By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The fight has begun to see which pair of teams will proceed to the final of the Copa do Brasil. Last night, Wednesday, October 21st, Fluminense played Palmeiras, beating them 2-1, while Santos triumphed 3-1 over São Paulo completing the first round of the semi-finals. At this stage in the competition teams play both home and away in order to secure a place in the final.
Fred, one of Fluminense’s leading players, was crucial in setting up goals for both Gum and Marcos Junior in the first half. However he fell in the second, twisting his ankle and knee and was taken off leaving Fluminense without their main offensive.
Ze Roberto scored for Palmeiras following a controversial penalty towards the end of the game so there is everything to play for next week. Fluminense need only to draw when they play Palmeiras on Wednesday, October 28th, this time at the Arena Palmeiras in São Paulo.
Santos triumphed against São Paulo FC despite heavy rainfall, flooding and failing floodlights, with goals from Marquinhos Gabriel, Ricardo Oliveira and Gabriel. They stand a good chance of reaching the final as they will proceed even if they concede two goals next Wednesday against Santos.
The Copa do Brasil is a knock-out competition played by 86 teams in all 26 Brazilian states as well as the federal district. Small teams have the chance to take on national giants, and with a large pot of prize money and a place in the Copa Libertadores de América (Liberations Cup), the most prestigious tournament in Latin America, up for grabs.
At the moment, if Palmeiras or Santos win they stand to win R$7.95 million. If São Paulo or Fluminense won they would take home R$6.5 million as they entered the competition at a later stage. The victors also benefit from the profits they make from the stadium where the final is held.
The winners of next week’s games will play against each other twice in the final round. Once on November 4th and again on November 25th.