South America will get to know the champions of the Copa Libertadores on Saturday evening, when Brazilian sides Palmeiras and Santos face each other for the trophy.
Both clubs are from the State of São Paulo and will be in Rio de Janeiro, for a single match under a pleasant temperature of 32ºC at the Maracanã Stadium.
Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the most iconic stadium in Brazil will practically have no attendance. With no ticket sales, Conmebol announced they’ll have 5000 people among guests and staff.
Still, Palmeiras and Santos having a long time rivalry should be enough to make it a special final. There are four Copa Libertadores trophies involved, one from the Pig (Palmeiras) and three from the Fish (Santos), making it a mix of tradition and chase for new glories.
Since 2015, with a new stadium and some heavy investment, Palmeiras stabilised themselves as one of the most powerful teams in Brazil. Since then, they’ve won two Brazilian leagues and one Brazilian cup. That makes them look to the Copa Libertadores to be the icing on the cake.
With a team that still fights for the titles of the Brazilian league and cup this season, after having already won the Paulista Championship, the green and white side comes with a proven stronger squad, making them subtly favourites for the final.
But Santos, with the usual help from the homegrown players, can never be ruled out. The team has suffered a lot since the beginning of 2020, first with the departure of coach Jorge Sampaoli, who took some players with him. The year had yet another coaching change, a president’s impeachment, FIFA’s transfer ban and Coronavirus outbreaks within the squad.
Still, the white and black side was strong enough to beat Grêmio 4-1 in the quarter-finals and Argentine giants Boca Juniors 3-0 in the semifinals. That’s what makes Cuca’s side arrive with high morale for this last game of the tournament.
One positive thing for neutrals is that there’ll a lot of talent to be seen in this game. In addition to experienced stars like Luiz Adriano and Marinho, the match will also feature several exciting youngsters, such as Gabriel Menino, Kaio Jorge, Patrick de Paula, Yefferson Soteldo, Gabriel Veron and Sandry.
Most of these starlets have already been linked to European clubs and will certainly attract the eyes of scouts in such a big challenge. Another player to keep an eye on is Santos defender Lucas Veríssimo, who’s on his way to Benfica shortly after the match, and should soon get some recognition in Europe.
Palmeiras and Santos had the two best campaigns in the group stage and confirmed their strength with great results in the knockout stages. They are two teams with great offensive qualities that promise an entertaining game for any football fan.
With the BBC making it easy for everyone in the UK to watch the game at 8pm (via red button or online), this is probably a good Saturday night programme for a time of lockdown.
The Sport Witness team love matching food and football, and we would certainly recommend our readers to combine the game with the traditional stadium snacks from São Paulo. That would be the traditional pork shank or Brazilian sausage sandwiches. We’d also suggest the local famous hot dog, but we’d probably run out of characters before we could list all the ingredients.