The results of the Semifinals
After the exciting Round of 8, we had strong teams competing against each others. The teams that have entered the Semifinals were Peñarol, Athletico PR, RB Bragantino and Libertad. All of them have had a realistic chance of proceeding to the Final, but how did it play out in the end?
The first pairing was Red Bull Bragantino (Brazil) against Club Libertad (Paraguay). The teams played their first and second leg on September 23rd and 30th respectively. The other pairing was Peñarol (Uruguay) against Athletico Paranaense (Brazil) and they played on September 24th – first leg – and October first – second leg.
RB Bragantino has won the first leg with 2:0 (1:0), showing a strong will to win and with a display of high pressure in mostly three long phases of the game. A strong first phase over 15 minutes in the first half that led to the lead in the 29th minute, and two phases in the second half where, again, after five minutes of switching sides the 2:0 has been scored. The push at 65th to 80th minute has not been crowned by the third goal, but the overall strength led to a secure win over Libertad.
The second leg between the two opponents was an impressive display of football by Libertad. Throughout the match, the Paraguayans managed to put pressure onto the Brazilians, giving away only minutes of the game, pretty much always being in charge of the situation. It comes as a surprise that the final score, however, reads 3:1 for Bragantino. The Brazilians, although playing defensively, managed to score thrice with intelligent matchmaking and a strong goalkeeper.
As for Peñarol against Athletico PR, the final score after both legs was almost similar. With 5:1 for Bragantino vs. Libertad, we have a 4:1 for Athletico vs. Peñarol. The first leg showed Peñarol to be stronger throughout the game, giving away only minutes to the opponent. A lucky situation came in handy for Athletico, with an early goal in the 2nd minute. The strong attack of the Uruguayans, however, lead to an equalizer soon in the 22nd minute. Although Athletico being mostly defensive, they managed to score the lead in the 75th minute and defend it until the final whistle blew.
The second leg has been somewhat similar regarding pushing force by Peñarol, but this time even more evidently, Athletico could read the situation perfectly twice to score two goals in the end, while the Uruguayans faced an undeserved zero. Peñarol has been better in almost all metrics, but Athletico was by far better in terms of interceptions and clearances. This, over both legs, meant that Athletico was the right candidate to proceed to the Final against Bragantino.
In our observation of the best players in the Semifinals and overall, within the tournament, according to SofaScore.com, we see some movement in the uppermost ranks. Especially, Artur of RB Bragantino showed impressive performances in both Semifinal-matches that led to a solid third place in the overall ranks, after Emiliano Vecchio and Yonatthan Rak (please see our earlier posts to read more about both). Artur scored seven goals and gave four assists during the tournament. Only in the Semifinals, he scored and assisted twice – a remarkable consistency and value for his team that deservedly put him in the third spot.
The second player worth mentioning is Nikão of Athletico Paranaense. He is ranked fourth after Artur because of his remarkable feats in the first leg against Peñarol. Especially his successful dribbles, tackles and accurate passing has made him an invaluable player for his team with joker qualities.
Who will win the Final?
Now, having the data to try to predict the champion of the 2021 Copa Sudamericana, we think the winner might be RB Bragantino. Especially the last matches have shown this team to be a strong union of players, with top-notch qualities on every position. But that being said, It would be no surprise though, if Athletico plays defensively, and launches a counter-attack that might lead to the winning goal. In the end, we need to see and wish both teams the best of luck!
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