South America’s most important club competition The CONMEBOL Libertadores will come to a dramatic conclusion at the legendary Centenario Stadium in Uruguay as Brazilian giants Flamengo and Palmeiras meet in this year's final. Looking for value in the Flamengo vs. Palmeiras odds? Read on to inform your 2021 Copa Libertadores final predictions.
Flamengo vs. Palmeiras predictions
South America’s most important club competition will come to a dramatic conclusion at the legendary Centenario Stadium in Uruguay as Brazilian giants Flamengo and Palmeiras meet in the final.
This will be a clash between the winners of the two previous editions of the Copa Libertadores; Flamengo dramatically beat River with a last-gasp goal in 2019 while Palmeiras battled to a narrow 1-0 victory against Santos in the 2020 final. It will also be a meeting between two of the top three clubs in the Brazilian league in 2021. Both clubs have won two Copa Libertadores titles before - Palmeiras in 1999 and 2020; Flamengo in 1981 and 2019.
It will be Rio de Janeiro against Sao Paulo - Flamengo’s assertive and intricate attacking play up against Palmeiras’ disciplined and dangerous approach. Both teams are full of the finest talent on the South American continent and they will meet at one of the world’s great stadiums.
The match should be an epic, intriguing, and passionate final in Uruguay.
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Team Analysis: SC Palmeiras
The reigning Libertadores champions came through a tight two-leg, semi-final contest against Atletico Mineiro via the away goals rule. Their run to the final has been mature and professional; they take the lead, control the game, limit the opposition, keep it tight, and then put the seal on the victory as legs tire and the opposition opens up.
This Palmeiras side have been there and done it all, and a combination of discipline and quality means they are perfectly suited for knockout soccer.
Route to the Final
As with the 2020 edition of the tournament, Palmeiras comfortably qualified from their group, showing some impressive attacking play before focusing on some more careful game management in the knockout rounds.
Palmeiras scored 20 goals in their six group games and conceded seven. No other team scored more or had a better goal difference in the group stage. It was not as if they had an easy group either, facing 2020 Sudamericana finalists Defensa y Justicia, the always impressive Independiente del Valle, and Peruvian giants Universitario.
Palmeiras scored 20 goals in their six group games and conceded seven. No other team scored more or had a better goal difference in the group stage.
In the Round of 16, they professionally overcame Universidad Catolica with 1-0 wins both home and away before meeting city rivals Sao Paulo in the quarter-finals. In the first leg, they fell behind but Patrick de Paul scored a huge equaliser late in the game to give them a valuable away goal ahead of the second leg.
In the second leg, they took the lead early through Raphael Vega but knew that a Sao Paulo goal would level the game and the tie. Palmeiras kept their heads and as Sao Paulo opened themselves up chasing the vital equaliser, Palmeiras struck on the counter-attack and scored two goals late in the game to pick up an impressive win.
In the semi-finals, caution underpinned by great quality and a potent attacking threat also saw them overcome another strong Brazilian rival. They drew 0-0 in the home leg then fell behind just after half-time in the second leg. However, a goal from Dudu in the 68th minute gave them the aggregate advantage, something the experienced side was able to retain until the final whistle.
Professional game management and ruthless efficiency in a high-pressure semi-final gave a clear indication of how this talented Palmeiras side could triumph against the expressive Flamengo side in the final.
Flying winger Rony is their current top scorer in the Libertadores and he will once again be key in the final. He is a likely scorer for Palmeiras, while the number 9 position has been rotated between the unpredictable, dangerous Deyverson and the experienced, classy Luiz Adriano. Gustavo Scarpa also has a great history in the competition and he will look to support the attack from midfield alongside Dudu. Inventive attacking midfielder Raphael Vega isn’t prolific but is also more than capable of finding the net from around the box.
Areas of weakness
If Palmeiras score the opener, they rarely look to quickly push home their advantage. While this means they are effective at retaining a lead and denying the opposition, it does often mean they are just one mistake away from conceding an equaliser. More often than not this works for them; no other team in South America combines their level of individual quality and defensive discipline. However, not taking the risk of chasing a second goal can, at times, be a risk in itself.
Palmeiras are a very assertive and robust side at times. With such a finely balanced final this may give them the edge over their more creative opponents but it could also tip things against them if their assertiveness results in a red card. This could be another decisive factor.
Team Analysis: Flamengo
2019 Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo have an incredible amount of quality throughout their side and their fans will be very confident of dispatching Palmeiras, as they did comprehensively with Barcelona SC of Ecuador with an 4-0 aggregate victory.
There is no doubt Flamengo will dominate possession but quick, efficient attacks from the opposition could potentially be their undoing.
Flamengo dominate possession and impose themselves on their opponents with internationals Bruno Henrique, De Arrascaeta, and Everton Ribeiro all combining effectively behind the prolific, clinical Gabriel Barbosa. Once they find their rhythm and get on top in a game, they can enjoy themselves.
That said, defensively they are less convincing and with the fullbacks pushing forward they can be susceptible to counter-attacks in wide areas. There is no doubt Flamengo will dominate possession but quick, efficient attacks from the opposition could potentially be their undoing.
Route to the Final
Flamengo were favourites to top an interesting, competitive Group G and they did so despite drawing their final three games. After three wins, perhaps there was a sense the job was already done but this is a cause for concern. Also, despite scoring an impressive 14 goals, they conceded nine in their six group games, including two at home against Ecuador’s LDU and two away to Chilean minnows Union La Calera.
In the Round of 16, they won a tight game away 1-0 in Argentina against Defensa y Justicia before turning on the style with a 4-1 win in the second leg.
They stepped things up even further in the quarter-finals as they demolished Paraguayan side Olimpia 4-1 away before finishing the job in style at home with a 5-1 win. When it clicks for Flamengo, it clicks.
In the semi-final, this great Flamengo side demolished the dangerous Barcelona side from Guayaquil. Before the game, there was a lot of analysis focused on how the Ecuadorians could do damage to Flamengo on the break. On the night though, this was rarely a factor; if you can’t get the ball, then you really can’t do much damage.
A 2-0 win at home and a 2-0 win away meant progression for Flamengo was never in doubt and in truth, it could have been even more convincing.
But when everything falls into place for Flamengo they are incredibly impressive.
Bettors looking at the first goalscorer market should keep a keen eye on Gabriel Barbosa. The Brazilian striker has decided to drop the ‘Gabigol’ moniker but is still amongst the very best on the continent when it comes to finding the net. Elsewhere, the classy Uruguayan De Arrascaeta is usually more of a creator but scored three times in three games for the national team back in September.
Bettors looking at the first goalscorer market should keep a keen eye on Gabriel Barbosa.
If bettors want an outside pick who will also likely be a threat, the quick yet elegant Bruno Henrique is always dangerous from the left while the quick and intelligent Everton Ribeiro scored two in two for the Brazilian national side in September.
Any and potentially even all of Flamengo’s front four could get on the scoresheet if things go their way and they continue their semi-final form.
Another interesting selection could be Andreas Pereira. The 25-year-old joined the already remarkably strong squad on loan from Manchester United and could score too, breaking from midfield.
Areas of weakness
When Flamengo can control the game and effectively convert that control into clear chances for the clinical Gabriel Barbosa, they are extremely effective. That said, they do have defensive vulnerabilities, despite their high-profile back line.
Internationals Felipe Luis and Mauricio Isla are very talented attacking fullbacks but are perhaps better at going forward than they are defensively.
David Luiz is perhaps capable of a mistake (as we have seen him make them in Europe) but he has looked so comfortable playing back in South America and his undoubted quality has shone through. He made some key interventions in his Copa Libertadores debut against Barcelona with an impressive performance. However, the pressure of this huge final could get to him and we could see this vital defensive leader have a bad day.
I expect Flamengo to control possession for large periods of the match and act as the protagonist in this final. They will need to remain patient and their concentration has to remain high against this Palmeiras side. If their opponents score, they will defend that lead with everything they have while they are also experts on the counter-attack, particularly late in the game.
Palmeiras scoring first could be pivotal in this game and there is the chance that Flamengo’s fear of this happening will prevent them from asserting their usual attacking quality early on.
Flamengo vs. Palmeiras betting: Where is the value?
Both teams are filled with many of the best players currently in South America. There are both former and current Brazil internationals on both sides and the two teams both have very clear and effective game plans.
Flamengo will rely on their staggering attacking quality and technical ability. They have probably South America’s best finishers and three or four elite-level players interchanging in support. There is pace, creativity, and invention throughout the Flamengo side and this has been key to their success so far.
Palmeiras also have a great deal of quality but the experienced side places a higher tactical emphasis on control and discipline. It is impressive how Portuguese boss Abel Ferreira has been able to harness the exuberant attacking flair within such a well-drilled system. The Sao Paulo-based club keep opponents at arm's length, frustrate them, deny them, and then often go for the knockout blow late in the game.
This is going to be a fascinating clash of styles between two huge clubs. If the game is tight and tactical, I see Palmeiras emerging as the champions but if things open up or Flamengo score first it could well be a real showcase of their magnificent intricate attacking play.
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