Tim Vickery Column: Strength in numbers needed by Brazilian clubs in Copa Libertadores

Atletico Mineiro are defending the title they won in 2013 - Action Images
Despite winning recent Copas, Brazilian club sides must do more collectively

The last four winners of the Copa Libertadores have come from Brazil – which is only to be expected.  In professional football, money matters.  And a financial chasm has opened up in the last few years between Brazilian clubs and those in the rest of the continent.  Revenue has been flowing in from sponsorship and TV rights.  As a consequence, talent from all across South America is heading for Brazil.  Andres D’Alessandro of Internacional heads an ever stronger contingent of Argentine players in Brazil.  But there are no high profile Brazilians in Argentina – the clubs there simply could not afford them.

It is no surprise, then, that Brazil is taking a grip on the Libertadores.  The surprise is that the grip is not even tighter.  Back in 2010 Internacional won the continent’s equivalent of the Champions League.  That year, there were four Brazilian clubs in the last eight.  One would have thought, that with Brazil’s financial advantage growing year by year, that such dominance would become increasingly noticeable.  In fact, the opposite has happened.

In 2011 Santos, the eventual winners, were the only Brazilian club to reach the quarter finals – and they were lucky to get past America of Mexico in the second round.  And in both the last two campaigns Brazil has contributed two of the last eight – Fluminense and both the champions, Corinthians in 2012 and Atletico Mineiro last year.

Had Atletico keeper Victor not saved an injury time penalty against Tijuana of Mexico, there would have been no Brazilian representation in the Libertadores semi finals – astonishing, given the financial balance of forces.  As it is, Atletico needed a penalty shoot out to win both the semi final and the final.  The decider was against Olimpia of Paraguay – whose entire wage bill would not come close to paying Ronaldinho.  But that imbalance was never seen on the pitch.  After a tense struggle which could have gone either way Atletico needed the drama of the shoot out to proclaim themselves champions.

There is something heartwarming in this – an observation that money might be important, but that it is not always determinant, that football always retains the capacity to spring surprises.  It could also lead to an interpretation that domestic Brazilian football is performing well short of potential – a view that performances in the World Club Cup over the past few years would tend to support.

So what of this year?  There are some interesting rivals in the field; San Lorenzo of Argentina, with a highly promising group of youngsters now coached by Edgardo Bauza, who took LDU of Ecuador to the title in 2008.  Or Atletico Nacional of Colombia, under the fascinating Juan Carlos Osorio, winners of both Colombian championships and the cup in 2013.  Or Cerro Porteno of Paraguay, with a bright new generation under Francisco Arce, former idol of Gremio and Palmeiras, who won the last domestic league without suffering a single defeat.

How will the Brazilian challenge stand up?  Clearly, the team that everyone wants to see is Cruzeiro.  Can they sustain the form that carried them so comfortably to the league title last year?  Some have their doubts.  Whatever happens, the format of the competition, with home and away knock out, will test them more than the Brazilian league was able to in 2013.

Astonishingly, of the 6 Brazilian sides in this year’s Libertadores, Cruzeiro are one of only two not to have changed their coach since the end of last season.  Marcelo Oliveira continues in charge, as does Jaime de Almeida with Flamengo, an improvised stand in last October who grabbed his opportunity in fine style.

The other four have all made a change – a trend which has much to do with an alarming realisation made by Brazil’s clubs.  Their spending was out of control.  Suddenly the money is not so abundant.

TV rights revenues may have risen with a decade from R$300 million to RS1.5 billion, but, as sports business expert Amir Somaggi point out, “the clubs have spent it, and some have even taken out bank loans as well.”  Suddenly the scenario looks bleaker.  The government is now taking a harder line against clubs that run up fiscal debts.  A year ago, writes Carlos Mansur in the ‘O Globo’ newspaper, “the sky seemed to be the limit in Brazilian football.  However, the limit seems to have been exceeded, and the pre-season market of 2014 bears the mark of recession.”

Botafogo have also suffered from the loss of revenue resulting from the temporary closure of the Engenhao stadium.  They have said a reluctant farewell to Clarence Seedorf.  Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira has also moved on.  No attempt was made to bring in a big name replacement.  Instead they have gone for a cheap, in house solution, the promotion of former assistant Eduardo Hungaro – who has already been jeered by fans in the opening games of the Rio State Championship.

The club are taking a risk.  Botafogo now embark on their first Libertadores campaign since 1996 – which begins with the home and away qualifying round against Deportivo Quito of Ecuador.  Their opponents have altitude in their favour in their home leg, but are in far worse financial straights than Botafogo.  Their star players from last year have all been sold, with a few replacements scrambled in.  It would indeed be a disaster if Botafogo’s long awaited Libertadores adventure were to come to an end after just two games.  Hungaro, then, is being thrown in at the deep end.

The other Brazilian side in the qualifying round are Atletico Paranaense, one of the shocks of last year’s domestic season.  Their decision not to retain the services of coach Vagner Mancini can only be described as baffling.  Perhaps it, too, was at least in part motivated by financial considerations.  Atletico’s financial resources are being stretched by the need to get their stadium ready in time for the World Cup.  In comes a Spanish coach, confusingly named Miguel Angel Portugal, who had been in charge of Bolivar in La Paz.  Presumably he comes considerably cheaper than Mancini, and although Atletico are favourites to go through, opponents Sporting Cristal of Peru have enough firepower to make things interesting – a word that applies very neatly to the prospects of all six Brazilian sides in the 2014 Copa Libertadores.

 





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July 23, 2014
21:29Brazilian Football Confederation confirm new goalkeeper coach and assistant manager
21:19Flamengo reappoint Vanderlei Luxemburgo as Head Coach following Ney Franco sacking
20:28Barcelona midfielder Rafinha delighted Xavi is staying with the club
19:42Santos Vice-President Odílio Rodrigues Filho admits Robinho deal will be "a difficult operation"
17:02Napoli goalkeeper Rafael Cabral hoping for Seleção return under Dunga
15:47Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa discusses why he hasn’t returned to Ukraine
15:17Report: Werder Bremen set to sign Internacional defender Cláudio Winck
14:59Brazil to be less reliant on Neymar under new head coach Dunga?
14:27New Brazil head coach Dunga looking to get fans behind national team again
14:05Alexandre Pato’s agent admits he hasn’t had any contact from Internazionale
13:46Cruzeiro rule themselves out of the running for Robinho’s signature
13:43President Enrique Cerezo believes Atlético de Madrid can cope with Diego Costa and Filipe Luís sales and refutes Miranda rumours
12:09Ex-Flamengo president recalls when the club were in a similar situation a decade ago
11:50Palmeiras defender Juninho linked with Fluminense move
11:25Atletico Mineiro set to face Lanus in Recopa Sudamerica decider this evening
11:12Alexandre Gallo steps into Brazil U-23 Olympic role
10:58Fabregas can't wait to join forces with Diego Costa at Chelsea this season
10:49Shakhtar Donetsk chief pledges top security for club's Brazilian stars
10:34New Technical Director Rinaldi has close relationship with Dunga
10:30Tim Vickery Column: Brazil may want to look further afield in order to regain reputation
10:07Report: Roma in negotiations with São Paulo to re-sign defender Rafael Tolói
July 22, 2014
23:27Report: Cruzeiro set to hold talks with Milan over Robinho
23:16Former Internacional forward Ignacio Scocco set for Newell's Old Boys return
23:11Agent confirms Robinho offers amid interest from Cruzeiro and Orlando City
20:43Dunga: I'm here to rescue Brazil
19:57Orlando City club president: Robinho would be great alongside Kaká
19:41Robinho: "For fans of Milan I can only say thank you for everything"
19:28Former Arsenal defender André Santos released by Flamengo after being attacked by his own fans
19:17Dunga named as new Brazil coach
14:36Al-Wasl team manager Majed Obaidallah confirms loan signing of Fábio Lima from Atlético Goianiense
13:47New Chelsea signing Filipe Luís confident he will fit in perfectly at Stamford Bridge
13:31Filipe Luís looking forward to working with Chelsea manager José Mourinho
13:25Kaka nearing Sao Paulo debut
13:15Former Brazil U-20 coach Lourenco claims he and Dunga never spoke in the past
12:44Report: Juventus and Roma could move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa following refusal to return to Ukraine
12:25Flamengo to keep hold of Ney Franco as manager- for now
12:251994 World Cup winner Jorginho set to be Brazil assistant manager again
12:14Former Palmeiras midfielder Valdivia has not moved to the Middle East for money
12:04Manchester United's Anderson criticised by ex-international Tostao
12:03Brazil set to name Luiz Felipe Scolari’s replacement this afternoon
11:44Former Brazil national team forward Adriano set for another comeback?
July 21, 2014
23:53Report: Barcelona to target São Paulo defender Rodrigo Caio
23:47La Liga newcomers Córdoba confirm the loan signing of forward Ryder Matos from Fiorentina
23:45Robinho taking his time over his next move
23:42Serie B newcomers Perugia sign veteran midfielder Rodrigo Taddei on a free transfer from Roma
23:352014 Brasileirão Round 11 summary: Internacional thump struggling Flamengo
23:25Palmeiras forward Henrique disappointed with his miss versus Cruzeiro
23:10Former Arsenal defender André Santos describes attack by Flamengo fans
23:04Deivid hailed by Atlético Paranaense head coach Doriva following Criciuma victory
22:30Atlético Paranaense head coach Doriva praises supporters and forwards
July 23, 2014
17:02Napoli goalkeeper Rafael Cabral hoping for Seleção return under Dunga
July 19, 2014
23:19Gerard Houllier explains why Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball
23:13Neymar believes Brazil can learn from Germany and Spain
23:07Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli welcomes introduction of vanishing spray into Serie A after World Cup success
July 14, 2014
23:57FIFA President Sepp Blatter denies involvement in selection of Lionel Messi as Golden Ball winner
23:48FIFA Secretary-General Jérôme Valcke expects Russia and Qatar World Cups to match Brazil
23:13Maicon philosophical over Brazil World Cup disappointment
July 13, 2014
23:44Fred hopes Fluminense will give him time off after World Cup disappointment
23:41Fred confirms he has retired from international football
09:54Sambafoot Sunday: Brazil's 2014 World Cup Fallout: New Failures
July 12, 2014
23:51Joachim Low: Germany can be the first European nation to win in Latin America
23:48Dunga: Germany played as a unit
23:44Thiago Silva left frustrated by Netherlands defeat
23:35Oscar has "horrible feeling" after Netherlands defeat
July 11, 2014
22:50Germany forward Thomas Muller looking forward to playing in the Maracana
July 09, 2014
23:55Neymar agent Wagner Ribeiro makes astonishing attack of Luiz Felipe Scolari
23:51Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari insists Germany defeat "not all bad"
23:48Cafu refused entry to Brazil dressing room after Germany defeat
15:30Tim Vickery Column: A look at Brazil’s capitulation against Germany and what now for Luiz Felipe Scolari
July 08, 2014
23:59Luiz Felipe Scolari: “Who is responsible for this result? I am, it’s me”
23:55Germany forward Miroslav Klose "truly happy" to break Ronaldo's World Cup scoring record
23:50Julio Cesar struggles to comprehend Brazil defeat
23:39Brazil 1-7 Germany: Ruthless Germany tear Seleção apart to secure historic semi-final victory
23:29Brazil 1-7 Germany: Player ratings
20:10Brazil v Germany: line-ups
July 07, 2014
22:25Brazil legend Amarildo believes Neymar absence could work to the Selecao's advantage against Germany
22:22Germany Head Coach Joachim Low wary of "robust" Brazil
22:05Maicon disappointed with refereeing on Neymar challenge
July 06, 2014
09:25Sambafoot Sunday: Ney Problem - Can Brazil Cope Without Neymar?
July 05, 2014
23:45Argentina forward Lionel Messi aiming for the World Cup final
23:30Medic insists vertebra injury will not compromise Neymar’s career
July 04, 2014
23:59Thiago Silva defends emotional Brazil
23:55James Rodriguez: David Luiz told me I was a good player
23:50David Luiz looks forward to "classic" encounter with Germany
23:47David Luiz: Colombia would have gone further if they “hadn't come up against Brazil”
15:34Luiz Felipe Scolari feels Brazil’s lack of a rivalry with Colombia will allow his players to be “more at ease'
July 03, 2014
18:58Brazil v Colombia – Preview
July 02, 2014
22:14Neymar confirms he is fit to face Colombia
22:10Colombia Head Coach Jose Pekerman confident his side can upset Brazil
22:06Neymar insists he can fit in any formation amid rumours that Luiz Felipe Scolari will switch to a 3-5-2 against Colombia
22:02Neymar happy for Brazil to win 1-0 against Colombia
July 01, 2014
23:24Fernandinho confident Brazil can handle expectations
June 30, 2014
16:29Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari unsure whether Neymar will be fit to face Colombia
16:24Brazil Head Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari compares Neymar to Cristiano Ronaldo
June 29, 2014
23:11Diego Maradona: "Chile deserved to go through"
23:00Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez respectful of Brazil
21:23Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez hopeful of Brazil victory
19:21Diego Maradona excited by Colombia and James Rodriguez
June 28, 2014
21:04Brazil vs. Chile: Player ratings
16:14Brazil vs Chile: Line up
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
July 23, 2014
21:19Flamengo reappoint Vanderlei Luxemburgo as Head Coach following Ney Franco sacking
19:42Santos Vice-President Odílio Rodrigues Filho admits Robinho deal will be "a difficult operation"
15:17Report: Werder Bremen set to sign Internacional defender Cláudio Winck
13:43President Enrique Cerezo believes Atlético de Madrid can cope with Diego Costa and Filipe Luís sales and refutes Miranda rumours
10:07Report: Roma in negotiations with São Paulo to re-sign defender Rafael Tolói
July 22, 2014
23:27Report: Cruzeiro set to hold talks with Milan over Robinho
23:16Former Internacional forward Ignacio Scocco set for Newell's Old Boys return
23:11Agent confirms Robinho offers amid interest from Cruzeiro and Orlando City
14:36Al-Wasl team manager Majed Obaidallah confirms loan signing of Fábio Lima from Atlético Goianiense
12:44Report: Juventus and Roma could move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa following refusal to return to Ukraine
July 21, 2014
23:53Report: Barcelona to target São Paulo defender Rodrigo Caio
23:47La Liga newcomers Córdoba confirm the loan signing of forward Ryder Matos from Fiorentina
23:42Serie B newcomers Perugia sign veteran midfielder Rodrigo Taddei on a free transfer from Roma
23:352014 Brasileirão Round 11 summary: Internacional thump struggling Flamengo
July 19, 2014
23:01Report: Hellas Verona to target Cagliari forward Nenê
09:30Report: Chelsea set to move for Atlético de Madrid defender Miranda after completing deal for Filipe Luís
July 18, 2014
22:42Udinese complete the signing of midfielder Guilherme from Corinthians
22:34Robinho representative suggests temporary switch to Brazil is likely
22:31Representative confirms negotiations between Milan and Orlando City over Robinho
22:27Report: Livorno striker Paulinho set to join Al Arabi
17:542014 Brasileirão Round 10 summary: Newly promoted Sport Recife shock Botafogo
10:51Report: Genoa set to sign defender Edenílson on loan from Udinese
July 17, 2014
22:58Report: Sunderland forward Ignacio Scocco can't return to Newell's Old Boys until payment is settled with Internacional
22:53Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale bemoans lack of a second goalkeeper for Fluminense test
22:49Exeter City Manager Paul Tisdale expecting stern test against Fluminense
22:42Santos Head Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira hopeful for Robinho return
22:37Former Croatia international Eduardo signs for Flamengo
22:33New Flamengo signing Eduardo retires from international football
July 16, 2014
23:07Daniel Alves defends new Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez
23:02Daniel Alves wants Barcelona stay
22:57Report: Robinho to Santos before joining Kaka at Orlando City
22:52Livorno forward Paulinho considering a number of offers
July 14, 2014
23:52Hellas Verona confirm signing of Romulo from Fiorentina
23:12Cafu expects former Chelsea defender Ashley Cole to succeed at Roma
23:12Maicon wants a new deal at Roma
July 12, 2014
23:39Dodo hails Walter Mazzarri influence in Internazionale move
July 11, 2014
23:01Milan Vice President Adriano Galliani hails capture of Brazilian defender Alex
22:58Internazionale defender Juan Jesus talks Nemanja Vidic and Alexandre Pato
22:54Internazionale defender Juan Jesus thankful for fans support after long injury layoff
22:46Rodrigo Taddei open to Fiorentina switch
July 09, 2014
23:59Goalkeeper Diego Alves signs a new five year deal with Valencia
23:36Dodo thanks Roma fans after agreeing Internazionale move
July 07, 2014
22:16Report: Roma defender Dodo set to join Internazionale on loan
22:11Report: Alexandre Pato's wage demands are holding up potential Internazionale move
22:01Maicon confident he will win the Scudetto with Roma
July 02, 2014
22:21Kaka expects Robinho to join him in Major League Soccer
July 01, 2014
23:14Ethics committee confirms claims of match fixing against Cameroon will be investigated
23:13Angel Di Maria believes Argentina deserved to beat Switzerland
23:12Chelsea confirm signing of Atlético Madrid forward Diego Costa
June 30, 2014
16:40Agent Tadeu Cruz denies that Kaka has left Milan for family reasons
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