Brazil has always been renowned for its football culture – the skills, the personalities, the fans – but many of us can sometimes can caught off guard at each World Cup, by a few of the names of a Brazilian team sheet, or not too sure who Real Madrid or Ac Milan have just signed.
NE98 writer Keiran Fleming takes us through the history and format of the league, gives us an idea of who the current stars are, and who’s cropping up to be the next Brazilian superstars.
By Keiran Fleming
The inaugural Taca Brasil took place in 1959 and ran until 1968. The Taca Brasil was the first national competition in Brazil. The reason behind its creation was to find the team that would represent Brazil in the Copa Libertadores. From 1959 to 1964 the winner of Taca Brasil was selected as the sole Brazillian competitor in the Copa Libertadores. In the two years following both the winner and the runners-up were selected to represent Brazil. In 1967 and 1968, the winner of the Taca Brazil, along with the winner of the Torneio Roberto Gomes Pedrosa (Robertao). The final Taca Brazil took place in 1968.
The 1967 Robertao was the first tournament that involved all the main clubs across Brazil. After 1968 it was considered the most important football competition in the country. The winners and runners-up in 1969 and 1970 both qualified for the Copa Libertadores. However, due to a misunderstanding between CONMEBOL and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) there were no Brazilian teams that took part in the 1969 and 1970 competition. The champions, Fluminense, and the runners-up, Palmeiras, of the 1970 Robertao took part in the 1971 Copa Libertadores. The 1970 Robertao was the last to take place before the formation Campeonato Brasileiro in 1971.
Following Brazil’s 3rd World cup win in 1970, President Emilio Medici decided it was the perfect time to reorganise the Brazil league system. It was decided that 20 teams would compete for the Brazilian Championship. The first edition of the competition was named “Campeonato Nacional” and held in 1971. The top division was named “Divisao Extra” while the second division was called “Primeira Divisao”. A few weeks before the 1987 season the CBF announced that it was unable to organise the competition. This resulted in the 13 top teams in Brazil creating their own league known as Copa Uniao. Another 3 teams were invited making it a 16 team league. A few weeks into the competition the CBF considered the Copa Uniao as part of a bigger competition. The CBF created a second league for the other 16 teams that had not been invited to compete in the Copa Uniao. The winners of each league would play each other to find out who was the champion Brazil, both of the teams would also qualify for the Copa Libertadores.
There are 20 clubs that compete in the Brasileirao. Each club plays each other twice, once at home and once away, during the course of the 38 game season (from May to December). Teams receive 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. The team with the most points are crowned champions. The 4 lowest teams are relegated to Serie B. The top 4 teams directly enter the group stages of the Copa Libertadores. The 5th and 6th placed clubs have to play in 2 qualifying rounds before reaching the group stages. Teams placed from 7th to 12th automatically qualify for the Copa Sudamericana. Depending on other national competitions a total of 15 teams from the Brasileirao can qualify for continental football.
Dudu is a Brazilian winger who played a key role for last years title winners Palmeiras. The 27 year old was voted player of the year after the 2018 season. Dudu was the top creator with 14 assists, this was double the assists anyone else achieved. The winger also scored 7 goals. Dudu was completing 2.5 key passes and 2.6 dribbles per 90 last season. The Brazilian’s attacking output definitely makes up for his lack of defensive contribution. Since Dudu is in his prime years a move to a big club is highly unlikely. However, the forward has been linked with a move to China with a bid from Shandong Luneng being rejected last July.
Flamengo’s Colombian centre defensive midfielder was a key factor in holding together his side’s midfield. Cuellar made 3.9 tackles per 90 which was the second most in the league. The CDM also completed 92.2% of his passes which was 3rd best. He was awarded fans player of the year in the 2018 season. Although he is extremely strong defensively, Cuellar is severely lacking discipline. The 26 year old recieved 3 red cards last season which was the most in the league.
The 33 year old veteran has been a real mainstay in the centre of Gremio’s defence for the last 4 years. The centre back made 2.1 tackles per 90 while only being dribbled past 0.5 times per 90 last season. The defender also made 5.1 clearances during a game. Geromel is a huge threat aerially. Although he only scored 2 goals last season, he won 2.8 of his headers per 90. Geromel was also selected for Brazil’s World cup squad in Russia.
Ones to Watch
Gabriel Barbossa was on loan from Inter Milan to Santos last season. The forward was top scorer in the division with 18 goals and 1 assist. This season Flamengo has taken the 22 year old on loan. So far he has scored 2 goals in 3 games during this years Copa Libertadores. Gabigol was bought by Inter for £26.5 million from Santos in the summer of 2016. After an unsuccessful loan spell at Benfica he was sent back to Brazil and made an immediate impact. Barbossa has still got youth on his side and he has been showcasing his talent in Brazil. It is more than likely he will get another chance to show Europe what he can do.
The Gremio winger took 3.7 shots per 90 with 2.1 coming in the box, this shows that he takes most his shots from good areas. The 23 year old scored 10 goals last season and assisted another 3. Soares achieved 4 successful dribbles a game which shows that he has no fear when taking on defenders.The forward has been heavily linked with the elite teams of Europe this summer. AC Milan, Manchester United and Manchester City have been linked with the winger. Soares has an €80 million release clause in his contract however Gremio may be willing to part for less. Reports in Brazil suggests that AC Milan are willing to part with €40 million for the exciting winger.
Rodrygo has followed in the footsteps of Neymar, Robinho and Pele by graduating from the Santos academy. The Winger had a relatively quiet campaign last season only scoring 8 and assisting 3. Real Madrid bought the 18 year old last june for £40.5 million and he is set to join up with Los Blancos in June. Rodrygo is considered to be the second most valuable 18 year old behind Jadon Sancho. It will be very exciting to see whether Rodrygo can be a key part in revitalising the Spanish Giants aging squad.