Abel Ferreira and Luiz Felipe Scolari appear as the greatest coaches in the history of Palmeiras. There are those who disagree with this, but the fact is that, in Libertadores, the numbers don’t lie: the two are the main technicians of the alviverde club. This Tuesday, at 9:30 pm, they will face each other at Arena da Baixada, in Curitiba, for the first leg of the semifinals. Athletico-PR tries to return to the final of the continental competition after 17 years and the current champion plays willing to advance for the third year in a row after the continental decision.
The numbers are indisputable in measuring the greatness of Felipão and Abel because they are the technicians who won the Libertadores by Palmeiras. The veteran coach led the team to its first conquest, in 1999, and the Portuguese was responsible for the last two titles, in 2020 and 2021.
They are also the coaches with the most games and victories for the São Paulo club in Libertadores. Felipão coached the team in 43 matches, with 23 triumphs. Abel was in the technical area in 27 duels and won 20 times. The Portuguese’s last defeat in the tournament is more than a year old. He went to Defensa Y Justicia, from Argentina, in May 2021. He made the team boast the impressive mark of 18 straight matches without defeat in the South American competition.
The two faced each other only once. It was last June, for the 15th round of the Brasileirão, when Athletico-PR de Felipão got the best, with a 2-0 victory. Before that match, the two embraced. They are friends and exchange compliments frequently. The veteran even said, before the Club World Cup, earlier this year, that the Portuguese is the greatest coach in the history of Palmeiras.
It is worth remembering that there is a good – and old – relationship between them. It was Felipão who gave Abel a chance in the Portuguese national team when he called up the then right-back in 2008 for a training period.
However, friendship will have to take a back seat because the classification for the final of the most important tournament on the continent is at stake. Both have two cups each and want the third.
“Both teams can win. We will have to be alert, prepared, the tie will require the maximum from us”, said the Palmeiras coach. Pragmatic, he understands that there is no favourite. “The business is resolved within the four lines”.
Felipão had said that, against Palmeiras, a club for which he has so much affection, “whatever God wants”. He updated his speech with praise for Abel’s team, in front of which his Athletico will have to be “heroic” to go to the decision.
“We will have to be heroic in our two games to be able to overcome them and go to a final”, said the coach of the Paraná team, hoping for a balanced game. “Knowing as I know Palmeiras, their way of working, their concepts through Abel and his group, which are very strong, we will have to play very well”, added the captain who reached the Libertadores semifinals more times ( six).
The confrontation is unprecedented for Libertadores, but the two decided the last Recopa Sudamericana in March this year. On the occasion, Palmeiras lifted the trophy after a 2-2 draw in Curitiba and a 2-0 victory at Allianz Parque.
Current champion, Palmeiras has the best attack in the competition with 35 goals scored and has not lost yet in this edition. In addition, he holds the record of 20 matches without defeat away from home. Look for the consecutive tri and the tetra in general.
The former Athletics and now Palmeiras Rony and Raphael Veiga fight for the top scorer of the tournament, with seven and six goals respectively. The shirt 10, by the way, is the best scorer in the history of Palmeiras in Libertadores, with 16 goals. As for the lineup, Danilo and Gustavo Scarpa are suspended due to the expulsions against Atlético-MG. Gabriel Menino and “Flaco” Lopez should be the replacements.
Athletico-PR play in the semifinals for only the second time in history. The other was in 2005, when he reached the final, but ended up losing the cup to São Paulo. The experienced midfielder Fernandinho was in that duel and now has the opportunity to lead the team from Paraná to another decision after 17 years.
ATHLETICO-PR X PALMEIRAS
ATHLETICO-PR: Benedict; Pedro Henrique, Nico Hernandez and Thiago Heleno; Khellven, Hugo Moura, Fernandinho, Alex Santana, Terans and Abner; Pablo (Vitor Roque). Technician: Luiz Felipe Scolari.
PALM TREES: Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Gómez, Murilo and Piquerez; Gabriel Menino, Zé Rafael and Raphael Veiga; Rony, Dudu and Lopez. Coach: Abel Ferreira.
Judge: Roberto Tobar (Chile).
Place: Arena da Baixada, in Curitiba.
TV: SBT and Conmebol TV.