It may have been his 30th birthday, but there was no cake or champagne for Elano last night. The Santos midfielder was, after all, camped up in a Montevideo hotel preparing for one of the biggest games of his career: the first-leg of the Copa Libertadores final against Penarol.
The Brazil international was nevertheless content to look at the bigger picture. “I'm happy because I have a beautiful history at Santos,” Elano said. “I'm spending my birthday [here] but I'm well because the previous one was also special: I was with the Selecao [in South Africa] and now I'm in the final of the Libertadores.”
Uruguayan giants Penarol may have been surprise qualifiers for the decider, but Elano reckons they fully merit their place. “Penarol will be really difficult opponents,” he said. “They're a tough side who defend well, and they're very strong on the counter-attack.”
Despite his high regard for Penarol, however, the former Manchester City creator insists the focus for Brazilian teams is always on winning the match.
“A good result for Brazilian teams is a win, it doesn't matter where the game takes place,” he affirmed. “We don't think like that. I hope to be able to help Santos [win].”