Lanus and Gremio go for glory and a place at UAE 2017
Second leg of the Copa Libertadores final to be played in Argentina
Lanus looking to win trophy for the first time, Gremio eyeing a third title
The winners will play at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017
The 2017 Copa Libertadores comes to an end on Wednesday evening, with Lanus gunning to win the competition for the first time, while Gremio seek a third title.
It is the first time that the Libertadores will be decided at the Estadio Ciudad de Lanus, also known as La Fortaleza ('The Fortress'). Expectations are high among Lanus fans. Though the club has spent nearly half of its 102-year existence in the second division, it has been a leading light on the Argentinian scene for several years now.
Previous winners of the competition in 1983 and 1995, Gremio are no less excited at the prospect of lifting the biggest trophy in South American club football again. 4,000 fans gathered at Porto Alegre Airport to give their heroes a rousing send-off, their excitement fired by the team’s 1-0 victory in the first leg.
As well as winning an iconic piece of silverware, the winners will also have the honour of representing South America at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017.
The match *Lanus-Gremio Estadio Ciudad de Lanus 20:45 (local time)*
Lanus began their campaign with a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Nacional de Montevideo, the last time they lost on their own patch in the competition. Victorious in all three of their home games from the Round of 16 onwards, the Argentinian side have been less impressive in their four away games in that time, losing three of them and drawing the other.
Though Diego Braghieri will be missing from the Lanus back-line though suspension, O Tricolor will also be without first-choice centre-half Walter Kannemann for the very same reason. Wednesday’s decider is Gremio’s first second-leg match-up on the road in this year’s competition. Their away record in the knockout stages is impressive: two wins and a draw.
In a change to the rules this year, away goals do not count double in the final.
Player to watch Jose Sand (Lanus)
At the age of 37, El Pepe is a man rejuvenated. A Granate icon, he has won two titles with the club, but was playing in the second division as recently as three years ago. A return to Lanus revived his career, to the extent that he is one of the leading scorers in this year’s Libertadores with eight goals. Some of those goals were important ones as well: a late strike to knock out The Strongest in the last 16, an early one to trigger a comeback against San Lorenzo in the quarter-finals, and the first two in the dramatic and historic 4-2 defeat of River Plate in the second leg of the semi-finals.
Did you know? Though Lanus are not one of Argentinian football’s so-called big clubs, they have won two continental trophies. The first was the 1996 Copa Conmebol, secured by a side coached by Hector Cuper and containing the likes of goalkeeper Carlos Roa and attacking midfielder Ariel Ibagaza. The second was the 2013 Copa Sudamericana, when their star men included Lautaro Acosta and Nicolas Pasquini, who is still with the club.
What they said “I think we’ve prepared well for the occasion. We’ve been thinking and dreaming about this all year and we need to enjoy it. We’ve been rewarded with a Libertadores final. We’ve got 90 minutes to make Gremio the kings of South America.” Gremio midfielder Ramiro.