SAO PAULO (AP) — When Flamengo spent $12 million to bring midfielder Vitinho back to Brazil from CSKA Moscow, it was a significant statement of intent by the Rio de Janeiro club.
Such spending wouldn’t cause ripples in Europe’s top leagues, but is rare in South America.
Vitinho’s arrival couldn’t prevent Flamengo being knocked out of the Brazilian Cup on Wednesday. Corinthians advanced to the final with a 2-1 win with a team assembled for half the price tag of the 24-year-old Vitinho, who started his career at Botafogo.
Corinthians, the defending Brazilian champion, aren’t in the position to spend like Flamengo. The Sao Paulo side lost several key players just to pay debts.
Corinthians can earn $12.5 million if it wins the final, while the runner-up gets $5 million — both significant rewards for Corinthians which has little chance of defending its Brazilian championship this year. It faced a deficit of $4 million, adding to hundreds of millions of dollars it owes for a new stadium.
Facing Corinthians in the final next month is holder Cruzeiro, the Belo Horizonte team chasing its sixth title after ousting Palmeiras.
Again, the less valuable squad prospered on the field in the two-leg semifinals.
The combined value of the 14 Palmeiras players who faced Cruzeiro is more than $50 million, according to website Transfermarkt, $15 million more than the winner.
Some players, including striker Miguel Borja and midfielder Dudu, could soon be attracting interest from Europe. Midfielder Gustavo Scarpa, who missed the semifinal second leg, is also highly rated.
Flamengo and Palmeiras are still in the Brazilian championship title race.
Palmeiras is in second place, a point behind leader Sao Paulo, and ahead of Internacional on goal difference. Flamengo is two points further adrift with 12 games remaining.
The league champion and the cup winner secure slots in the Copa Libertadores, South America’s most prestigious club tournament.
Here is a look at some talking points from South American soccer over the last week:
Nacional defender Alexis Rolin admitted to intentionally targeting San Lorenzo striker Nicolas Blandi.
Early in the Copa Sudamericana game between Uruguayan and Argentine teams, Rolin tackled Blandi and struck him near an edema on his right leg.
“Blandi was not in his best physical state, and we knew it,” Rolin told radio AM 1010 in Montevideo. “The idea was to go at him to provoke what happened. When a player is not 100 percent at matches of this level, it is hard to play for 90 minutes.”
Blandi came off about 20 minutes after the incident. Nacional won 2-0 and advanced to the quarterfinals.
A VAR decision has been overturned long after the final whistle.
CONMEBOL canceled a red card awarded to Cruzeiro defender Dede, who was dismissed in the Copa Libertadores against Boca last week after a collision with Esteban Andrada led to the goalkeeper breaking his jaw.
Referee Eber Aquino, after consulting with the video assistant referee, adjudged Dede had deliberately clashed with Andrada and sent him off.
The defender will now be eligible for the second leg in Belo Horizonte on Oct. 4 when his Cruzeiro side will be looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the quarterfinal.
Two bills introduced to Peru’s Congress aim to change a law that strengthens the country’s soccer federation powers to change its statutes and organize transparent internal elections.
Some lawmakers and sports executives fear that, if such move is approved, it could lead to a FIFA suspension for interference or the loss of hosting rights for next year’s under-17 World Cup.
A decision by the Peruvian Congress is expected next week.
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