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South American sides make capital gain

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Tim Vickery | 13:24 UK time, Monday, 14 March 2011

With Tottenham into the last eight and Chelsea likely to join them, London is in with another chance of ending its wait for the Champions League success.

But London is not the only capital city to have missed out on Europe's biggest club prize. Rome, Paris and Berlin have never won it either.

It is a different story in South America, where the continent's capital cities have had a stranglehold on the Copa Libertadores, their equivalent of the Champions League.

The explanation is straightforward enough.

Most South American nations are dominated by a single city, usually the port through which raw materials were exported and manufactured products brought in. Football is a game of the city, so the big clubs tend to be clustered in the capital.

Brazil is an exception. Its capital, Brasilia, is a modern city inaugurated in 1960, the same year that the Libertadores was launched. It has yet to produce a top-class team. Rio de Janeiro, the previous capital, has won the Libertadores, as have Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte, the other major footballing centres.

Elsewhere, the pattern is clear.

Buenos Aires in Argentina, Montevideo in Uruguay, Asuncion in Paraguay have frequently provided the winners of the Libertadores. Chile's title came courtesy of a team from Santiago, while Ecuador's from a side from Quito. Although a Peruvian club has never won the competition, it has had a couple of finalists, both from Lima.

Then there is Colombia.

Bogota, Colombia's capital and biggest city, provided major forces Millonarios and Santa Fe when professional football was launched in the country just over 60 years ago. Both reached the semi-finals in the first two years of the Libertadores. Since then, Bogota's fortunes have dipped. It is more than 20 years since the city claimed a domestic title.

Medellin and Cali, the next two biggest cities in Colombia, have emerged as the heartland of the game. Yet even they were eclipsed by the small provincial town of Manizales in 2004. Located in the country's coffee growing region and with a population of less than 400,000, Manizales was put firmly on the footballing map by Once Caldas, who overcame the big city giants to win the Copa Libertadores.

Once Caldas celebrate victory in the 2004 Copa LibertadoresOnce Caldas celebrate victory in the 2004 Copa Libertadores. Photo: Getty

It was hardly the most glamorous campaign in the competition's history. In their 14 games, Once Caldas managed 17 goals but conceded only 10. The figures tell the story. This was a title won with blanket defence. They set out to keep a clean sheet, to frustrate the opposition into losing discipline before striking with a sudden counter-attack or a long-range shot. They used the most efficient formula available to the small club.

The road that Once Caldas trod had been pioneered, with a few excesses along the way, by Estudiantes of Argentina. From La Plata, a city of about half a million and an hour's drive from Buenos Aires, Estudiantes had never even won the Argentine title until 1967. Yet for the next three years, they were champions of South America.

Most of the credit for this remarkable rise has to go to their coach, Osvaldo Zubeldia.

Ahead of his time, Zubeldia worked his players hard on physical preparation, while paying attention to detail. The team trained long and hard on set pieces, pioneering the use of free-kicks from the right taken with the left foot - and vice versa. They also complied dossiers on the opposition, working out which levers they could pull to provoke their rivals. With tight defence and a rapid counter-attack, Estudiantes came up with a winning mix, albeit one that was not always easy on the eye.

All of which makes the achievements of Santos all the more remarkable. Pele's old club probably remain the Brazilian team most famous abroad but they are nowhere near being one of the biggest. Santos is a port with a population of little more than 400,000, about an hour down a winding road from the sprawling metropolis of Sao Paulo.

The club have a limited catchment area and a rickety little stadium that holds about 20,000 and is frequently half empty. The fact that they have won the Libertadores is laudable. The style with which they did it makes the club extraordinary. Instead of small-team cynicism, Santos traded in big-time talent.

Pele was at his absolute peak when Santos won the cup in 1962 and 1963. But Santos were more than Pele. One of football's happiest accidents is the fact that a teenage Pele was surrounded by experienced world-class team-mates when he was thrown into pro football in the mid-1950s. His supporting cast in the 1960s was magnificent as well.

After 1965, Santos turned their back on the Libertadores, preferring to cash in on Pele by playing friendlies all over the world. After he retired, the club slid back to second rank, only reappearing in the Libertadores for one disastrous campaign in 1984.

Neymar dribbles through the Cerro Porteno defenceNeymar dribbles through the Cerro Porteno defence. Photo: Getty

Over the last decade, though, Santos have re-emerged as a continental force. And once again the emphasis has been on exciting young talent. The side that boasted Diego, Robinho and Elano reached the 2003 final, falling in the quarter-finals the following year. Subsequently, the team have reached the semi-final once and the quarter-finals twice. This year, the sights are set higher.

Elano is back, Neymar has emerged and Paulo Henrique Ganso is returning from injury. If they all fire together, there should be no more attractive team in South America.

But the campaign has not started well. Santos drew their first two games and face a fascinating battle on Wednesday. They are away to Chile's Colo Colo, who have sparkled in attack and struggled in defence in their two matches.

The scene is set, then, for a wonderful spectacle, with Santos writing another chapter in their remarkable Libertadores history.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to From last week's postbag:

Q) I watch Blackburn Rovers a lot and know that they signed Mauro Formica from Newell's Old Boys in January. I'm sure you will have seen him play in Argentina. Are you confident that he will be able to cope with the pace and intensity of the Premier League. Also, what is his best position? Is he better suited to play behind the striker or on the wing? How big a success do you think he will be for Blackburn?
Mushtaq Quraishi

A) I hope he comes off because he's a player I like a lot, although the doubt you raised about the pace and intensity of the Premier League is a legitimate concern. His natural position is behind the strikers - or lone striker - where he has something of the young Kaka about him - some thrust and an ability to shoot or set up the play off either foot. But he lacks Kaka's physique, so he might find his favourite spaces a bit congested in England, in which case it might be worthwhile shifting him wider. I think he could do well but he'll need time and patience.

Q) I was wondering if you could shed any light on the culture of defending in Brazil? When one pictures Brazilian defenders, it's usually marauding full-backs such as Carlos Alberto, Cafu, Roberto Carlos or Dani Alves. Although Brazil have produced some excellent centre-backs, such as Lucio or Aldair, there doesn't seem to be the same appreciation for centre-back play as in other cultures.
Aaron Bell

A) It is so easy here to slip into silly myths about happy-go-lucky Brazilians who don't care how many goals they concede. It's well wide of the mark. Brazil invented the modern back four, with the key concept of defensive cover. The 1958 World Cup side - perhaps the most stereotypically Brazilian one - did not concede a goal until the semi-finals and had a magnificent centre-back partnership of Bellini, who was a bit limited but excellent in the air, and the extremely classy Orlando Pecanha, who is still an idol in Argentina with Boca Juniors fans. It is because of the cover provided by the centre-backs and defensive midfielders that Brazil have been able to set free all those great attacking full-backs that you mentioned.


  • Comment number 1.

    "London is finally in with a chance of landing the Champions League."

    Arsenal and Chelsea have consistently done well in the CL over the past 8 years with both reaching a final an numerous semi finals. London have always been in a chance but in no way is this the year we have a chance. Chelsea..everyone now knows how to beat them and Spurs although did very well against Inter, Barca/Bayern/Inter again../Madrid or any of the remaining English teams will put spurs firmly in their place. Sorry..but not this year.

  • Comment number 2.

    Is it not "London is finally in with a chance of landing the Champions League" but "London is in with a chance of finally winning the Champions League?"

    I'm fairly sure John Terry had a good chance of winning it once :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Zubeldia died in 1982 in Medellin after a heart attack. He was for 5 years ) the coach of Atletico Nacional, the other Colombian team which later won the Copa Libertadores (wow, back then, coaches could be in a team for 5 years!).

  • Comment number 4.

    I think Brazil has always had excellent centre backs. From my time, I can recall the likes of Ricardo Rocha, Ricardo Gomes (my favorite one), Mauro Galvao, Mozer, Marcio Santos, Aldair, Andre Cruz.

  • Comment number 5.

    I just hope Cerro Porteño one day wins the damn Libertadores!

  • Comment number 6.

    I really enjoyed the Once Caldas final in 2004, they played well with the team they had and did really well to contain and beat Boca Juniors, undoubtedly the best team in South America at the time having won 3 of the previous four Libertadores titles. Jhon Viáfara's goal was brilliant & the penalty shootout was entertainingly rubbish, only two of the eight penalties were scored.

    I'd love to see one of the continent's minnows win it this year, Junior, Once Caldas, Argentinos Juniors, Universidad Cátolica or even former Libertadores giants Peñarol who are now complete outsiders.

    Boca Juniors are not even in the Libertadores this year, their second season away from the tournament they utterly dominated between 2000 & 2007. I reckon it's only a matter of time before they make their ninth managerial change since they last won the Libertadores in 2007, probably to do something insane like bring Maradona in.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Tim

    Surely the surprise of the competition thus far has been los bichos de la Paternal - Argentinos Juniors. 2 wins and a draw and sitting proudly at the top of their group.
    I will go and see them against Nacional tomorrow night and here's hoping for another good result.

  • Comment number 8.

    7 - argentinos juniors have certainly been a surprise - in a tough group as well - especially as they lost ortigoza on the eve of the competition. i think people in britain would be amazed by how tiny their stadium is - but they are from the capital, and have won the libertadores once already - the thrust of the article was on teams from smaller provincial towns.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's time for a Uruguayan side to win it all.

  • Comment number 10.

    well, to be exact, Santos is not that small... the municipality has a population of 400k, its true, but municipal boundaries should not really be taken into account when deciding the population of brazilian cities.

    Santos is the main city of the "Baixada Santista" metro area, which has a population of 1.4 million people. (about the same as Porto Alegre municipality, although Porto Alegre metro has about 4 million people).

  • Comment number 11.

    10 well, to be exact you can throw in as many of the surrounding areas as you like, Santos is still absolutely dwarfed by Sao Paulo.

    The fact that Santos have outperformed Corinthians (Sao Paulo's most popular club) in the Libertadores is remarkable - and doing it in style makes it all the more so.

    It's a pity that Santos and the great Real Madrid of the late 50s and early 60s never met for the world club title. santos beat benfica - with pele's best ever display - in 62, and even with pele injured beat milan in 63. santos against the real madrid of 1960 would really have been something.

  • Comment number 12.

    9 - will be interesting to see if the current good moment of uruguayan football can extend to the libertadores - when nacional reached the semis in 2009 it was the first time in 20 years a uruguayan club had got that far - the small population means that, however many good players uruguay produces it is all but impossible to hold on to them for long.
    penarol have made a reasonable start this year and have some interesting players - but the title looks a long way off.

  • Comment number 13.

    Aldair has to be my favorite Brazilian CB.

    Bayern Munich have recently signed Luiz Gustavo from Hoffenheim. He looks a decent player. Did his move generate any news in Brazil and does he stand a chance of being called up by the national team? He seems a very versatile player!

    Additionally why do you think Breno has not lived up to his potential? Is it due to Bayern / being in Germany, or something else?

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Tim

    Yeah i realise that your article was about clubs from smaller provincial towns, couldn't help myself promoting Argentinos!
    The ground is very small. And having lost Ortigoza and without Mercier who has been out injured it amazes me how they just get on with things and continue to play good football. Great team spirit at the club. Credit to those running the club.

  • Comment number 15.

    Excellent blog Tim as always. Just a quick question, Whatever happened to the forward Kerlon? I remember a while back he was tipped as a real rising star and burst onto the scene with a skill where he balanced the ball on his head and ran at the same time. I remember an article in a newspaper claiming we (Man Utd) had signed him, but that never materialised and just wondered if you had covered him at some point?

  • Comment number 16.

    We are used to saying 'good blog Tim', but I'd personally add ' excellent contributions from the readers' as well. This is one of the few blogs where idiotic comments are at a minimum and you learn something from everyone. So I learn a lot from the contributions here as well, not Tim only.


  • Comment number 17.

    Watts, I am an Argentinos Juniors fan too. It is amazing how they just get on with it, a few too many draws in the league perhaps, they are 11th W1 D4 L0.

    Argentinos are the only team left in the Libertadores yet to lose a competitive game in 2011. The only other unbeaten top flight teams on the continent are the unlikely pair of Deportivo Cuenca of Ecuador & Anzoátegui of Venezuela.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 11: that would indeed have been quite something Tim - two of the best sides ever to have graced the game. And for that very reason, perhaps the football gods knew what they were doing by keeping them apart; after all, one would have had to lose.
    I have high hopes for Santos in the Libertadores, now that Elano has joined and Ganso is back (and what a comback: his 2nd touch set up the first goal and he put away the 2nd himself, well taken under pressure). But although those 2 plus Neymar are probably better than anybody back in 2003, I feel it still isn't as strong a team as that one, which fell at the final hurdle, to a terrific performance by Tevez.
    Perhaps the weakest point though is administrative. The management made a huge mistake in August when they backed Neymar against Dorival (who quickly confirmed his merits at Atlético Mineiro). Now it is branded the club that is run by the kids, and it is making it hard to find a replacement manager (Adilson was another mistake that has at least been corrected). The caretaker manager is doing an excellent job, and I would've preferred to see him continue instead of them bringing in Luxemburgo, and I think that he could handle the state championship and possibly even the national one, but he lacks the big-time experience to take santos to the Libertadores title they are yearning for. Can they persuade Muricy, I wonder? Only if they promise to back him to the hilt in the face of any insubordination from the youngsters, that's for sure!

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi tim, great blog as always :-)

    Quick question: i am a sporting lisbon fan and wanna know how big of a impact has liedson done in the brazilian league. Has he won many fans over there?

  • Comment number 20.

    In fairness to Once Caldas, it should be stated that the ultra-defensive scheme of the 2004 triumph is not really representative of the team's historic philosophy - they've usually been an attacking side, and they are very interesting at the moment under ex man city assistant coach osorio.

    he has them playing with three up front, very direct, getting the ball quickly into high wide spaces - something unconventional for colombian football. they won the domestic title at the end of the year, despite financial problems, then lost some key players.

    osorio has had to refashion his team, and perhaps unsurprisingly they have struggled at the start of the libertadores. but they're doing well again domestically, and will hope to fire this week in the lib - dayro moreno, renteria and the interesting young carbonero up front make quite a forward line.

  • Comment number 21.

    Best blog on BBC Sport and this week is no different. It annoys me that it's so hard to find a place to keep in touch with S. American football in Britain so it's good to be able to come here for some professional opinion and as stated above, the comment section is often as enlightening as the articles.

    I think Kerlon ended up at Inter Milan didn't he? Seems a lot of the crop of u21/ u23 Brazil players from a few years ago have gone off the radar, Keirrison and Alen Kardec were two players who I was really excited by when I heard Liverpool had been linked with them but the moves never materialised.

  • Comment number 22.

    Tim could you give an update on how the talented Erik Lamela is getting on? Do you think a move to Europe is on the cards for him? I would prefer he went to a 'lesser' European club that would give him time to harness his skills and settle in Europe (like Pastore).

  • Comment number 23.

    21 - Keirrison and Kerlon have both returned to Brazil. Keirrison is at Santos but is having a tough time establishing himself in the team. Kerlon is at Serie B club Paraná.

    Alan Kardec is still in Europe at Benfica.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Although a Peruvian club has never won the competition, it has had a couple of finalists, both from Lima."

    Didn't Cienciano from Cusco Peru win the Libertadores in 2003 ?

  • Comment number 25.

    Excellent blog, Tim, your best for a few weeks in my opinion, good dose of football history and a trip around the continent but based around a current theme. Coming back to your mention of the Champions League, how have Sandro's excellent displays against Milan been received? I assume the Champions League gets more coverage than the Premiership over there..? He looks to be starting to settle in well anyway, playing in what is something of a problem position for the Seleção at the moment...

  • Comment number 26.

    Great blog as always Tim, we in the Uk struggle to follow South American football, you make it a lot easier, far better then other more famous blogs I could name on here...I think its a shame we Europeans don't take the Club World Cup more seriously (throw some extra pennies at it perhaps?) as I think it would be of great benefit for world football if it wasn't just the South Americans who took it deadly seriously. Bit unrelated I know, but don't you think its daft that the champions league is effectively the pinnacle of European football, when there is the rest of the world who play? Time to get a new profile pic as well Tim! You look like your falling off a chair slowly or something.

  • Comment number 27.

    @ 24: Cienciano won the Copa Sudamericana, the Europa League equivalent.

    @ 25: Champions League, Premiership, La Liga and Serie A get a lot of coverage here in South America, as in the UK we have some sports channels where you can watch football all day long, specially on the weekends.

    Great blog Tim, thanks for talking about my team, Once Caldas. 2004 was a great year, since we beat Santos in the quarterfinals, Sao Paulo in the semis and Boca Juniors in the final, it was one of the best moments of my life being at the Palogrande stadium that night, it was unbelievable as my team was never considered one of the big teams in Colombia. Now it is considered as the new big one, since now we have 4 league titles and one Libertadores, which in Colombia, only us and Atletico Nacional of Medellin have.

    In Colombia we always enjoy and try to practice the "jogo bonito", as they say in Brazil, but that Libertadores I didn't mind.

  • Comment number 28.

    Re 26

    It's hard to follow South American football in SOUTH AMERICA. At least, in self-sufficient Brazil. Maybe the spanish-speakers have easier access towards each others, but I wouldn't count on that.

    In Brazil, we get Brazilian football (mainly from Rio and Sao Paulo), and European (mainly from England, Italy and Spain).

    Sometimes, when I think of, it does not seem right. But that's how it is...

  • Comment number 29.

    Interesting blog as always, Tim.

    I have no doubt you watched Sandro's impressive display for Tottenham vs Milan, he has been getting rave reviews and us Spurs fans think he has all the abilities to become a fantastic player. What are your opinions on him and just how good to you think he can become?

  • Comment number 30.

    Very good post Jim!!

    In fact, in Uruguay, Penarol and Nacional won a lot of Libertadores. in Buenos Aires, the same

    I think London has a chance this year, but they have never won because they have more than two big teams, they have three, arsenal, tottenham and chelsea. Every city, such as Milan, has at most two big teams. The only exception for that I can think of is Sao Paulo.

    I think that, in the Champions League, Inter will beat Bayern, check out why here:

  • Comment number 31.


    In Brazil, to find -either in National or State levels- teams from outside the capitals strong enough to fight for titles is very hard.

    Nationally, only Santos and Guarani have managed to win the League. If you add Cup titles, only Juventude, Criciúma and Paulista step in (as shown here:

    In State levels, capitals also dominate. I can think of countryside teams fighting for titles only in second and third-tier leagues such as Santa Catarina (Saint Catherine), Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit) and Alagoas (Ponds). Parahyba state is the only one that is dominated by countryside teams.

  • Comment number 32.


    No love for Atletico Nacional? You would think the '89 Copa Libertadores win would get a footnote at least ;)

  • Comment number 33.

    32 - plenty of love for Atletico Nacional! That 89 triumph was excellent and highly significant - it came with a philosophy of play that set up Colombian football for a good few years.

    But the article is not a history of the Libertadores. Its mainly a look at the surprise provincial teams - Medellin doesn't quite count, it's a big, bustling place (and, it seems, an increasingly impressive one)

  • Comment number 34.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 35.

    Once Caldas sound like the Notts Forest of SA, or, so as not to offend, Notts Forest sound like the Once Caldas of Europe, even in the manner of their continental successes, or Forest's second one anyway, when nothing was going to beat Peter Shilton that night. Those were the days when the tackle from behind was part and parcel of the game, goalies could pick up back passes, and Claudio Gentile's profession was described as 'footballer'. Would Forest or Estudiantes have been able to win their trophies with the laws we have today? Is this why Italian football seems to be in decline, or, at least, transition? Could a SA team win the Libertadores again employing the same tactics as Once Caldas did, admittedly as recently as 2004? Arguably, the rules have made it more difficult for defensive teams to succeed, and more likely that attacking teams will, and football, except for Roberto Mancini I fear, is increasingly realising this. It's arguably easier to stop football than create it, therefore the stock of the creative player is higher. Which clubs can attract the creative players? Usually, the richest - who are usually in the major cities - and therefore these are the most likely to succeed, and is why it is more unlikely now than before that provincial clubs can go all the way. Might make an interesting psycho-sociological study whether the 'flash' players are also attracted by the City Lights.

    Interesting that Elano's returned to Brazil. He started off promisingly at Man City, but it peetered out, particularly after the arrival of Mark Hughes, I suspect related to work ethic and anonymity away from home. In the build up to City's Europa League second leg against Dynamo Kyiv, this week, the City website is showing highlights from the quarter final second leg against Hamburg a few years ago in which Elano hit the woodwork twice from free kicks, unfortunately not quite doing enough to score like the rocket free kick he got against Newcastle. Just like Shevchenko for Kyiv last week, given the right environment and circumstances, he can still turn it on, when he wants to.

  • Comment number 36.

    Excellent blog once more Tim. I think the difference between yours and other blogs on the bbc is that your writing is informative and interesting, whereas many of the others don't seem to have that - although in fairness to other bloggers, they do write primarily about English football which the majority of readers already have a good knowledge of. I also agree with the comments that said the responses on this blog are far more mature.

    Zeca - London has never won the Champions League because it has more than two big teams? Quite possibly the most ridiculous statement I've ever read - if you're being serious. That reasoning would suggest that the reason Arsenal and Chelsea have failed to win the Champions League is due to the presence of Spurs - bizarre indeed.

    Tim, given that you've been in South America so long, do you prefer South American football to the game in Europe and the Premier League? In club football, what fixture wets your appetite the most, whether you're watching it in the stadium or on TV?

  • Comment number 37.

    Excellent blog as usual. You can tell by my username where my allegiances lie. What are your thoughts on Lucas Leiva as a classic Brasil number 4 (apparently he's been given this prestigious number)? Is he highly regarded in Brasil and do you think he has potential to be a star with the national side? He seems to have improved dramatically over the past couple of season for Liverpool and is still young, but many are still undecided over him--an educated South American opinion would be useful. Thanks.

  • Comment number 38.

    30 - Zeca "[London] have never won because they have more than two big teams, they have three, arsenal, tottenham and chelsea. Every city, such as Milan, has at most two big teams. The only exception for that I can think of is Sao Paulo."

    Think harder mate, what about Buenos Aires? The federal city itself has Boca Juniors (1977, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007) River Plate (1986, 1996), Argentinos Juniors (1985) Vélez Sársfield (1994) & also 10 time league champions San Lorenzo that are a big team despite never having won the Libertadores. Then you can include teams from the wider metropolitan area; Independiente (1964, 1965, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1984) & Racing (1967). Excluding these two on the grounds that they are from Avellaneda not Capital Federal would be the equivalant of excluding Arsenal, Chelsea & Spurs from a list of London clubs because they are not actually located in the City of London.

    Greater Buenos Aires really puts every other major conurbation into the shade with an incredible 18 Copa Libertadores titles divided between six different teams.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Tim,

    I'd like to know a bit more about the time of Rivaldo back in Brazil. Later in his career he'd go onto become one of the best players in the world.

    But how come his career took a lot of time to come to fuition. Was he regarded in Brazil as a great hope from an early age? If not, when did his career begin to accelerate, and what was it that caused it to all fall into place?

    What was his involvement during 1994 world cup qualification, he wasn't in the 1994 squad despite having already appeared for Brazil.

  • Comment number 40.

    I only hope that one day Goias win the Libertadores!

  • Comment number 41.

    Super tan there Tim, brown as a berry.

    How knowledgable are the suda americanos of UEFA football?

    How do they feel about the sad inevitability of thier star players being shipped to europe at an ever younger age?

    I'd hate that, me.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think that london's best hope of winning the champions league lies with spurs, just because it is a one off and not many teams know how to play against them as they have a good balance to the way they play,they can pass it through modric and van der vart they hav pace on the wings, they have attacking full backs and they can knock it long to crouch when they need to. But they have also shown how shrewd defensively they can be and they have really turned white hart lane into a fortress where not many teams i expect will want to go. They are effective away from home aswell and have pace on the counter attack and centre forwards like pavlyuchenko and crouch who can hold the ball up, and strikers like defoe who can run in behind so they have a good mix. Although i can't see anyone past barca winning it, i do think that it will be a barcelona vs real madrid final, which would be nice to see for a change. I don't think any of the english teams can stop barca so i think it will be them and real in the final,bayern munich are also a good candidate epecailly if they knock inter out.

  • Comment number 43.

    30# rio has 4 big teams : flamengo, fluminese, vasco and botafogo
    sao paulo has 3 : corinthinans, palmeiras and sao paulo

    and buenos aires met area as stated has the big 5 in argentina: boca, river, san lorenzo , Independite and racing club (both from avellaneda)

  • Comment number 44.

    independiente even !

  • Comment number 45.

    also, my old man reckons the italians invented the modern entre half; as defenders only rather than quasi-attackers as had been the case

  • Comment number 46.

    #38, I think Buenos Aires is the exception, but Brazil has far more top clubs than Argentina. So, the (purchasing/signing) power of each has been (historically) less of one from say Buenos Aires. Brazil right now is in a very good economic state mostly due to an infusion of external cash (let's see how long it's going to last).

    Although considered top clubs, I question whether Vasca and Botafogo (from Rio) are indeed at the level of others who can far more often challenge for silverware.

    Brazil has 4 absolutely top clubs at the moment: Sao Paulo (though in a recent slump), Internacional, Santos, and Cruzeiro. It pains me to say it, as a Gremio supporter, but Gremio, Palmeiras, Corinthians, Flamengo, etc are underdogs when playing any of the aforementioned 4.

    BTW, Santos' style does not do too well in a single-elimination competition, so if I had to bet on a Brazilian contender, it'd have to be Cruzeiro.

  • Comment number 47.

    @38 "...also 10 time league champions San Lorenzo that are a big team despite never having won the Libertadores."

    hmmm...interesting point...can a club be considered "big" if they have never won the Libertadores? Quite a few clubs are big and popular at local level but they seem to struggle when playing international football.

    Just a few examples: San Lorenzo, America de Cali, Universidad de Chile, Corinthians, Fluminense... very popular teams but some of them haven't even been close to winning the Copa. You even feel sort of sorry for America de Cali, no titles but 4 times runners-up!!!

    Flamengo is an interesting case. They're probably considered a big club because everyone reminisces about that great winning team from 1981 with Zico et-al, forgetting that was the only occasion they won it and have been utter rubbish ever since.

  • Comment number 48.

    @39 tomefccam

    Rivaldo comes from the northeast state of Pernambuco. He spent his teenage years playing in the lower divisions of a big local club, Santa Cruz. In January 1993 he was spotted by a small club from the state of Sao Paulo (Mogi Mirim) in the famous Copa Sao Paulo de Juniores, a under 21 club competition that is played every year in Sao Paulo, and that has revealed several other famous Brazilian players.
    Mogi Mirim instantly promoted Rivaldo to their professional side and played him alongside another promising youngster named Valber in that year's state championship, to great effect. That Mogi Mirim side become known as "carrosel caipira", a humourous reference to the Dutch Carrousel which is how the Brazilian press called the 1975 Holland team.
    Later in that same year, Corinthians snatched both players, and they were massively important in the 93 and 94 Brazilian league campaigns, with Corinthians coming third in 93 and second in 94 (with Palmeiras being the champions in both years). He was first capped by Brazil in that period, in a friendly against Mexico I believe.

    Palmeiras then controversially signed him in the beginning of 95. There he blossomed alongside other greats such as Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Djalminha. After a couple of years he finally moved to Europe - if I remember well his first club in Spain was Deportivo La Coruna.

  • Comment number 49.

    @47 BladeRunner

    ok, we know from previous posts you're a deluded sao-paulino. Sao Paulinos like to think they are as big as Barcelona, Man Utd, Real Madrid etc. "because they won the Libertadores". So what? A club's greatness does not come from the titles alone, but from the showcasing wonderful squads and players during its existence, from the emotions it inspires on generations of supporters, in summary from their beautiful history which are equally filled with glories and tragedies. Titles come as a result, not as means to greatness. All those clubs, even the ones still without the Libertadores, have all that. So of course they are big.
    For your own sake please forget the idea that Sao Paulo is the "only" big Brazilian club because it won a couple of forgotten Toyota friendlies against Milan Barcelona and Liverpool. Nobody gives a s...t.

  • Comment number 50.

    @49 AlexAD

    Speaking of "deluded"...just for a moment, I know it may be difficult for you but at least try to imagine a world where not everyone is Brazilian. Now try to visualize from a non-Brazilian perspective...what do you see of Brazil? don't see Corinthians, Fluminense, etc. You see the clubs that compete successfully in the international scene.

    Some have been successful playing dreadful defensive style (Gremio comes to mind) and some have been successful playing beautiful football (Flamengo 81 and Sao Paulo of the early 90's come to mind).

    Now you can stop stressing, relax and go back to your Brazilian-centric football world. ;)

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi Tim, as always a very interesting blog. I've just moved to Rio myself so it's great to start getting to know Brazilian football on the ground. Just one thing. No mention of Mexico City in the article or the comments as far as I can see. Cruz Azul have already been in the final and only lost on penalties to Boca Juniors after beating them in Buenos Aires. América has already been in the semi-final and is looking pretty strong this year. I know the Mexican teams are the neww boys on the block in the Libertadores and pay a price for that, but let's not write them off.

  • Comment number 52.

    I understand you can reply to all the comments made here, but the topic of Sandro in post's 25 and 29 seems a prime theme in an article about South American football within which you refer to Tottenham Hotspur in the first line?

    I really can't understand such lazy journalism sometimes.

  • Comment number 53.

    Glad to hear it! Yeah one too many draws perhaps but their never say die attitude is very refreshing. Troglio seems a good, solid manager, lets just hope we don't lose him to one of the "bigger" clubs that might come swooping for managerial talent soon (River.....?)It would have been interesting to see how Argentinos would have progressed if Borghi had not left for Boca but the current side looks very smart.
    I'm expecting 3 points tonight i wasn't overly impressed with Nacional last time out and i believe a win tonight would guaranteed entry to the next round. Here's hoping

  • Comment number 54.

    @50 Mate, your reply shows youre indeed deluded. From an international perspective, let's face it, Sao Paulo is as famous as any other Brazilian team - i.e. barely known at all. Nobody outside Brazil cares about the so-called internationality of Sao Paulo.

    As to my Brazilian centric view... well I've been living abroad for 6 years now so pretty hard to have one. I would say its quite the contrary - your view is of a Brazilian who believes is thinking with an international perspective, when truly only has a naive impression of how foreigners see Sao Paulo.

  • Comment number 55.

    "Speaking of "deluded"...just for a moment, I know it may be difficult for you but at least try to imagine a world where not everyone is Brazilian. Now try to visualize from a non-Brazilian perspective...what do you see of Brazil? don't see Corinthians, Fluminense, etc. You see the clubs that compete successfully in the international scene."

    I'm from a world where not everyone is Brazilian - Portugal. And I have heard of Corinthians, Fluminense, Santos - especially these three - Grêmio, Internacional, Vasco da Gama, etc. And, yes, São Paulo. Admitedly, we're probably more familiar with Brazilian football than most Europeans, but still, it's telling that the the first Brazilian clubs most people around here - not just me - would think of are the very same you claim are "not seen" outside of Brazil - Corinthians and Fluminense.

  • Comment number 56.


    Big man, calm down.

    As far as I'm aware, its not Tim Vickery's job to reassure Spurs fans (or fans of any other club for that matter) that the latest South American player they have bought/linked with is going to be the next big thing. I dont think mentioning Spurs in his article compels him to answer any questions he receives from Spurs fans.

    The man is finding stories worth telling from South American football and telling them in an engaging, thought-provoking manner. It a subject he is clearly very passionate about and that is why many people want to read this column. If not answering a question about some spurs player makes him a lazy journalist, then i'd hate to see your idea of a good journalist...

  • Comment number 57.

    Sandro - picked him out as one to look for in World Soccer magazine just over two years ago after the 2009 South American Under-20s.

    Did a piece on him here in September, when I was back in England - interviewed him after his first game for Tottenham. I'm not at all surprised by what he has done - though to be honest I didn't expect him to do it quite so soon. Even while he wasn't getting a game he was still in the Brazil squad, which shows high highly he's thought of.

    Hes competing now with Lucas for a place in the starting line up, now that Mano Menezes is using the Liverpool player as his defensive midfielder - I suppose that range of passing is the biggest advantage that Lucas has here, because it's not a strength of Sandro's game.

    And no, Lucas is highly unlikely to become a classic Brazilian number 4 = that's a number they give to a centre back

  • Comment number 58.


    A great blog as always. Hope I speak for the rest of your readers by saying that I feel like I learn a little more about South American football every week.

    One question. I recently read a report about the rather dark tale of Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno. Have there been any further developments on this?

  • Comment number 59.

    Yes, Santos is dwarfed by nearby São Paulo (but then, which city isnt? :))

    But its very close to São Paulo, so it was able to get many fans from that city. (just like Estudiantes de La Plata?)

    Furthermore, the gap between Santos and São Paulo´s population has increased much, but it wasnt as wide when Santos won the Libertadores with Pelé, and was even smaller when the clubs of São Paulo were founded.

    My guess is that Santos established himself and gathered a following in the megalopolis 80km away before the population gap increased.

    Thats what has kept Santos as a big club. Lets not forget they even considered moving the club to Diadema, in the São Paulo metro area, because of the huge number of fans in the area.

    Plus, they were always very efficient in prospecting great new young players. Thats a quality Santos DOES HAS, I cant deny, and has helped them get fans (mesmerized by the awesome players) and keep in the top.

    I think those are the differences to the clubs of Campinas, who never got a following in São Paulo city to keep them, unlike Santos.

  • Comment number 60.

    59 i think we're doing a dance of chicken and egg here.
    Santos would not have picked up many fans from Sao Paulo if they were 2004 model Once Caldas - back to my original point - their differential has been the style of play

  • Comment number 61.

    @59 and 60
    Tim I normally agree with you but in this particular discussion I tend to agree with AcesHigh. I grew up considering Santos as one of the 4 big Sao Paulo clubs. Santos the city is so close to Sao Paulo, and the team has so many fans in the Sao Paulo area, that I never saw them as a team from a smaller centre.
    Admittedly, that might not have been the case when they became a professional club - I am not old enough to have lived through that...

  • Comment number 62.

    Such dominance is also there at national level. If we take countries like Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Perú and Chile, teams from outside Buenos Aires, Asuncion, Montevideo, Lima and Santiago hardly win anything. Brazil and Colombia are the exception, but we can still say that the majority of the champions in these two countries all come from the big cities (Rio, Porto Alegre, Medellin, Cali, etc.).

  • Comment number 63.

    @55 Manuel

    exactly.. I havent been to Lisbon recently but in other European countries one of the few clubs non-Brazilians are familiar with is Corinthians - admitedly probably because of the MSI/Kia/Carlos Tevez affair, Ronaldo and more recently Roberto Carlos - but still it means it is a club where there are news of some international relevance, for the good or for the bad.

    But the sao-paulinos love to dream that Europeans are in awe of Sao Paulo... well, whatever rocks their boat, right?

  • Comment number 64.

    Are there any tv channels in the UK which show South American football?

  • Comment number 65.

    @AlexAD (49 & 54...)
    Sorry to tell you, lad: INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE is more than Europe View (I don't know where your '6 ys abroad' are, but as per your proud announcement, must be in a nice and peaceful european place ;))
    Ask a mexican, an argentinian, a chilean, a colombian: there is no delusion in saying Sao Paulo is better known - or more important. We're speaking about FACTS: Latin America values international champions, specially regarding Libertadores. They're in History.
    Of course there is the 'reflex' of the national importance. It said, let's go the the point: Santos is a wildcard, due to Pele. Corinthians (a hilarious int'l 'bubble'), Flamengo (almost 30 ys since last Libert.) and Fluminense (one finals and a recent brazilian title) might come first; above, we have the most well succeeded: Vasco, Palmeiras, Grêmio, Cruzeiro, and then Internacional and Sao Paulo.
    That's not jactancy - we get nothing from this. But that's a fact.
    And above all, that's a matter of sense.
    Telling it is delusion of a supporter of one of these most successful clubs is obviously try to re-write History, my friend. Or a need, for who-knows-the-reason-why, to build the importance of a club over the 'demolition' of the other(s).
    Easy, your time will come - even if it takes a hundred more years.

  • Comment number 66.

    @5 Alimana - I hear you, FUERZA CERRO!

    Good blog as always, I think Santos have a tough game, they are meeting a Colo Colo side experiencing a resurgence under Amérigo Gallego (won 4 on the bounce). Having said that I think the Copa will stay in Brazil this year. Unless of course Cerro Porteño finally exorcise their continental demons ;)

  • Comment number 67.

    @AlexAD (63)

    ... Being known for punctual news - being the last national champs, hiring famous players, being subject of criminal scandals... - is not reference.

    Get to Spain now and check which would be the most commented brazilian club right know. It is absolutely meaningless, but illustrates the point above.

    I guess fans don't care about being worldwide known. It's 'mickey mouse', an issue for rivals to bother each other (usually the low-rated ones 'get the receipt', as we use to say).

    Fans care about important titles. THIS makes a club known. And THIS, some have - and some don't.

    The Subject of this post is exactly this: 'SMALL' CLUBS THAT REACHED WHAT SOME SO-CALLED 'BIG' NEVER DID.

  • Comment number 68.

    AlexAD, Oliveira_alex et all,

    Corinthians might be a BIG club in Brazil, but lets face it, outside of it, it doesn´t exist. Olimpia of Paraguay is a much bigger club if we take into consideration international success/recognition.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ Bladerunner #47

    Well if you are going to say that San Lorenzo can't be a big club because they have never won the Libertadores where does that leave Arsenal, Clelsea & Spurs? None of them have ever won the biggest prize in European football.

    As a northerner and someone who doesn't really care that much for San Lorenzo I'd be happy if they were all never called big clubs again until they prove it by winning the biggest prize on their continent.

    The thought that teams like Once Caldas, Liga de Quito & Argentinos Juniors are big clubs by this definition and Chelsea, Arsenal & Corintians are not is quite funny.

  • Comment number 70.

    @68 well said.

    Santos didn't look particularly special when they played against Cerro Porteño. Neymar especially looked lightweight and Ivan Piris had him in his pocket for most of the match. It'll be interesting to see what he can do against Colo Colo's defence, which went missing when they played against Cerro Porteño here in Asuncion.

    No one ever really talks about Piris, but i think he's the best young defender we have at the moment. I'd like to see him get a call up by Tata soon. Whether the powers-that-be at Libertad (allegedly) will allow that or not though....

  • Comment number 71.

    oliveira_alex, another sao paulino I reckon....zzzz...

  • Comment number 72.

    Alimana, yes sure, Olimpia of Paraguay is massive. Can't stop reading about them.

  • Comment number 73.

    Hi Tim,

    # 60 - Although I understand your point, there are more facts to be considered.

    At Pele’s time, the city of São Paulo had Morumbi (whose attendance capacity at that time was more than 110000) and Pacaembu (which could have an attendance of more than 80000) stadiums that were much bigger then Santos’s own stadium (Vila Belmiro). Therefore Santos decided to play their most important games at São Paulo and EVERYBODY (fans and media) at that time considered that the city of São Paulo had four teams.

    This condition changed about 10 years ago for three reasons:
    1) Until the 90’s the attendance would have to stand up to watch an important match. Stadiums capacity was almost reduced to half of what it used to be when FIFA demanded that the attendance should have sits;
    2) Television (instead of attendance) is the main income today;
    3) Some 10 years ago (or more) Santos turned to Vila Belmiro (their own stadium) once again. This was due to the change in their main income and to the fact that Santos wanted to put pressure on their visitors. Unlike Morumbi and Pacaembu are olympic games-like stadiums, at Vila Belmiro the attendance is very close to the field.

    Anyway, you are correct to say that today Santos is no longer linked to the city of São Paulo.

  • Comment number 74.

    Here are the top teams in Colombia, the big ones:

    Millonarios and America de Cali(13 league titles).
    Atletico Nacional de Medellin (10 league titles and 1 Libertadores).
    Deportivo Cali (8 league titles).
    Junior of Barranquilla and Santa Fe (6 league titles).
    Independiente Medellin (5 league titles).
    Once Caldas (4 league titles and 1 Libertadores).

    Then there are some teams which have only won one league title.

  • Comment number 75.

    @69 if you re-read my post, it was a question, not a statement.

    btw, LDU is a big club and have been performing quite well at international level for a while now.

    Once Caldas and Argentinos Juniors...well, there's always an exception (or two) to the rule.

  • Comment number 76.

    @72 "yes sure, Olimpia of Paraguay is massive. Can't stop reading about them"

    From Wiki: 38 league titles, 3 Copa Libertadores titles, 3 times runners up, winner of the Intercontinental Cup, 2 Copa Sudamericanas, etc, etc, etc

    If you hold them in derision,it's not Olimpia's fault, it only shows that you may have moved abroad but your narrow minded on football matters is still there.

    You seem to be in awe of top european clubs and disregard everyone else as nothing, including clubs from your own country and that's just wrong. Every country has one or more "big" teams that may not be familiar to you but they are to fans of football.

    and @65... well said

  • Comment number 77.

    You managed to write a note on the Libertadores Cup without mentioning Independiente of Argentina, the most successful club in the history of the Cup with seven titles. Also, it is not correct to say that Santos turned their back on the Libertadores after 1965. Santos was eliminated from the Libertadores in semi-final by Independiente in 1964, who won the two games, the first one in the mythical Maracana stadium 3-2 after a 0-2 start. Getting back to the Cup was difficult in those times as only the national champions were playing it. That changed after several years in 1969, when two teams per country started playing, and today the system is similar to that of the European Champions.

  • Comment number 78.

    Hi Tim, brilliant blog as always.

    Juniors have been a great surprise this time round, but even more so in my opinion has been the form of Libertad. As I sit writing this, they are a few minutes away from an away win which will seal their progress to the knock-out stages.

    Coincidentally, I have chosen the Colo Colo v Santos match as my game of the week on my own little blog, which your readers are more than welcome to read and contribute to:

  • Comment number 79.

    73 - Santos of Pele chose to play some of their big games in Rio's Maracana - the style of their success had made them a national institution.
    77 - respect to Independiente and all that, but Avelleneda is part of the Buenos Aires sprawl - the main point of this piece was those (few) provincial teams who have come through to win. And you're wrong about Santos - they could have participated in the Lib post 65 but chose not to - before the days of big TV money it was not seen as a big financial catch. to pay for pele and the rest the club became the harlem globetrotters, playing friendlies all over the world.

  • Comment number 80.

    BladeRunner and oliveira_alex

    chaps, to say I am in awe of European clubs is off the mark. I do of course envy and recognise the fact that they manage to obtain admirers on a global scale with much more efficiency than Brazilian teams. There is no point in us arguing wether Sao Paulo, Corinthians or Olimpia has a better international profile when even teams like Everton, Napoli or Schalke are more famous that any of the three, outside South America.
    I have in many previous points raised to the defense of suggested points for a better global profile of Brazilian football but that simply has not happened yet, as much as you Sao Paulo fans want to believe it has. To claim that "in Latin America Sao Paulo is definitely more well known than other Brazilian sides" is extending the deception - the reality is that even our Latin American brothers in general ignore Brazilian football in benefit of the Argentina and Mexico leagues, so again you both are only naively assuming that because Sao Paulo indeed won the Libertadores a few times.

    What annoys me is the self importance of some supporters who like to jerk off to their list of titles rather than recognising that teams around them regardless of which titles they won enjoy similar relevance, if they have millions of supporters and have graced football with generations of memorable footballers. All respect to Olimpia, but to say they are more recognised on the back of a couple of Libertadores than a team where Rivelino, Socrates, Gilmar, Rivaldo and Ronaldo played and that has more supporters than the whole population of Paraguay is simply silly.

    Instead of you wanting to stamp on your idea that Sao Paulo is somehow up there with AC Milan, Barcelona, Man United and Pele's Santos, let's all work to together raise the profile of Brazilian club football in general, and perhaps twenty years from now there will be more Brazilian clubs with a global identity.

  • Comment number 81.

    Bladerunner, I don't need to re-read your post. I saw that it was a question and that is why I used the word "if" in the opening sentence.

    As for LDU Quito, yes they have won a number of trophies since 2008 but their global identity is tiny compared to Chelsea & Arsenal.

    Try explaining that Arsenal are a "small club" and Liga de Quito are "bigger" to someone from Senegal, Vietnam, Nigeria, Kuwait.... The first thing they are likely to ask is "who are Liga de Quito?"

    The Premier League is broadcast all over the world while South American domestic football is criminally ignered, the only mainstream media exposure most South American clubs get is when major European clubs poach one of their players.

  • Comment number 82.

    @80 "There is no point in us arguing wether Sao Paulo, Corinthians or Olimpia has a better international profile when even teams like Everton, Napoli or Schalke are more famous that any of the three, outside South America"

    Well, if it's just marketing you're interested in, then sure, South American teams are light years away from their European counterparts and there are numerous (mainly) economic factors that affect this.

    Having a "global identity" and fans all around the world only means their marketing team is very good. As an example, Paris Hilton is very well known all around the world but that is not due to her talents, is it? David Beckham is another example, very limited as a footballer but hyper famous.

    The problem with South American teams is that their product is not well packaged, simply because as soon as a good player appear, he's snatched by the Europeans, so there is a very small window of opportunity to see great South American teams in action before they are dismantled.

    In any case, the Copa Libertadores is all there is in South America, not as flashy as the Champions League and arguably not as good, considering the best South American players play in the Champions League instead, but it's all there is. So winning it is what South American clubs aspire to and those who do are recognised throughout the continent, despite what you may believe.

    Now, if that doesn't make the sports pages in Europe, well, that's a different issue.

    It would be nice to see South American clubs recognised worldwide, but that's beyond their capabilities. Unfortunately, the financial might is just not there in South America.

  • Comment number 83.

    @81 "The Premier League is broadcast all over the world while South American domestic football is criminally ignered, the only mainstream media exposure most South American clubs get is when major European clubs poach one of their players"

    totally agree, sad but true. I don't believe you can actually compare South American clubs with European ones, mainly because of financial reasons (see my previous post)

  • Comment number 84.

    It seems that, with only 3 points in 4 games, and wit two road matches ahead, it is not this year that the Colombian side will become TWICE Caldas...

    I know it is an awful joke, but I heard it and I felt irresistable not to share!

  • Comment number 85.

    Having seen that a team from Grozny, a town largely destroyed after years of war with Moscow, can afford to pay Ruud Gullit £5m a year to coach them, and that another russian minnow with a barely pronounceable name has just spent £26m in the transfer window, I imagine that South American clubs will find it even harder to make themselves heard above the clamour to follow the rise of new cash rich, but trophy & history poor teams, of Eastern Europe. Shaktar Donetsk and Zenith St Petersburg pay wages that would make most of the premier league chairmen choke on their cornflakes, so I can imagine more and more brazilians will turn up there in the future, as a launchpad for their career in Europe. It does seem to be brazilians though, more than the spanish speakers, turning up in Eastern Europe. Any reason, TIM, why argentines and chileans are not going to Terek Grozny for the cash?

    Boca Juniors have a cult following in Europe, having fostered links with fans of clubs worldwide and representing the poor masses as opposed to the middle/upper class River Plate, as do perhaps Flamengo for playing in the legendary Maracana, a mecca for football fan travellers. However, I doubt many of that following actually know their results week in week out, since it's hard to get that information in english at home. Many would not know that Boca have nosedived in recent years.

  • Comment number 86.

    When I say the poor masses, I mean it in the football romantic underdog sense. As a contrast from the nice sanitised neighbourhoods and manicured parks around El Monumental, lacking a bit in passion relatively speaking (relative to Boca Juniors, not relative to most european sides). It was the Boca fans making a lot of noise at the Superclasico that I saw.

  • Comment number 87.

    Uh oh, hard to see out of the hole now. I should stop digging.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    @48 @39

    There is one mistake in Rivaldo´s biography: he moved to Palmeiras right after the World Cup in 1994. Therefore, he didn´t come in second place with Corinthians in that year´s Brazilian Championship, he actually won it, scoring in both legs of the final derbies (Palmeiras x Corinthians is the biggest rivalry in Sao Paulo)

  • Comment number 90.

    @82 BladeRunner

    pal, you are talking about RECENT brazilian football.

    what about brazilian clubs in the 70s, 80s, even earlier 90s, when they WERE able to hold the star players? Why did teams that featured some of the greatest stars in the World Cup not get recognized and better known around the world?

    Flamengo had guys like Zico, and when they played Liverpool (and humiliated Liverpool!), Liverpool players said they had never heard about Flamengo.

  • Comment number 91.

    #90 I think it's just the colonial mindset we have over here. If we win, it's because we have the best leagues in the world and all the greatest players play here because they recognise Europe as the centre of all that is good. If we lose, it must have been the weather, the altitude, the crowd, the ref, the opposition gene pool, and we start to think we gave too much power to the other regions of the world(despite still having half of the World Cup places). I think we English are the worst for grasping at any excuse for defeat, rather than having a good look inwards, but our media certainly doesn't help to correct this. See, I just blamed it on someone else.....

    South America, in general not just in football, needs to learn the dark arts of marketing. It's something anglo-saxons are diabolically good at and spend all their profits on these days.

  • Comment number 92.

    Good write up. I wish that the Copa Libertadores was shown more on European terrestial TV's like the UEFA CL is. From experience whenever a competition is drawing near and if it involves a country that is going to host the said competition, the BBC will show the said matches. The BBC only started showing the African nations cup when England was drawn with Nigeria for the opening game of the 2002 WC. Brazil 2014 is not long away and the BBC will soon start showing the Copa America so as to 'assist' the England team in her preparations

  • Comment number 93.

    Well, just finished watching Colo Colo - Santos and Neymar looked rubbish. True, lots of pace and a few deft touches, but he throws himself to the ground as soon as someone gets near him. Same thing happened to several santos players. pathetic. Ganso looked ok, and elano scored a long range free kick that the keeper somehow let in, but fair play to Colo colo, paredes and the other guy up front were awesome tonight. I hope this neymar sorts himslef out and ties to play real football as he's obviously got some good skills, he just has to learn to use them.

  • Comment number 94.

    @90 "Flamengo had guys like Zico, and when they played Liverpool (and humiliated Liverpool!), Liverpool players said they had never heard about Flamengo."

    well, that says a lot about the Liverpool players doesn't it? Sure, South Americans fail to market their product but there is also a remarkable lack of interest in anything foreign when it comes to football.

    I think @91 is very much spot on why this is so.

    That insular attitude, which seems to be especially prevalent in the British media leads them to believe that they are the best and therefore there is no need to be interested in anything else.

    The Scotland side of 1978 is an example. They underestimated Peru to the extent that the British commentators seemed surprised that Peru could string two passes together, let alone beat the Scots. Never mind that Peru were the defending South American champions at the time and were (and probably still are) very much superior to Scotland.

    We see the same attitude (and worse) from England at every major tournament, or at least from the English press, which is what you see abroad.

  • Comment number 95.

    I disagree.. I think Neymar did great and Ganso did fairly good against colo colo.. the main problem of santos was Danilo used as a midfielder, he attacked too much and left too many spaces in the right side of Santos' field. When Possebon came in, Santos dominated the match and should have tied, but the normal-bad manager Martelloti made a horrible decision of taking off Ze Eduardo and puttin on Maikon Leite. Thats the price you pay for listening to brazilian fans in firing Adilson. Rule number 1 of Brazilian football : Brazilians know nothing about football.. And I am brazilian.. Total joke to fire Adilson.. ask Menezes if Adilson isn't a good coach

  • Comment number 96.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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