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From Maradona to Neymar - Football in South America

By Sean Mahon

Posted: 11th November 2014 16:01

Since Uruguay won the first World Cup in 1930, South America have been the continent to beat when it comes to raw talent and attacking flair making it some of the most attractive football to watch.  This philosophy has been passed down through generations to make club sides adopt an alluring attitude of football that is unrivalled by their European counterparts.

The fans are the heart of South American football, pumping passion and hunger to grounds all around the continent contributing to some of the greatest moments in football history.  This passion is evident in the stands; the Samba style seen during the World Cup is a staple around grounds all over the continent.  A true appetite for the game, mixed in with the odd fight and flare makes the atmosphere at a South American football match individual.

The ideology of the South American football is the notion of fast, fluid and attacking football making each game a flurry of chances and goals shown by 11 games this season seeing five or more goals.  Throughout South America, from the wannabe Neymar’s and Messi’s on the streets to the stadiums of some of the most successful clubs in world football, this style is ever-present.

Santos Futebol Clube São Paulo is a team that boasts 40 years of fielding players who epitomise the South American style of play. Santos’ stadium may only seat 20,000 but has been home to some of the world’s most gifted players including Pelé, Robinho and Brazil’s national child Neymar.  For Santos, the early 1960’s was a dream period, successfully doing the triple of the Brazilian Série A, the Copa Libertadores – the South American equivalent of the European Champions League and the International Cup two years on the bounce.  However, every time you think of Santos, you must think of Pelé – “The King of Football”, who holds a record second to none at the club, if making 1106 appearances isn’t impressive enough; he scored 1091 goals in the process.

Across the border in Argentina, a Club Athlético Boca Juniors match is a true South American footballing experience; quality football coupled with one of the best atmospheres in the world makes for an awe-inspiring spectacle.  La Bombera is known for its close proximity to the pitch and the intimidating nature to travelling teams. The unique three stand stadium is home to Boca’s 12th man, the fans, who exploit the personality of the “Chocolate Box” to make the most of the supreme acoustics.  Aside from the impressive stadium, the club isn’t bad either, winning 14 club competitions including six Copa Libertadores and with an alumni that consists of Walter Samuel, Juan Román Riquelme and Diego Maradona.

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