Do you know Deportivo Pereira? Come join us to learn about the history and journey of this small club, which will face the mighty Palmeiras in the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores.
History of Deportivo Pereira
Corporación Social Deportiva y Cultural de Pereira, or simply Deportivo Pereira, is a football club founded in 1944 in the city of Pereira, Colombia.
Despite not being as well-known as the major cities like Medellín, Bogotá, Cali, and Barranquilla, it has around 480,000 inhabitants, which can rise to over 800,000 when considering its metropolitan area.
The city is the capital of the Risaralda province, located on the banks of the Otún River. Moreover, it’s strategically positioned, being exactly in the middle of the triangle formed by Cali, Medellín, and Bogotá.
The team’s official stadium is the Hernán Villegas, with a capacity for around 30,000 spectators.
Although they’re in the quarter-finals of the Libertadores, Deportivo Pereira’s success is extremely recent. They’ve always been seen as a minor player compared to Colombia’s giants, such as Santa Fé, América de Cali, Millonarios, and especially Atlético Nacional.
The first significant title for “La Furia Matecaña” (The Matecaña Fury) came in the 2022/I season, when they defeated Independiente Medellín on penalties to secure their first national title.
It’s also important to highlight the organized work being done at the club. Deportivo Pereira won the Colombian second division in 2009 and 2019. Following their second conquest, they’ve been raising their level consistently, achieving on-field results, as seen with the mentioned Colombian title and their current campaign in the Copa Libertadores.
This campaign has been remarkably surprising, considering it’s the team’s first participation in its entire history.
Let’s agree that reaching the quarter-finals in any competition during a debut is extremely uncommon, especially when talking about the Copa Libertadores, a tournament in which clubs’ traditions carry immense weight.
To get to this point, they faced challenges from the start. They were part of Group F, alongside Boca Juniors, Colo-Colo, and Monagas.
This modest team, right in its debut, was placed in a group with one of the world’s biggest teams and one of the most traditional, and the only Chilean team to win the Libertadores.
In the opening match, they drew 1-1 with Colo-Colo at home.
Next, they were defeated by Boca Juniors at La Bombonera, in a tough match. Deportivo Pereira was winning the game until the 80th minute but conceded the equalizer in the 89th minute, had a player sent off in the 91st minute, and suffered the unfortunate turnaround in the 99th minute, in the last play of the match.
But they knew that such an effort wouldn’t go unnoticed. In the following matches, they defeated Monagas 2-1 at home and then took revenge against Boca Juniors, this time winning 1-0 in Colombia.
In the fifth group stage match, they suffered an unexpected defeat against Monagas, which put their qualification at risk, leaving everything for the final match against Colo-Colo in Chile.
With discipline and perseverance, Deportivo Pereira held on for a draw in Santiago and secured their spot in the Round of 16.
In the knockout stages, another surprise awaited. The opponent was Independiente del Valle. A club that has shown, for some time now, that serious management combined with a distinct style of play and financial responsibility yield results.
In just a few years, del Valle has become a respected team in America, winning two Copa Sudamericana titles and reaching the Libertadores final in 2016.
Nevertheless, Deportivo Pereira played a focused match and secured a 1-0 victory at home in the first leg.
In the return leg, they were aware of the opponent’s quality and the altitude challenge. Nevertheless, they managed to hold on for a 1-1 draw and reach the long-dreamed quarter-finals.
Indeed, the journey until now has been brilliant and thrilling. However, the team has reached a critical point in the competition.
The opponent is Palmeiras, a club that not only carries the tradition of three Libertadores titles but also boasts sensational consistency in the tournament since Abel Ferreira took charge of the team in 2020.
Since 2020, they’ve secured two titles and reached a semi-final. And this is without counting the domestic championships.
For Deportivo Pereira, simply putting up a challenge against Palmeiras could be considered a victory on their part.
The possible line-ups for the teams are as follows:
Palmeiras: Weverton; Mayke, Gustavo Gómez, Murilo e Piquerez; Zé Rafael, Gabriel Menino e Raphael Veiga; Dudu, Artur e Rony.
Deportivo Pereira: Aldair Quintana; Emiro Garcés, Juan Sebastián Quintero e Carlos Ramírez; Eber Moreno, Jhonny Vásquez e Larry Angulo (Yimmi Congo), Juan Pablo Zuluaga e Jimer Fory; Angelo Rodríguez e Adrian “Rocky” Balboa.
In this David versus Goliath clash, could we witness a surprise? Or will Palmeiras advance with ease?
Written by Vitor F L Miller.