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Everything you need to know about the Copa Libertadores winners

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It took a little longer than expected, but we have finally reached the end of the Copa Libertadores 2020 … in 2021.

In the battle of the Brazilians, it was Palmeiras who won against Santos, earning a place in the history books.

Let’s take a closer look at the winners.

Luiz Adriano
Luiz Adriano leads the line | Pool / Getty Images

In a team filled with such exciting young talent, there are a handful of old chefs who bring the much needed experience.

At the back, Luan leads by example, but most of Palmeiras’ firepower comes from the midfield and attacking. Lucas Lima, known for his four years with Santos between 2014 and 2018, is a creative center, while attacking midfielder Raphael Veiga is the main source of goals for the squad.

Luiz Adriano, 33, formerly of Shakhtar Donetsk, AC Milan and Spartak Moscow, is the man of danger in attack. He is the man who scored five goals in a 2014 Champions League game against BATE Borisov, joining Lionel Messi as one of only two players to ever achieve such a feat.

Gabriel Veron
Gabriel Veron could soon be in Europe | Miguel Schincariol / Getty Images

There are real young talents in this Palmeiras team, but if you only have time to remember a name, make it that of right winger Gabriel Veron.

The 18-year-old rose to prominence around the world by winning the Ballon d’Or at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, and he’s been getting stronger ever since. Not yet a permanent member of the starting lineup at Palmeiras, Veron has been tipped to be the next young Brazilian to seal a major transfer to Europe. Manchester United are often cited as contenders.

Central midfielder Gabriel Menino looks more like an out-of-the-box star, while anchor man Patrick de Paula is another who certainly deserves your attention.

Felipe Melo
Felipe Melo is the captain of Palmeiras | Bruna Prado / Getty Images

You might have met Adriano and Veron at some point in your life, but the biggest name of the Palmeiras team isn’t either.

That honor goes to club captain Felipe Melo, the prototypical tough man who once brought his no-frills style of play to players like Juventus, Galatasaray and Inter between 2009 and 2017. Now 37 years old, injuries have kept him from playing as much as he would like, but his influence is still being felt.

Defender Gustavo Gomez was an expensive signing for AC Milan in 2016, but he spent the last two years on loan with Palmeiras before making the move permanent last summer.

Abel Ferreira
Abel Ferreira is the man in charge | Pool / Getty Images

Portuguese boss Abel Ferreira has only been in charge of Palmeiras for a few months. He left the Greek side of PAOK in October 2020 and joined the Brazilian side in November, and he has already won the big one.

He only became the second Portuguese manager, the third European manager and the third non-South American to win the Copa Libertadores – not bad for your third month on the job.

Ferreira is not exactly a household name outside of Portugal. Now 42, he retired from playing on the Sporting CP books in 2011, having spent time with Braga, Vitoria Guimaraes and Penafiel earlier in his career.

This latest triumph was only the second time Palmeiras has lifted the Copa Libertadores, the first of which came in 1999.

Managed by famous Luiz Felipe Scolari and starring World Cup heroes such as Marcos, Zinho and Roque Junior, Palmeiras won the final on penalties and secured a place in the now defunct Intercontinental Cup, which has since been replaced by the Club World Cup.

Scolari’s side reached the Intercontinental Cup final, where they faced Manchester United. Despite a heroic performance, Palmeiras lost 1-0 thanks to an early strike from Roy Keane.

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