Copa Libertadores kicks off with Brazilian clubs set to dominate again

April 3 – On Wednesday, Fluminense will kick off their defence of South America’s premier club competition the Copa Libertadores, which looks set for more Brazilian domination. 

The Rio club open their campaign against Allianz de Lima after claiming their first-ever Libertadores crown last season with a 2-1 extra-time win against Boca Juniors in the final at the Maracana Stadium. If Fluminense failed to impress on the day, much of their success was explained as the work of their manager Fernando Diniz, at the time Brazil’s interim manager as well.

Fluminense’s triumph was the fifth time in a row that a Brazilian club won the Copa Libertadores; Fluminense stepping into the footsteps of Flamengo and Palmeiras, the main powerhouses of the Serie A. Both clubs will be among the main title contenders for the 2024 prize.

On Tuesday, Flamengo kicked off the competition with a modest 1-1 draw away to ten-man Millonarios of Colombia. Palmeiras travel to San Lorenzo on Wednesday, while Botafogo return to the competition for the first time since 2017 by welcoming Junior of Colombia. Brazil has seven clubs in the Copa Libertadores.

Argentina’s River Plate will be the main challenger to Brazil’s hegemony. In 2018, they were the last non-Brazilian club to win the Copa Libertadores, defeating crosstown rivals Boca Junior over two legs.

Their stadium will host this season’s final on November 30. Clubs from Argentina still lead the all-time table with 25 wins, but Brazil, capitalising on its financial power, is closing the gap, with 23 victories.

The 2024 champions will bank $23 million in prize money with the runners-up receiving $7 million. In total, $223 million will be on offer during the competition.

The winner will join Flamengo, Fluminense and Palmeiras in the expanded 32-team Club World Cup in 2025 in the United States.

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