Palmeiras-Santos marks third all-Brazilian Libertadores Final
When Palmeiras and Santos meet at the Maracanã on January 30th it will mark just the third time that a pair of sides from Brazil meet in the Libertadores Final and just the fourth time overall that two sides from the same country face off for the Libertadores title.
In an interesting quirk of history, or perhaps just a good omen for Palmeiras and Santos, each of the two previous times the Libertadores featured an all-Brazilian Final, the team that lifted the title went on to win the FIFA Club World Cup.
From 1960 to 2005, every Libertadores Final contested featured teams from two different countries. This was due in large part to a tournament rule that for most of the the competition’s history paired teams from the same country together in the Semifinal regardless of their seeding.
The early years of the competition were dominated by the traditional powers of the time, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. In 1979, Paraguayan side Olimpia became the first side from outside those three countries to lift the title when they defeated Boca Juniors.
The ‘80’s and ‘90’s saw a diversification of finals participants and winners, though Argentina and Brazil still lifted their fair share of trophies. Atlético Nacional’s win in 1989, which came after back-to-back wins for Uruguayan giants, was the first time a team from a country with a Pacific coastline won the Libertadores title, though Brazilian and Argentine sides continued to collect titles over the years.
Finally in 2005, the first Libertadores Final between two sides from the same country was held as a pair of Brazilian sides, São Paulo and Atlético Paranaense, squared off.
The two sides played out a tightly contested 1-1 first leg draw in Porto Alegre before a São Paulo side featuring the legendary Rogério Ceni in goal with Diego Lugano in defense ran out 4-0 winners in the second leg, lifting the Libertadores title.
São Paulo would go on to win the 2005 FIFA Club World Cup, topping Rafa Benítez’ Liverpool 1-0 in Japan.
After a 40+ year stretch without an all-Brazilian Final, 2006 ensured that two Brazilian sides would square off for the title in back-to-back years when Internacional squared off against a São Paulo side looking to win back-to-back Libertadores titles.
It was 20-year-old Rafael Sóbis who shone in the first leg at the Morumbi, collecting a second half brace to lead his side to a 2-1 away win in front of 70,000+ supporters.
The second leg in Porto Alegre featured plenty of drama as well with the teams trading goals in a back-and-forth affair that eventually led to a 2-2 draw, enough to see Internacional lift the Libertadores title for the first time in their history.
Like São Paulo before them, Inter would go on the lift the FIFA Club World Cup title in 2006, as Adriano Gabiru’s late goal helped Abel Braga’s side past Barcelona 1-0 in Yokohama.
The only other Libertadores Final to feature two sides from the same country was the historic 2018 Final between Argentine giants River Plate and Boca Juniors, eventually won in extra time in Madrid by River.
Palmeiras and Santos will each be hoping that they will shine brightest in the 2020 Final, and also hoping that history repeats itself and the winner in Rio on January 30th will also find themselves World Champions in Qatar in February.