Monaco: Serie A in the 90s and early 2000s used to be the best league in the world. Clubs like AC Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan used to attract world-class players and some of them went on to become legends of the game. Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima aka Ronaldo was an unstoppable force during his years with Inter while Zinedine Zidane made his name with his exploits at Juventus. There were other top-quality players like Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Cannavaro.
Not to forget, a certain Brazillian Marcos Evangelista de Morais or simply known as Cafu. Capped 142 times for Brazil, the most by any player who played for the country, Cafu first came to Seria A to play for Roma. After highly-successful six years at the club where he won the Scudetto in 2001, Cafu then moved to AC Milan. The 2002 World Cup-winning captain extended his success at Milan where he won Champions League medal along with the league title.
Fair to say, Cafu too belongs to the group of legends who made a lasting mark in Serie A.
Gone are those golden days for Serie A. Apart from Juventus, none of the other big clubs from the league could maintain the quality levels of the 90s. There has been a gradual decline of the league, which has been failing for quite some time to attract top talent from the world.
Club football in modern days in Europe has become a lot about money, Cafu thinks Serie A needs to start investing big again. “During those days, Italian clubs used to invest a lot to bring in the best players to the league. Currently, we can see English clubs are doing the same thing. For Serie A to achieve the lost glory, they have to start investing again on good players,” Cafu said on the sidelines of Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.
The last time a Serie A club won the Champions League was back in 2010 when Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final. Since then, only Juventus could reach the Champions League final twice but ended up on the losing side on both occasions.
Cafu, a Laureus Ambassador, also praised Brazillian footballers playing in the Premier League, and how their influence is helping their respective clubs, especially Manchester City and Liverpool.
The likes of Firmino, Fabinho, Alisson, Ederson, Fernandinho, and Gabriel Jesus who have been exceptional for their teams like Liverpool and Manchester City are gearing for an exciting battle for this season’s Premier League title.
“All these guys are playing excellent roles for their clubs in Premier League. I hope the Brazillian players keep the standard high in Premier League because club football in England is very tough and I’m happy they’re doing well,” Cafu said.
Cafu particularly mentioned both teams’ goalkeepers – Alisson and Ederson – for their performances and how their skills made a big impact on their clubs.
Since both goalkeepers’ hail from Brazil, Cafu praised their distributing skills and told how they are changing the goalkeeping aspect of the game.
“Before both of them came to Premier League, they were the best goalkeepers from their respective leagues. Alisson came from Roma on a record fee while Ederson made a switch from Benfica. One of the reasons for their success now is that Brazillian goalkeepers are now learning to play with their feet as well. This is why their distribution is so great. You get the ball faster and it helps massively in attacking.
“Yes, they take the risks and sometimes mistakes happen, but that also tells (something) about their personality,” Cafu said.
Champions League is now in its knockout stage and Europe’s 16 best teams are looking to make to the quarter-finals. When asked whether Real Madrid are once again favourites to win the title for the fourth consecutive time, Cafu refused to indulge in the prediction game.
“No, I can’t predict because it’s very difficult to pick from the 16 best teams in Europe. We’ll get a better idea about who’s the favourite when the tournament reaches the semi-final stage,” Cafu said.
The author is in Monaco at the invitation of Laureus.
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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2019 09:15:53 IST