In the vast universe of South American football, the Copa Libertadores stands as the most prestigious tournament. In this article, we will explore key milestones, winners, legendary rivalries, and the cultural impact of this iconic tournament that has left an indelible mark on the world of football. Due to its unpredictability, this tournament has always been one of the favorites among bookmakers like Bet365 Ecuador. Especially since an Ecuadorian player holds the record for the most goals in the tournament, betting on goals becomes particularly popular for them.
Origins and Foundation of the Copa Libertadores
In a region steeped in football culture, the tournament that would determine the best club team in South America first came to fruition in 1960. However, the seeds of such a competition were sown several decades earlier with the Copa Aldao, contested by the top clubs of Argentina and Uruguay.
It was at a UEFA meeting in 1958 where João Havelange announced that South America would follow Europe’s example by creating a continental club competition. This competition would ultimately lead to the Copa Intercontinental, where the winners of both continents would face off to determine the world’s best team.
The first champion of the Copa Libertadores was the Uruguayan team Penarol, who defeated Olimpia of Paraguay in the inaugural final. Initially named the American Champions Cup, the competition adopted the name Copa Libertadores in 1965 as a tribute to the heroes of South American liberation.
Stages and Format of the Tournament
There are several ways to qualify for the Copa Libertadores, but the most common path is through the position in each country’s league table. The current version of the tournament includes 47 clubs going through two stages before reaching the knockout format.
From 1960 to 2004, winners of the Copa Libertadores participated in the Copa Intercontinental against the European Cup/Champions League victors. Since 2005, the prize for the winners is the Club World Championship, where they compete against teams from various confederations, with European and South American teams being the most prominent.
Champions of the Copa Libertadores
Since its inception, Argentina’s leading sides have enjoyed the most success, with Independiente winning seven titles and Boca Juniors six. Brazilian club sides have also performed very well, with Sao Paulo, Palmeiras, Santos, Gremio, and Flamengo, all winning three titles.
Fluminense also won their first trophy by beating Boca Juniors in the final in November 2023. Although there is a big historical difference between both clubs, the result was not a surprise for bookmakers.
The most prominent rivalry in South American football is undoubtedly the Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate. This fixture has contested the most significant games in the competition.
In 2018, both teams faced each other in a memorable final won by River Plate, who dominated their Buenos Aires rivals in a global victory of 5-3. The special setting was the historic Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid.
In recent times, Brazilian teams have frequently won the competition, with numerous all-Brazilian finals taking place. Precisely, the previous champions were the Brazilians from Flamengo, who also took the title after defeating Boca Juniors in an exciting match at the Maracanã Stadium in 2022.
Great Moments in the Copa Libertadores and Heroes
Santos’ memorable 5-3 aggregate win over Boca Juniors ensured that the Brazilian team retained the crown, with the final perhaps remembered for Pelé’s goal in the defining game.
In the year 2000, a young Juan Román Riquelme introduced himself to the world with an impressive performance to help Boca Juniors defeat Palmeiras. Both matches ended in a draw, and it was penalties that decided the tournament, allowing Boca’s goalkeeper, Óscar Córdoba, to become a hero for his club with two crucial saves.
The mentioned final between Boca Juniors and River Plate in Madrid in 2018 is also a moment that will go down in the history of the competition.
Ecuador’s Alberto Spencer is the competition’s leading goalscorer with 54 goals, representing Penarol and Barcelona. Another Penarol player, Fernando Morena, ranks second on the list with 37 goals. Paraguay’s Ever Almeida holds the record for most appearances in the competition after representing Olimpia 113 times.
The Copa Libertadores goes beyond the trophies; it is a tapestry woven with epic moments and unforgettable heroes. This tournament, with its deep roots in the rich history of South American football, continues to thrill fans and leave an indelible mark on the global football landscape. Are you ready to immerse yourself in the greatness of the Copa Libertadores 2024? The bookmakers have already created many interesting betting variations for the upcoming event.