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Marcelo says ‘priceless’ Copa Libertadores title bigger than Champions League wins with Real Madrid

RIO DE JANEIRO – Veteran Brazilian defender Marcelo hailed the Copa Libertadores title he won with boyhood club Fluminense on Saturday as “priceless” and the biggest of his career, ahead of the Champions League trophies he lifted with Real Madrid.

Fluminense – led by Fernando Diniz, who is also Brazil’s interim coach – claimed their first title in the Conmebol club competition after beating Argentina’s Boca Juniors 2-1 in extra time. The Brazilian side previously lost the 2008 final.

The 35-year-old defender won not only the Champions League five times in his 16 seasons with Real Madrid but also six La Liga titles, five Spanish Super Cups, four Club World Cups, three European Super Cups and two Copa del Rey trophies.

Marcelo, who started Saturday’s final, returned to his boyhood club in February after a spell with Greek side Olympiakos following his departure from the Spanish giants.

“Real Madrid will understand. It’s my most important title, at club level, because it’s the club that raised me. I’m winning a very important title with my favourite club, the club that gave me all the tools to have my career, with the employees who saw me grow up. There’s nothing more rewarding than that. It’s priceless,” Marcelo told ESPN.

“I owed a debt to Fluminense. It was written (that we would win the championship),” he said.

Argentinian forward German Cano gave Fluminense the lead with a 36th-minute strike, but Luis Advincula equalised for Jorge Almiron’s side in the second half with a long-range effort. John Kennedy’s unstoppable shot in the 99th minute gave Fluminense the spoils at the Maracana Stadium on Saturday.

“I can tell my son Lorenzo now that I am champion of the Libertadores. I want to dedicate this title to my family, the team, our director and the fans. It was a dream that we wanted to achieve since the first game,” said Cano.

Boca were aiming for a seventh Libertadores crown but have now lost their last three finals after defeats in 2012 and 2018.

“We had a lot of chances today but, in the end, we failed to capitalise on the opportunity to take advantage of the extra man. We did a great cup (run). We thank the people and we regret not giving them joy today,” said Boca goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Meanwhile, Brazil has submitted a letter of intent to football’s governing body Fifa to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup, its Minister of Sports Andre Fufuca said on Saturday.

He presented the documents to Fifa president Gianni Infantino while he was in Rio de Janeiro for the Copa Libertadores final.

Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands submitted a joint expression of interest in April to host the tournament, while the other joint bid comprises the United States and Mexico. Brazil and South Africa were the other two countries to submit a bid.

The Fifa congress will appoint the hosts via public voting on May 17, 2024. REUTERS

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