Monday, July 04, 2011

Santos v Penarol June 2011

Santos v Penarol 22nd June 2011

The final of the Copa Libertadores 2nd leg.

Following an overnight flight from Dallas I was in Sao Paulo the day before the final and it is winter.
Hollister shirts and bare midriffs are in fashion.

The Pacaembu stadium is a twenty minute walk from the end of Avenida Paulista and inside is a modern football museum where you can relive moments connected with the stars of Brazilian football and even their less memorable moments including the famous defeat in the 1950 World Cup.

Most of all it provided a reminder of the genius of their greatest player, Pele, with some rare footage of him scoring great goals from the past.

Pele was prominent in helping Santos win their last Copa Libertadores title back in 1963.

Could the latest superstar, Neymar, emulate his illustrious predecessor with the Santos team of 2011 ?

Santos 2 Penarol 1 (Santos won 2-1 on aggregate)
played at the Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo.

The local sportspaper, Lance, had left space on their front page for a picture of the 2011 Santos team to add to those of the previous winners in 1962 and 1963.

The day after they could celebrate and look forward to them vying against Barcelona in the Club World Cup.

As always the final of the Copa Libertadores is a noisy, vibrant and visceral experience.

Fireworks and flares went off pretty much throughout and the supporters’ sections displayed their flags.

Presumably Santos chose the Pacaembu partly because their own stadium is too small but also because the Morumbi, the largest ground in Sao Paulo, was too big.
The choice restricted the away fans to a corner section holding about 2,500 amongst the 38,000 capacity.

That was a shame as Penarol, one of the big two in Montevideo, probably could have sold over 10,000 tickets.
The Uruguyans themselves had not won this prestigious club competition since 1987.

It was Santos who deserved the victory.

Neymar scored the crucial opening goal after a great run by Arouca, though his shot at the near post could have been stopped by the Penarol goalkeeper.

Danilo sealed it after the break coming in from the right to score left footed.

Penarol, who had struggled for most of the game, did get a lifeline via an own goal near the end.
That gave us a tense last few minutes but Santos held on and the fans could celebrate.

The visitors didn’t take it well and we had a mass brawl on the pitch including players and staff.

That eventually settled down and at around 00.30 they made the presentations.
By then I was back at my hotel to calm down with a couple of beers.

So what about Neymar ?

Certainly no Pele, but a comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo might be made in a few years time.
He has pace, plenty of tricks and is two footed.

Time will tell if he develops into a global superstar.
But his value would certainly have been enhanced by scoring in this final.

The following day, Thursday, was a holiday in Brazil and time for me to relax at the Modern Art Museum and a stroll along a quiet Avenida Paulista.
Time enough to reflect on another unforgettable night in South America.

more pics at

No comments: