By Gabriel Pessoa/beIN SPORTS
The story of the 2019 Copa Libertadores semifinals could not have been written better if we tried.
There are a total of 14 Libertadores trophies between the four remaining clubs in South America’s elite competition. On one side of the bracket, we have an all-Brazilian matchup comprised of Gremio and Flamengo. On the other side, is a rematch of last year’s controversial Libertadores final between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors.
No matter how this stage plays out we are guaranteed a spectacular Brazil vs. Argentina final. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there is more than enough to get excited about over the next two legs as that final matchup is decided. Here is what you ought to look out for as the ties kick off with this week’s semifinal first legs.
Gremio (BRA) vs. Flamengo (BRA)
Wednesday, October 2nd @ 8:20 p.m. ET LIVE on beIN SPORTS
Gremio will be in familiar territory Wednesday night when Renato Gaucho’s men take on the surging Flamengo, not just because they will be hosting the first leg, but also because Gremio will be playing in a third consecutive Libertadores semifinal.
The Porto Alegre club won it all in 2017, was knocked out by eventual champs River Plate last year, and is now set to face what might be the most intimidating side in South America at the moment.
Flamengo are truly in impressive form. The Carioca side has been undefeated for 9 matches in the domestic league, due in large part to an on-fire striker by the name of Gabriel Barbosa and a manager who seemingly was created to manage this team.
Since Jorge Jesus took the wheel, Flamengo have only lost one match in the Brazilian Serie A. Barbosa, who is living up to his nickname of ‘Gabigol,’ has already equaled his goal tally from last year’s Brasileirao campaign with Santos (18 goals) with the season just past the halfway mark. In addition, Bruno Henrique, with three goals and five assists in the 2019 Libertadores, has had a hand in more goals than anyone else in the tournament.
Flamengo edged past Emelec on penalties in the Round of 16, but ever since they have been gaining boatloads of confidence in Brazil. With that momentum behind them, Flamengo are the favorite in this matchup.