With the finalists of the Copa Libertadores (the South American equivalent of the Champions League) now set following last week’s semi finals, the final will see Palmeiras play Santos.
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In what looms as an intriguing all Brazilian affair, all eyes will be on this captivating clash between two evenly matched teams. Although Palmeiras will head in as favourites, which the odds agree with, as Palmeiras are Priced at $1.80 to win and Santos $3.40, Cuca’s Santos will provide them with an extremely stern test.
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Boasting some exceptional attacking talent, Palmeiras will need to be on top of their game to shut down their threat. With the relentless running and shooting power of Marinho, the guile of creative midfielder Yeferson Soteldo, the pace and goal threat of youngster Kaio Jorge and raw talent of Lucas Braga, Santos will be a handful. Just as Boca found out when Santos ousted them 3-0 in their semi final second leg.
Then in midfield, the more offensively minded Diego Pituca typically partners the more defensively geared Alison, who often drops into the defensive line to offer support, while prospect Sandry acts a good backup.
Their back four of Para, Felipe Jonatan, Lucas Verissimo and Luan Peres have proved to be a solid backline. Keeping two clean sheets against Boca in the semis, their central defenders will have to be wary of the danger posed by Luiz Adriano and Rony though. But in Verissimo, who’s off to Portuguese giants Benfica next month, and Luan, who’s on loan from Club Brugge in Belgium, they’ll back themselves to handle Palmeiras.
One of the best defensive pairings in the competition, alongside Boca’s Lisandro Lopez and Carlos Izqueirdoz, they’ve undertaken their work impressively. The fact they both excel at passing and carrying the ball out from the back adds to their worth.
Possessing a squad with a nice blend of youth and experience, plus plenty of spirit, you can guarantee Cuca’s Santos will make life extremely difficult for Abel Ferreira’s men.
With the final set for the 30th of January, the world will be eagerly watching to see if Santos can overcome the odds to be crowned Copa Libertadores champions.