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Saprissa and Alajuelense share rich history at international level
Costa Rica's Saprissa player Reynaldo Parks (26) battles for the ball with Alajuelense's Alejandro Alpizar during the first half of their soccer match in the final of the Confederation of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) Championship of clubs, at Alejandro Morera Soto stadium in Alajuela, May 12, 2004.
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  • At the domestic level, a Saprissa-Alajuelense match always brings out the strongest of emotions and it is little surprise that in the 327 matches they have played in Costa Rican football
  • The two teams rank first and second in most domestic titles won in Costa Rica (Saprissa 35, Alajuelense 30)
  • Saprissa narrowly holding a 127W-100D-100L advantage in all-time domestic meetings.

 

MIAMI, Florida – There is no question that one of the great rivalries in Concacaf is the ‘Clasico’ between Costa Rican clubs Deportivo Saprissa and Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, who will meet in next month’s 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf League Final.

The two teams rank first and second in most domestic titles won in Costa Rica (Saprissa 35, Alajuelense 30) and are among the two most successful Central American clubs in Concacaf competition, with Saprissa the winner of three Concacaf Champions Cups and Alajuelense with two.

At the domestic level, a Saprissa-Alajuelense match always brings out the strongest of emotions and it is little surprise that in the 327 matches they have played in Costa Rican football, there is very little margin between the two, with Saprissa narrowly holding a 127W-100D-100L advantage in all-time domestic meetings.

At the international level, this wonderful rivalry has also produced some spellbinding moments in both Concacaf and UNCAF competitions.

The rich international history between these two clubs started in the second round of the 1971 Concacaf Champions Cup, and the series waged was a sign of things to come. Alajuelense looked to be on cruise control after posting a 5-1 victory in the first leg, but then had to fend off a ferocious comeback attempt from Saprissa in the second leg, which ended 3-0 in favor of the Monstruo Morado, but a result that earned Alajuelense a 5-4 win on aggregate.

Two years later in the third round of the 1973 Concacaf Champions Cup, Saprissa and Alajuelense would do battle again, and this time it was the San Jose side emerging victorious 2-0 on aggregate thanks to a 1-0 victory in each leg.

More than 22 years would pass before they would face off again in a Concacaf tournament, and it came in dramatic circumstances. As two of the four teams in the Final Group of the 1995 Concacaf Champions Cup, Saprissa and Alajuelense were paired on the final matchday with each side still retaining hopes of claiming the title. In the end, Rolando Fonseca’s brace was enough to earn Saprissa a 2-2 draw and a first-place finish in the Final Group to win the title.

The 1999 UNCAF Interclub Cup served as the Central American qualifying round for the 1999 Concacaf Champions Cup and both sides would advance to the next round thanks in part to a scoreless draw between the two on the third matchday, marking the lone 0-0 draw between Saprissa and Alajuelense in a Concacaf tournament.

But it was the 2004 Concacaf Champions Cup in which the international rivalry between Saprissa and Alajuelense was taken to a new level.

It started with qualifying in the 2003 UNCAF Interclub Cup in Los Angeles, California where Saprissa collected a 1-0 semifinal victory thanks to a goal from Gerald Drummond.

Both teams qualified for the 2004 Concacaf Champions Cup and would meet again with the stakes at an all-time high in the Final.

A spirited 1-1 draw in the first leg set the stage for a decisive second leg, and Alajuelense would avenge their previous defeat in style, with a 4-0 victory to capture their second Concacaf crown.

Despite that Final taking place more than 16 years ago, there are plenty of links between today’s teams and those from the past. Notably, prior to his superb career in European football, current Alajuelense MF Bryan Ruiz was part of the Alajuelense side that won the 2004 Concacaf Champions Cup. 

Ironically, legendary Costa Rican FW Alvaro Saborio, who appeared in several matches with Alajuelense in the 2020 SCL, was a member of the losing Saprissa side in 2004.

Overall, the two teams have played nine matches in international competitions, with Saprissa holding a 4W-3D-2L advantage.

If the past is any indication, next month’s SCL Final should produced another amazing spectacle of football between these two historic rivals.
 

 
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