Deportivo Lara of Barquisimeto will play Corinthians of Brazil on May 17.
Venezuelan football club Deportivo Lara of Barquisimeto has made surprising gains in this year's Copa Libertadores football competition. First, they claimed a 1 – 0 victory over Independiente of Argentina and later went to defeat Colombia's Millonarios 2 – 1 putting the team within touching distance of advancing in the regional competition.
The team will next face Corinthians of Brazil. A third consecutive victory, albeit at home, would give Deportivo their highest ever finish in the competition. Their advancement in the tournament would also be considered historic given the team's limited record in the competition. The Venezuelan club's achievement also serves as inspiration for other countries attempting to break the glass ceiling of high-level football competition.
Deportivo's rise cannot, however, be viewed as an overnight success.
A revamped national league along with Venezuela hosting the Copa America for the first time in 2007 have all played a role in laying a foundation for the team's success. The expansion of Venezuela's national league from 10 to 18 clubs and considerable investments in refurbishing existing stadiums and building new ones, including Deportivo Lara's new stadium as also factors.
The Venezuelan league's newfound success has also seen a number of their top national players head straight for European teams and multi-million Euro contracts, as well as other clubs across South America. However, the confidence bump in Venezuelan players and the national team didn't immediately reflect in players and groups throughout the domestic league.
The disparity was evident in the fact that since the 2007 Copa Libertadores, Venezuelan clubs have only managed to get past the group phase on two occasions, far lower than all other countries in the competition.
However, national team players began training with youth levels and, in 2017, Venezuela made an astonishing achievement by reaching the Under-20 World Cup.
Deportivo Lara of Barquisimeto is prepared to carry the torch even further. They are scheduled to play Corinthians on May 17.