Last week’s 0-0 draw in Montevideo leaves the 2011 Copa Libertadores final between Penarol and Santos intriguingly poised ahead of tonight's second leg at the Estadio Pacaembu. FIFA.com sets the scene for an evening of high-octane excitement that will end with the coronation of the latest champions in Latin’s America’s leading club competition.
Santos-Penarol, Estadio Pacaembu (Sao Paulo), 21.50 (local time)
Santos were entitled to feel pleased with their goalless draw at the Estadio Centenario, having survived a late Penarol onslaught to take the slightest of advantages in the tie. As well as having the fans on their side this time, the Brazilians also welcome back their orchestrator-in-chief, Paulo Henrique Ganso, who has recovered from a right thigh injury and has been cleared to play after a frustrating 41-day absence.
While the restoration of the Ganso-Neymar tandem is great news for O Peixe, Penarol also have reasons to be cheerful. Troubled by a shoulder injury, forward Juan Manuel Olivera has been declared fit, much to the delight of Carbonero coach Diego Aguirre.
Paulo Henrique Ganso vs. Fabian Estoyanoff
Restored to his central playmaking position, Ganso’s vision and cool head will be crucial to Santos’s trophy bid, although coach Ramalho may not be able to call on him for the entire 90 minutes.
Something of a lucky charm for Penarol boss Aguirre, the pacey Estoyanoff has made some vital contributions from the bench of late, not least when coming on to score the goal that took the Montevideo giants past Universidad Catolica and into the semis.
4 - Santos have won one leg and drawn the other in the previous three knockout rounds of this year’s Libertadores. Should they extend that run to four, they will win their third Libertadores.
What they said
“Winning won’t be enough. There’s still Mars and Saturn to conquer. I’m winning cup tie after cup tie and still you get people bringing up this or bringing up that. It won’t be enough. I don’t know how many Libertadores [tournaments] I’ve been involved in, but it’s got something to do with that. I’m not thinking about it, though. All I know is that it’s my second final and that I’ve got a chance to win it again,” Muricy Ramalho, Santos coach.
“We’re going to wait and see how they play it, try to exploit the space and make dead-ball situations count. We need to be focused in defence and midfield. That’s the key to the game, and we all need to put in a great performance,” Carlos Valdez, Penarol defender.