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The teams had qualified for the competition by winning their continent's primary cup competition. Liverpool qualified by winning the primary European cup competition, the European Cup. They won the 1980–81 European Cup defeating Spanish team Real Madrid 1–0 in the final. Flamengo qualified by winning the primary South American cup competition, the Copa Libertadores. They beat Chilean team Cobreloa 2–0 in a playoff after the previous ties finished 2–2 on points to win the 1981 Copa Libertadores.