Flamengo secures third straight final between Brazilian teams in Libertadores

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Flamengo confirmed its wide favoritism, again winning the Argentine Vélez Sarsfield, this Wednesday (7), by 2 to 1, at Maracanã, and, as the second Brazilian team classified in the final, guaranteed the country another title of the Liberators cup.

In the other semifinal, on Tuesday (6), Athletico Paranaense eliminated Palmeiras. The decision, in a single game, will be on October 29, at the Monumental Isidro Romero Carbo stadium, in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

It will be the sixth time in history that two clubs from the same country will decide the title of the tournament, the fifth with Brazilian teams, which have won the last three editions.

As Flamengo had thrashed in the first leg, in Argentina, by 4 to 0, only a very unlikely comeback in Rio de Janeiro would change the course of the confrontation. But, with goals from Pedro and Marinho, the team from Rio de Janeiro went far from any risk.

Campaigning for his reelection, President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) was at Maracanã and watched the game alongside Senator Romário (PL), also a candidate for reelection, and Rio de Janeiro governor Claudio Castro (PL), another is in contention to remain in office.

Bolsonaro was booed a lot. It was not announced on the screen. But fans noticed his presence in the boxes after the first demonstrations by those who were close to him.

Then, supporters, in smaller numbers, offended former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), also a candidate for reelection.

Soon after, the organized supporters sped up Flamengo songs.

Before the ball rolled inside the stadium, ESPN reporter Jessica Dias was harassed by a Flamengo fan while covering the match in the vicinity of Maracanã.

While she was speaking live to the station, the flamengoist approached and kissed her on the cheek. The journalist is clearly uncomfortable with the situation. According to UOL, both the reporter and the fan were taken to the Special Criminal Court located inside the stadium.

In a statement, ESPN said it will support the professional and hope that “the aggressor is punished with all the rigor that the law allows.” Flamengo also regretted what happened and classified the act as “regrettable” and “disgusting, which does not represent the red-black nation.”

When the ball rolled, Vélez even tried to show some power of reaction to reverse the disadvantage of the first game, opened the scoring with Lucas Pratto, in the 21st minute, but suffered the comeback. Pedro equalized in the first half, at 42. And Marinho turned around in the final stage, at 23. On aggregate, the game ended 6-1.

Now, Flamengo will have the chance to seek their third continental trophy and overcome the frustration of the last edition, in which they ended up defeated by Palmeiras in the final, by 2 to 1, in a duel that extended to extra time at the Centenario stadium, in Uruguay. .

There are three consecutive finals with clubs from Brazil only since 2020. In the last six editions, only once did Libertadores not have a Brazilian in the final phase, in 2018, when River Plate defeated Boca Juniors, in an Argentine duel.

The success of Brazilian teams in the competition coincides with the change in the tournament’s regulations, in 2017, when the number of participants jumped from 38 to 47. That year, Grêmio was a finalist and defeated the Argentine Lanús.

With the expansion of the preliminary phase, prior to the group dispute, Brazil now has at least seven spots, two more than before. Argentina and Colombia also received two new vacancies. Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru each won one spot.

Although it is not possible to credit the current Brazilian dominance solely to the increase in the number of clubs in the championship —its greater financial power is evident at this moment—, the presence of Brazilians in the finals almost tripled in comparison with the six editions prior to the change in the regulation.

From 2011 to 2016, three teams from Brazil reached the final of the tournament: Santos (2011), Corinthians (2012) and Atlético-MG (2013). From 2017 to now, also six editions, there were eight Brazilian classifications for the decision: Grêmio (2017), Flamengo (2019, 2021 and 2022), Palmeiras (2020 and 2021), Santos (2020) and Athletico Paranaense (2022).

As a result, Brazilians also began to pocket more revenue from TV rights, which widened the financial gap for other teams on the continent.

Considering, for example, the current contract of broadcasting rights for Libertadores (2019 to 2022), teams here will pocket US$ 145 million. Considering the dollar exchange rate each year, this means an approximate distribution of R$ 704.2 million among 12 clubs that competed in the knockout stages.

Thus, 64% of this type of revenue comes to Brazil, while 36% is distributed to teams from other countries —US$ 80.8 million (R$ 379.1 million).

For the president of Conmebol, this Brazilian dominance is momentary. “Today, Brazilian teams are working very professionally. It is because of their performance that they are reaching the final. If you look at the whole story, one country dominated each decade,” said Alejandro Domínguez, representative of the entity.

The Brazilian hegemony has caused discomfort in the other federations of the continent. Some argue that CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation) should again create mechanisms to prevent two teams from the same country from advancing to the final. However, with seven spots for Brazil, plus two possible extra spots for the defender of the title and the champion of the Copa Sudamericana, it is almost impossible to create directions in the knockouts that prevent the home finals.

Also in 2017, when the number of participating clubs increased, the entity that regulates South American football announced the end of forced crossing between teams from the same country in the semifinals, thus facilitating the dispute of a decision with clubs of the same nationality.

The device to stop home finals had been created precisely after complaints from federations that were irritated by the 2005 and 2006 finals, when Brazil monopolized the decisions. São Paulo beat Athletico Paranaense in 2005 and lost to Internacional the following year.

Again with two teams from the country in the final phase, Brazil will reach the 22nd title, behind only Argentina, which has 25. Uruguay, in third, is far away, with eight.

Check out all the finals with clubs from the same country in the history of the Copa Libertadores:

2005 – Sao Paulo vs Athletico Paranaense (São Paulo champion)

2006 – Sao Paulo vs. (International champion)

2018 – River Plate vs Boca Juniors (River Plate champion)

2020 – Palmeiras vs Santos (Palm trees champion)

2021 – Palmeiras vs Flamengo (Palm trees champion)

2022 – Athletico Paranaense vs Flamengo (to be defined)

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