Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior 2013 - Preview

The 44th edition of the Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior begins on January 4, 2013. One of the largest junior tournaments in the world, The competition will feature 100 clubs separated into 25 groups. Globally recognized clubs, such as Corinthians and Flamengo, are placed in with clubs few outside of their home state would know. Given the size and diversity of Brazil, both geographically and population-wise, it should not surprise anyone to know that upsets happen regularly. This year’s tournament should be no different.

Eligible players for the 2013 tournament are those with birth years, 1993-97. This will make this year's tournament an Under-19 (The Sao Paulo federation uses 2012 as the reference year for this tournament) competition rather than an Under-18 tournament like the previous few years. This change is likely to make this tournament even more unpredictable because many of the elite players born in 1993 will already be playing at the senior level and individual clubs will need to decide if those players will be involved or not. It is certain that decisions will vary.

Identifying the favourites in this tournament is especially difficult, but most lists would start with the teams representing the 15 or so biggest clubs in Brazil. Still, tournament history teaches us that winners are not always from this group of big clubs. In fact, eight of the last 20 winners do not sit among the CBF's current top 20 clubs.

The fact that some of Brazil's best recognized developers of talent have not been that successful shows how difficult this tournament is to win. Santos (1984) Cruzeiro (2007), and Vasco da Gama (1992) have only won this tournament once and Gremio-RS and Botafogo-RJ have yet to win.

In any year, the winner needs a combination of talent, depth, and luck. To win the tournament, the team must play eight games in three weeks where the last five games must be won. Any team making it out of the group phase to participate in the 32-team knock out phase has to be considered dangerous in a one game knock-out. Of these teams, half are likely capable of winning the tournament if things go their way.

While every group has a seeded favourite, there are some groups that could prove to be extremely dangerous for the seeded teams of big clubs. Among the more interesting are:

Group H – Audax, Bahia, Criciuma, Botafogo of Paraiba: Audax are one of best academies in the state of Sao Paulo and Bahia are regularly strong at the youth level. Add Criciuma into the mix and there could be some surprises. Botafogo are the unknown in this group. .

Group K – Vasco da Gama, Comercial, Botafogo of Ribeirao Preto, Paysandu: Vasco da Gama should have the strongest team in this group but could very easily get upset. With group based in Ribeirao Preto, both Botafogo and Comercial are in their home city and both have had strong teams in the past. Paysandu also cannot be taken lightly.

Group R - Desportivo Brasil, Avai, Atletico Goianiense, America Natal: This group is very evenly balanced but the slight favourite has to be Desportivo Brasil. Their striker, Bruno Gomes, should be one of the top players in the tournament. But any slip up could create upsets.

Group W – Internacional, Gremio Esportivo Osasco, Paulista, Nacional-AM: While Nacional are not likely to cause much trouble for Internacional, Gremio Osasco are a battle-tested academy club and Paulista are a former winner and a noted giant killer.

 

Other Storylines to Watch as They Develop:

 

Be Wary of the Academy Clubs

These are clubs that have over-sized academies relative to the performance of their senior team, there are a number of them in this tournament with the potential to surprise. The most recognized outside of Brazil would be Desportivo Brasil because of its partnership with Manchester United. There are also several others who could be dangerous. Some names to watch in this tournament would be Audax, Red Bull Brasil, Gremio Esportivo Osasco, and Comercial of Ribeirao Preto. While Comercial is a long established club in Ribeirao Preto, it is included here because of its merger with another academy club called Ole Brasil.

All of these clubs are capable of disrupting the hopes of the big clubs. Desportivo Brasil may not be a favourite to win; but, few who know the youth systems in the State of Sao Paulo would be surprised if they did.

Surprises out of the Interior

Most of the time, clubs from the western and interior States of Brazil tend to fall in the group stage. But every so often, there is one that shocks. Rondonopolis from Mato Groso surprised a few teams in 2012, for example.

Reinforced Sao Paulo clubs

It is very common for Sao Paulo clubs to sign a number of reinforcements just prior to September's deadline. Small and mid-sized Sao Paulo clubs normally have strong teams already. Adding five or six reinforcements specifically for the this tournament can result in some surprises. Those in the greater Sao Paulo area are most dangerous. Teams from clubs like Taubate, Santo Andre, Gremio Barueri, Flamengo-SP, Juventus, and Nacional are likely reinforced from their last appearances and can shock even the best clubs.

The emergence of unknown players

There is always an expectation of great things from players of the big Serie A clubs; but occasionally surprises appear. For example in 2000, Juventus of Sao Paulo defeated Santos and Internacional on their way to the final, only to lose to Sao Paulo FC. That team had two starting centre backs named Alex and Luisão.

Filipe (now with Atletico Madrid) and Andre Santos played together with Figueirense in the 2003 edition of the tournament. In 2007, Wellington Silva (now at Flamengo) played the right back position with Everton Pascoa (currently Santos) in the middle and Juninho (now with Palmeiras) as left back wearing the shirt of Juventus (the team was actually supplied by Pao de Acucar EC).

More recently, others who made their first appearances with lesser known clubs in this tournament include former Brazil Under 20 stars Danilo (with America-MG) and Willian Jose (with Gremio Barueri) in 2009.

Who will appear with lesser known teams in 2013?

The Canadian Coach

Possibly one of the most unusual stories of this year's Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior has to be the story of Desportivo Brasil coach, Marc dos Santos.

Marc dos Santos is a Canadian, born in Montreal. His soccer development as a player, like many Canadian players, led him to Europe and elsewhere. Early on, he understood that his future as a player would be difficult and moved into coaching. At 26, he began his studies to become a coach. His early coaching education included working in internships at Porto under coaches including Jose Mourinho and he completed his UEFA “A” License through the Irish Football Association prior to going to Brazil. His first success as a head coach came in 2007 with a lower level cup title with the Trois Rivieres Attak and he then won the USL league title (North American second division after MLS but no promotion system) in 2009 with the Montreal Impact.

Dos Santos resigned from the Montreal Impact in 2011 and came to Brazil after an introduction to Roque Junior by Cesar Sampaio and an invitation from Roque Junior to coach Primeira Camisa’s entry into the 2012 edition of the Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior. Primeira Camisa surprised many by making it to the final sixteen where they lost to the eventual champion, Corinthians.

With that success, Cesar Sampaio brought him to Palmeiras to coach their under-15 team in February. While at Palmeiras, its under-15 team succeeded in winning the Copa do Brasil Sub-15 championship in July. It was this success that prompted Desportivo Brasil to hire dos Santos to be their Technical Director and their coach for the 2013 edition of the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Junior.

At the young age of 35 and with trophies in two countries, he has already caught the attention of some in the press in Brazil. Some because of the novelty but, others, watching his success and emphasizing his Portuguese experiences, have suggested that he might be the next Andre Villas-Boas.

Should Desportivo Brasil exceed expectations in this tournament, this story will likely become more widely reported. If they should win, who knows?

 

Art Zantinge can be found on Twitter - @azantinge and get updates from the tournament via Sambafoot and our Facebook group.

 

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December 18, 2014
11:33Roberto Carlos: 'Marcelo is still the best'
11:19Bruno signs two year deal with São Paulo
11:09Dória prepared to leave Marseille
11:01Chelsea's Eden Hazard inspired by Ronaldinho
10:53Douglas Costa: 'We can beat Bayern'
December 17, 2014
17:54Ricardo Goulart believes staying with Cruzeiro will help him earn Seleção recognition
17:46Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva relaxed over future despite reported interest from Arsenal and Real Madrid
17:42Report: Cruzeiro turn down second Real Madrid offer for midfielder Lucas Silva
17:32Report: Fiorentina close in on loan agreement for Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato
11:23Zidane leaves Neymar out of his best 11
11:13Filipe Luís scores his first goal for Chelsea
10:53Atlético-MG sign Lucas Pratto
10:42Arsenal target Silva offered new bumper deal by Cruzeiro
10:34Mourinho: 'Ramires is a Chelsea champion'
December 16, 2014
18:20Cruzeiro midfielder Julio Baptista happy he returned to Brazil
18:15Athletic Club Head Coach Ernesto Valverde wary of Amauri threat ahead of Europa League tie with Torino
18:09Adriano Galliani compares Ronaldinho and Ronaldo to Milan Head Coach Filippo Inzaghi
11:34Arsenal target Lucas Silva
11:16Chelsea masseuse flying the Brazilian flag
11:04Breno to join São Paulo in January
10:52Chelsea to offer Ramires to Juventus
10:43Mourinho: 'Chelsea were lucky'
December 15, 2014
21:38Doriva is the new coach of Vasco da Gama
21:26Cesar Sampaio set to return to Santos
20:41Lucas believes in PSG's chances against Chelsea
20:34Santos ready to let Leandro Damiao go to Cruzeiro
20:23Luis Enrique confirms Neymar's absence
19:14Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho defends Diego Costa after his yellow card for diving against Hull City
19:06Sao Paulo loanee Alvaro Pereira not worried about his future
19:00Report: Daniel Alves set to miss Barcelona's Copa del Rey clash against Huesca
18:53Sampdoria forward Eder praises Carlos Tevez
11:55Mancini praises Sylvinho
11:34Brazilians in Europe: Lima impresses for Benfica
11:26Parreira: 'Dunga is a good choice'
11:13Fernandinho: 'We froze at the World Cup'
11:05Danilo: 'Benfica were lucky'
December 13, 2014
22:02Report: Sao Paulo consider bid for Internazionale midfielder Hernanes
21:52Luis Enrique confident Douglas can make an impact at Barcelona despite slow start
15:12Sylvinho confirms he is set to take role as Roberto Mancini's Assistant Coach at Internazionale
December 12, 2014
17:35Porto defender Alex Sandro pleased with Shakhtar Donetsk draw and eager to progress in the Champions League
17:27Agent insists defender Henrique wants to stay at Napoli
17:24Agent denies Internacional are interested in Napoli defender Henrique
11:46David Luiz: 'PSG can win the Champions League'
11:32Neymar in the Champions League best 11
11:19Robinho quiet on MLS move
11:04José Carlos Toffolo moves to Mexico
10:53Marcelo: 'I want to make history with Real Madrid'
December 11, 2014
23:31Lucas Silva's father wants him to remain at Cruzeiro until the summer
23:27Brazil Head Coach Dunga questions Real Madrid full-back Marcelo's defensive credentials
23:20Agent confirms Sao Paulo defender Rafael Toloi wants Serie A return
December 11, 2014
23:27Brazil Head Coach Dunga questions Real Madrid full-back Marcelo's defensive credentials
November 25, 2014
09:29Brazil drawn in Group C alongside Colombia, Peru and Venezuela for 2015 Copa América
November 22, 2014
22:15Galatasaray midfielder Felipe Melo believes he deserves Brazil recall
November 17, 2014
22:34Brazil Head Coach Dunga confirms he will use the same line up that beat Turkey for Austria test
November 15, 2014
20:06Austria 1-0 Russia: Das Team maintain unbeaten UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying record ahead of Brazil friendly
November 12, 2014
20:44Neymar scored twice as Brazil turned on the style in beating Turkey 4-0
17:56Turkey vs. Brazil: Line ups
November 11, 2014
18:35Luiz Adriano expected to start for Brazil in Wednesday's friendly against Turkey
18:25Defender Miranda wary of Atlético de Madrid team-mate Arda Turan ahead of Brazil's friendly with Turkey
18:14Turkish Football Federation President Yıldırım Demirören honoured to see Istanbul hosting Brazil friendly
November 07, 2014
21:11Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Ömer Toprak left out of Turkey squad for matches against Brazil and Kazakhstan
November 04, 2014
15:41Sambafoot exclusive: Adriano talks Le Havre, Neymar, Dunga and the Brasileirão title race
November 03, 2014
22:38Atlético Mineiro forward Diego Tardelli admits relief at breaking Brazil duck
October 29, 2014
16:57FIFA President Sepp Blatter claims Russia's 2018 World Cup preparations are "considerably ahead of schedule" compared to Brazil
October 24, 2014
14:13Kaká confident he can help Brazil over the short-term
October 23, 2014
23:14Head Coach Dunga refuses to confirm whether Neymar or Thiago Silva will captain Brazil
23:10Brazil Head Coach Dunga hopes Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano can help "create an alternative approach"
October 21, 2014
21:161994 World Cup winning Head Coach Carlos Alberto Perreira believes Brazil must regain their identity
October 20, 2014
23:09 José Mourinho praises Dunga despite frustration over lack of communication with international managers
October 18, 2014
21:55Carlos Alberto Parreira: Dunga's "been doing a good job"
October 16, 2014
17:18Dunga’s Most Important Players
October 15, 2014
16:24Santos forward Robinho: Brazil want to "win the World Cup in Russia"
12:26Brazil forward Neymar reveals Head Coach Dunga's advice after 4-0 friendly win over Japan
October 14, 2014
22:43CSKA Moscow defender Mário Fernandes hopes he "pleased Dunga" with Brazil debut
22:38Brazil goalkeeper Jefferson pleased late save against Japan kept clean sheet run intact
22:32Brazil goalkeeper Jefferson: "It is good to see Dunga’s philosophy is working for us"
18:09Neymar admits four goal haul against Japan "gives me goosebumps"
18:03Neymar not concerned about Brazil goal tally
13:59Brazil destroy Japan thanks to a fantastic Neymar
08:46Brazil-Japan (National Stadium, Singapore): Preview
October 13, 2014
15:57Internazionale defender Yuto Nagatomo insists Japan must play as a team against Brazil
15:52Japan Head Coach Javier Aguirre "relaxed" ahead of Brazil friendly
15:45Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar confirms David Luiz is a doubt for Japan friendly
15:41Mainz 05 forward Shinji Okazaki insists Japan must be clinical if they are to get a result from Brazil friendly
October 12, 2014
22:38Neymar unconcerned with physical approach during Brazil's 2-0 win over Argentian
22:34Brazil Head Coach Dunga insists Argentina win "gives huge confidence to the players"
13:14Brazil goalkeeper Jefferson: “I have studied the way Lionel Messi takes penalties"
13:09Atlético Mineiro Diego Tardelli admits its "a unique feeling" to score for Brazil after Argentina brace
11:10Brazil Head Coach Dunga questions appointment of referee Fan Qi for Argentina friendly
October 11, 2014
17:29Argentina 0-2 Brazil [Superclásico de las Américas, National Stadium]: Player ratings
16:13Argentina 0-2 Brazil [Superclásico de las Américas, National Stadium]: Diego Tardelli brace earns Seleção prestigious friendly victory
12:08Argentina 0-2 Brazil [Superclásico de las Américas, National Stadium]: Minute by minute
11:59Brazil Head Coach Dunga concerned about effects of Beijing smog on Superclásico de las Américas against Argentina
October 10, 2014
22:38Neymar hails Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi ahead of 2014 Superclásico de las Américas
16:182014 Superclásico de las Américas: Argentina vs. Brazil preview
October 09, 2014
22:50Danilo and Elias expected to start for Brazil in Saturday's 2014 Superclásico de las Américas against Argentina
22:45Brazil Olympic squad line up announced for Bolivia friendly
22:35Corinthians defender Gil believes Seleção team-mate Neymar is better than Lionel Messi
22:13Sambafoot is recruiting!
20:55Japan recall Kagawa for Brazil clash
June 26, 2014
14:33Report: Flamengo one of eight clubs who have enquired about loaning Internazionale midfielder Rubén Botta
June 16, 2014
11:35Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari backs Portugal to recovery from heavy Germany defeat
June 09, 2014
23:18Italy forward Lorenzo Insigne insists Italy’s poor defending in victory against Fluminense is “not important”
23:12Italy forward Ciro Immobile “excited” with hat-trick against Fluminense
22:56Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli pleased with Fluminense victory
22:52Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli delighted with Brazilian support
June 07, 2014
23:32Italy line up confirmed for Fluminense friendly
May 19, 2014
22:13Portugal Manager Paulo Bento names his 23-man 2014 FIFA World Cup squad
May 18, 2014
19:09Sambafoot Sunday: Botafogo's Shaky Start to 2014
April 13, 2014
08:34Sambafoot Sunday: Brazilian Clubs' Libertadores Numbers Game
April 06, 2014
09:20Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Mineiro's Anelka Interest Should be the Norm
February 14, 2014
12:23Shakhtar Donetsk: President decided to support Maicon’s family
February 09, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Where’s Wallyson? Botafogo find their new hero post-Seedorf
January 26, 2014
10:09Sambafoot Sunday: Cruciate curse affects Seleção hopes of three midfielders
December 01, 2013
13:36Sambafoot Sunday: Could Éverton Ribeiro Crack Europe?
November 25, 2013
11:39Brasileirão Week 36 round up: Vasco shock champions to stay in contention while defeat leaves Ponte Preta on the brink
November 24, 2013
10:17Sambafoot Sunday: Palmeiras Promoted with Chapecoense in Tow
November 17, 2013
12:00Palmeiras secure Brasileirão Série B title with 3-0 win against Boa Esporte
November 12, 2013
08:42Relegation threatened Fluminense sack head coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo
November 10, 2013
12:59Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Paranaense's hurricane season
November 09, 2013
10:05Drummer angers Flamengo fans
November 04, 2013
13:04Brasileirão week 32 round-up: Big win for Vasco as in-form Goiás maintain top four push
November 03, 2013
17:31Sambafoot Sunday: Surprise Packages in the 2013 Brasileirão
October 28, 2013
11:31Brasileirão Week 31 round up: Vital win for Ponte Preta while Goiás maintain top four push
October 21, 2013
13:21Olympique Marseille without defender Lucas Mendes for Napoli fixture
12:12Injury rules Bayern Munich defender Dante out of Viktoria Plzeň tie
October 20, 2013
23:50São Paulo president Juvenal Juvêncio admits interest in Lucas Moura loan return
October 18, 2013
11:47Diego Maradona dispute’s Pelé’s FIFA recognition
09:04Del Bosque: Costa approach no insult to current strikers
October 17, 2013
21:43Hard work is paying off insists Bayern Munich defender Rafinha
13:17Rodrigo Lasmar: Ronaldinho on track to be fit for the Club World Cup
October 16, 2013
19:53Report: Tottenham Hotspur set to offer Paulinho extended deal
09:12Report: São Paulo could terminate Lúcio’s contract if injury concerns prevail
October 13, 2013
18:32Brasileirão: Grêmio slip up as Vitoria and Santos grab victories
14:49Vanderlei Luxemburgo: ‘Simulation part of football’
October 09, 2013
20:37Mineiro learn Club World Cup fate
October 06, 2013
22:39Oswaldo de Oliveira in hospital after Botafogo defeat
11:55Sambafoot Sunday: Cruzeiro cruising at the top of the Brasileirão
October 04, 2013
23:52Internacional manager Dunga sacked
September 14, 2013
14:29Guerrero: Corinthians can still be champions
September 11, 2013
20:49Roberto Carlos: Anzhi could collapse
14:57Exeter City play down Brazil fears
September 07, 2013
14:12Atlético Madrid's Filipe Luis: Barca-Madrid dominance an injustice
September 06, 2013
19:04Santos announce tour of South East Asia
18:42São Paulo slump to defeat as Rogerio Ceni misses penalty
September 05, 2013
19:17Cruzeiro go four points clear after defeating Bahia
18:43Romário and Maradona fight against CONMEBOL corruption
September 03, 2013
21:29Marcelo Mattos says Botafogo will overcome difficulties
20:54Réver believes Atlético Mineiro can challenge for Brazilian title
September 02, 2013
23:21São Paulo to honour Brazil legend Leonidas da Silva
December 17, 2014
17:54Ricardo Goulart believes staying with Cruzeiro will help him earn Seleção recognition
17:46Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva relaxed over future despite reported interest from Arsenal and Real Madrid
17:42Report: Cruzeiro turn down second Real Madrid offer for midfielder Lucas Silva
17:32Report: Fiorentina close in on loan agreement for Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato
December 16, 2014
18:20Cruzeiro midfielder Julio Baptista happy he returned to Brazil
18:15Athletic Club Head Coach Ernesto Valverde wary of Amauri threat ahead of Europa League tie with Torino
18:09Adriano Galliani compares Ronaldinho and Ronaldo to Milan Head Coach Filippo Inzaghi
December 15, 2014
19:14Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho defends Diego Costa after his yellow card for diving against Hull City
19:06Sao Paulo loanee Alvaro Pereira not worried about his future
19:00Report: Daniel Alves set to miss Barcelona's Copa del Rey clash against Huesca
18:53Sampdoria forward Eder praises Carlos Tevez
December 13, 2014
22:02Report: Sao Paulo consider bid for Internazionale midfielder Hernanes
21:52Luis Enrique confident Douglas can make an impact at Barcelona despite slow start
15:12Sylvinho confirms he is set to take role as Roberto Mancini's Assistant Coach at Internazionale
December 12, 2014
17:35Porto defender Alex Sandro pleased with Shakhtar Donetsk draw and eager to progress in the Champions League
17:27Agent insists defender Henrique wants to stay at Napoli
17:24Agent denies Internacional are interested in Napoli defender Henrique
December 11, 2014
23:31Lucas Silva's father wants him to remain at Cruzeiro until the summer
23:20Agent confirms Sao Paulo defender Rafael Toloi wants Serie A return
December 10, 2014
19:18Ronaldo backs Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo to win 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or
18:29Benfica defender César "happy with the opportunity to play" after starting in Bayer Leverkusen stalemate
17:24Goa manager Zico describes reaching ISL semi-final as "one of the greatest moments of my career"
16:39Report: Arsenal ready to match asking price for Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva as Real Madrid switch targets
15:32Report: Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto keen for wage increase as part of new deal
December 09, 2014
19:19Major League Soccer outfit Portland Timbers announce signing of full-back Jeanderson
18:38Real Madrid Head Coach Carlo Ancelotti confirms interest in Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva
17:35Barcelona Vice-President Javier Faus insists Neymar will "never be sold"
16:34Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva pleased with Real Madrid rumours and keen to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo
15:59Diego Tardelli suggests he could leave Atlético Mineiro
December 03, 2014
22:31Ronaldinho explains how he joined Barcelona rather than Manchester United in 2003
16:16Juventus legend Claudio Gentile expects interest in Torino wing-back Bruno Peres
16:12Agent denies highly-rated wing-back Bruno Peres will look to leave Torino in January
16:04Report: Guangzhou Evergrande Technical Director Marcello Lippi ready to raid Brasileirão
15:51Report: Guangzhou Evergrande ready to move for want-away Fluminense forward Fred
December 02, 2014
23:19Report: Arsenal join race for Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva
23:112014 Brasileirão Team of the Year announced
23:00Felipe Anderson pleased to get playing time at Lazio
22:55Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson happy to score 3-0 Coppa Italia win over Varese
December 01, 2014
21:08Camilo Sanvezzo and Diego Costa miss out on final shortlist for 2014 FIFA Puskás Award
21:02Diego Costa and Neymar named amongst forwards nominated for the FIFA FIFPro World XI
20:57Torino defender Bruno Peres admits last minute Derby della Mole defeat to Juventus was tough to take
20:51Torino defender Bruno Peres delighted to net in Derby della Mole
20:45Report: Fiorentina need to sell before moving for Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato
November 25, 2014
18:04Report: Internazionale eager to sign Cruzeiro midfielder Lucas Silva in January transfer window
16:18São Paulo Head Coach Muricy Ramalho hopes for strong home support to help overturn Copa Sudamericana semi-final against Atlético Nacional
08:37Corinthians forward Alexandre Pato open to Serie A return
November 24, 2014
22:27Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho defends Diego Costa's Spain absence
22:21Roma Head Coach Rudi Garcia confirms Maicon will miss CSKA Moscow clash
10:30Maicon fails to make Roma squad for CSKA Moscow clash
November 23, 2014
22:44Napoli Sporting Director Riccardo Bigon seemingly confirms links with Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva
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