Paulista powerhouses’ prodigious pasts

30 Jan 2021
  • Palmeiras and Santos clash in today’s Copa Libertadores final

  • We spotlight the two clubs and their rivalry

  • Legends, titles and stats feature

The interviews

Libertadores finals

Palmeiras have appeared in four Libertadores finals, losing thrice in 1961, 1968 and 2000. A side including Marcos, Junior Baiano, Roque Junior, Junior, Cesar Sampaio, Zinho, Alex and Paulo Nunes beat Deportivo Cali to lift the trophy in 1999, before losing a tight game to Manchester United in the Intercontinental Cup.

Palmeiras also won the Copa Rio 1951, the first intercontinental club tournament. The eight-team event featured Austria Vienna, Juventus, Nacional and Sporting.

Santos have won three of the four finals in which they appeared. They were triumphant in 1962 and ’63, going on to beat Benfica and AC Milan in back-to-back Intercontinental Cups. Neymar then inspired victory over Penarol in the 2011 final, though Lionel Messi and Barcelona proved too much for them in the FIFA Club World Cup™ final.

The green king and the king of kings

Unlike many clubs, Palmeiras and Santos both have an undisputed greatest player of all time. Pele inspired Santos to 24 titles – including six Brazilian championships, two Libertadores crowns and two Intercontinental Cups – during an incomparable 18-year career at the Vila Belmiro.

Curiously, Ademir da Guia – another of Brazilian football’s best-ever players – is little-known outside the country’s borders because of Pele. ‘The Divine One’, indeed, played only 14 times for Brazil and in only one FIFA World Cup™ match – the third-place playoff at Germany 1974 – because ‘The King’ was considered to play in a similar position.

At club level, however, Ademir dazzled. Despite the presence of a star-stacked Santos, he was the leader of ‘The Academy’, an exhilarating Palmeiras side that won six Brazilian championships between 1960 and ’73.

Brazilian championships

Sao Paulo6

Legendary players


Heitor (1916-31), Oberdan Cattani (1940-54), Jair (1949-55), Julinho (1958-67), Djalma Santos (1959-68), Ademir da Guia (1961-77), Djalma Dias (1962-68), Dudu (1964-75, 1976), Cesar Maluco (1967, 1968-75), Luis Pereira (1968-75, 1981-84), Emerson Leao (1971-78, 1984-85), Leivinha (1971-75), Evair (1991-94, 1999), Cesar Sampaio (1991-94, 1999-2000), Mazinho (1992-94), Marcos (1992-2011), Roberto Carlos (1993-95), Edmundo (1993-95), Rivaldo (1994-96), Alex de Souza (1997-2000), Dudu (since 2015).


Araken Patusca (1923-29, 1935-37), Zito (1952-67), Pepe (1954-69), Dorval (1956-64, 1965-67), Pele (1956-74), Coutinho (1958-68), Mengalvio (1960-69), Gilmar (1961-69), Carlos Alberto Torres (1966-74), Edu (1966-76), Clodoaldo (1966-79), Serginho Chulapa (1983-84, 1986, 1988, 1989-90), Giovanni (1994-96, 2005-06, 2010), Leo (2000-05, 2009-14), Elano (2001-05, 2015-16), Robinho (2002-05, 2014-15, 2020), Neymar (2009-13).

The Clássico da Saudade

Dictionary: Saudade (Brazilian-Portuguese) A deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one cares for and/or loves.

The fixture’s nickname, which can be very loosely translated as ‘The Nostalgia Derby’, came because fans missed the exhilarating clashes between the rivals during the 1960s, considered Brazilian football’s epochal height.

Thirteen members of Brazil’s most recent 18-man squad took to the field when Palmeiras faced Santos in 1960.

Palmeiras, Santos and the World Cup

Both clubs have had 24 players apiece named in Brazilian FIFA World Cup™ squads. Palmeiras trio Djalma Santos, Zequinha and Vava, and Santos septet Gilmar, Mauro, Zito, Mengalvio, Pepe, Pele and Coutinho, ensured tem of the Seleção’s 22 players at Chile 1962 came from the two teams.

Head-to-head deciders

Palmeiras and Santos have met in four finals, with the latter winning three of them: the Campeonato Paulista in 1928 and 1960 and the Copa do Brasil in 2015. O Peixe won the Paulista 2015 decider at O Verdão’s expense.

All four finals were extremely close, with two going to penalties and one requiring a play-off after two draws.