Is the Copa Libertadores more attractive than the Champions League?


Any football fan will vibrate this Saturday with the Copa Libertadores final.

But even those people who do not follow the most popular sport on the planet will look suspiciously at what will happen at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires.

It goes beyond the game, the game, the story.

O decisive duel between River Plate and Boca Juniors In the maximum South American continental tournament generated so much expectation that the time of the ball stops in the Argentine capital to mark before and after in the soccer.

It is an emotion, a tension, a rivalry, a passion so great that some people say that the confrontation between Rio and Boca is the final of all the finals of planet Earth.

That show seen in the first leg of La Bombonera shows that the Copa Libertadores is the "real football", not like the Play Station game offered by the Champions League in Europe.

This comment is from the president of the South American Football Confederation, Alejandro Dominguez, echoing the opinion of a large number of fans in South America.

"There is nothing like the Liberators," "In Europe they do not live football like here," "They feel what it is to play more than 3,000 meters above sea level."

These words are repeated again and again when the Copa Libertadores fights the football scene with the Champions League, the tournament that brings together the richest clubs and the most prestigious players in the world.

More attractive?

It may be that South American football has faced Europe in the past with the defunct Intercontinental Cup, winning in its heyday more titles and more prestige.

But over time, it has been the old continent that openly dominates the duel between the two.

Until 1994, the South American teams won 20 of 33 disputed matches. Since then, the clubs of Europe have triumphed in eight of the ten finals played.

This trend has intensified with the creation of the FIFA World Cup, in which European teams have won ten titles against four South Americans in the last six years.

But despite the statistics, in South America there is still a belief that the Libertadores are better than the Champions League, and if it is not, at least is more attractive

One example, they argue, was all that happened in the first leg of the final between Boca and River.

The fact that there was the Argentine superclassic, the torrential downpour that prevented the football and the sublime spectacle lived in the Bombonera, with a tie to two included, gave to the Liberators a plateau not seen since the 80s.

"The essence I believe it's about returning to the state amateur and of pure glory", Theo Posso, an Ecuadorian journalist from Directv Sports and Ecuavisa, told BBC News.

"I rescue that spirit when a player is not only interested in the monetary issue but in achieving sporting glory."


Mario Martinez of Fox Sports in Uruguay and Mario Fernandez of Peru's El Comercio agree that there is something that surpasses football to understand the charm of the South American continental tournament.

"It's a theme of mysticism," Martinez said. "Maybe a giant in economics or history falls before a weak team that comes up and pushes for what glory means."

"There are economic and distance limitations for the teams here, we have to travel a lot, with stops, to pass many difficulties to continue advancing in the tournament," said Posso.

"All this magic, mystical around the World Cup, That's what makes it so special. "

It also adds an element of greater uncertainty.

Since the year 2000, in the Copa Libertadores, there have been up to 14 different champions and six of them won the title for the first time in its history.

In addition, there were only two teams, Boca Juniors and Internacional of Porto Alegre, who managed to add more than one cup.

In that same period, the Champions League was conquered by nine clubs and only one conquered for the first time.

Two worlds

But there are those who believe that the romanticism generated by the duel between the two great rivals of Argentine football is a mask that temporarily hides the differences of what is experienced on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Compare the Copa Libertadores with the champions from the point of view of the organization, structures, stadiums, structure of people … is impossible," Martinez acknowledged.

"We are very far," he said.

"It does not reach the ankles", I might add, while Fernandez considers that they are two separate chapters.

The difference is in the "systematized European football is compared to magic or paddock football," said the Uruguayan journalist.

"It's not that it's better or worse., but adds a special element ".

"It's a fundamental factor at the moment of the game and with what the South American fan is accustomed to, the Copa Libertadores is very special for this part of the planet," he said.


In favor of the champions we talk about the organization, the collection of wonderful players and the prestige that is achieved, elevating the famous trophy of the "Orejona".

There is also the level of awards and that "after the groups, there is a parity that in the competitive" does not exist in South America.

"It's amazing to see the global nature of the champions," said Posso. "The way they celebrate in Egypt the goals of Salah and has more global impact because they are the best players."

For Posso, the constant departure of the most talented players to Europe, Mexico or the Middle East lowers the ability of clubs with competitive squads.

"There is a detail that explains this perfectly and is the fact that Alberto Spencer of the 60s and 70s is still the top scorer of the World Cup with 54 goals," he said.

"This record is almost impossible to overcome because there is no one left in South America for two or three years."


But it is also true that the Libertadores is going through a process of transformation in which the European model is followed in some aspects and the awards for the teams have been increased.

An example is the designation of a unique location by the end of 2019 or that the two finals have been played over the weekend.

Some sectors have shown resistance, considering that it is against the idiosyncrasy of the South American fan.

But seeing the impact that the Libertadores are having in recent weeks, it seems thatO change ended in the right direction.

On the basis that the Copa Libertadores is not the Champions League and that it will be difficult for it to compete economically, there is one element that makes the South American championship "the tournament to watch" for the soccer fan.

"Today football has advanced a lot and the same advance in science makes the games win in the locker rooms," said Mario Fernandez.

"On this side, the South American technique will continue to be the diamond ring for future achievements. And that will never lose the South American football player, "he added.

It is about improvisation, fintas, dribles, overflowing and seeing the space that no one can see.

Rio-Boca revived that: the dream, the mystique that the Liberators had a few decades ago.

The magic that can happen in football, "beyond what happens once every hundred years," as I can say.

And that time will be this Saturday at the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires, precisely in a match, with the Copa Libertadores final.


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