This year’s Copa Libertadores final was sealed in dramatic fashion, as super sub Breno Lopes rose remarkably to power his header home in the 98th minute to secure the title for Palmeiras.
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In what was an interesting tactical battle but a game that ultimately failed to live up to the hype, Palmeiras eventually got the job done.
Priced at $1.80 to win and with Santos at $3.40, Abel Ferreira, who only took over the managerial position at Palmeiras a few months ago, was absolutely delighted afterwards. “Honestly, the word that crosses my mind is ‘thank you’. First of all, I want to thank everyone I coached and, especially and lovingly, the Palmeiras players. There are no good coaches without good players,” the Palmeiras coach explained.
“I also want to say that this journey started with mister Vanderlei Luxemburgo and he has a job done in this competition. Whatever happens, we will stay in history. We recorded and achieved eternal glory, because it is something very powerful.”
Seeing as Palmeiras hadn’t won the Copa Libertadores since 1999, Ferreira entirely vindicated the club’s decision to bring him in, as he incredibly repeated the feat of his countryman, Jorge Jesus, who won the title with Flamengo last time around. “I arrived in Brazil without knowing anyone. I realised that it is a very difficult championship. If you don’t win two or three games, they want you to leave. It is the only championship that has six or seven candidates for the title. In Portugal there are few, Germany few. France is always the same. Spain is always the same,” he noted on the difficulties associated with the role.
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Boasting an excellent squad full of quality, he picked a team with a nice blend of youth and experience for the big game. Picking a back four of Marcos Rocha, Luan, Gustavo Gomez and Matias Vina, who were ably supported by Weverton in goal, the backline performed wonderfully to limit Santos’ dangerous frontline of Marinho, Yeferson Soteldo and Kaio Jorge.
Then in midfield Danilo and Ze Rafael were the deepest midfielders, as Raphael Veiga was positioned further upfield. Rony and Gabriel Menino were then the wingers, who had quite a decent amount of freedom, while Luiz Adriano played upfront.
Despite only producing seven shots and just one on target, they scored the one that mattered, as the match was full of tough tackles, tension and stoppages. The fact the match was held in the searing heat of Brazil’s summer at 5pm to make it friendly for European TV viewers played its part in the game not being as entertaining too.
Broadcasted in a staggering 191 countries across the globe, this year’s Copa Libertadores final didn’t end up being the spectacle many hoped. But Ferreira and his Palmeiras players won’t care one bit, as they can now celebrate their triumph before turning their attention to winning the Copa da Brasil final in March, which would cap off an amazing campaign from the Verdao perfectly.