Brazil’s dominance in the soccer world is one of historic and current significance. Of course, we all know how the nation leads all countries in World Cup Championships. The country consistently produces world-class players that dominate the club scene. Now, Brazil is expanding their domestic output to match the game’s global development.
Twelve games into CONMEBOL’s FIFA World Cup qualification, and Brazil are on top. With a mind-boggling 31 points in eleven games, the Brazilians look set to qualify for the World Cup. They possess an 18-point buffer from missing out on World Cup action.
The Copa Libertadores Final takes place on November 27. The two finalists, Flamengo and Palmeiras, are both Brazilian. Five of the eight quarterfinalists hailed from Brazil in the 2021 Copa Libertadores.
Similarly, the Copa Sudamericana Final features two Brazilian teams. On November 20, Athletico Paranaense takes on Red Bull Bragantino. Brazil’s dominance appeared in the group stage of South America’s Europa-League-equivalent. Four Brazilian clubs qualified for the knockout stages.
Other South American nations pump out talent as well. However, Brazil remains a head above their competition.
Brazil’s soccer identity
“If you are first, you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.”
Pele’s famous word epitomize Brazil’s dominance throughout the world’s game. The Brazilians try their hardest to win, and when they don’t, they don’t take it well.
It’s no secret that Brazil is a soccer nation. With so many players coming out of the large country, one wonders why Brazil churns out so much world-class talent.
Many Brazilians joked that soccer is their second religion. But, in reality, it is not too far off from the truth.
Exposure to a significant amount of soccer makes you want to play more often. Brazil bleeds the familiar yellow and blue jerseys of the Brazilian soccer team. It has seen more and more success as it becomes more and more popular.
A heavy emphasis on futsal could also be why Brazil has so many talented players. Futsal, an indoor and smaller version of soccer. It prioritizes ball control, quick bursts of passing and creativity. The sport holds a special place in the culture of Brazil.
Unfortunately, part of the reason for its heightened popularity comes from the impoverished public in Brazil. Millions of Brazilians live in Favelas, the slums of major cities like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Ceilândia. The lack of development due to wealth imbalance contributes to the youth learning to play in tight areas on roads, concrete or dirt. Even then, young stars in Brazil make the most of their time. They develop fast reflexes, stunning balance, eye-opening ball-control, and dexterousness with the ball through the air.
Neymar is the perfect example of that. His rainbow flicks, body feints, and elasticos are a staple of his soccer style that much of Brazil replicates.
Brazil’s dominance across club competitions
Most soccer fans lament the ‘woeful’ Brazilian league. A young, albeit ill-prepared, Brazilian phenom leaves home to play for one of Europe’s best clubs. What happens next is unpredictable. Some, like Neymar from Santos and Vinicius Jr. from Flamengo, turn out to be world-class. Others erase themselves from the history book thanks to their sheer mediocrity. It is certainly a gamble, but clubs take that risk with a number of success stories.
Furthermore, no country has more players in foreign leagues than Brazil. In 2019, 466 Brazilians played in European competition. That is more than any other country in terms of having players outside of their country of origin.
Brazil has a wealth of home-grown players to rely on at the club level, regardless of how many wunderkinds leave for Europe. Only 11% of soccer players playing in the Brazilian Serie A are foreigners. 64% of players playing in the English Premier League aren’t English. Spain (41%), the United States (57%), Mexico (41%) aren’t far off from the English.
Brasileirão Série A
The percentage numbers that the Brasileirão Série A has are the norm for South American soccer leagues. What separates the Brazilians from the rest of South America is the commitment and sheer number of Brazilians that go through the youth academies every day.
Now through the years, there has been another narrative. Veteran Brazilians have returned to their homelands to mentor young players. Diego Costa, Hulk, and Willian are examples of this.
When they do, it’s a win-win situation. The veterans are closer to their families, mentor the youth, and enjoy a stress-free time away from global media. The young players receive valuable input from the vets while also competing with some of the best players the world has ever seen.
The Brazilian Serie A also acts as a feeder league for Europe’s elite. Due to Brazil’s volatile economy, Brazil’s sides must resort to selling their most skilled youth to EPL, LaLiga and Serie A so they can fend off bankruptcy. Yet, we could be rocketing towards an era like the heydays of the Brazilian Serie A. As Brazil’s economy, carried by coffee profits, continues to improve, so will the status of Brazilian clubs everywhere.
South American Competition
We can look at the Copa Libertadores records to attest to the strength of Brazilian leagues. Although the Argentine teams claim the most titles, Brazil’s dominance slipped in the Final, but teams from the nation do have the most appearances in championship games. In the Copa Sudamericana, they are second, only behind Argentina, in club titles.
Brazil’s dominance is even more clear in the Copa Libertadores Femenina. The Brazilians won the competition nine times in twelve years, a staggering number. World-class players like Barbara, Cristiane, Beatriz, and Formiga all dominated the continental competition.
Is Brazil Better Than England?
England lays claim as being the home of the sport at large. However, Brazil might do it best, at least compared to their English counterparts.
It’s also a good marker for the FA and CBF to judge the progress of the competitions and leagues they create.
The Brazilians played England 26 times. The South American side has 11 wins, 11 draws and just four losses. The Brazilians’ sheer enthusiasm for soccer, their unique approach to the game and their massive population aids the Canarinho’s case in the matchup.
But, with club soccer, the odds are more tilted towards the English. Of course, the European game dominates the club side of the sport. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and more are make significant leaps in quality each year.
Meanwhile, Brazil falls behind. The English have top-tier facilities, an endless amount of money, and youth academies that help develop players. The Brazilians may challenge the English in terms of youth development, but first-team production is not close across the league.
But, significant advancements are being made. With the emergence of more talent and funds, there is a newfound hope for Brazilian club soccer. As for the Seleção, things can only get better for the star-studded roster.
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