competitions):
Monagas Copa Libertadores form:
We say: Boca Juniors 1-0 Monagas
Given a distinct shortage of goals for Monagas this season, the plucky side from Maturin are set to drop out of the Copa Libertadores at its group stage following defeat in Buenos Aires. Even if they make a number of changes, Boca Juniors boast more nous at continental level and will have a point to prove following an embarrassing loss last week.