So, we are now just 90 minutes away from knowing Brazil’s first participant in the 2020 Copa Libertadores. This past Wednesday evening (11 September), Athletico Paranaense beat Internacional 1-0 at the Arena da Baixada in the first leg of the Copa do Brasil final.
The return encounter will take place on 18 September, at Inter’s Beira-Rio stadium. Athletico will have the luxury of playing for a draw while Inter, who were eliminated from the Libertadores by Flamengo on home soil, will be striving not to make the same mistake twice in a matter of weeks.
After a tetchy first half where it appeared both sides were happy to sit back and attempt to hit on the counter-attack, a well taken strike by Bruno Guimarães just before the hour-mark jolted this vital clash into life. With home advantage, the goal spurred on Athletico – who are looking for their first ever Copa do Brasil crown – as they out Inter to the sword in the final half-hour of the game.
🏆🇧🇷 In the first leg of the Copa do Brasil final, @AthleticoPR beat @SCInternacional 1-0 at the Arena da Baixada.
🔜 Next week, the return encounter will decide Brazil's first participant in the #Libertadores 2020!
📸 Miguel Locatelli pic.twitter.com/JPLx3IOXFj — CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) September 12, 2019
Inter, meanwhile, have goalkeeper Marcelo Lomba to thank for keeping the score at 1-0, and they can go into the second leg with the contest still open. With just a solitary strike currently separating the two teams, Inter can be confident of turning this tie on its head, particularly in front of a packed out Beira-Rio and with the likes of Andrés D’Alessandro and Paolo Guerrero – hardly strangers to the big occasion – working across the front line.
Next week, Inter need a victory by a two-goal margin to get their hands on the trophy, and coach Odair Hellmann is still looking for his first piece of silverware in the hot seat. This, without a doubt, represents his best chance of doing that since taking the job last year.
Tiago Nunes, in the Athletico dug-out, has already tasted cup success, winning the Copa Sudamericana last year with the Brazilian outfit. That triumph of course led to a spot in the 2019 Libertadores, where they were eliminated by current semi-finalists Boca Juniors.
Winning the Copa do Brasil also leads to the Libertadores. For Nunes and his cohorts, history could well be on the verge of repeating itself.