Gremio vs Lanus – CONMEBOL Libertadores Final – Preview
First Leg – Gremio vs Lanus: Wednesday, November 22 – Arena Do Gremio, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Second Leg – Lanus vs Gremio: Wednesday, November 29 – Estadio Ciudad de Lanus, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Copa Libertadores is a competition in which participants are much more than football clubs, they are key assets of society as promoters of sport and all sorts of great values. The 58th edition of the Copa Libertadores final, the first annual edition, will be a very special affair firstly due to the fact that one of the finalists, Lanus, will get the chance to face the most important instance of this cup for the first time in their history and in second place, but not of less importance, the possibility of this being the last final featuring the home and away format.
After involvement in the FIFA Gate scandal, CONMEBOL experienced a colossal internal change and now with new directors is looking to establish the competition as close to the Champions League as possible promoting transparency and competitiveness worldwide. Hence, the quest for a sponsored, single-venue final among other important new features like the implementation of Video Assistant Referee this season in the semi-finals.
Before we begin, let us set the tone for a proper Copa Libertadores night. No, unfortunately we are not talking about dogs invading pitches or dressing room floors mysteriously flooded with kitchen oil this time. It is something relatively innovative corresponding with the modern era. That is right: it is a Gremio staff member detained for allegedly spying Lanus’ training session with a drone prior to their trip to Brazil on Monday. After the news, the response from Gremio’s manager Renato Portaluppi did not take long: “Spies exist in football as they exist in the entire world. Brazilian teams have spies, the Brazilian national team has spies. It is normal. However, it seems like the drone was invented this Monday, that it is only Gremio who do this. Let me ask you: how do you win a war? By gathering information form the enemy. Football is the same. It is normal!”, he declared in evident indignation. You can read all about it here, enjoy.
Onto the final itself now, Lanus are this year’s surprise. After a decade of exponential growth which began with their first local title in 2007, the dream of a Libertadores title is closer than ever for the club. After getting a rather easy group with Nacional (Uruguay), Chapecoense (Brazil) and Zulia (Venezuela), Lanus fought hard to reach the final, beating Bolivian challengers The Strongest in the second round, and candidates San Lorenzo and River Plate from Argentina in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Constantly reinventing themselves, the signing of Jorge Almirón as head coach not only lead to winning the 2016 league title, but also to a level of ambition and extreme sense of belonging few clubs in Argentina can presume to inspire. According to Almirón, winning the title brought the possibility of fighting for the Copa Libertadores, something that made most of its key players prioritise said opportunity ahead of probably beneficial moves abroad. A Libertadores title would mean not only eternal glory, the competition’s slogan; but would also fill the club’s cabinet with something tangible to reflect the success of the actual board and its everyday workers for years to come. Winning the cup would mean the ultimate feat for the team from southern Buenos Aires, the greatest town club in the world.
The Granate will take to the pitch in their usual 4-3-3 formation, inspiring confidence in each one of its players from Esteban Andrada to José Sand. Lanus’ solid goalkeeper and back four are wonderfully combined with one of the best midfields in Argentina starring Iván Marcone covering the backs of Nicolás Pasquini and the elegant Román Martínez. They shall be the suppliers for the deadly front three composed by the Uruguayan Alejandro Silva, brought in as Miguel Almirón’s replacement with good results; Lautaro Acosta, the iconic winger, one of the best players in the league, and finally José Sand, who has been as intelligent and deadly as a striker can be this season.
In Porto Alegre, Gremio awaits with the hopes of taking a positive first step during the home leg. Similar to Lanus, their group was not much of a challenge. Deportes Iquique, Guaraní and Zamora could only watch as Gremio claimed the top spot in the group. The road to the final was a different story though as they had to beat Argentine underdogs Godoy Cruz, compatriots Botafogo and Barcelona from Ecuador. Throughout their history, the club from the south of Brazil have played four Libertadores finals, winning two (1983 and 1995) and losing the remaining two (1984 and 2007). Now with the chance of adding a third trophy to their cabinet, the case of Gremio reflects one of the unusual cases in which a team is not backed at all by its nation.
Gremio, eternally identified as the most distant team from the typical Brazilian behaviour, characterised by its “long-faced” fans and defensive approach to the game, have undergone a change in said roots under the new management of Portaluppi, looking more like the jogo bonito type of Brazilian team the world is so used to.
Underneath the three posts will be Marcelo Grohe, who has been defending the Tricolor goal for more than twelve years. Even though he did not play, he was already a part of the team in 2007, when Gremio’s participated in its last Libertadores final. Walter Kannemann might sound familiar in central defence: he won the Libertadores in 2014 with San Lorenzo. A bit higher up the pitch are Jailson and Arthur, forming a double pivot that has been of crucial importance to Gremio’s style of play this season, working both as defensive and creative midfielders. The product of their work benefits Luan and company who together act as playmakers for Lucas Barrios up front. The Paraguayan had an unsuccessful period at Palmeiras and now seems to have found his place with the Tricolor.
Gremio will look to overwhelm Lanus at home in the first leg, it is what they usually do. However, Lanus know how to play at this instances already and their team is designed to strike on the counter. It will be an interesting clash of similar attacking styles with talented footballers lead by clever managers aiming for glory.
Without much more to say, we are sure this final will be very exciting apart from historical. The Futbolgrad Network strongly recommends not missing it!
Gremio vs Lanus – Players to look out for
José Sand #9 – Club Lanus
Lanus will rely heavily on their talisman and third highest scorer in history José Sand. After a successful first period at the club in the famous title from 2007, Sand set off on a trip that would take him to various destinations of the globe trying to make a name for himself in world football. But sometimes home is where the heart is, and after an erratic yet profitable career abroad, having played for ten clubs in as many years, having gone to Spain, the UAE and Mexico, the Lanus board saw great potential in the 37-year-old striker who, against all the odds, was the league’s top scorer in 2016 when his beloved club were crowned champions. Now with new objectives in mind and 235 club goals behind him, Sand’s relentless spirit seems to grow stronger with every passing match. Throw him a ball, a brick, a washing machine. He will send it to the top corner. His physicality and clinical finish will be needed, especially in the first leg where away goals are crucial.
Luan Vieira #7 – Gremio Porto Alegrense
There is not much to know about Luan, the new Ronaldinho, we could have possibly missed in our scouting report. The only thing we must highlight is that not moving to Spartak was the right call in the end. The 24-year-old is now two matches away from being immortalised in his boyhood club’s history as one of the authors of a great victory. Not as quick as the average captivating Brazilian, Luan relies on elegance and anticipation to always look a couple of seconds ahead of his rivals. His superior quality is evident, and it would be a surprise if Gremio managed to keep him after this final whatever the result. Lanus’ primary task will be to stop Luan in both finals, for in him lies Gremio’s most dangerous attacking resource.
Gremio vs Lanus – Match Stats
- It has been ten years since Gremio played their last Libertadores final. They lost 5-0 on aggregate to Juan Román Riquelme’s Boca Juniors setting a competition record for biggest goal difference in a final.
- Lautaro Acosta, one of Lanus’ idols, is the most successful player in the history of the club with 5 titles (2007, 2013, 2016 twice and 2017). He is a product of the club and since his return in 2013, he has turned down a series of offers from Europe and the Middle East because of everything that Lanus means to him competitively and sentimentally. There is even a movement that collects spare bronze keys from the fans, with the hopes of gathering enough to make a statue in his honor.
- Gremio have encountered Argentinian rivals in this instance twice: against Independiente in 1984 and Boca Juniors in 2007. They lost both. Third time perhaps?
- Argentines and Brazilians have met thirteen times in Libertadores finals. The Argentines were victorious on nine occasions, succumbing only four times to their eternal rivals.
Gremio vs Lanus Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Club Lanus to win the CONMEBOL Libertadores title
Gremio vs Lanus – Possible Lineups
Gremio Porto Alegrense
Grohe – Edilson, Geromel, Kannemann, Cortez – Jailson, Arthur – Ramiro, Luan, Fernandinho – Barrios
Coach: Renato Portaluppi
Andrada – Gómez, Guerreño, Braghieri, Velázquez – Martínez, Marcone, Pasquini – Silva, Sand, Acosta
Coach: Jorge Almirón
Nicolás Miremont is a born and raised Boca Juniors fan, but his heart has a special place for Manchester United, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Dynamo Kiev. Miremont loves to support the underdogs. Miremont enjoys watching smaller competitions especially those from Eastern Europe, but also his native Argentina. Follow him on Twitter @Miremont_Nico