Flamengo will face Deportes Tolima this Wednesday (29) in the Libertadores round of 16. In the midst of the crisis at the Club, the team from Rio tries to move away from the fame that the Colombians have conquered in Brazil. Tolima starred in the past one of the biggest upsets involving Brazilians in the continental competition. What some fans may not remember is that today’s opponent was not the only unlikely winner in the history of Brazilian teams playing the tournament.
The expression “gave zebra” is initially credited to a former coach of Portuguesa in Rio de Janeiro. In dispute for the state in 1964, the team coached by Gentil Cardoso faced Vasco, who had starred in Expresso da Vitória years before. Faced with a complicated game, the coach made an analogy with the misdemeanor game to define the difficulty of the match. When citing the zebra, an animal that was not part of the game, Gentil expressed the impossibility of beating Cruzmaltino. In the end the Portuguese won and the expression stuck.
Remember the biggest upsets involving Brazilians in the Copa Libertadores:
Once Caldas da Colombia – 2004
The list begins with one of the biggest upsets not only in clashes with Brazilians, but in Libertadores history. Colombian club Once Caldas arrived in that edition of the continental tournament with only two national titles under their belt, not imposing much fear on opponents. In this way, without so much spotlight, the team gradually advanced towards the final. On the way, he eliminated the saints in the quarters, where the midfielder Diego played. O Sao Paulo would still be the victim in the semifinals, before the team reached the title against Boca Juniors.
Defender of Uruguay – 2007
for a long time the Flamengo lived through dark times in the biggest competition in South America. The national tradition conquered in Brazil, which at the time was considered one of the clubs with the most Brazilian titles, did not enter the field in continental disputes. In 2007, Rubro-Negro was eliminated in the round of 16 of the Libertadores for the modest Defensor do Uruguay. Far from the glories of Peñarol and Nacional, the team opened 3-0 at home in the first leg. Not even with two goals scored by Renato Abreu at Maracanã, on the way back, he was able to avoid disaster.
Mexico America – 2008
However, the great Flamengo drama would come in 2008. Far from the defeat in the final to Palmeiras in the past, the Rio de Janeiro team suffered in front of a Mexican 13 years earlier. The elastic 4-2 victory away from home, in the first leg, was not enough to keep the team in the competition. That’s because the Club fell again in the round of 16 of the Libertadores inside Maracanã. The scenario was even more melancholy than the previous year, because even with the advantage, the Flamengo lost 3-0 at home. Highlight for Cabañas, who scored twice.
Ecuador’s LDU – 2008
The year was really not for the Cariocas in Libertadores. After laughing at the elimination of the rival in the round of 16, the Fluminense saw the title slip away in front of the tricolor crowd in the decision. The Laranjeiras team was looking for its first title in the continental cup and under the command of an idol managed to go to the final: Renato Gaúcho. Author of the emblematic belly goal in Carioca in 1995, Renato led the team in the campaign that eliminated São Paulo and Boca Juniors. However, even reversing the score in the decision, Flu lost on penalties to the underdog LDU.
Deportes Tolima of Colombia – 2011
Flamengo’s rival this Wednesday (29) starred in one of the biggest upsets involving Brazilians in the history of the competition. This is because in 2011 the Corinthians arrived at the tournament with well-known stars in the squad, such as Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos. Not to mention the young people who had been standing out, such as midfielder Paulinho, who would still be 22 years old. Timão ended up being eliminated in the pre-Libertadores phase for Tolima, until then unknown among Brazilians. Despite the mockery of rivals, a year later, Alvinegro would take the first Cup title.
Paraguayan Guarani – 2015 (2020)
Corinthians suffers when the striped animal appears in Libertadores. If it wasn’t enough for the zebra to face Tolima, Paraguay’s Guarani managed to eliminate twice the Timon. The first defeat came in 2015, in the round of 16 of the competition. The rival appeared as a novelty in the tournament, to the point that Tite himself had no information about the opponent initially. After losing both games and being eliminated from the edition, the Corinthians met Guarani again for the Cup preliminaries in 2020, when he was beaten again.
Ecuador’s Barcelona – 2017
The underdog of the time does not refer so much to the opponent but to the Brazilian team: the palm trees. That’s because Barcelona de Guayaquil was already an old acquaintance in the competition, reaching two finals. One of them, including against Vasco, when Cruzmaltino was champion in 1998. The weight in the 2017 confrontation is explained because Verdão came from a Seria A title in 2016 and received reinforcements for Libertadores. Keno, Borja, Guerra and Felipe Melo could not stop the Ecuadorians and fell in the round of 16 after a penalty shootout.
Workshops in Argentina – 2019
Finally, one of the last underdogs to attack a Brazilian in Libertadores, was Argentine and was strange by name. In Brazil, Talleres de Córdoba was best known at the time for being Guiñazú’s team, a midfielder with stints at Vasco and Internacional. If the team’s credentials were timid, the Club became known in 2019 as the one that eliminated a three-time champion of Liberta. O Sao Paulo fell in the preliminary round, saying goodbye to the tournament and saying “hello” to the striped mascot.