In its four matches at the World Cup, Brazil scored 14 goals. Israel, by comparison, scored 5 goals. And that's pretty much the balance of power on paper between the two teams that will meet Saturday in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Brazil is not only the South American Under-20 champions, they are also the favourites to win the World Cup, although two of their biggest stars did not make it to Argentina because their teams refused to release them.
We're talking about Vitor Roca, Atlético Paranaense's 18-year-old striker, the top scorer in the South American championship, whom Barcelona have been courting for a long time. He has already played for the Brazilian national team. Real Madrid, on the other hand, have already agreed to buy Endrick, Palmeiras' 70-year-old diamond, for €16 million, who will arrive at the Bernabeu in about a year.
Brazilians celebrate in Argentina, Photo: EPA
Even without them - a roster loaded with talent
But even without those two heavy guns, coach Ramón Menezes has a squad loaded with talent, some of whom are expected to star for the Seleção in the coming years. Take Marcos Leonardo, who has already scored four goals in the tournament and added one assist. Some compare him to Sergio Aguero, partly because of his physique, but mainly because of his agility in the wide.
The 20-year-old striker has been playing for Santos for three years. Last season he scored 21 goals in 57 games. Santos were quick to sign him to a contract until 2026. But the goal is to sell him to a top European team.
English media reported that Manchester United are interested in him. But she's not the only one. Argentina also has scouts from Arsenal, Newcastle, West Ham and Chelsea, all of whom have their eye on him. West Ham tried to buy him in January, but the offer was rejected.
Marcos Leonardo celebrates. Little Aguero, photo: AFP
The one already in Europe is Marquinhos, the brilliant left-back whom Arsenal bought a year ago for €31.5 million. Marquinhos grew up in São Paulo and after two years in the first team moved to the Gunners, mainly thanks to Edu, the professional manager. On his debut for Arsenal, in a 1–2 win over Zurich in the Europa League, Marquinhos scored and cooked.
It was difficult for him to fit into Mikel Arteta's team, so in January he was loaned to Norwich to gain experience and playing minutes. Indeed, he made 11 appearances in the minor leagues.
Ahead of next season, Marquinhos will return to Arsenal and try to fit into the senior squad. The club has a lot of patience with him and treats him as a long-term project. Meanwhile, he has a goal and two assists at the World Cup.
Marquinhos. Israel Pay attention, photo: AFP
Yesterday in the eighth final against Tunisia, captain Andrei Santos scored his first two goals of the tournament.
He still plays for Vasco da Gama but belongs to Chelsea, who bought him in January for €12.5 million. This is because Chelsea were unable to arrange his work permit. Although he is among the youngest in the squad, Andrei Santos is the leader of the team.
In Vasco he played at the age of 16 and in the South American Junior Championship he was the top scorer (along with Vitor Roca), with 6 goals. Two months ago, even before he turned 19, he managed to make his debut for the national team, and it is clear to everyone that he has a brilliant career ahead of him.
Former star Juninho said of him: "Physically he is a monster. And technically, he's above all the other players on the team. He'll be a much better player than me. By the age of 18, he was a complete player."
Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea's new manager, is reportedly counting on Andrei Santos, who managed to get married before the trip to Argentina.
Andre Santos. The leader, photo: AP
Another player already playing in Europe is Savio, the 19-year-old right-back. He grew up at Atlético Mineiro, which a year ago sold him to Troyes for €6.5 million. But Savio did not play in France but was loaned to PSV. Eindhoven.
He may have played very little in the team that won the Dutch Cup, but next season he should be a much more significant player. Savio was not in the line-up for Brazil's first game, the 3-2 loss to Italy. But he came in at halftime and has been a regular in the lineup ever since. His record so far is a goal and 3 assists.
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Savio. Another talented actor, photo: AP
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