LIMA, Peru (AP) — Defending champion River Plate was “a little nervous” about the Copa Libertadores final on Saturday, according to midfielder Nacho Fernández.
He added, though, his hope that the Argentine team will play with “a cool head and a warm heart” against Brazilian side Flamengo.
Both teams, River first then Flamengo in the evening, were welcomed by hundreds of fans at Lima’s airport.
Flamengo was given a bigger farewell as tens of thousands of supporters followed the team bus to Rio de Janeiro’s international airport. In contrast, Argentine fans gave a timid farewell to River on the streets of Buenos Aires.
Lima’s Monumental Universitário Stadium replaced Santiago’s Estádio Nacional as the venue for the final after street protests erupted in Chile this month.
For the first time in the Copa’s 58-year history, the final is a single match.
River won last year over two controversial legs against archrival Boca Juniors. The first leg was drawn, but the second leg was delayed after violence against the Boca team. The second leg was moved to Madrid, where River won 3-1 to win its fourth crown.
Flamengo won its only previous Copa in 1981.
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