COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL preview: Palmeiras vs. Santos (Sat - 17:00h. GMT-3; 20:00h. GMT; 21:00h. CET) - Team news, possible lineups

The final of the Copa Libertadores, South America's most iconic club competition, will be decided this Saturday when Palmeiras take on Sao Paulo rivals Santos at the spiritual home of Brazilian football - the Maracana.

Regardless of who emerges victorious, history will be forged this weekend. Palmeiras have not won la Copa for over 20 years, while Santos' endeavours have gone unrewarded for a decade.

Match preview

Apart from a short spell at the turn of the century when Palmeiras won the competition and reached the final the following season, success in the Copa Libertadores has eluded Palmeiras in the 21st century.

The team's 1999 triumph, the only time Verdao have won la Copa, saw the Paulistanos dispatch Deportivo Cali 2-1 in a dramatic second-leg encounter. Yet, in 2000, Boca Juniors denied Verdao their second successive la Copa win.

This year, Abel Ferreira's Palmeiras side had to overcome Boca's eternal rivals River Plate in the semi-finals to book their place in the final.

Despite coming into the first-leg as firm underdogs, Verdao stunned the Buenos Aires outfit in the first half before going on to win the tie 3-0 at the Monumental.

In the second-leg, Verdao defended resolutely at Allianz Parque and, despite not registering a shot on target all evening, repelled their decorated opponents enough to march on to their first la Copa final in two decades.

Against River, Verdao attackers Luiz Adriano and Rony looked particularly dangerous, with both picking up goals for their efforts.

In recent weeks, Verdao have been underwhelming. The team are currently fifth in the Brasileiro, having picked up just five points from five league games.

If Ferreira is to win la Copa and truly make his mark on South American's football landscape, the Portuguese coach will have to get more out of his team.

Much like their city rivals, Santos are also in the midst of a dismal run of form. Cuca's side have lost their previous three league games, a torrid string of results that has left them languishing in 10th place, seven points below Verdao.

Despite their domestic form, Santos tend to up the ante when it comes to the Copa Libertadores, a competition the club have a particular fondness for.

Much like Palmeiras, Santos have reached the final of the Copa Libertadores four times in their history. Unlike Verdao, Santos have won more finals than they have lost.

Santos' three final wins means they are Brazil's joint-highest Copa Libertadores winners. In terms of continental silverware, a win for Cuca's side would arguably make them the country's most successful outfit.

Reaching the final has not been straightforward for the Sao Paulo side. Cuca's men were forced to endure a testing evening at La Bombonera when they faced Boca in the first-leg of their semi-final, a game that ended 0-0.

However, Boca's trip to the Estadio Urbano Caldeira proved to be a much more rewarding experience for Cuca's men.

Thanks to goals from Diego Pituca, Yeferson Soteldo and Lucas Braga, Santos were able to put Boca to the sword, sending the six-time la Copa winners back to Argentina with their ambitions shattered.

When Saturday eventually comes around, there is no doubt that both sides will harness everything they have got to get their hands on la Copa.

Ultimately only one thing is currently set is stone, victory for either side at the Maracana will see La Copa go back to Sao Paulo.

Palmeiras Copa Libertadores form: WWDWWL
Palmeiras form (all competitions): LDWLLD

Santos Copa Libertadores form: WLDWDW
Santos form (all competitions): WWWLLL

Team News

Excluding a small number of absentees, Ferreira has a largely fit squad to chose from in the run up to the final.

Both Wesley and Jean will both be unavailable due to lengthy injury lay-offs.

Santos, on the other hand, are riddled with injuries, which is something Cuca will no doubt have to work out as he prepares for this clash.

Jobson, Carlos Sanchez, Raniel and Rafael Longuine are all unavailable due to injury.

Palmeiras possible starting lineup:
Weverton; Rocha, Gomez, Empereur; Menino, De Paula, Danilo, Vina; Rony, Adriano, Scarpa

Santos possible starting lineup:
Furtado; Para, Verissimo, Peres Petroni, Jonatan; Marinho, Alison, Soteldo, Pituca, Braga; Jorge

Source: Sports Mole / Francis Buchanan



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