Copa Libertadores Final to be settled tonight

Several months ago LSA predicted that Inter would win both the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores in the same year. Tonight Inter PA should turn that prediction into reality when they face Guadalajara Chivas in the second leg of the final of the Copa Libertadores in their own Beira Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre. 

Inter won the first leg in Mexico by a 2-1 scoreline that underestimated their superiority on the night. Although Guadalajara took the lead on the stroke of halftime Inter did not panic and kept playing their disciplined organised brand of football. Giuliano equalised in the 72nd minute and four minutes later captain Bolivar clinched a well-deserved victory.

Before the game Inter had expressed some worries about having to play on Chivas’s new synthetic grass pitch. But afterwards they were full of praise for the smoothness and trueness of the surface. In a lesson to his soon to be teammates at Spurs, excellent young midfielder  Sandroadmitted that the surface was ideal for playing good football on and that their fears had been groundless.

This 2-1 victory should be enough to guarantee Inter their second Copa Libertadores title in 5 years, having won the crown in 2006 with a two leg victory over Sao Paulo, the side they beat in the semi-finals this time. Several of that 2006 winning team squad, Bolivar, Indio, Fabiano Eller , Tinga, Rafael Sobis and Renan are still with Inter and are likely to feature at some point. Indeed Fabiano Eller is on course to get his third Libertadores winners medal having been part of the Vasco triumph in 1998.

Bolivar, Fabiano Eller, Tinga, Rafael Sobis and Renan were sold after the 2006 triumph but the first two returned  a while ago and the latter three were signed over the summer to be available for the assault on the Copa Libertadores.

Roth - too experienced to allow his side to be complacent

Highly experienced manager Celso Roth will not allow his players to make the mistake of assuming they only have to turn up to win. He will no doubt make them watch the video of Guadalajara winning in Chile in the second leg of their semi-final against Universidad de Chile after a poor performance at home. Under Roth, Inter PA are not an adventurous attacking side in the classical Brazilian style. They are more a well organised, hard working, business-like side who play a cautious 4:4:2 system. In goal Renan is regaining his confidence after a failed adventure in Spain and should keep Abbondancieri on the bench. Right back Nei is solid and left back Kleber is a classy experienced internationalist. At centre back Bolivar and Indio are very sound and are backed up by Fabiano Eller who has seen and done it all in two continents.

It is the midfield that makes them such a successful team. In the more withdrawn middle spots are young  Sandro, already an internationalist and old Tinga just back from Germany and ready to star. Giuliano who will take Sandro’s place when he flies out to join Spurs on Friday has already scored crucial goals in the last two rounds. Two Argentineans Guinazu and D’Alessandro provide the creative genius and playmaking. Up front young Taison plays off the big centre forward Alecsandro and drops back to make a 5 man midfield when Roth wants to consolidate. Rafael Sobis is not yet fully match fit but has more skill and class than Alecsandro and may appear at some point.

This team should be good enough to see off Guadalajara and make their capacity crowd very happy. Even if they blow it, they will be going to the World Club Cup in Abu Dhabi in December since Mexican clubs, playing in the Libertadores by invitation not right, are not eligible to qualify for the World Club Cup representing South America. Inter Milan will be strong favourites to beat Inter PA in the Final of the World Club Cup. But then that’s what the bookies thought in 2006 when they favoured Barcelona to take the crown, but Inter PA beat them 1-0

LSA will report the outcome of the Copa Libertadores Final in the next few days.