Copa Libertadores: South American football hopes to escape the pandemic with 3 club finals in 8 days
The championship matches of two men’s and one women’s tournaments – Copa Sudamericana, Copa Libertadores Femenina and Copa Libertadores – will take place over two weekends starting Saturday in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Organized by continental governing body CONMEBOL, the finals will take place in full view for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, cases of Covid-19 in Uruguay have leveled off significantly from the surge earlier this year. More than 75% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Five of the six participating clubs are from neighboring Brazil, leading many to hope that newly opened borders and expanded stadium entrances will help a ravaged tourism industry.
The first of three finals to take place in Uruguay will be played with the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s men’s club competition, which is tied with UEFA’s Europa League.
Two Brazilian clubs made it through to the group stage and knockout stage to reach the final, when Club Athletico Paranaense played Red Bull Bragantino. Both sides finished mid-table last season at Brazil’s Série A..
The clubs have amazingly different histories, with one club regularly competing in the Brazilian first division while the other is a newcomer to the scene.
Athletico are recent Copa Sudamericana champions, winning them all in 2018. Since the turn of the century, the club has competed in the Série A for all but one season and won the title in 2001.
Red Bull Bragantino was once known as Clube Atlético Bragantino, with a second place in Brazilian football in 1991 before relegation and a long run of competition in the second and third divisions. The club was taken over by energy drink empire Red Bull two years ago and rebranded, coinciding with promotion back to Série A for the first time in more than 20 seasons.
The match will be played at Estadio Centenario, home of the Uruguay national team and the stadium that hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1930. The match kicks off at 5:00 p.m. local time on Saturday (local time). 8 p.m. GMT).
Copa Libertadores Femenina
The final of the Copa Libertadores Femenina, a continental tournament for women’s football, will see Corinthians’ Brazil take on Colombian side Independiente Santa Fe. Both clubs match their famous men’s soccer partners of the same name.
Corinthians are looking for their third South American championship since 2017; they took their first win as part of a combined squad with club Audax, then won again in 2019 as a solo effort.
Santa Fe is having a second consecutive appearance at the tournament and succeeding for the first time this year when it exits the group stage. If they win, Santa Fe will beat all three Brazilian teams in the tournament in the knockout stages to win.
Paraguay will host the semi-finals, with the final taking place on Sunday at another former Uruguay World Cup venue, the Estadio Gran Parque Central.
One of the most highly regarded club competitions in the world, the Copa Libertadores is the continental equivalent of the UEFA Champions League. And just like the Copa Sudamericana, two teams from Brazil advanced to the final.
In the presence of tens of thousands of fans at the Estadio Centenario on Saturday, November 27, Brazilian giants Palmeiras and Flamengo will battle to determine who can win the second Copa Libertadores in under full three years.
Flamengo, located in Rio de Janeiro, has also performed well on the big stage so far this year, winning the Copa Libertadores in 2019 and being the defending champion of Série A.
Both teams are currently in the top 3 on the Série A standings, trailing Clube Atlético Mineiro with a few games remaining.
The final has been postponed or postponed several times in recent years.
The Copa Libertadores winners will advance to the FIFA Club World Cup, to be held in the United Arab Emirates in early 2022.