Copa Libertadores final shows Brazil dominance

Bruno Henrique of Brazilian soccer team Flamengo speaks to the press upon his arrival at Montevideo airport, Uruguay on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. Flamengo will face rival Brazilian team Palmeiras for the Copa Libertadores final November 27. (AP Photo / Natacha Pisarenko)

The domination of Brazilian clubs over South American football is underlined by the Copa Libertadores final between Flamengo and Palmeiras on Saturday in Montevideo.

A Brazilian team will win the South American crown for the third time in a row, the eighth time since 2010.

Flamengo won the trophy in 2019. Palmeiras is the reigning champion thanks to a 1-0 victory over local rival Santos.

Saturday’s winner will become triple champion.

Whoever it is, Brazil will come close to Argentina in the Copa Libertadores champions tally; 21 to 25 for Argentina, with many Argentinian titles won early in the tournament’s history at a time when Brazilian clubs were not prioritizing competition.

Brazilian club dominance also includes finalists in the second division Copa Sudamericana, which Athletico won this week. This year marks the first time that the four finalists of the two Copas have come from the same country.

Brazil’s advantage also appeared in major signings. Players who may still be in Europe have decided to return home, including Atletico Mineiro forwards Diego Costa and Hulk, Flamengo defender David Luiz and Corinthians winger Willian.

Many Brazilian clubs, some with competitive teams, are in debt and are struggling to pay their bills. But money has never stopped flowing for football despite the country’s economic crisis.

Marketing firm Sports Value said in August that revenues for the Brazilian football market were approaching $ 1.5 billion in 2019, before the pandemic. Chilean clubs won $ 200 million and Argentinian clubs, due to the fluctuation in the country’s exchange rate, let alone.

“Brazil has bigger TV contracts, transfers, sponsorship deals, official fan income. The economic difference is very big between Brazil and the rest of Latin America these days, ”said analyst Amir Somoggi.

Also based on 2019 figures, Sports Value estimated Flamengo’s revenue to be over $ 230 million that year, while Argentinians Boca Juniors made less than $ 100 million.

The gap could widen next year. Brazilian media reported that several other big names could return home next year; defender Thiago Silva, left-back Marcelo, midfielders Paulinho and Oscar. Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez is also among the targets.

Most commentators say Flamengo is the favorite to win the Copa Libertadores final. The Rio de Janeiro-based giant has two players who have played for Brazil often and could well make the World Cup in Qatar: midfielder Everton Ribeiro and striker Gabriel Barbosa, the tournament’s top scorer with 10. The team also includes the Uruguayan midfielder. Giorgian from Arrascaeta.

Flamengo could end an unbeaten campaign; he won nine matches and drew three.

Palmeiras goalkeeper Weverton is also a favorite for Brazilian manager Tite, although a step behind English Premier League-based Alisson and Ederson. The defending champions have lost once. Their top scorer is striker Rony, with six. But the team’s greatest strength is its defense. Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira is the first European to reach the final twice.

Ferreira and his Flamengo counterpart Renato Portaluppi can win their second Copa Libertadores, but both come under fire for their teams’ performances in the Brazilian league. Both are far behind Atletico Mineiro, who could become champions next week.


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