RIO DE JANEIRO - Four Brazilian sides
crashing out of the Libertadores Cup in one night raised alarm
bells across the country on Thursday with the demise blamed
chiefly on arrogance.
Present at eight of the last nine finals in South America's
elite club competition, Brazilian teams lost in a variety of
ways in Wednesday's last-16 second legs - at home, away, ahead
or behind after the first legs.
Only Santos, who played on Tuesday, reached the
quarter-finals with a meagre 1-0 aggregate victory over Mexico's
"Macabre Thursday. It was macabre for everyone,"
award-winning writer and soccer pundit Luis Fernando Verissimo
said in an interview on the Sportv channel.
"The consolation for the Reds, like me, was that it went
badly for the others too," added Verissimo, a famous supporter
of eliminated title holders Internacional, upset 2-1 at home to
go out 3-2 on aggregate to Penarol of Uruguay.
Internacional's bitter Porto Alegre city rivals Gremio also
went out 3-1 on aggregate to Chile's Universidad Catolica and
Brazilian champions Fluminense squandered a 3-1 home leg lead in
a 3-0 defeat by Libertad in Paraguay.
The biggest shocks though were the defeats of Internacional
and favourites Cruzeiro, who had cruised through the group phase
unbeaten, scoring 20 goals in six matches.
Cruzeiro, twice champions and finalists in 2009, won the
first leg 2-1 away to Once Caldas but were upset 2-0 at home by
the Colombian underdogs on Wednesday.
Over-confidence may have got the better of Cruzeiro and
Inter, who took a 1-0 lead in the opening minute against
Penarol, while another theory is a false sense of teams' real
form in the state championships in Brazil.
The big teams are only really tested when they meet each
other in the Carioca (Rio) and Paulista (Sao Paulo), each with
four top sides, or Gaucho (Rio Grande do Sul) with the big two
from Porto Alegre.
The season began in late January but the top flight
Brazilian championship does not start until later this month.
"It's possible there's a technical crisis in Brazilian
football, reinforced by games in never ending qualifying phases
of the state championships which hide the true strengths of each
team," wrote football critic and TV commentator Paulo Vinicius
"Two things can explain last night's fiasco: an excess of
matches until April or an excess of arrogance. If you completely
dismiss a technical crisis, you have to go for the second
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