Brazilian giants battle for Libertadores glory

  • Palmeiras face Flamengo in Saturday's Copa Libertadores final

  • They have each won one of the last two editions of the competiton

  • The winners will qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup

Defending champions Palmeiras and 2019 winners Flamengo will face off in the Uruguayan capital on Saturday in the final of the Copa Libertadores 2021. Both are aiming to lift the trophy for the third time in their histories. The winners will also secure a place at the next FIFA Club World Cup™, to be held in the United Arab Emirates in early 2022, the draw for which will take place on Monday, 29 November and which you can follow live at FIFA.com.

The match

Palmeirs-Flamengo, Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, 17:00 (local time)

The match-ups

Weverton 🆚 Diego Alves

Two big-team keepers who have had relatively little to do over the course of the competition but have produced important stops when called upon. Both have won the Copa with their clubs before. The 33-year-old Weverton has impressed when on international duty, while Diego Alves, three years his senior, has now gone 225 minutes without conceding in the competition.

Gustavo Gomez 🆚 David Luiz

Now 28 and one of the leaders of the team, central defender Gomez has spent four years with Palmeiras and made a vital contribution to the club’s Libertadores 2020 triumph. A recent arrival at Flamengo, the 34-year-old Luiz showed his quality and leadership skills in the semi-finals and knows what the big occasion is all about.

Dudu 🆚 Bruno Henrique

Creative and incisive in the final third, Dudu (28) and Bruno Henrique (30) have the skills to influence the outcome of the final. Palmeiras have not lost a Libertadores match in which Dudu has scored, while Bruno Henrique has been involved in 31.25 per cent of Flamengo’s 32 goals in the competition, scoring six goals and providing four assists.

Rony 🆚 Gabigol

The two team’s main goalscoring threats have enjoyed contrasting fortunes in recent Libertadores outings. While the 25-year-old Gabigol has scored ten times in Fla’s run to the final – four of those goals coming in the quarter-finals – he failed to find the back of the net in the semi-final with Barcelona. In contrast, Rony, who is now 26, struck five of his six goals in the competition in Palmeiras’ last three matches.

Abel Ferreira 🆚 Renato Gaucho

Not afraid to make big decisions, the two coaches are looking to make history. The 42-year-old Ferreira is aiming to become the first European coach to win the Libertadores twice, following his 2020 win. Meanwhile, Renato Gaucho, 59, won the trophy as a player and a coach with Gremio and is out to become only the fifth coach to lift it with two different clubs.

The stats

0 The two sides have never met in the competition before. This, however, will be the fifth final between two teams from the same country since the rules were changed to allow this, and the fourth all-Brazilian affair. The last was in 2020, when Palmeiras beat Santos.

4 Palmeiras are the fourth team to play in two consecutive finals this century, after Boca Juniors (2000 and 2001, 2003 and 2004), Sao Paulo (2005 and 2006), and River Plate (2018 and 2019). The only one of those teams to win both finals was Boca, in 2000 and 2001.

15 The number of away matches that O Verdāo have gone without defeat in the Libertadores, the longest such run in the history of the competition. Their last reverse on the road? A 1-0 loss at San Lorenzo in 2019.

17 The number of matches Flamengo have gone without losing in the Libertadores (12 wins and five draws), a joint-tournament record they share with Peru’s Sporting Cristal, who put their run together between 1962 and 1969 (eight wins and nine draws). Flamengo’s last defeat in the competition came in 2020: a 5-0 reverse at the hands of Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle. 36 The number of goals that Bruno Henrique and Gabigol scored between them in the last three editions of the Copa Libertadores: 15 and 21 respectively. That figure equates to 52 per cent of the 69 goals their team have scored in the competition in that time.