For the second successive season, Abel Ferreira and Palmeiras are in the Copa Libertadores final. Last year, he became only the second Portuguese manager in the history of the competition to win it, the other being Jorge Jesus who won it with Flamengo the season before.
This season, Palmeiras are looking to lift the trophy for the second year running. If they do so, they’ll become the first team to win back to back Libertadores’ since Boca Juniors in 2000 and 2001.
“I am Portuguese with great pride” – Abel Ferreira
In order to get to the final, Palmeiras had to overcome Atlético Mineiro, and they did so with inspiration from a José Mourinho masterclass early in his career. Palestra Alviverde played out a 0-0 in the first leg, before drawing 1-1 away from home, thus advancing to the final via the away goals rule. This second leg had echoes of FC Porto’s triumph over Manchester United in 2004, both Palmeiras and Porto went 1-0 down before equalising near the end to send them through to their respective next rounds.
Ferreira had this to say:
“I talked about the game between Manchester United and Porto in which Mourinho in the last second at Old Trafford made it 1-1. It was in this game that I was inspired. That’s what I told our players: we have to come here to score a goal, and we’re going to do it because we have had an impeccable Libertadores.”
“I’m Portuguese with great pride, I’m European with great pride…We have the best coaches in the world, like (José) Mourinho, we have the best referees in the world, like Pedro Proença, we have in Portugal the president with the most titles in the world (Porto president Pinto da Costa) and we have one of the best players in the world, (Cristiano) Ronaldo. When you look at Ronaldo, you see great mental strength, an insatiable work discipline, wanting to win and wanting to do more and better, and that is the Portuguese mentality and the European mentality…that calm and that intelligence inspired me.”
Palmeiras will face either Barcelona or Flamengo in the final.