Copa Libertadores: The passion of an entire continent
Next Saturday the 23rd of November, River Plate and Flamengo will play for the 60th Edition Title of Copa Libertadores, the competition officially sponsored by Banco Santander.
A film sequence recorded in a typical bar in the San Telmo neighborhood, the most bohemian and charming one in Buenos Aires. A couple of guys talk about assassinations and football, even though they refer to the king sport as PASSION. The priceless sentence is as follows: “A passion is a passion. You can change everything: house, family, girlfriend, religion, God…; but there is one thing you can’t change: you can’t change a passion…”.
This is one of the best dialogues of the Argentinian film “El secreto de sus ojos” (The secret of her eyes), directed by Juan José Campanella, with Ricardo Darín playing the lead and awarded an Oscar for the best foreign movie in 2010. After that dialogue, Darín goes to look for the murderer. Where? Obviously in a football stadium, specifically the Tomás Ducó, stronghold of the Huracán. Huracán, by the way, lacks the most precious trophy: Copa Libertadores.
Based on this film anecdote, we can verify a fully proven reality: nowhere does football have the amount of passion as in South America. The next 23rd November, River Plate and Flamengo will play the most important game in the year, the final of the 60th Edition Copa Libertadores. They will play in the stadium Monumental de Lima, the biggest stadium in South America, as the first place chosen to play the final, Santiago de Chile, was ruled out because of the unstable situation that Chile is currently experiencing.
Banco Santander is currently the official sponsor of the Conmebol Libertadores. It is a story dated back to 2008 that constituted the first bet of the Bank on the high competition sport.
Do you know that…?
- There are only 25 teams for 60 titles. For whoever wins on Saturday, the champion will know what it means to raise the Copa Libertadores. Up to date, in the 59 editions played only 25 different champions have been registered. Next Saturday, River aspires to have the fifth title and Flamengo plays for the second one, after its victory in 1981. Teams from 7 countries, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Chile and Ecuador have won this most precious triumph.
- Independiente, above all. Independiente de Avellaneda has seven Libertadores in its showcase. El Rojo, as it is known in Argentina, won four consecutive titles between 1972 and 1975, in the best streak known up to date. In this classification, it is followed by Boca Juniors with six, and if River wins on Saturday it will share the third post in the podium with the mythic Peñarol de Montevideo, the first winner of the tournament in 1960.
- Who are the Libertadores? In the early 60s, the competition was named Copa de Campeones de América, as the champions of the main seven South American Leagues only played. However, since 1965, the tournament includes the runner-up and changed its name by Copa de Libertadores de América, in memory of the heroes of the continent’s history: Simón Bolívar, José de San Martín, Bernardo O’Higgins and Pedro I, among others.
- An Ecuadorian player, top scorer. Alberto Spencer, An Ecuadorian striker that played most of his career in the Uruguayan Peñarol, keeps the record of top scorer of Copa Libertadores with 54 goals. On the other hand, the Argentinian Daniel Ortega, striker of River, scored 17 goals in a sole edition in 1966.
- The first final out of South America wasn’t played in Madrid. Up to last year, the final of Copa Libertadores was played as a double game. For the first time, the South American championship would be known as a single game final. And it was, as everybody knows, in Madrid, after the clashes between fans of River and Boca impeded the final being played in Buenos Aires. However, it was not the first time the final came out of South America in 2019. Between 1998 and 2016, Mexican teams took part in Copa Libertadores. During this period there were three Azteca finalists, Cruz Azul, Chivas y Tigres, but no one won the title.
- Nine players, champions in America and Europe. While Diego Armando Maradona didn’t win any of the competitions, up to nine players have the privilege of having won both Copa Libertadores and UEFA Champions League, which is sponsored for the second consecutive year by Banco Santander. This exclusive group is made up of the Brazilian Ronaldinho, Naymar, Cafú, Dida, Roque Junior, Danilo and the Argentinian Walter Samuel, Sorín and Tévez.
- First football player born in Spain with possibilities of winning Libertadores. In the final next Saturday, there will be a very special fact for the Spanish football. For the first time in 60 years of history of the highest South American competition, a football player born in Spain will have the possibility of winning the title. It is the Valencian defense Pablo Marí who, after playing in Mallorca, Manchester City, Girona and Deportivo de la Coruña, signed this year to Flamengo of Río de Janeiro. Consolidated in the main Brazilian team, he became the first Spanish player to score one out of the 5 goals thanks to which his team defeated Gremio in the semifinals.