Stories

Copa Libertadores Final 2019: how to watch, who is playing and how it works

River Plate

On Saturday night, River Plate take on Flamengo in the final of South America's biggest club competition – and it will be shown live on British TV. Here's everything you need to know to impress your mates

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Who’s in this year’s final? How did they get there?

This year’s Copa Libertadores Final will be played between reigning champions River Plate from Argentina, and Brazilian Serie A leaders Flamengo. 

River defeated arch rivals Boca Juniors 2-1 on aggregate in last month’s two-legged semi-final clash, while Flamengo thrashed fellow Brazilian side Gremio with a 6-1 aggregate win in their last-four encounter.

What time is kick off and how can I watch it?

On Thursday, it was announced that the BBC will be broadcasting the Copa Libertadores Final for UK viewers. Coverage starts at 7.45pm on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer, with the match kicking-off at 8pm. 

What is the Copa Libertadores? How do you qualify?

It is essentially the Champions League of South American football, with qualification for the tournament dependent on where you finish in your country’s respective league table.

The top four teams in Argentina and Brazil, as well as the winners of the Copa do Brasil and Copa Argentina, have guaranteed spot in the group stages, while fifth and sixth place in these leagues go into the qualifying rounds, where they will face teams from other countries. 

The rest of the countries in South America's CONMEBOL confederation (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) have give automatic qualification spots to the top two teams in their respective leagues, while the national cup winners and third/fourth place teams also head into qualifying.

The defending champions of the Copa Libertadores, and the winners of the Copa Sudamericana (essentially the Europa League of South American football), are guaranteed a qualifying spot. 

Who has won most Copa Libertadores titles?

Argentinian side Independiente are the most successful side in the competition’s history, having lifted the Copa Libertadores trophy seven times, but their last tournament victory came in 1984.

2018 runners-up Boca Juniors lie in second place on the all-time winners list, with six Copa Libertadores triumphs. 

Behind Uruguayan team Penarol, with five wins, are River Plate. They have four, but have never won back-to-back editions of the competition in their history. 

Flamengo’s only Copa Libertadores triumph came in 1981, where they beat Chilean side Cobreloa 4-2 on aggregate.  

What happened in last year’s final?

Last year’s final was drenched in passion, controversy and violence as rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate clashed in a toxic two-legged final which crossed two different continents. 

After a thrilling 2-2 first-leg draw at Boca which left the result of the final on a knife edge, the return leg at River Plate saw the Boca team bus attacked by River supporters just outside the stadium. 

After a delay to the kick-off, the match was eventually postponed for 24 hours.

However, with the Boca players still shaken having suffered injuries caused by shattered glass and pepper spray, CONMEBOL postponed the game by a further month and ordered that it would be played outside of Argentina due to safety concerns. 

In front of a 72,000 crowd at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu, River got their revenge by winning the final 3-1 after extra-time, following a 1-1 draw at the end of ninety minutes. 

RECOMMENDED Why Boca Juniors vs River Plate is the biggest derby in the world

Are there any players in the Copa Libertadores final who I might recognise?

Fans of Manchester City and Middlesbrough may remember River Plate midfielder Bruno Zuculini. The 26-year-old made one Community Shield appearance for City in 2014, before going out on loan to the Riverside Stadium a year later, where he made five league appearances. 

Another familiar face in River's squad, this time for Sunderland fans, may be veteran striker Ignacio Scocco, who made eight goalless substitute appearances for Gus Poyet’s Black Cats in 2014. 

As for Flamengo, perhaps their most recognisable face to Premier League fans is former Chelsea left-back Filipe Luis. The Brazil international won the Premier League under Jose Mourinho in 2015, as well as winning the 2014 La Liga title and featuring in two Champions League Finals for Atletico Madrid throughout his career.

They have also former Bayern Munich defender Rafinha, who made over 150 league appearances for the Bundesliga giants, while on-loan top scorer Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa once cost Inter Milan €30m.

Also featuring for the Rubro-Negros is attacking midfielder Diego. The veteran midfielder has played for the likes of Juventus, Werder Bremen and FC Porto throughout his career, and also won La Liga with Diego Simeone’s Atleti alongside Filipe Luis. 

Who are the managers?

River Plate are coached by iconic manager Marcelo Gallardo, who is the most successful manager in the Argentine club’s history.

Gallardo, who also had three spells as a player for River Plate, has already won the Copa Libertadores twice as River manager, and has also won two Copa Argentina titles and the Copa Sudamericana since taking over five years ago.

In charge of Flamengo is Jorge Jesus, the Portuguese manager who won the Portuguese league and cup double with Benfica in 2014. Jesus has also managed Sporting Lisbon and Braga in Portugal’s top-flight.

What ground is it being played at?

For the first time ever, the Copa Libertadores match will be played as a one-legged match in a neutral venue. This year, the final will be played at the Estadio Monumental in Lima, Peru. 

What are the rules for extra-time and penalties?

If the match is tied after 90 minutes, a 30-minute extra-time period will be played. If the scores are still level after that period, then it will go to a penalty shootout.

How will this affect Liverpool’s opponents at the Club World Cup?

The winner of the Copa Libertadores will go straight into the semi-final of next month’s FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar. They will be in the other side of the draw to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, but could meet the Reds in the final.

NOW READ...

ANALYSIS Jose Mourinho at Chelsea: how the Special One changed the way I watch football

QUIZ Can you name the 40 most successful Premier League managers by win percentage?

GUIDE Premier League live stream best VPN: how to watch every game from anywhere in the world

New features you'll love on FourFourTwo.com