One year ago, the small Ecuadorian club Independiente Del Valle amazed South American football when they qualified to the Copa Libertadores final after elimintaing two Argentine giants, Boca Juniors and River Plate. This year, Copa Libertadores quarter finals have drawn River Plate against another modest club, the Bolivian side, C.D Jorge Wilstermann. Who are those Bolivians that will try to make another sensation?
Club Deportivo Jorge Wilstermann was founded in 1949 by a group of airline workers in the city of Cochabamba, and was given their current name in 1953 in honor of the first Bolivian commercial pilot, Jorge Wilstermann. The club symbol reflects their heritage with wings on both sides, big W (for Wilstermann) in the middle, and five stars on top representing the club quality. The club has 13 domestic titles, and they take part in "El Clásico Nacional del Fútbol Boliviano", the biggest game of Bolivian football, against Club Bolivar from La Paz.
It is no wonder that the biggest club of Cochabamba was founded by hard working people. The long and glorious history of the city begins more than 500 years ago when the Incas discovered the region's agricultural potential and brought there thousands of workers to grow corn and potatoes. Cochabamba was considered to be the empire's granary and an important region for the Inca survival. Since than a lot has changed, but the city remains an industrial hub in Bolivia, producing cars, cosmetics, chemicals, cement and more. It is also the 3rd biggest city in Bolivia, and where the famous "war of the water" protests between 1999 and 2000, following the government's desire to privatize water services, took place.
It will not be the first game between the two sides as they met before, in 1973 at Buenos Aires, when the guys from Bolivia managed to get a 2:2 draw in what is considered to be their best international result so far.
And now, in front of the humble working-class Wilstermann side, with their 4.5 million dollars market value, they will face the millionaires of River Plate. River's market value is about 90 million dollars, 20 times more than their rivals. Yet, the Bolivian aviators have reasons to be optimistic; they have beaten Atlético Mineiro at the round of 16 with a lucrative 1-0 win at home and a 0:0 draw in Brazil, and their home stadium, "Estadio Félix Capriles", will be full with 40,000 roaring fans.
Wilstermann that made the best international tournament achievement for a Bolivian team thanks to their semi-final appearance in 1981, and the road for breaking it will not be easy. Can they made another sensation on their way to become a Bolivian cinderella?