Atletico Nacional has never received this kind of reception in Brazil before. Then again, Atletico Nacional has never visited Chapecoense in Chapeco, Brazil.
Chapecoense welcomed Atletico Nacional to Chepeco on Monday with an emotional airport reception and parade through the city streets, according to The Associated Press. Chapecoense’s gestures were in response to Atletico Nacional’s support of the Brazilian club in the aftermath of a November plane crash, which killed 71 of 77 passengers on board and decimated Chapecoense playing staff.
The rebuilding Chapecoense side will host Atletico Nacional on Tuesday in the first leg of the 2017 Recopa Sudamericana, a two-game tournament which pits the winners of South American soccer’s premier continental competitions against each other. Chapecoense is playing in the Recopa Sudamericana only because Atletico Nacional convinced authorities to award the Brazilian club the 2016 Copa Sudamericana title in honor of the plane-crash victims.
Although Chapecoense and Atletico Nacional only will be opponents for 90 minutes, the special bond forged by tragedy will unite them before, during and after the emotional contest.
One billboard in the city read, “When a brother visits, the whole city overflows with emotion.”
“This is very different,” Nacional coach Reynaldo Rueda told reporters, per the AP. “Even at the airport in Sao Paulo, we had so many Brazilian fans coming to us. We came here many times (before) and no one, except Colombians, approached us. Now, it is as if we were from here.”
The teams will meet again May 10 in Medellin, Colombia, in the second leg.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/nacionaloficial