Despite being one of the giants of South America, Brazil’s recent record in the Copa Libertadores has been poor. Grêmio are looking to change that.
This year has witnessed one of the most disappointing editions of the Brazilian league for the past few seasons. But the one team that has won the respect of neutrals is a certainly – Grêmio. Corinthians might have been crowned champions a week ago, but Renato Gaúcho’s men have put on the most attractive style of play.
On top of that, the Porto Alegre giants have reached the two-legged 2017 Copa Libertadores final, which is South American equivalent of Europe’s Champions League. They will be up against the surprise of the tournament, the mighty Lanús from Argentina, who knocked River Plate from the semi-finals, after a miraculous comeback.
It is crazy to think that Lanús needed a decision from South America’s governing body CONMEBOL to go in their way, to even qualify from the group stages of the competition. This came after their 2-1 defeat at home, against Chapecoense, only for the game result to be modified later on, favoring the home side with a 3-0 victory, because the Brazilians had fielded Luiz Otavio. The attacker was suspended and should not have been allowed to feature, however, Chape had apparently not been informed about the decision in time for the game.
But what matters now is that Lanús are in the Libertadores final, and they will be facing Grêmio – and that’s that. Moving on to the Brazilians, Grêmio are known for their willingness to control possession and construct passing plays and short combinations in between the players, in order to move the ball forward and break the defensive lines.
All eyes will be on midfield maestro, 21-year-old Arthur, who is the best young midfielder in the country, if not in the whole continent at the moment. His ability to dictate play and drive the ball forward whenever necessary, will be crucial.
However, even before the identity of the finalists was confirmed, Lanús boss Jorge Almirón had made a wish, which was to face Grêmio in the final, because according to him, he already knows the way to stop Luan and co.
Luan is arguably the best player in the Brazilian league, as his club manager and president both agree. His performances in Libertadores have been nothing short of phenomenal, including his brace in the semi-final against SC Barcelona. With two games left, he is now just one goal behind matching Iganocio Scocco and José Sand as the top scorer of the competition.
Meanwhile, another big reason for Grêmio’s success is their defensive resilience. Goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe produced a miraculous save in the semi-final, which he was later branded as the best save of the century by famous football show, ‘Bem Amigos’. In front of him will be the rock-solid, Pedro Geromel. The center-back is the leader of the back-line. A monster in aerial duels, strong in 50/50 challenges and technically excellent on the ball.
The last Brazilian team to win the Libertadores was Atlético Mineiro in 2013, inspired by a certain Ronaldinho. Ever since then, no Brazilian team has succeeded in even reaching the final. Lanús have the advantage of the return leg being played in Argentina, but one thing for sure, is that the Arena do Grêmio will be on fire as the Brasileiros will do their best to secure a first leg result that would allow them a bit of breathing space.