Soccer. Why are Brazilian clubs crushing the competition in the Copa Libertadores? . Sport

Like an intractable Seleçao in the South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, Brazilian clubs are far above the rest in the Copa Libertadores, thanks to much greater financial resources and an inexhaustible pool of talent.

For the first time since the creation of the tournament in 1960, three teams from the same country monopolized the last four of the South American equivalent of the Champions League. In 1966, Argentines River Plate, Boca Juniors and Independiente had contested the final phase, but it was played in group matches, not knockout.

The semi-finals begin on Tuesday, with the 100% Brazilian clash between reigning champion Palmeiras and Atlético Mineiro de Hulk and Diego Costa, returning to Brazil after long years in Europe.

On Wednesday, Flamengo, winner in 2019, will receive the only intruder not from the country of King Pelé, the Barcelona de Guayaquil, in Ecuador.

And the grand final on November 27, in Montevideo, could again be a poster between two Brazilian clubs, like the Palmeiras-Santos of the last edition.

Renowned returnees

« Brazilian football is evolving, great players are returning to the country and the championship is more and more contested », declared recently after a match of the Seleçao Lucas Paqueta, midfielder of the Olympique Lyonnais trained in Flamengo, just like Vinicius Jr, the new darling of Real Madrid.

This season the Brasileirao, the national championship, has many renowned returnees. Atletico Mineiro struck a big blow by recruiting the Hulk, second top scorer of the Libertadores, and more recently Diego Costa, Spanish international but Brazilian by birth. The other clubs are not to be outdone, with Douglas Costa at Gremio, Miranda at Sao Paulo FC or David Luiz at Flamengo.

Former internationals with high salaries, far too many for the bruised finances of clubs in other South American countries.

Brazilian clubs manage to attract major players because they can invest much more, sums up Leonardo Bertozzi, commentator for ESPN Brasil.

This financial pit is notably linked to a large difference in television rights receipts. In 2019, the Brazilian first division teams pocketed $ 253 million in TV rights, against 91 million for the Argentines.

Over the past decade, they have spent no less than $ 800 million in the transfer market, nearly double the amount invested in Argentina, which remains the most successful nation in the Copa Libertadores with 25 titles, compared to Brazil’s 20.

The other South American clubs cannot compete with the Brazilians. One of the most prominent examples is the recruitment by Atlético Mineiro of Ignacio Fernandez (Argentinian midfielder), playing master of River Plate., one of the clubs of Buenos Aires, insists Leonardo Bertozzi.

Virtuous circle

Even though they are mostly heavily in debt, Brazilian clubs can afford to recruit hopefuls from neighboring countries, which they often sell for much more in Europe.

Not to mention that Brazil, a country of 213 million inhabitants crazy about football, has always had a considerable pool. It is by far the largest exporter of players in the world, with around 1,300 footballers playing abroad, according to a recent report from the Center international d’études du sport (CIES) based in Neuchâtel.

Brazil has always been rich in players, whether they play at home or in Europe., recalls Alex Sandro, side of Seleçao trained at Athletico Paranaense, who plays today at Juventus in Turin.

Palmeiras triumphed in the last edition of the Libertadores thanks to young talents like Gabriel Menino, Danilo or Patrick de Paula. Atlético Mineiro has Olympic champion Guilherme Arana, 24-year-old side, and Flamengo striker Pedro, of the same age.

Six Brazilian clubs are in the top 10 of the formations having sold the most players in South America, and these revenues are reinvested to acquire new recruits, a virtuous circle which has lasted for several years.

It would be fitting for Brazil to win most South American club tournaments in the next few years, concludes Leonardo Bertozzi.

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