The Champions League semifinals take place this week with a quartet of teams who will be relying on Brazilian talent to get them to the final.
A week after European soccer was put in tumult over the proposal of a Super League, the continent’s premier club competition returns Tuesday with the first of two semifinals.
The Champions League may feature European clubs, but it’s the Brazilian players that will be looked on to lead their respective sides to the May 29 final, scheduled to be played in Istanbul, Turkey.
Brazilians, no strangers when it comes to dominating soccer tournaments, feature prominently on the rosters of semifinalists Paris Saint-German, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea.
Brazilians headline UCL semifinals
The Brazilians headlining the clash of giants is Neymar. The 29-year-old has won a Champions League once before with Barcelona in 2015 when he played to second fiddle to Lionel Messi. After helping PSG reach the final last season, only to lose to Bayern Munich, Neymar is on a mission to make history this year.
Winning the UCL has been elusive for the French club despite millions of dollars in player investments. Neymar, it should be noted, is in his prime and having a great season. He’s come close before, although this could very well be the year he and PSG actually do it.
The French champions are pitted on Wednesday against Manchester City. The English club, who like PSG has been bankrolled by oil-rich investors in recent years, are also looking to win their first-ever European title. Manager Pep Guardiola has a deep roster at his disposal, including Brazilians such as goalkeeper Emerson, midfielder Fernandinho and striker Gabriel Jesus.
The other semifinalists, Real Madrid and Chelsea, do battle on Tuesday and also feature several key Brazilian stars. The Spanish giants feature midfielder Casemiro and strikers Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo. Vinicius Junior, who is just 20, is looking to win his first European crown on a team loaded with veterans who know how to get the job done. An exciting striker and one of the youngest talents in the world at the moment, Vinicius Junior reminds many of a young Neymar.
Chelsea, meanwhile, features 36-year-old center back Thiago Silva, a veteran of the Brazilian national team, along with Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri. Although these two are Brazilians by birth, they are naturalized Italians and play for that country’s national team.
Indeed, the Champions League crowns the best team from Europe, but it has become a global tournament thanks to big-spending clubs keen on gobbling up talent from across the world. This current edition of the tournament certainly has a Brazilian flair and that’s a great thing for all of you watching at home.