2022: The Calvary, final part
If there is one thing you should know about Grêmio, it’s the passion for cups. There is something special that attracts this club to knock-out matches
, and the club is no stranger to the “to kill or to die” environment.
Much so that Grêmio carries a rather unusual mark: winning the Copa Libertadores more times than the National league
. In global football, I can only remember Nottingham Forest as a club that has achieved this same mark. In our case, we won the Libertadores 3 times, against only 2 national leagues.
Instead, our go-to trophy is the cup. Even though the Copa do Brasil started only in 1989, we have already 5 of them. For years we held the record of the biggest champions until Cruzeiro got their 6th in 2018
. Cruzeiro later almost went bankrupt because of the amount of money that they have (not*) spent on building the squad that stole our crown.
*Tip: the cheapest way to build a strong squad is to promise everyone a lot of money for their players and then never pay.
In opposition to cups around the globe, Copa do Brasil has a fairly privileged position: it gives a spot to the Copa Libertadores’ group stage
, it pays really well - as I mentioned a couple of times - and is comparable in prestige to the league, being considered a title that is worth the year.
Semifinals x Vasco da Gama
Vasco surprised us and delivered a tight match. Ph: Rafael Ribeiro/Vasco
Our semifinal started with Vasco showing that we can never take them for granted. Unlike in our 4-0 win at Série B, they showed up with a braver posture
, typical of a team that had a shaky start but is now picking up the pace. Goals would take a while to appear, but after the first they appeared a-plenty:
In the 36th minute, Guilherme Guedes found Igor Paixão in the penalty box. He lost hold of the ball after trying to control her, so he had to restart the play with Jhonata Robert, who was substituting the injured Douglas Costa
. Jhonata then whipped a slow cross to the other side of the box and Kenedy headed the ball down and in to open the scoreline.
As we were accepting the idea of taking a tight win to half-time, we conceded a penalty in the 45th minute
. The everlasting Nenê took it and we went to the shower with an equal score.
The game didn’t slow down in the second half, and we got back in front when Jhonata Robert with another cross, this time far away from the box, found Kenedy once again. This time, Kenedy was far from the goal, but with an awkward head movement he managed to lob the goalkeeper
. Incredible stuff and we are 2-1 up.
And in the 61st minute, once again it was Jhonata Robert! This time, he received a pass from Jean Pyerre and found a beautiful through ball to the diminute Igor Paixão. He
, who’s been developing amazingly this season, would just not miss in front of the keeper
. 3-1 and the sensation of a job well done.
But in the following minute Sabino missed a pass where he shouldn’t, and Cano sent a mid-height pass to Nenê, who, classy as he is, found a beautiful karate chop
to reduce the damage for Vasco. 3-2.
Despite the scare, we held off well after that and got home with the victory and a spot in the finale against Bragantino, who got a calmer 3-0 triumph over CSA.
Finale x Red Bull Bragantino
Tradition against money at the Copa do Brasil Grand Finale.
Tradition met modernity at the grand finale. Although Grêmio has 5 titles, the titleless Bragantino is the clear favourite for the cup
, as they have a stronger squad and a better position in the league (8th in Série A).
But when Léo Ortiz pulled Kenedy’s shirt during the first corner kick of the match, it was tradition who opened the scoreboard
from a penalty kick taken by Borja two minutes into the match.
15 minutes later, it was Vanderson who found Sabino inside the penalty box, and the centre back barely had to touch the ball to make it 2-0
with 18 minutes of football at Joinville (what a random place for a cup final!!?).
After half-time, Bragantino finally found some gear and brought some attitude. In the 55th this attitude was rewarded by Morato
, who beat Brenno after a nice play in which 5 Bragantino players exchanged passes until finding a space in the left flank of the defense.
But their pressure backfired. In the 66th minute, Kenedy intercepted a pass from Aderlan and sent a long through ball from our half for Borja to run for it
, who beat the defenders and buried the ball alongside Massa Bruta’s hopes of a turnaround.
As the match went goalless from then on, we lifted the Copa do Brasil for the 6th time
and got back together with Cruzeiro at the top of the winner’s table.
Notwithstanding being in the second tier of Brazilian football, Marco Schwarz emerged from the backstaff to bring Grêmio back to greatness
. A Copa do Brasil win was everything this club needed after the terrible 2021 we had. Moreover, Romildo Bolzan didn’t have too much to celebrate as he has finally been replaced as the club’s president after 8 years, 4 of them building this club and other 4 destroying it.
And we go back to where we belong with our heads up high and a Copa Libertadores to play
. More than a trophy, we found dignity today.