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Is it harder to play in Europe or South America?

Is it harder to play in Europe or South America?

Europe and South America are the two best continents when it comes to soccer. The talent level and success at international and club level are unrivaled. Similarly, these two continents possess fan bases that can legitimately impact any game based on emotions and momentum.

Many of the best players in Europe come from South America. Players like Neymar, Angel Di María and Luis Suárez all had stints at clubs in their native countries.

Europe certainly holds more prestige in that regard and, consequently, more money. This is why no players in South America are ever in consideration for best player in the world.

Yet, South American soccer is perhaps more intense than its European counterpart. Take the rivalry between Boca Juniors and River Plate as an an example. On several occasions, games between these two had to be called off or postponed due to fan violence or even player violence. We seldom see reactions on the same level in Europe, especially considering Boca and River are two of the biggest clubs on the continent.

Traditionally speaking, European soccer is more professional. Tactics dominate. Comparatively, South American soccer developed a reputation as being more violent and physical. Perhaps rivalries like that between Boca and River or Corinthians and Palmeiras contributed to that reputation.

Is it harder to play in Europe or South America?

Considering talent, pressure and overall experience, which do you think is more challenging: playing in Europe or playing in South America?

As stated previously, players from South America will travel to Europe to play the better competition. Curiously, seldom do European players go the opposite way, even though the competition is full of emotion and vigor in South America.

What do you think? Is the tactical and mindful side of Europe more challenging than the raucous South American leagues and the Copa Libertadores?

PHOTO: Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

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  1. Ra

    May 30, 2022 at 9:53 am

    It is harder to play in South America for two reasons:
    1. No of matches – South American teams, especially in Brazil, have a very strenuous calendar. Teams play on AVERAGE 70 matches per year. Palmeiras played 91 matches in 2021. Liverpool played 63 because it reached UCL and FA finals, and Klopp rightfully complained that 63 is already a lot for a player.
    2. Fan pressure. Fans give wonderful displays of support, but they are also very prone to start harassing players. Casemiro and Militao played for SPFC, and they got a lot of heat then. Managing fan pressure in EU seems very easy. France seems to be the harder of the bunch, but still very rosy compared to SA. Atletico MG and Flamengo finished the Libertadores group stage at the top of their group, but were still booed because fans were expecting more of their last match.

    • MarkB

      May 30, 2022 at 7:43 pm

      You make two very good points. At times, the passion of the fans in SA becomes pretty dangerous, Andres Escobar being one example.

  2. Buckles

    May 30, 2022 at 6:37 am

    South America is essentially a feeder league to the top leagues in Europe. MLS is as well. It’s not really about the difficulty of the leagues. Europe has the money and with that comes intense pressure to perform. That being said, there is still much entertaining soccer in many of the non-top leagues.

  3. Leo

    May 29, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    It’s way harder to play in South America. In Europe there is no pressure at all. A good/bad game in Europe could be the difference between having 5 or 10 million more in your bank account. A good/bad game in South America could be the difference between having a meal in the table the next month.

    • MarkB

      May 29, 2022 at 4:55 pm

      That’s a good point, but were you referring to established stars or young up and coming players. Surely established players don’t have to worry about their next meal, do they?

  4. MarkB

    May 29, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    Well, are we talking about playing/living conditions or level of competition?

  5. Ra

    May 29, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    You already know this. Players don’t go because of style of play — they go for money.
    Money is now in England and Paris. That is where the petrol money is found now. In the past, players were eying Spain and Italy – that is where the money was then.
    Because of this, we know that MLS will never be a destination for players in their prime.

    • locofooty

      May 30, 2022 at 9:21 am

      Money and the Bosman ruling. Any link to european heritage is used, so that the South American player can count as an EU player and not as a foreign player. After that ruling, there was a shift and it can be clearly seen with who the winners of the last Intercontinental Cups were and the recent Club World Cup winners. South America has the talent, Europe has the organisation.

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