The 2020 Copa Libertadores is finally set to end on January 30 when Brazilian giants Palmeiras and Santos meet at the Maracana.
The duo sawed off Boca Juniors and River Plate in the semi-finals to reserve their places in the final, originally scheduled for November, but which had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
It is the biggest stop in South American club football, and matches at this stage of the competition rarely fail to live up to expectations. So without, here’s everything you need to know before the game.
When is the kick-off? Saturday January 30
What time is the kick-off? 8:00 p.m. (GMT)
Where is it played? Maracana
TV channel / live broadcast? BBC (UK)
Palmeiras’ quest to reach the final began in March 2020, when they won a 2-0 victory over Tigre to kick off their group stage adventure.
They remained unbeaten in the groups, with a 0-0 draw with Paraguay Guarani, the only spot on a perfect record that saw them score five goals in two separate games and landed them a seed for the eighth. final.
Delfin and Libertad didn’t have a big fight, and it looked like River Plate wouldn’t either when Palmeiras claimed a 3-0 win in the first leg. However, the Argentine came close to pulling off a superb comeback, but his 2-0 second leg win was not enough to reverse the deficit.
Here is Palmeiras’ race to the final.
Tiger 0-2 Palmeiras
Palmeiras 3-1 Guarani
Bolivar 1-2 Palmeiras
Guarani 0-0 Palmeiras
Palmeiras 5-0 Bolivar
Palmeiras 5-0 Tiger
Delfin 1-8 Palmeiras
Libertad 1-4 Palmeiras
River Plate 2-3 Palmeiras
Santos also went through the group stage undefeated, securing victories over Delfin, Defensa y Justicia and Olimpia.
Like Palmeiras, Santos also had a 0-0 draw to spoil the prospect of a perfect group stage. It was Olimpia, who finished at the bottom of the group, who held the Brazilian to a goalless draw.
However, Cuca’s squad didn’t do everything their own way in the round of 16. Away goals saw them advance to the round of 16 against La Liga de Quito, and they had to count on some big second leg wins to beat Gremio and Boca Juniors.
Here is Santos’ race to the final.
Defensa 1-2 Santos
Santos 1-0 Delfin
Santos 0-0 Olimpia
Delfin 1-2 Santos
Olimpia 2-3 Santos
Santos 2-1 Defensa
Liga de Quito 2-2 (a) Santos
Gremio 2-5 Santos
Boca Juniors 0-3 Santos
Palmeiras doesn’t have too many injury issues to dispute for this one. Former Inter and Juventus midfielder Felipe Melo remains sidelined with a knee injury, while young forwards Wesley and Alanzinho are also expected to miss the game.
The biggest concern, which will also be shared by the neutrals, will be the fitness of the exciting winger Gabriel Veron. The 18-year-old, considered one of the country’s brightest prospects, missed the semi-final with a thigh injury and faces a race against time to return.
Likewise, Santos has a good health record for this one. Midfielder Carlos Sanchez and striker Raniel remain on the sidelines, but Cuca will still have most of his big guns to rely on.
Neutrals should keep a close eye on 18-year-old striker Kaio Jorge and 23-year-old winder Yeferson Soteldo, but most of the goals come from right-side Marinho, who sits atop the Brazilian Serie A goalscoring table. .
Palmeiras: Weverton; Gomez, Emperor, Luan; Menino, De Paula, Danilo, Vina; Scarpa, Rony; Adriano.
Santos: Vladimir; Para, Verissimo, Peres, Jonatan; Pituca, Alison, Braga; Marinho, Jorge, Soteldo.
Of the two teams, it was Palmeiras who have looked stronger so far in the competition, so Abel Ferreira’s side will enter this one as pre-match favorites.
However, these two teams have recently played close matches. Of their three meetings in 2020, two ended in draws, and the other in a victory for Palmeiras, so all signs point to it could be a tough business.
It’s hard to call, but Palmeiras should have just enough to achieve victory in this one.
Prediction: Palmeiras 2-1 Santos