By Gabriel Pessoa
Athletico Paranaense is on the verge of winning the Recopa Sudamericana months after lifting the Copa Sudamericana trophy. A win or draw against River Plate would mean double domination in South America for Athletico. But chances are, you don't know a whole lot about this team, so here's a formal introduction of the Brazilian club.
Before we get started, let’s get the pronunciation out of the way.
Athletico is pronounced the same as Atletico. The “h” is silent. Paranaense or coming from the region of Parana, is Pa-Ra-Nah-Eng-See. That wasn’t too hard now, was it?
Athletico Paranaense’s phonetic monstrosity of a name is the product of a fresh rebrand: until December 2018, the club was called Atletico Paranaense (no ‘h’). Part of the change, according to the club, came because the Brazilian Serie A already had an Atletico: Atletico Mineiro. But it's also a nod to the club’s past; the Parana outfit was in fact originally called Athletico Paranaense when it was founded in 1924.
The rebrand also included a revamp of the club crest. The four diagonal lines beneath the team’s initials (Clube Athletico Paranaense) symbolize a hurricane, in keeping with the team’s nickname, Furacao.
Athletico hadn’t won any noteworthy titles until being crowned as Brazilian Serie A champions in 2001. Alas, that taste of glory was short-lived and in 2011, the club was relegated to Brazil’s second division.
Athletico bounced back the following season and, with Vagner Mancini at the helm, went on to finish third in 2013.
Ever since, Athletico has failed to threaten the top spot domestically, instead maintaining a consistent mid-table presence in Serie A. The team, however, made its first real mark on the international stage last year by defeating Barranquilla’s Junior FC in the Copa Sudamericana final.
The team can add a second continental title to its trophy cabinet this week when it travels to the Monumental in Buenos Aires for the second leg of the Recopa Sudamericana, holding a one-goal aggregate lead over reigning Copa Libertadores champions, River Plate.
Tune into beIN SPORTS, Thursday at 8:20pm ET to watch all the action.
Thiago Nunes: Manager
Thiago Nunes was appointed as head coach of Athletico in June 2018, and led the team throughout last year’s impressive Copa Sudamericana campaign. Nunes is a young coach with little in the way of experience, apart from a few stints in Brazil’s lower divisions.
Rony: Left Winger
The 24-year-old was a relatively unkown name in Brazil until Athletico picked him up from the Japanese second-tier in July 2018. Since joining, he has cemented his place in Thiago Nunes’ starting lineup, deploying his speed and technical abilities to devastating effect. Rony is a left-sided player who likes to cut onto his favored right foot.
Marco Ruben: Striker
Picked up on loan from his boyhood side, Rosario Central, Marco Ruben has made a name for himself having scored six goals in six Copa Libertadores appearances. Half of that tally came in one match against none other than Boca Juniors.