SAO PAULO (AP) — By sending three teams to the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals, Argentina increased its chances of ending Brazil's streak of four straight titles in Latin America's club championship.
Argentine clubs San Lorenzo, Lanus and Arsenal de Sarandi all advanced, while Cruzeiro is the sole contender for Brazil.
Defending champion Atletico Mineiro was one of the two Brazilian teams eliminated in the round of 16, along with Gremio. The only Argentine side to lose was Velez Sarsfield, which was upset by Nacional of Paraguay after finishing top of the group stage.
Atletico Nacional of Colombia eliminated Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro 2-1 on aggregate on Thursday. Defensor of Uruguay and Bolivar of Bolivia complete the quarterfinals lineup.
Argentine clubs haven't won the Copa Libertadores since Estudiantes beat Cruzeiro in the 2009 final. Internacional, Santos, Corinthians and Atletico Mineiro won the competition for Brazil from 2010-2013.
Cruzeiro coach Marcelo Oliveira downplayed the Argentine challenge.
"We have shown that we have a team that can go until the end no matter who we play against," he said.
Brazilian clubs have reached the final nine consecutive times. This year marked the first time in more than 10 years that the country didn't have the most teams in the second round, and the first time since 2006 that it had less clubs than Argentina in the quarterfinals.
This is only the second time since 1994 that Brazil failed to have more than one team in the quarters. The other time was in 2011, when Santos went on to win the title. Six Brazilian teams entered the competition in 2014, while Argentina started with five.