EXCLUSIVE: Copa Libertadores champions revealed
WARNING: THIS BLOG MAY CONTAIN A SPOILER!
Ladies and gentleman, seÃÂ±oras y seÃÂ±ores, after 136 games itÃ¢ÂÂs finally time to find out who becomes the rulers of South America.
Fluminense and Liga Deportiva Universitaria clash tonight in the first-leg of the Copa Libertadores final in Quito. Next Wednesday, the tournament will conclude at the MaracanÃÂ£.
Regular readers know my predictions for the Libertadores have been consistently lame. But, as promised, I have saved up enough cosmic energy to reveal the upcoming winner. ItÃ¢ÂÂs almost time, but first letÃ¢ÂÂs examine the runners and riders.
Ask any Fluminense fan and they will tell you the club is already making room in their trophy cabinet. The squad from Rio de Janeiro knocked out SÃÂ£o Paulo and Boca Juniors on the road to the final. Losing to the Ecuatorian underdogs seems all-but-impossible.
But unfortunately for the Cariocas, impossible is a word very fashionable these days, employed from the samba country - where Sport snatched the Copa do Brasil away from Corinthians - to the old continent, with the likes of Turkey and Russia upsetting the odds at the European Championships.
Despite having an easier path to the final, LDU, who have made a habit recently of playing beautiful football but failing to win games, have what it takes to beat Fluminense.
Coach Edgardo Bauza has formed an interesting mix of experienced players from the Ecuatorian national team - goalkeeper Cevallos, right-back David Guerron and midfielders Urrutia and BolaÃÂ±os - with key foreign athletes, Argentinian Norberto Araujo and Paraguayan Enrique Vera through the middle, and Argentinians Manso and Bieler upfront.
But, of course, the BraziliansÃ¢ÂÂ arsenal is way better. Coach Renato GaÃÂºcho has the squad in the palm of his hands, and knows exactly how to motivate his players at crunch time.
As a result, striker Washington has been pushing the team forward with crucial goals against SÃÂ£o Paulo and Boca, whilst centre-back Thiago Silva has been almost flawless in defense. Coming from the bench, DodÃÂ´ can also be decisive, while the only dissonant note is midfielder Thiago Neves, a talented player whoÃ¢ÂÂs been struggling since day one in the Libertadores.
Having said that, itÃ¢ÂÂs time for the big revelation. Stop here if youÃ¢ÂÂll be watching the game and donÃ¢ÂÂt want me to ruin the surprise.
The winner of the Copa Libertadores will be...
Drum roll, please...
Liga Deportiva Universitaria.
Yep. After Sport Recife and Russia, thereÃ¢ÂÂs going to be another big upset in the football world this month.
Remember, you heard it here first.