Flamengo and their coach Jorge Jesus have the chance to take a huge step forward in the recent history of the club this evening (28 August). At the Beira-Rio Stadium, the Rio giants take on Internacional in their Copa Libertadores quarter-final, second leg tie – Mengão hold a 2-0 advantage from the first leg, played at the Maracanã seven days ago.
Following a slow start to his tenure at the club, there have been sure indications over the last few weeks that Jesus is beginning to get the most out of this highly talented group of players. One of the strongest squads in Brazil, perhaps the most encouraging sign from last week’s win was that the side is not so reliant on Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa as previously thought.
— CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) August 27, 2019
While the Brazil international forward did indeed start that game, it was his strike partner, Bruno Henrique, who stole the show with two second half strikes that gave the victory to the cariocas.
Flamengo of course just have one Libertadores title to their name, almost 40 years ago and won back in 1981. It is a cause of hurt for arguably Brazil’s biggest club, and following their showing last week fans may well allow themselves to dream that a league and Libertadores double could well be on the cards – after 16 rounds of the Brasileirão, the Rubro-Negro sit top of the table having beaten Ceará 3-0 this past weekend. Flamengo have now won four of their past five league outings and are on an upward trajectory.
Inter, meanwhile, will be no pushovers. The veteran pair of Andrés D’Alessandro and Paolo Guerrero are two first-class operators, and in front of a packed out Beira-Rio arena the onus will very much be on the gaucho club to seize the initiative. This, after all, is knock-out football, the business end of South America’s premier club competition. The margin for error is perilously thin, and Inter will need the 50,000-plus crowd fully behind them if they are to make it over the finishing line tonight.
It will not be easy for either side and the opening exchanges could well resemble a high stakes game of chess inside a vociferous cauldron of noise. Do Flamengo, two goals to the good, stick or twist? Palmeiras had the same cushion last night, against gaucho opposition and capitulated.
Do Inter go for the jugular right from the off? Their main man in attack, Guerrero, asked not to be called up for international action to be able to help his club side. Could the Lei do Ex strike in the most delicious of circumstances for the Peruvian veteran?