It may come after a penalty shoot-out, but even so, it is the result South American football desperately needs. inside Copa Sudamericana, Deportivo Tachira of Venezuela is eliminated Santos of Brazil to qualify for the quarterfinals. Yes, this is not quite the Santos team that featured Pele in the 1960s, who was probably the best team in the world at the time. But they are still a strong team.
Santos has excelled in developing the youth team – and with striker Marcos Leonardo, winger Angelo, midfielders Sandry and Vinicius Zanocelo and defender Kaiky, the current team looks promising. Santos is the overwhelming favorite to qualify, and is keen to make progress in the competition. In the penalty shootout, coach Fabian Bustos couldn’t even stand to watch his team lose.
The Tachira players celebrated wildly late in the game, and many in South America will celebrate with them. They have done little to ease the dominance of Brazilian teams, which is beginning to become a problem for South American club competitions. The quarter-finals of the main event, the Copa Libertadores, will be entirely limited to the Brazilian and Argentine teams.
The second inning of the Sudamericana tried to spread things out more evenly. All ten countries have at least one representative. But Brazil once again prevailed. Four of the eight quarter-finalists came from Brazil. No other country has more than one team in the quarterfinals.
This gap between Brazil and the rest is likely to be larger. Brazilian clubs are now open to foreign capital, and their scouting across the continent has vastly improved. For example, Boca Juniors was keen to bring Arturo Vidal back to South America, only to witness Flamengo searching for the Chilean star. There’s no way that Boca can compete.
Any increase in the standard of the Brazilian game in the country is welcome. But the disparity is starting to create a problem. Can the Libertadores keep its credibility if, as is certain to happen this year, it’s not just an alternate version of the Brazilian Cup? And the problem is certainly not going to be improved by Brazil’s domination of the Sudamericana.
In that context, Tachira’s win over Santos was a small win to balance out the competition. Tachira narrowly missed the last 16 of the Libertadores, and is only one point behind this year – although conceding 14 goals in six games is clearly worrying. They lost 4-0 and 4-1 to Palmeiras, lost 4-1 at home to Ecuador’s Emelec and almost won all the points against Bolivia’s very weak debutant Independiente Petrolero.
Third place in the group earned them a spot in the second round of Sudamericana – but when they held Santos to a draw, there was little hope for them to improve. Instead, they never fell behind in the match. Both games ended 1-1 and both times the Venezuelans took the lead. Santos got the equalizer late in the first game, and tried to lead themselves after twenty minutes to stay ahead of their fans, but by this time they were down by ten, and Tachira was able to continue. continuous series of shots. -out – where young goalkeeper Christopher Varela played brilliantly.
Most of his teammates are experienced players, some have played abroad. There was only one other starter under the age of 25 – teenage attacking midfielder Yerson Chacon, the son of a former member of the club, who was physically weak but full of interesting ideas. Chacon is an example of the success of youth development in Venezuelan football over the past few years. But the simple economics of the situation meant he could hardly stay home for long. His path may be similar to that of winger Yeferson Soteldo, who first went to Chile before enjoying a great feat in Brazil – ironically with Santos – before heading to Toronto FC in the Major League Soccer and now Liga MX’s Tigres UANL. .
This is the food chain for South American players. If they show their promise, they will soon pack their suitcases. They will probably go to Brazil, where they will share a dressing room with big-name stars returning to South America after the end of their careers, or with good players who can’t settle in Europe but still have much to offer.
Back then, all trends seemed to point towards Brazil’s dominance of South American club competitions. But every once in a while, the unpredictable nature of football asserts itself and an annoyance ensues – and that has now happened with mighty Santos falling to Venezuela’s Deportivo Tachira.