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.

 

Latest articles

Oscar ‘very happy’ at Chelsea

Coutinho’s Liverpool success makes Inter chief ‘sad’

Orlando City SC defender Rafael Ramos credits Kaká for helping early season form

Chelsea’s Oscar links up with Pele for Malaysian drink promotion

Chelsea manager José Mourinho confident of finalising deal for Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan

Report: Juventus to compete with Manchester City for defender Alex Sandro

Report: Roma make progress on deal for Torino wing-back Bruno Peres

Report: Napoli tracking Cruzeiro full-back Mayke

Arsenal’s Wellington Silva finally gains right to play in England

Dunga backs Chelsea's Oscar for Juventus move

Inter Milan keen on Liverpool’s Lucas

Atlético-MG left tough Libertadores task

Casemiro knows the hard part is yet to come for FC Porto

Fiorentina Head Coach Vincenzo Montella admits goalkeeper Neto is not 100% fit for Dynamo Kyiv tie

Pierre joins Fluminense from Atlético Mineiro

Rodgers praises Coutinho after Liverpool’s win over Newcastle

Liverpool’s Lucas plays down injury fears

Ex-Liverpool midfielder backs Coutinho for ten-year deal

Carragher: Coutinho becoming Liverpool’s new Suarez

Bayern Munich Head Coach Pep Guardiola name-checks FC Porto's Casemiro as possible threat

Barcelona Director of Football Ariedo Braida denies interest in Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson

Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc denies a proposal has been made to Barcelona's Daniel Alves

Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan confirms on Twitter that he is set to sign with Chelsea

Report: Chelsea remain on track to secure deal for Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan

Report: Corinthians reject approach from Roma for forward Malcom

Lucas claims Liverpool have belief back

Lucas defends Liverpool team-mate Sterling

Chelsea target Kenedy to remain at Fluminense for the moment

Campeonato Mineiro: Atlético held by rivals Cruzeiro

Report: São Paulo ready to make surprise offer for veteran Lazio forward Miroslav Klose

Latest News.

  • All
  • Seleção
  • Teams
  • Players
April 18, 2015
15:51Manchester United target Marquinhos commits future to PSG
15:50PSG captain Thiago Silva to miss Nice game
15:49Philippe Coutinho on meeting Pelé
15:48Juliano Belletti talks about Neymar
15:47David Luiz defended by mother after Champions League horror show
April 17, 2015
20:53Willian focuses on defence at Chelsea
20:09Oscar ‘very happy’ at Chelsea
20:02Coutinho’s Liverpool success makes Inter chief ‘sad’
19:58Orlando City SC defender Rafael Ramos credits Kaká for helping early season form
19:13Chelsea’s Oscar links up with Pele for Malaysian drink promotion
18:51Chelsea manager José Mourinho confident of finalising deal for Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan
17:03Report: Juventus to compete with Manchester City for defender Alex Sandro
14:17Pelé would pick Messi over Cristiano Ronaldo
14:14Barcelona president Bartomeu warns Neymar
14:12Neymar plays down his gestures in Sevilla game
13:43Laurent Blanc coy on PSG's interest in Dani Alves
13:40Pelé insists Neymar is reaching the level of the best
08:11Report: Roma make progress on deal for Torino wing-back Bruno Peres
07:54Report: Napoli tracking Cruzeiro full-back Mayke
April 16, 2015
20:45Arsenal’s Wellington Silva finally gains right to play in England
19:54Dunga backs Chelsea's Oscar for Juventus move
19:51Inter Milan keen on Liverpool’s Lucas
19:34Atlético-MG left tough Libertadores task
19:11Casemiro knows the hard part is yet to come for FC Porto
15:46Porto played with their hearts in their boots, says Casemiro
15:45Ex-Arsenal midfielder Gilberto says Brazil must prioritise World Cup qualifiers over Copa América
15:43Ex-England coach Hoddle: 'David Luiz plays like an eight-year-old'
15:42Beckenbauer says Dante played against Porto in ski boots
15:40Thiago Silva injured against PSG
April 15, 2015
20:51Fiorentina Head Coach Vincenzo Montella admits goalkeeper Neto is not 100% fit for Dynamo Kyiv tie
20:49Pierre joins Fluminense from Atlético Mineiro
20:13Rodgers praises Coutinho after Liverpool’s win over Newcastle
19:39Liverpool’s Lucas plays down injury fears
19:32Ex-Liverpool midfielder backs Coutinho for ten-year deal
19:23Carragher: Coutinho becoming Liverpool’s new Suarez
16:03Bayern Munich Head Coach Pep Guardiola name-checks FC Porto's Casemiro as possible threat
15:34Barcelona Director of Football Ariedo Braida denies interest in Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson
15:23Neymar yet to reach physical peak, says Seedorf
15:22Suárez: 'My job is to help Messi and Neymar'
15:21Dani Alves' suspension wouldn't affect Barcelona against PSG, says Luis Enrique
15:19David Luiz included in PSG squad to face Barcelona
15:18Luis Enrique implies Neymar must accept that the coach have to make decisions
14:42Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc denies a proposal has been made to Barcelona's Daniel Alves
12:54Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan confirms on Twitter that he is set to sign with Chelsea
April 14, 2015
12:52Roberto Carlos wants to manage the Seleção later in his career
12:51Ex-Corinthians striker Carlos Tévez to return to Boca Juniors
12:50Neymar case - Barcelona president could face two years in prision
12:48Pelé: 'Every goal in Chile will see donation made to charity'
12:46Messi, Neymar and Suárez are the best, says Thiago Silva
08:02Report: Chelsea remain on track to secure deal for Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan
April 18, 2015
15:51Manchester United target Marquinhos commits future to PSG
15:50PSG captain Thiago Silva to miss Nice game
15:49Philippe Coutinho on meeting Pelé
15:48Juliano Belletti talks about Neymar
15:47David Luiz defended by mother after Champions League horror show
April 17, 2015
14:17Pelé would pick Messi over Cristiano Ronaldo
14:14Barcelona president Bartomeu warns Neymar
14:12Neymar plays down his gestures in Sevilla game
13:43Laurent Blanc coy on PSG's interest in Dani Alves
13:40Pelé insists Neymar is reaching the level of the best
April 16, 2015
15:46Porto played with their hearts in their boots, says Casemiro
15:45Ex-Arsenal midfielder Gilberto says Brazil must prioritise World Cup qualifiers over Copa América
15:43Ex-England coach Hoddle: 'David Luiz plays like an eight-year-old'
15:42Beckenbauer says Dante played against Porto in ski boots
15:40Thiago Silva injured against PSG
April 15, 2015
15:23Neymar yet to reach physical peak, says Seedorf
15:22Suárez: 'My job is to help Messi and Neymar'
15:21Dani Alves' suspension wouldn't affect Barcelona against PSG, says Luis Enrique
15:19David Luiz included in PSG squad to face Barcelona
15:18Luis Enrique implies Neymar must accept that the coach have to make decisions
April 14, 2015
12:52Roberto Carlos wants to manage the Seleção later in his career
12:51Ex-Corinthians striker Carlos Tévez to return to Boca Juniors
12:50Neymar case - Barcelona president could face two years in prision
12:48Pelé: 'Every goal in Chile will see donation made to charity'
12:46Messi, Neymar and Suárez are the best, says Thiago Silva
April 13, 2015
14:20Barça vice-president: 'I don't know why Neymar was brought off'
14:19Messi has always been my idol, says PSG winger Lucas Moura
14:17Brazil hospital says Corinthians striker Paolo Guerrero likely has dengue fever
14:15Neymar outburst on being subbed off is sixth of the season
14:13Manchester Utd very interested in Lucas Moura
April 11, 2015
18:14Liverpool boss responds to John Terry selecting Coutinho as best player
18:12Dani Alves could stay at Barcelona
17:59Chelsea have bid accepted for Brazilian starlet Nathan
17:57Pelé says Messi and Neymar don't perform as well on international stage
17:49Neymar to comeback against Sevilla
April 10, 2015
14:31Ibrahimović is a champion, says Marquinhos
14:29Roberto Carlos picks his dream XI
14:28Barcelona after Italian full-back to replace Dani Alves
14:27Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are monitoring Lucas Moura's contract situation
14:25Cafú hails Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho
April 09, 2015
14:29Neymar needed rest, says Barça coach Enrique
14:28Hulk targets Brazil return ahead of 2015 Copa América
14:27Casemiro hopeful Porto can go all the way in the Champions League
14:26Arsenal winger Alexis Sánchez is more 'concrete' than Neymar, says Di Natale
14:25Brazil will name Copa América squad on May 5
April 08, 2015
14:56Arsenal's Héctor Bellerín can replace Dani Alves at Barcelona
14:55Thiago Motta and David Luiz will not play against Barcelona in the first-leg
14:53Chelsea must remain focused to keep up title tilt, insists Willian
14:52Porto's Alex Sandro linked with both Manchester clubs
14:51Neymar goal drought does not worry Barcelona coach
January 19, 2015
20:37Willian: 'Chelsea controlled the game'
January 11, 2015
19:49Coritiba confirm the signings of Negueba and Pedro Ken
17:17De Arrascaeta to Internacional can be announced any time now, says Defensor president
January 04, 2015
16:03Mircea Lucescu: Tour of Brazil will become part of Shakhtar history
15:08Lucescu: Shakhtar’s Brazil tour will be part of the history
January 03, 2015
12:16Sergei Palkin: It’s important for us to play with the top teams of the Brazilian league
January 02, 2015
16:49Cruzeiro confirm survey from Mexico regarding Anselmo Ramon
15:28Internacional have competition from Europe for De Arrascaeta
14:16No contacts with Internacional, says Sandro's agent
14:13Shakhtar goes on tour across Brazil
December 30, 2014
17:18Fluminense director says no offer for Darío Conca
December 25, 2014
14:37Leandro Damião to Cruzeiro is back on
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
April 17, 2015
19:58Orlando City SC defender Rafael Ramos credits Kaká for helping early season form
18:51Chelsea manager José Mourinho confident of finalising deal for Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan
17:03Report: Juventus to compete with Manchester City for defender Alex Sandro
08:11Report: Roma make progress on deal for Torino wing-back Bruno Peres
07:54Report: Napoli tracking Cruzeiro full-back Mayke
April 15, 2015
20:51Fiorentina Head Coach Vincenzo Montella admits goalkeeper Neto is not 100% fit for Dynamo Kyiv tie
16:03Bayern Munich Head Coach Pep Guardiola name-checks FC Porto's Casemiro as possible threat
15:34Barcelona Director of Football Ariedo Braida denies interest in Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson
14:42Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc denies a proposal has been made to Barcelona's Daniel Alves
12:54Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan confirms on Twitter that he is set to sign with Chelsea
April 14, 2015
08:02Report: Chelsea remain on track to secure deal for Atlético Paranaense midfielder Nathan
07:21Report: Corinthians reject approach from Roma for forward Malcom
April 13, 2015
16:32Report: São Paulo ready to make surprise offer for veteran Lazio forward Miroslav Klose
15:28Barcelona defender Daniel Alves insists he is yet to decide his future
14:44Manager Adrian Heath admits Orlando City SC were fortunate with Kaká penalty retake in 2-0 win at Portland Timbers
13:56Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson explains why it took him time to settle in Italy
13:43Lazio midfielder Felipe Anderson hails Head Coach Stefano Pioli's influence on his development
April 12, 2015
19:29Sandro refuses to blame former manager Harry Redknapp for Queens Park Rangers' struggles
17:14Head Coach Caleb Porter confident Portland Timbers can stifle Orlando City SC star Kaká
14:42Barcelona Head Coach Luis Enrique not interested in "nonsense" surrounding Neymar substitution
13:21Report: Former Argentina Head Coach Alejandro Sabella to choose between Manchester City and São Paulo
12:56Brazil Head Coach Dunga doesn't want Lazio's Felipe Anderson compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar
April 07, 2015
18:25Report: Sampdoria ready to extend forward Éder's contract until 2021
17:32Atlético de Madrid defender Miranda concedes Real Madrid are "probably the best in the world"
07:46Report: Fluminense ready to sell forward Kenedy to investment group ahead of possible Chelsea switch
07:25Internacional President Vitório Píffero confirms defender Fabrício will leave the club
April 06, 2015
20:57Report: Napoli, Porto, Roma and Sporting CP set to battle for Torino wing-back Bruno Peres
18:54Report: Paris Saint-Germain duo David Luiz and Thiago Motta doubtful for UEFA Champions League clash with Barcelona
17:52Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi admits loss of David Luiz and Thiago Motta to injury is "distressing"
16:46TSG 1899 Hoffenheim midfielder Roberto Firmino believes playing in the Bundesliga has helped him develop
07:36Report: Tottenham Hotspur to sell midfielder Paulinho as part of summer clear-out
April 05, 2015
17:35Report: Paris Saint-Germain ready to make big bid to secure Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira
17:30Report: Benfica to target Livorno full-back Maicon
10:28Agent Bernardo Silva: Bruno Peres "will certainly leave Torino this summer"
April 03, 2015
07:56 Owner Sourav Ganguly hints that Orlando City SC's Kaká could play for Atlético de Kolkata in the 2015 ISL
April 01, 2015
19:04Agent Stefano Castagna suggests Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool want Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto
19:00Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tătărușanu praises counterpart Neto
18:51Agent Luciano Ramalho confirms Milan loanee Pablo Armero could move to Flamengo
March 31, 2015
08:02Report: Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United to compete for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino
07:22Report: Avellino's Rodrigo Ely and Livorno full-back Maicon turn down Italy to represent Brazil
March 30, 2015
15:50Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino hails Brazil Head Coach Dunga
March 29, 2015
17:55Leonardo concedes it “will be difficult” for him to return to Paris Saint-Germain
14:07Report: Expected Brazil line up for Chile friendly
13:59Chile Head Coach Jorge Sampaoli concedes he will have to rotate for Brazil friendly
12:47Sampdoria forward Eder pleased to silence critics with debut Italy goal
March 28, 2015
18:25Top European club chasing Chelsea Midfielder Oscar
17:15Chelsea star Ramires facing summer Stamford Bridge exit
March 25, 2015
17:17Report: Arsenal and Chelsea to battle over Internacional midfielder Charles Aranguiz
16:29Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano hints at December exit
15:56Sampdoria forward Eder believes controversy over Italy call up is "nonsense"
To the top