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Can Flamengo outcome River Plate?

Flamengo and River Plate are preparing to battle it out for glory in the final of the most prestigious club competition in South American football. Jorge Jesus’ men prevailed in a thrilling semi-final against fellow Brazilian side Gremio after thrashing them 5-0 in the second leg last week. River Plate scraped past their greatest rivals, River Plate, despite losing 1-0 in their second leg clash, teeing up an exciting final. Both teams look evenly matched and the best sports betting sites in the business cannot separate these South American heavyweights.

Most sports betting sites have priced both Flamengo and River Plate at 13/15 to lift the famous trophy. Some make Flamengo the narrow favorites, but the vast majority of the action from bettors has gone on River Plate. History is certainly on the side of the Argentinean powerhouse. They are the defending champions, having prevailed in another epic showdown against Boca Juniors in last year’s final, and they also won the tournament in 2015. They have not won Argentina’s Primera División since 2014, but they often manage to flourish in knockout competition.

Meanwhile, Flamengo have not won the Copa Libertadores since 1981. They have not been crowned champions of Brazil since 2009 either, and they are unaccustomed to lifting trophies. However, they have been on a real upward curve over the past couple of years. In 2018 they ended up second in Série A, their highest finish since 2009, and this year they are comfortably top of the table after embarking on a five-game winning streak. 

Gabriel Barbosa is scoring goals for fun and Bruno Henrique is on fire, while Giorgian De Arrascaeta has also been extremely dangerous. Flamengo are easily the most dangerous attacking side in Brazil, as they highlighted by sweeping Gremio aside in the semis. The tie looked delicately poised when the first leg finished 1-1, but Bruno Henrique broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time in the reverse fixture and the floodgates opened after the break. Gabigol banged in a quick-fire brace and then Pablo Marí and Rodrigo Caio wrapped up a comfortable victory.

Gabigol also scored twice in a convincing 3-0 win against defending Série A champions Palmeiras, and his decision to join Flamengo on loan has been vindicated. He could well become a regular for the national team at this rate, and Inter might decide to keep hold of him. For now Flamengo fans should just enjoy his mercurial talents.

Things have not quite gone so well for River Plate this season, as they have won just five of 10 Superliga games so far. Yet they are just three points behind league leaders Boca Juniors, and they should be able to mount a decent title challenge this season. They have some talented stars, including playmaker Ezequiel Palacios, and wingers Ignacio Fernandez and Nicolas De La Cruz, who are keeping Juan Fernando Quintero out of the team.

They are blessed with an excellent blend of youth and experience, and they know how to get the job done in this competition. Manager Marcelo Gallardo has also shown that he is willing to rest players in Superliga games in order to keep them 100% for the Copa Libertadores. Title chasing Flamengo might not have that luxury. By the time these teams lock horns in the final, they will have just a few Série A games remaining, and their run-in looks tricky. If they do not hold a strong title lead by that point, they might have to play a full-strength side on all fronts.

That could be why River Plate have been so popular among bettors so far. Yet Flamengo are in great form, they are playing with confidence and they have no problem scoring goals, so they have a great chance of winning Copa Libertadores for the first time since 1981 when the teams meet in Chile on November 23.


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