Club Profile: Gremio
Gremio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense was formed on September 1903. Sport Club Rio Grande, Brazil’s first football club, were playing a friendly in Porto Alegre, but during the game the ball burst. Cândido Dias, a local entrepreneur, provided a replacement ball, and after the game approached the players to ask how to form his own team, and eight days later on September 15, Gremio was born.
The club did have great success early on. They only began competing in the league in the 1950s, but were in the top flight at the formation of the Campeonatio Brasileiro Serie A, which is the current format of the highest division, in 1971. They were regulars in the division during the 70s, and regularly finished in the top half of the table.
In 1981, Gremio experienced its first great achievement, winning the Brasileirão for the first time, and the following year they were runners-up. In 1983, they beat Penarol of Uruguay 3-2 on aggregate in the Copa Libertadores final, and also won the Intercontinental Cup the same year, beating Hamburg 2-1 thanks to a brace from current manager Renato Gaucho.
They reached the final of the same competition in 1995, but the team, managed by Luiz Felipe Scolari and containing Mario Jardel and Emerson lost on penalties to Ajax. Gremio reached the final of the Copa do Brasil seven times between 1989 and 2001, winning four times, and won the Libertadores again in 1995, and the Brasileirão in 1996.
In 2004 the club was relegated, but made a swift return by winning the Serie B in 2005, and three years later finished second in Serie A. This was after having lost the 2007 Libertadores final to Boca Juniors, with a team including many local players who went on to have successful careers in Europe, such as Carlos Eduardo and Lucas Leiva. Current Seleção boss Mano Menezes was in charge of the club at this time.
By finishing fourth in the 2010 Brasileirão, Gremio qualified for the 2011 Copa Libertadores. They were knocked out in the last 16, but have a bright future and are one of the favourites for the league title this season, thanks to a squad containing the likes of Fabio Rochemback, Gilberto Silva and Gabriel.