The Copa Libertadores showcases the best football clubs in South America but when the best players come together for the most prestigious trophy in club football on the continent, tempers flare. Brazilian rivals Gremio and Internacional met in a Copa Libertadores Group E fixture with the clubs getting out of hand and either players receiving their marching orders.
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The Brazilian brawl during matchday two will result in stiff sanctions for both teams. The two clubs will meet again in the group stage on matchday four and more bad blood should boil over.
What happened between Gremio and Inter?
Gremio and Inter are not just Brazilian rivals but they compete in the Porto Alegre Derby. Nicknamed the Grenal Derby, the two clubs first met in 1909 and have since played over 400 competitive matches. While the Brazilian Serie A sees these clubs play intense fixtures, meeting in the Copa Libertadores only ratchet ups the fiery play between them.
The matchday two fixture was headed for a nil-nil draw when things kicked off between Gremio’s Pepe and Inter’s Moises due to a provocative gesture. The game had been fiery and tempers had increased due to the magnitude of the fixture.
The incident happened just minutes before the final whistle as a brawl broke out on the pitch. The fist fight took more than 10 minutes to stop as match official Fernando Rapallini sorted out the players.
Rapallini handed out eight red cards sending six on-pitch players off to the locker room. Two more from the bench also headed for the showers. According to Copa Libertadores’ officials, both Gremio and Inter will receive heavy sanctions from CONMEBOL due to the brawl.
Copa Libertadores making headlines for the wrong reasons
The Copa Libertadores is the South American equivalent to the UEFA Champions League and Confederation of African Football Champions League. Although great football can be seen when watching the tournament, the Copa Libertadores has made headlines for the wrong reasons in recent years.
In November 2018, Argentine rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate clashed in the two-legged final. The second leg of the Buenos Aires Super Clasico derby was suspended after River Plate supporters attacked Boca Juniors’ bus as it travelled to the Estadio Monumental. The attack on the bus made headlines around the word with many experts declaring the second leg of the final should be cancelled.
The Copa Libertadores will resume shortly with matches taking place on day three of the tournament. Last year’s winners, Flamengo, have taken six points from six in the competition but have a tricky fixture against Independiente del Valle.
In Group E, Gremio and Inter are locked on four points after their first two matchdays. Inter will face off with Colombia’s America de Cali on matchday three while Gremio will visit Chile’s Universidad Catolica. The Copa Libertadores group stage ends in mid-May.