Brazil is still the king

11/05/2022 at 08:01


The gap widens: nine of the last 13 Copa Libertadores champion teams are Brazilian

The economic difference between Brazil and Argentina conditions the performance of their clubs

Flamengo touched the skies of South America last Saturday. Gabriel Barbosa’s goal in the final minutes of the first half confirmed the tremendous potential of the ‘Rubronegros’ and of Brazilian football in general in the Latin American sphere.

The Fla lifted the third Copa Libertadores in its history, the second in four years, after having lost the final of the 2020-21 season against Palmeiras, two-time continental champion in the last two years. There are already four consecutive trophies that end at the hands of Brazil. And nine of the last 13, in a hegemony that began in 2010 with the victory of Internacional de Porto Alegre, that fun team that punctured the balloon at Ronaldinho’s Barça party at the 2006 Club World Cup, after conquering the azulgrana team their second Champions League, in Paris. Four years after that feat, Internacional raised the Libertadores again – now without Alexandre Pato – to start a tyranny that remains with an iron fist after Flamengo’s victory last weekend. In the last 13 years, only River Plate has been able to compete in the Libertadores twice against Brazilian teams. The last one, in 2018, in that historic and sad ending against Boca Juniors that ended up being decided at the Santiago Bernabéu after the serious incidents that occurred in Buenos Aires between the fans of ‘Millonarios’ and ‘Xeneizes’. San Lorenzo, also from Argentina, and Atlético Nacional, from Colombia, join that exception of River, although neither of them has even been able to reach another final. Internacional, Santos, Corinthians, Atlético Mineiro, Grémio, Palmeiras and Flamengo (these last two twice) dominate the Brazilian titles and are equal to the ten in 12 years of the Argentine teams in the period from 1964 to 1975. The gap of titles opened in 2010 becomes even deeper after the victory of a Flamengo that confirms that the Brazilian clubs are still unrivaled sportingly and economically. “There is a lot of difference in the economic aspect between the great Brazilian soccer teams, such as Palmeiras, Flamengo, São Paulo or Corinthians, and the great Argentine teams”explains to Sports Dossier the coach, ex Flamengo, Domènec Torrent. “The best Argentine players are in Europe because they are selling clubs. The Brazilians also sell, but with a dropper; they can last longer. If they don’t get paid a lot, they keep their stars & rdquor;, argues the technician from Santa Coloma de Farners. Former Galatasaray player, who was Pep Guaridola’s assistant for many years at Barça, Bayern and Manchester City managed the current continental champion in 2020.“Flamengo can sign and retain the best Brazilian soccer players, such as Pedro, Filipe Luis, David Luiz, ‘Gabigol’ or the Uruguayan De Arrascaeta, because they don’t need to sell. That’s the big difference & rdquor;Torrent comments. This season, in addition to those already appointed by the Catalan coach, Flamengo has had several athletes in its ranks who have spent a good part of their career in Europe: the goalkeeper Diego Alves, the midfielders Erick Pulgar, Arturo Vidal or Diego Ribas or the always unbalancing Everton. A very powerful team that swept the group stage against Talleres (Argentina), Universidad Católica (Chile) and Sporting Cristal (Peru); that he endorsed an 8-1 aggregate to Deportes Tolima of Colombia in the round of 16; who beat Corinthians 3-0 in the quarters and beat Vélez Sarsfield in the semifinals, 6-1 on aggregate. The economy has always been a key factor for sporting success. The richest do not always reign, and if not ask PSG, Manchester City or Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, who took nine years to raise their first Champions League from the purchase of the set ‘blue‘ in 2003; but money always helps. The gap, in that aspect, may even be greater than the merely sporting distance. “The economic potential that certain clubs have means that they can be one or two steps above other countries”recognizes Torrent, a circumstance also pointed out by the Argentine journalist from TyC Sports Patrick Burlone: “In 2019, the dollar was worth 36 pesos. Now, the dollar costs 160 pesos. But also, that price is unreal. The official price is 160 pesos, but few have access to the dollar and it is being bought for 300. There is a problem, because the real price is 300, but if a team sells a player for a million dollars, when that money enters Argentina, 160 million pesos appear in the club’s bank account, instead of 300 million & rdquor;. To this problem we must also add that Argentine clubs generally work in pesos and that some soccer players demand to have contracts in dollars. “We are in a very bad financial situation and it is difficult for the Argentine teams to bring figures and sustain them. Instead, Brazil brings players from Europe and, in some cases, even pays better salaries. That is the main reason for Brazilian dominance. Only River and Boca can compete with the Brazilians, but only because they earned respect and normally form good teams”Burlone comments. “A reference in Argentina such as River has sold its best players in recent windows, while Brazilian teams can calmly sign foreign players and retain those who stand out”adds Torrent. More European football

Another factor of Brazilian dominance is sports. In addition to having squads with established and experienced players, the teams in the eastern half of South America have maintained a constant evolution in the game. Ten years ago, the 4-4-2 with a square in the center of the field was practically unquestionable in the teams that had options to play in continental competitions. Now that immobility is history. “The main quality is the mix between physical improvement and the technical football of the Brazilians”says Domènec Torrent, who resembles the game “in the style of European football & rdquor;with high pressure and the will to build from behind as non-negotiable measures: “Many Brazilian teams come looking for you, they squeeze you, they are aggressive without the ball. They try to get the ball from behind and have a slightly higher pace of play than the rest. If you add to all this the quality that its players already have, you have the reality of recent seasons, where they are far superior to the rest of the teams on the continent”. Torrent also considers that in countries like Argentina or Uruguay football has not been updated or evolved. “When I see these countries, without underestimating them, I see the same thing I saw 15 years ago, with most teams playing in 4-4-2, with a diamond and the typical hook figure. In addition, they usually back up and wait for you in a medium or low block, resorting to counterattack as the only attack option”points out the coach from Girona.

Brazil is still the king