Chapecoense: Tragedy claims the Leicester City of Brazil

Such had been the team's success against the odds of late, head coach Caio Junior, who is believed to be among those to pass away in the accident, likened his side to last season's surprise Premier League winners.

Chapecoense - cropped

Chapecoense players celebrate reaching the final of the Copa Sudamericana.

Brasileiro outfit Chapecoense was struck by tragedy when the plane flying their team to the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional crashed in Colombia, killing 76 people.

READ: >Plane carrying footballers from Brazil crashes in Colombia

Such had been the team's success against the odds of late, head coach Caio Junior, who is believed to be among those to pass away in the accident, likened his side to last season's surprise Premier League winners.

"Our team really reminds me of Leicester, a team from an unfancied city that was able to win an important title," he was quoted by the Guardian as having said in September.





"I want to make a mark this season with this club, this group of players."

Those dreams of glory have now been dashed in a horrifying manner that will see the usual significance placed on sporting competition pale into insignificance. As the football world digests the news of the tragedy, we examine the remarkable recent rise, sadly cut short, of one of Brazilian football's underdogs. 

The relatively small club hail from Chapeco in the state of Santa Catarina and was founded in 1973. The team plays its home games at the Arena Conde - which has a capacity of 22,600 - and needed just four years to win its first trophy of note, beating Avai 1-0 in the final of the state championship in 1977, a title it has won four more times since, while also lifting the Copa Santa Catarina once.

The team did not enjoy as much success at national level, entering the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A for the first time in 1978, when it finished 51st out of the 74 participating teams. Things did not go much better the following season when it had to settle for 93rd place, only Guara doing worse.

The poor results saw it drop to the lower tiers of Brazilian football, until finally returning to the top flight in 2014, having finished second behind Palmeiras in Serie B the season before. The team came 15th in its first campaign since its return to avoid the drop back to Serie B, only to improve one position the following year, while it sits ninth this term with just one match to go.

It is on the continent that the Arena Conde side has really made a name for itself, though. Chapecoense saw off Ponte Preta and Libertad to reach the quarter-finals of the 2015 Copa Sudamericana, before Argentine heavyweight River Plate ended its dreams of going all the way in the quarter-finals.

It went even further this year with Caio Junior at the helm. Captained by former Atletico Madrid man Cleber Santana, Chapecoense dismantled Cuiaba, Independiente, Junior and San Lorenzo on its way to the final, where Atletico Nacional awaited until disaster struck on Tuesday.

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