Flamengo and River Plate set for fierce finale

The semi finals of this year’s Copa Libertadores have finally been decided. Argentina’s River Plate saw off bitter rivals Boca Juniors, while Brazil’s Flamengo beat a broken Gremio side in emphatic fashion at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. 

Will River record a double?

River Plate rolled out as eventual winners of last year’s Libertadores after a bitter and difficult two legged tussle with fierce rivals Boca Juniors. 

Over two legs Los Millonarios sealed their place in a second consecutive final, but only just. They overcame their rivals in the first leg in furious fashion, peppering the goal throughout the match but ultimately leaving with a comfortable but uncertain 2-0 lead. 

The second leg, taking place at Boca’s famous Bombonera was turned into a cauldron as expected, and the tables were turned with Boca dominating throughout the match.

River Plate and Flamengo's South American Successes

River Plate

  • Copa Libertadores (4): 1986, 1996, 2015, 2018
  • Copa Sudamericana (1): 2014

Flamengo

  • Copa Libertadores (1): 1981

Carlos Tevez led the line for Boca with a solitary goal from Jan Hurtado in the 79th minute not enough for Boca to progress.  

For River it’s a welcome boost to a recent record of form that has been anything but exceptional.

Is Flamengo's 38 year wait finally over?

“Hoje tem gol do Gabigol” is what the Flamenguistas have been screaming all season, the 32 million strong support that Flamengo commands in nationwide in its home country have fallen in love with Inter Milan drop out Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa

Flamengo have been the biggest club in Brazil for sometime but have failed to achieve the lofty heights they should expect in the Libertadores. They have only registered one final appearance, which they won with the famous Zico in 1981, before seeing off Kenny Dalgish’s Liverpool to be crowned world champions not long after. 

It’s been a weary few years for the Flamengo faithful, bouncing around the top half of the Brasileirao, Brazil’s national league with little direction. However, with a serious cash injection and the appointment of former Benfica manager Jorge Jesus they’re currently on a 14 game unbeaten streak domestically.

Copa Libertadores Final Facts
  • Where? Santiago, Chile
  • When? 25 November 2019 (11.30 BST)
  • Watch: UK so far undecided
  • Key players: Matías Suarez, Exequiel Palacios (River Plate); Gabigol, Bruno Henrique (Flamengo)

After a tense draw away to Gremio in Porto Alegre they saw off the three time continental champions in emphatic fashion with a 5-0 battering, the sort of prowess and ruthlessness that has seen them excel so well already this season.

European Starlets vs. South American Stallions

Reigning champions River have largely kept their continent conquering side intact, with a squad assembled largely of South American talent

Flamengo are quite the opposite. Following a vast amount of money spent, the Naçao have assembled a team of big hitters with a massive amount of European experience under their belts. 

The likes of Inter’s loanee Gabigol, former Atletico Madrid defender Felipe Luis and ex-Bayern full back Rafinha are just of the names that have propelled the Rubra-Negra to a ten point lead in the Brazilian championship and their first Libertadores final since they last won it back in 1981. 

In Santiago, Chile on the 25 November the stage is set for a final of epic proportions. It will be a game that transverses fierce national rivalries but also of opposing football philosophies (as well as bank accounts).

Both teams have a lot to prove, and it’s definitely one worth staying up for.

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