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Sao Paulo leading the way

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Tim Vickery | 12:28 UK time, Monday, 24 November 2008

Three years ago, after they were beaten by Sao Paulo in the final of the World Club Championship, Liverpool's fan sites were visited by plenty of gloating Brazilians.

To the puzzlement of the normal users, one phrase kept popping up again and again - 'You don't have to be a giant to play football.'

It was a translation of what legendary match commentator Galvao Bueno had said on Brazil's TV Globo. The starting point for his phrase was little midfielder Mineiro - a recent Chelsea signing - who slipped behind the Liverpool defence to score the only goal of the game. But it also went further.

Sao Paulo celebrate their win over LiverpoolTostao, a legend of the 1970s World Cup-winning team and these days Brazil's best football writer, once told me that football "has an enormous value for the Brazilian people. They like it in itself, and also, in competition, it turns into something of the nation, something heroic. The people feel avenged - you might be the First World at other things, but we're the best at this."

Galvao Bueno is a genius at articulating this type of nationalist sentiment - as shown by the fact that his phrase was picked up by so many Sao Paulo fans. "You don't have to be a giant to play football" - he said it over and again during the match - was a taunt aimed at Liverpool.

You might have the money and all the glamour of winning Europe's Champions League, he was saying, but our teams can still bring you down with a bump.

In purely physical terms, the phrase might refer to Mineiro. But, then and now, it hardly makes any sense when used about the Sao Paulo team as a whole.

Just as in 2005, the 2008 team is characterised by big, strong players - three giant centre-backs and plenty of aerial power in both penalty areas. It is part of a formula that is proving consistently successful.

On Sunday, Sao Paulo moved very close to winning their third consecutive Brazilian title. They won 2-1 away to Vasco da Gama. It was a huge result; Vasco, in relegation trouble, had filled their tight stadium, a real cauldron in such conditions.

The Sao Paulo bus was stoned on the way to the ground. The team held its nerve, and the win looked even more important when rivals Gremio were defeated. Two points from the remaining two games will be enough to ensure that Sao Paulo become the first club to reach the total of six championship wins.

Their style of play would surprise those who think that Brazilian football is all about non-stop attack. As Tostao wrote recently, the defining characteristics of Sao Paulo are "marking, physical strength, power in the air and making few mistakes".

Hernanes impressed for Brazil at the Olympics

In part, the Sao Paulo ethos is a response to the fact that these days the top Brazilian players are all based abroad.

Some of the players are on the way up. Talented midfielder Hernanes, 23, is clearly Europe-bound. Classy defender Miranda, 24, had a spell in France and will surely cross the Atlantic again before long. And midfielder Jean, 22, has been the find of this campaign.

In general, though, this is an experienced side - average age over 27 - made up of good players who didn't quite make the grade in Europe and others who may never receive the call. In a context without stars, the collective is king.

There is also the fact that concepts such as discipline and long term planning are part of the club's DNA. Sao Paulo are known for the excellence of their structure - European-based Brazilians who suffer an injury often choose to use the club's medical facilities.
In the 1950s and 60s Sao Paulo even had the foresight to sacrifice fortunes on the field and instead plough resources into building their Morumbi stadium, one of the largest privately owned grounds in the world.

Coach Muricy Ramalho's reaction to the win over Vasco was entirely in keeping with the Sao Paulo way of doing things. There will be no crowing, and no chicken counting. Players will not be making TV appearances this week.

It is, said Ramalho, "a decisive moment," and concentration needs to be maintained.

If the title is not yet guaranteed, Sao Paulo have made sure of a place in next year's Copa Libertadores. If they win that and then take on the holders of Europe's Champions league then - whatever Galvao Bueno might say - it will be a meeting of two giants.

Comments on this piece should go in the space below - other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q. How far would Argentina have gone if Diego Maradona had not been suspended for failing a drug test at USA 94 in your opinion?
Patrick Clancy

A. Fascinating one. Obviously it's all speculation, no right or wrong answer, but I'll go as follows; I think they might have beaten Romania in that classic second round tie which they lost 3-2 (to my mind there hasn't been a better World Cup game since).

Having Maradona to pass to would have improved the performance of Redondo - they had a nice little circuit going and together they could have swayed the game in Argentina's favour. Then Sweden in the quarters - another win I think.

I always hated the display that Sweden put up in the semi against Brazil - looked like they were happy to lose by a small margin, and perhaps they would have been similarly intimidated by Argentina - especially as the passing of Maradona and co would have had them running around in the heat.

So then it's Brazil in the semis - and I think Brazil would have won it. It would have been a great game, but I think the Brazil side had a better balance between attack and defence, better centre backs, better keeper. Romario and Bebeto might have enjoyed themselves against a team that would offer them some space. But that's just my view.

Q. If you had to pick out three players in South America who could be big in Europe who would you pick? And why?
David Kenney

A. I nearly went for River Plate midfielder Matias Abelairas - I'm a sucker for a left foot - but in the end I went for three from Brazil. There is plenty of talent elsewhere in South America, but I think Brazilian football has more strength in depth than the other countries in the continent, and these are three players - a defender, midfielder and striker - who could do a job in Europe now.

Thiago Silva of Fluminense is a centre back who will almost certainly be moving to Europe (maybe Inter Milan) in January. He has immense technical quality and is quick but will have to learn to position himself a bit higher up the field.

Hernanes, mentioned in the article, is mobile, marks and strikes the ball extremely well with both feet. I think he's reached the stage where he needs a move. For all Sao Paulo's efficiency, they are a team that doesn't play much possession football. A while back he was linked with Barcelona.

If there is interest, he should be prepared to swim there. I can't think of anyone more qualified that Guardiola to develop his game.

And Nilmar of Internacional, a striker who had a brief spell with Lyon, was lured back to Brazil by Corinthians, had an awful run with injuries but is now on fire again. He has always been compared to Bebeto.

He's so sharp, and I'm sure he'll be back in Europe and scoring goals there before long.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great article as per usual.

    My question qould be:

    Are there any players from the "smaller" nations in South America that could make an impression over the next year or two on the international stage or over here in Europe?

  • Comment number 2.

    Rogerio Ceni, what a legend!

  • Comment number 3.

    1. Marcelo Moreno looked good last time i saw him, hes Bolivian and was at Cruzerio

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice article Tim.
    I saw Flamengo play Sao Paulo last October and was surprised at how physical the game was. The ball was in the air a lot and it looked more like a scrappy English Championship game than what you might expect from the Brazilian champions.
    Messi's cousin Maxi played that night and shone above the rest with his skill and wing play. How do you rate him - is there no chance of another stab at Europe for him?

  • Comment number 5.

    That Liverpool vs Sao Paulo match you refer to was ridiculous. Liverpool had 3 goals disallowed and at least 2 were perfectly good goals.

    I'm surprised european teams still agree to go over there after that.

  • Comment number 6.

    Not being a fan of Liverpool, I took particular delight in seeing them beated by Sao Paulo in 2005. I know that this competition is seen as more important than it is in Europe as it is a chance for teams to show that they can compete with (and beat) their wealthier European rivals. Do you see LDU Quito making enough of an impact on this tournament to make their continent proud, given that Manchester United are in the tournament this year?

  • Comment number 7.

    post 1 - a few names from the smaller countries;

    From Chile Gary Medel is an excellent defensive midfielder, Fabian Orellana is a little striker who is very tricky.

    Paraguay's tall holding midfielder Victor Caceres is the only member of their national side still based at home - but not for long. I'm also a fan of his younger namesake, Luis Caceres, a versatile midfielder with Cerro Porteno.

    The Under-20 championships are coming up - I'll be very interested in seeing Bolivia's attacking midfielder Alcides Pena, as well as Ecuador centre back Deison Mendez and (assuming he's fit) attacking midfielder Jefferson Montero.

    At more senior level Ecuador also have Luis Bolanos, a lithe runner with an excellent right foot who was LDU's top scorer when they won the Libetadores, and will presumably be on his way after the coming World Club championship.

    A few names from Colombia - strikers Carlos Darwin Quintero - great pace and trickyness, Freddy Montero - lots of talent and intelligence - Adrian Ramos - tall and a real handful and Cristian Nazarith, strong with a wonderful leap.

    In Venezuela I like central midfielder Tomas Rincon.

  • Comment number 8.

    Nobody more suited to train him than Gaurdiola?

    I wouldn't rate Guardiola I am afraid, I would say he would get a far better improvement in his game if he was under the eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger.

    Guardiola just isn't anywhere near their league.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ferguson might be a better coach than Guardiola - but which of the two is the better central midfielder?!!!

    Guardiola was a magnificent player - both for the quality of his passing and for his understanding and reading of the game around him. Hernanes has terrific quality in both feet, but doesn't have that second aspect - how to boss the game, which choices to make. I was at the Vasco-Sao Paulo game and thought that he was in part to blame for the goal they conceded - Sao Paulo lost possession in a situation where he didn't show and demand the ball when I thought he should have done. I repeat, for this aspect of Hernanes' game, I can't think of a better teacher than Guardiola.

  • Comment number 10.

    Tim, after the recent football related deaths of 2 Argentinian fans, the latest in a long and depressing line of violent incidents surrounding Argentinian football, do you think it is time that FIFA threatened to ban the national side from International competition until the AFA resolve this desperate situation?

    All countries have their problems I know, but football violence in Argentina seems to be many, many notches above other countries.

    I could not envisige a European country getting away with this for so long without serious repercussions. Is it because their club football is simply not as high profile on the international stage?

  • Comment number 11.

    As this is an internal problem, I can't really see that a ban on the international side would make any difference - a suspension of domestic football is more effective - as is currently happening in Uruguay after incidents there.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Tim, I've heard alot of talk about the young player sergio mota, but how do u rate him and do u think he could make it big in Europe?

  • Comment number 13.

    tim, what happened to Lulinha and Kerlon? They were both supposed to be the next Ronaldinho. Have they slipped off the radar?

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi tim,

    can you tell why Lucas Leiva is not able to perform in the famous red shirt when he was touted to be one of the greats?

  • Comment number 15.


    i saw lulinha play for corinthians recently against avaí, a team from florianopolis. This was second division, first vs second and the standard was very good. Easily premiership quality. Lulinha looked pretty good technically, but he found it difficult to get into the game, and looked low on confidence - kept things simple etc.

    A player for corinthians who did look good was Herrera, an argentianian striker who has come back from a shot spell with Real Sociedad. He looked strong, good off the ball, a good finisher and deceptively quick... Corinthians will be in the 1st division next year, and it will be interesting to see how he does.

    Hey Tim, totally agree with you on Thiago Silva. Classy defender, always looks like he has the time to play. Arsenal could do with someone like him along someone tough.

  • Comment number 16.

    Tim, in your opinion what place would Sao Paulo be if they played in the premiership? Do you think the big clubs from Brazil and Argentina would be able to play in the premiership and actually have a chance of winning?

  • Comment number 17.

    Why dont english teams invite south american teams for friendly matches in tournaments like the emirates cup? Are they scared?!!

  • Comment number 18.

    I generally enjoy reading your columns and as usual this weeks is quite enlightening about the South American mentality towards football.
    I must point out that while teams like Sao Paulo may take the world club championship seriously however all European supporters treat the tin pot competition with the derision it deserves. Being a Liverpool fan I can assure you that I was disgusted that such a pitiful referee from Canada was chosen to officiate the final you refer to. Giant players and pathetic taunts aside Sao Paulo were lucky to not get an absolute trouncing and the Canadian referee in my opinion was at best incompetent at worst, well you figure it out. Besides if they can employ thugs such as Lugano I have very little respect for them.
    Anyway rant over

  • Comment number 19.

    If you saw the game you would've seen that the 3 goals that were disallowed were suppposed to be disallowed., the referee was correct!

  • Comment number 20.

    Given the fact that Liverpool undeservingly made it to World Cup Club Competition, scratching the CL cup, after number of bad decisions by the spanish referee in the CL final ( ridiculous penalty and regular Sheva goal canceled to say at least) and TREMENDOUS LUCK being completely outplayed by MILAN don't think their fans should comlain about referees decisions and absence of luck in the next 100 years or so at international level.

  • Comment number 21.

    Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester looking for a great mid-field? His name is Hernanes! Good kick and technical player!

  • Comment number 22.

    post 17 - there's an easy explanation for the fact that English clubs don't invite Brazilian clubs over for pre-season friendlies - the Brazilian calendar doesn't permit it - there's no space.

    Getting the calendar in line with the rest of the world - which means scrapping the appalling state championships - is one of the key battles ahead if Brazilian club football is going to come close to realising its potential.

  • Comment number 23.

    Tim, what's wrong with Arsenal (the England club)?

  • Comment number 24.

    Tim is right. Football is not just a collection
    of great players. Tradition and environment is also very important. When you are born in a country in which every single person transpires football, this also helps.
    One cannot underestimate Brazilians, even when you buy their best players and bring them to Europe.

  • Comment number 25.

    I've already sent you an e-mail, however

    after Saturday's performance against Fulham i got worried about the future of Lucas, who you praised in your column
    a year ago, Dunga played him in Beijin as a DM, while Rafa played him as an AMF a natural substitue for Gerrard, where do you think his natural position is
    and are his days with Liverpool numbered, or Rafa will give him the time to mature, and will he reach his potential under Rafa in the EPL?

  • Comment number 26.

    acmilanfan wrote:

    Given the fact that Liverpool undeservingly made it to World Cup Club Competition, scratching the CL cup, after number of bad decisions by the spanish referee in the CL final ( ridiculous penalty and regular Sheva goal canceled to say at least)


    I've watched that final thousands of times, but i can't recall a "regular Sheva goal canceled"

    Have anybody seen that cancelled goal?

    if so please enlighten me !

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim, a quick question.

    How do you think the mass media attention on Maradona will affect the Argentinian national team?

    Will it benefit the players by taking the pressure off them and onto the manager (in a similar manner Mourinho does with his teams) or will it prove a distraction?

  • Comment number 28.

    you have a great blog time and i constantly read up on the south american game on here, id like to ask a bit a really young prospect ive heard of who plays for cruz azul called martin galvan is he any good?

  • Comment number 29.

    Great article dude...
    Liverpool played such a good match on 05 championship,but Sao Paulo goalkeeper did a nice job. Bring him to us!

  • Comment number 30.

    3. "Marcelo Moreno looked good last time i saw him, hes Bolivian and was at Cruzerio"

    Moreno moved to Shakhtar Donetsk at the start of the Brasileiro - i think he was born in Brazil but has a Boilivian pasport

    13. "what happened to Lulinha and Kerlon? They were both supposed to be the next Ronaldinho. Have they slipped off the radar?"

    Kerlon moved to Chievo a few months ago

    Lulinha is talented but was over-hyped right from the start

  • Comment number 31.

    Tim Tim Tim...good article as usual. i saw the vasco-bambis game too, and couldn't believe edmundo's miss. maybe it wasnt wise o comeback after the copa do brasil horror-show, but best of luck to vasco...hate to seem them relegated.

    hernanes is too good sometimes, mostly bcuz of his 2-footedness and ease-on-the-eye when in possesion. i expect great things of thiago silva too, been following him for a while. and from my brasilian friends, i got a glimpse of what ur talking about. football is a lot more than joy, its almost an emotion...i thought i loved football. i'm wishing cruzeiro would clinch the brasileirao, but it seems far-off

    when's the U20 tournament? i hope they show it on UK tv altho im so doubting it

  • Comment number 32.

    "Lulinha is talented but was over-hyped right from the start"

    Yeah, he was. But, most importantly, he was "burned".

    In Brazil, the term (or "queimado", the literal translation) is used for youth players that are promoted either too soon or in high pressure situations to play a key role. Lulinha was promoted as Corinthians' last hope of avoiding relegation, but didn't played what was expected. Now, he is only a squad player- which is fine for now, considering his age.

    And teams like São Paulo and Grêmio help to make Brazilian football worse, it's a shame more technical sides like Flamengo, Cruzeiro or Inter couldn't win this year.

    But still, Tim, you should have mentioned Rogério Ceni as one of the main factors to explain São Paulo's success. His year was a little below the last two or three technically (even if pretty good), but he still is perhaps the greatest leader I have ever seen in football, certainly the greatest currently. If someone like John Terry is nearly worshipped because of his capacities as a leader, I wonder what the British would say about him if he played in the PL.

  • Comment number 33.

    Great piece as usual, when is Tim going to be presenting MOTD or Football Focus? It would be very interesting to have another point of view and maybe a round-up of international leagues on these programs.

  • Comment number 34.

    You don't have to be a giant to be absoultely battered in that said final, either, and scrape the win. ;)

  • Comment number 35.

    Tim, great work as usual,

    I'm still not sure about your assessment of Guardiola as a better coach of central midfielders (holding or otherwise) than Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson made Roy Keane tough and defensively aware which still able to 'demand the ball in the right areas' and can also claim sole responsibility for Scholes, who is undoubtedly always in the right place at the right time - except for when he tackles, in which case he is normally just a few seconds late! Ferguson's record with these and others over the years has been outstanding in thise one area of the pitch probably more than any other.

    However, I think that the player in question would be better off not going to a club which already have Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Hargreaves, et al on the books. No chance of regular football... in which case go to Guardiola!

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Tim,
    I live in Brazil, in Campinas, a few miles from São Paulo, the capital, and I must say that your article illustrates the true image of a brazilian team today. São Paulo is just the first one to combine the brazilian style of football (tricks and beautiful goals, stuff that people all over Europe love to see and get inspired by...) and the english-european-kind of football: agressive and flawless. Now, Brazilian football is different nowadays. And São Paulo is an example of how these changes are creating a new form of competition. Clubs now see that they need more than a star or two in their team to win something. Corruption and obscure deals have always been present in Brazilian football. São Paulo decided to change this, and it worked. The president is ellected ever 4 four years, in a democratic process. Teams such as Cruzeiro, Internacional, are also examples of how brazilian football is changing. But, I guess you need to be here to feel it as it really is. And this article managed to decript this environment. São Paulo is, without a doubt, the best brazilian team today, and you don't need to go far to see why? In the last five years, São Paulo has won at least one championship. Since 2005, São Paulo has won 1 Regional Compt., 1 Copa Libertadores of America, 1 WorldClub Champ. and 2 National Leagues. And this hegemony is not an usual thing in Brazil. Our football is also know for it's variety of really good teams. And this year's National League is a really good example. Before sunday, 5 teams had chances to win the League. But, now, São Paulo is way ahead. Well, at the end, "there can be only one".

    PS. About the Liverpool game. First of all, I guess there's a lot of Liverpool fans here in the blog, and I have a british sister, and she's a Liverpool fan as well, but I need to say this: there's a saying in portuguese that goes - "o choro é livre" - and the translation is a bit like: "criying is free". Yes, Liverpool fans can cry, cry, cry, but fact is that all 3 goals were offside. You don't need to be a fanatic brazilian football supporter like me to notice that. National Geographic made a documentary about that game, and you can find it in Youtube. Watch it and figure it out for yourselves. But, here in Brazil you can't imagine how wonderful it was to win the game like that: with blood and sweat, as we say. The exact image of that São Paulo and todays!

  • Comment number 37.

    Hello Tim,

    Have to say. I was surprised by your article. Meaning, is not often Brazil readers lke myself gets to read profound reviews of national football league and league situation. Allthough, I was also surprised - but on a negative side -with some views european spectators of world wide football seems to have - and, from were I'm standing, awfully superficialy -about brazilian football. I mean, is easy to say, in Europe and main football commerce focal points, that football in brazil is technically poor. This is also comprehended by the fact of our overwhelming passion about the World Club Championship beeing the pratical sphere of the bad situation football revolves in, and so, materialized as our need to overcome obstacles which, to european football teams and players, are small and deserve to be ignored and despised. But, like I said, I was surprised to see how could some of the european football fans be so ignorant of the current situation, or, the historical and social situation of football in brazil.
    Today, we have what we call a storm of offers to take our most young and talented players to europe. Of course, European managers and greedy brazilian business men will say they have nothing to do with it, actually, they are helping the new bought players, beeing them mostly so poor and probably straight from the slums to the national clubs and from the poor, poor national clubs to rich, rich european teams. Well, this is partly true, but what is also true is that our youngest and finest are beeing, even younger, illuded - or not, sometimes only seduced - by the millionare life they'll live in England, France, Italy. This is the sad part, of course. This is what make football in brazil sad these days: our best players, gone. That is precisely why Rogerio Ceni, a historical idol in world wide football history, makes such a difference beeing a player that competed professionaly for one club only, Sao Paulo, and is today a record earnig goal keeper, with goals to score 'till 2010, and already Libertadores, World Club, State, Rio Sao Paulo and Nation champion (virtually, he has not won only Copa do Brasil, Copa Sulamericana and european championships... care to let us participate so we can breake this tabu?).
    Sao Paulo, as well as Brazil, shows a lot that european football fans dont see, either because they are, fairly enough, on the other side of the Atlantic, or because they chose not to disrupt they're restricted world of european - and richer - football leagues. But, we Brazilians, who are well acostumed of watching from Weder Brem x Hamburg, to Lile x PSG in opened and popular tv channels, and who are well acostumed of knowing fixtures of almost all leagues and championships in europe, and in America, we know that a championship which has 4 Libertadores da América and World Clubs Champions fighting for the coup (Gremio, Flamengo, Cruzeiro and Sao Paulo); and in which Sao Paulo leads to conquer a stunning 3rd championship on a row, and sixth all together; in which play stars like Nilmar and D'Alessandro, Washington and Conca, Dagoberto, Hernanes and Rogério Ceni, Petkovic, Kléber, Denilson and Marcos, Kléber Pereira, Kléberson and Ibson, in a championship that even facing the poor and corrupted managers, finds a way to stay in highr standards, always presenting to the world its best and its most notables features. But, if you have to see it, learn it and live it. Read a article about brazilian derbys wont relate you that much with hones truth!
    Most of these fantastic players of ours were or can be sent to Europe's football. But they are not leaving because europe football is better. They know that, if the teams in Brazil paid well, Scholes, Terry and Roony would die to play in Sao Paulo or Flamengo or Corinthians. Our football will always be the birth place of the "beautifull game" has it is, and it will be permanently the playing ground for the young stars that will conquer europe leagues and championships. And, Brazil will be eternaly the place that secures pride and knowledge for football, knowing that a traditional and blood ripping Libertadores da América is thousand times more incredible then any Wolrd Club or european league, and that games like Liverpool x Sao Paulo fell into oblivion, even though Sao Paulo showed the world what tiny players can do (and what Rogerio Ceni can block), and even how a referee can anull 3 irregular goals by allmighty and all-rich Liverpool and benefit - with rightness - a competent and underdog brazilian team, who happens to be 3 world club champions, against Milan, Barcelona and, in 2005, Liberpool (well, hello, hello...). But this game fell into oblivion because, with the misery, and social troubles, with the poorness of thought and material richness, with the incredibly difficult life people and business suffers in almost all spheres of mundane life, we have a football strictly dependent on titles and results. So, a relegated team from second division will always be on the end of the rope if it does not win its game, and the big teams, and we have at least two in all states of Brazil, will be lousy if they do not reach the highest mark, every single year.
    Thank god Sao Paulo is my life, and today, my friends, life is good.
    Cheers to Amie and Inge, my sisters, Liverpool fans, and Levon Biss, my brother in law, a today sad Toottenham fan.

  • Comment number 38.

    One more thing - yeap, we brazilians sure like to talk about footbal, hey Tim?! - you cannot set patterns of football by analysing were a player plyed in Europe or not. What we see a lot in Brazil are incredible players leaving to Europe and coming back in a rush. Football are either to rough, to boring, to sad or to lonely. On the other hand, sometimes clubs are not well perceived: what could a Wolfsburg do to top up a player for a national team calling? Grafite is in Germany and Fred is in France. But Hernanes is well in Brazil, and also Mirando, both certain national team players. And, what about Luis Fabiano, Juninho, Ronaldinho? Well, I'll tell ya, they never did in europe what they once did in São Paulo, Sport and Gremio, in order.


  • Comment number 39.

    Tim, I agree with you about the need to adjust the football calendar around the world, but isn´t it more logical to play from february through november/december than from september through april? The european calendar can´t fit in even some european countris such as Ukraine, Sweden, Russia, etc. who can´t play at all during the winter. It wolud be better if we could have only one international calendar and the only one that fits all is the brazilian/russian/swedish/finnish/etc.

  • Comment number 40.

    I also agree with this post, and go further,talking something a little diferent , its not only Sao Paulo FC that has changed, its clear that south american had to get used to the constants changing.In the fase 1-.Every 6 mounths when the european window open, the famous brazilians (specially the Strikers and AMF) left to europe, so we started to concentret defences and GK.As the level of this position got higher, they started devoloping more their skills.So Brazil started to have better DC and GK.After in fase 2-.The European teams started to take this players too.So what Brazil has starting now? Fase 3-. THE COACH , where without great players, Brazil kept a big number of good coachs.
    So take note Big Phill it's the first of a big list, soon we gonna see a lot of brazilians coachs in europe.
    And Muricy Ramalho coach of Sao Paulo, its going to soon in europe..

  • Comment number 41.

    Great article!
    I'm a big Sao Paulo fan and its nice to read good things about brazilian football. Specially when it comes from outside Brazil.
    I'm sure that the greatest players are always in the main european clubs, and probably if the best brazilian club plays against the best italian, or english, or spanish club a hundread times, the european will win at least eighty or ninety matches. Or maybe more!
    When Sao Paulo made it against Barcelona, in 92, Milan, in 93, and Liverpool, in 05, we reached our best football during season.
    But usually we have in Brazil a feeling that we're inferior in every way compared to Europe or US. That's what the famous novel writer Nelson Rodrigues, a huge Fluminense fan, called the 'homeless dog complex' (sorry, I don't know the exact translation).

    For Sao Paulo's fans, that's a feeling we hardly get, because everytime we face an european club, we beat them.
    Even Real Madrid was never able to beat us in nine times we faced them!

    I'm really sorry to say to the Liverpool fans that the three disallowed goals in Yokohama in 05 were good calls from the referee. It was pretty clear and the mexican referee did a great job. I was really surprised that they didn't make any mistakes, because it was a really difficult call.
    Maybe he should've given a red card for Lugano for a hard foul on Gerrard, but it is a big mistake to call Lugano a thug, as someone did!

    Well...that's it, Tim.
    Great to read your blog!

  • Comment number 42.

    Dear Tim,

    You forgot to mention Coritiba's striker Keirrison. He is a very talented player, and I'm sure he will shine in Europe for years to come.

    And there are also players who play at great level, but don't quite look like they have the tools to make it in Europe. Think about Internacional's Alex: a hell of a player, very inteligent and skilfull, but a bit to slow for European standards, I guess.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Tim. Great Article.
    Like you, I am also fascinated with the Brazilian league.
    I live in England and plan to go to Brazil in June and hope to watch a few matches in the Maracana with my 2 month stay.
    As you can see by my name, I take a particular likeing to Fluminense. I know Sao Paulo are going strong in the league at the moment, 6 wins in a row I believe, but Fluminense are Sao Paulo 'bogey team' as we say in England. This season, Fluminense beat Sao Paulo 3-1. I know the league will be Sao Paulo's if they beat Fluminense this weekend, but its also a big big game for Fluminense to, to ensure they secure there place in Serie A next season. Fluminense are also having a much better second half to the season compared to how they started. If Sao Paulo fail to win this weekend, then there going to have to go to a tough place like Goias and that game could quite easily be a draw. Its definatly going to be an intresting weekend, Im just wondering what you think about Gremio's chances of clinching the title?
    I would also just like to add on the topic of Sao Paulo what you think of there other top players that you havent named, Dagoberto, Borges and Hugo? Hugo has scored some key goals for Sao Paulo this season.
    My last question is about Carlos Alberto. He played for Botafogo this season and is no longer in the team. I hear he had problems with getting payed. Im just wondering if you could tell me who he's playing for now, or is he a free agent? In my opinion, I think, him (Carlos Alberto), Hernanes, Dagoberto and Miranda could easily cut it at a top European club. What do you think Tim?


  • Comment number 44.

    Comment 35 made me smile:

    "The player in question would be better off not going to a club which already have Scholes, Carrick, Anderson, Hargreaves et al on the books. No chance of regular football... in which case go to Guardiola!"

    Of course.

    If he can't keep Hargreaves, Carrick or Anderson out of the team he should just go to Barca and keep out Xavi and Iniesta!

  • Comment number 45.

    "Tostao, a legend of the 1970s World Cup-winning team and these days Brazil's best football writer"

    I love reading Jorge 'Philosopher Of Football' Valdano's insights on football. Is Tostao up to his standards Tim?

  • Comment number 46.

    kaiserjoffo, awful comment...

    1) All 3 disallowed goals were correct. Have you really seen the match and the replays? Search on YouTube!

    2) If the ref did make any mistake, it was not showing a red card to Morientes, still on the first half, for punching "thug" Lugano in the face. The ref didn't see that, luckily for Liverpool... This red card you have made things a lot easier for Sao Paulo.

    3) Europeans don't care about the World Championship? Why is that? Is it because there is not enough money involved? Is it because Europeans think they are better than anyone else and don't have to prove it? Is it because some English people think that England is bigger than the WORLD? Now SERIOUSLY, please answer that.

    Because I can't see any reason why being regional, national or continental champion could be better than being World champion. It would be pretty much the same as saying that the Commonwealth Games are more important than the Olympics...

    What I know is that the English National Team didn't take part in the first 3 editions of the World Cup because they thought they were too good to have to prove their superiority to the other countries. And the first time they did play, they were defeated by football-tiny USA... And as of today, they still couldn't manage to claim one single World Cup, except in 1966, playing at home and with some controversial referee decisions (was he Canadian perhaps? LOL) in the final match against West Germany...

    I really think it is about time some English people stoped thinking that they are the uncontested best, and started SHOWING this, or at least trying.

    PS: I don't think Milan and Real Madrid see the World Championship as so unimportant, and that is why they are by far the two best clubs in Europe, because they have PROVED themselves a few times against the World's best, and not just because they SAY they are the best.

  • Comment number 47.

    Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Boca Juniors (Argentina) are the biggest clubs of the South America and two of the biggest clubs of the world. You can compare them only with Real Madrid, Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona.

    The biggest clubs of each country (taking into account recent inquiries that gave points to the clubs according to five principal factors for call the greatness of a club: titles, financial receipts, inheritance, infrastructure and fan base in his country (without counting the 'sympathizers' around the world)):

    England: 1 - Manchester United and Liverpool , 2 - Arsenal and 3 - Chelsea.

    Italy: 1 - Milan, 2 - Juventus and 3 - Internazionale.

    Spain: 1 - Real Madrid, 2 - Barcelona and 3 - Atletico.

    Brazil: 1 - Sao Paulo, 2 - Flamengo and 3 - Corinthians.

    Argentina: 1 - Boca Juniors, 2 - River Plate and 3 - Independiente.

    Uruguay: 1 - Penarol, 2 - Nacional and 3 - Defensor.

    France: 1 - Olympique, 2 - Lyon and 3 - PSG.

    Portugal: 1 - Porto, 2 - Benfica and 3 - Sporting.

    Netherlands: 1 - Ajax, 2 - Feyenoord and 3 - PSV.

    Germany: 1 - Bayern, 2 - Borussia and 3 - Hamburgo.

    Mexico: 1 - America, 2 - Chivas Guadalajara and 3 - Cruz Azul.

    Chile: 1 - Colo-Colo, 2 - Universidad Chile and 3 - Universidad Catolica.

    World: 1 - Real Madrid, 2 - Milan, 3 - Sao Paulo, 4 - Boca Juniors, 5 - Liverpool and Manchester United, 7 - Barcelona, 8 - Juventus, 9 - Bayern and 10 - Internazionale.

    Alex Schneider


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