With world-class forwards like Bebeto, Romario, Evaristo, Neymar, Waldo and Vava not even making the cut for this Brazilians in La Liga gallery, it’s a reflection on just how many brilliant samba stars have made their names and careers in Spanish football.
Instead of picking a team stuffed full of genius attackers, this selection is a balanced 4-3-3 team which combines the traditional skills we associate with Brazilian forwards with some of the more physical defence-minded elements that every successful team needs.
Diego Alves (Almería, Valencia 2007-present)
Arriving in Spain with little Almería from Atlético Mineiro, Diego Alves started as their reserve 'keeper before quickly establishing himself as No.1. His fine performances over the next four seasons earned a move to Valencia and he has been a reliable goal stopper there ever since.
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Dani Alves (Sevilla, Barcelona 2002-16)
A winner of countless honours in Spain with both his clubs, the swashbuckling Dani Alves has been the defining full-back of his generation. Nominally a right-back, he’s a player who pushes forward effectively to function just as well as a right-sided midfielder or winger. Image Source: Twitter
Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid 1996-2007)
With his rampaging, attacking style not sitting comfortably with Italian football’s expectations of its defenders, Roberto Carlos found his spiritual home in Spain with Madrid where he was given licence to push forward at will. Small in height and yet a physical force of nature, the Brazilian was the latest in a long line of dominating Brazil full-backs. Image Source: Twitter
Luis Pereira (Atlético Madrid 1974-80)
A Brazilian central defender with a very European style, Luis Pereira’s pace and power made him a formidable opponent while his good touch and composure on the ball meant he was ever-willing to initiate attacks from his deep role.
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Miranda (Atlético Madrid 2011-15)
Upon his arrival In Spain in 2011 Miranda settled in quickly to the Atleti back line and was an important part behind the rise of the club under coach Diego Simeone.
A dominant figure who was brilliant aerially in either box, Miranda’s form peaked in 2014 while helping his team to a shock La Liga title and a Champions League Final appearance. Image Source: Twitter
Mauro Silva (Deportivo La Coruña 1992-2005)
A colossus in a defensive midfield role for Deportivo for over a decade, Mauro Silva was a hard-working and hard-tackling leader inspirational during the club’s best years. His club career highlight came in 2000 as Deportivo finally won the League title they had been threatening to for years. Image Source: Beyond The Last Man
Alemao (Atlético Madrid 1986-88)
A thoughtful and underrated midfielder, Alemao pulled the strings quietly and effectively for Atleti in central midfield for two seasons before moving on to Napoli.
A player who was economical with his movement because of his innate sense for always being in the right place at the right time. Image Source: Twitter
Dirceu (Atlético Madrid 1979-82)
A ridiculously talented attacking midfielder who was part of Brazil’s gifted team of the early 1980s, Dirceu brought some welcome flair and excitement to Atleti during his three season stay there. Never the most consistent of performers, but a cult hero in Madrid all the same. Image Source: Twitter
Ronaldo (Barcelona, Real Madrid 1996-97, 2002-07)
Incredibly fast, strong and skilful, Ronaldo exploded onto the scene following his move to Barcelona from PSV. His single season with the Catalans was a revelation and few defences had an answer to his rampant attacking exuberance. Secreted away by Inter, Ronaldo returned to Spain in 2002 with Real Madrid where, despite injuries having diminished him, he enjoyed some wonderful moments.
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Rivaldo (Deportivo La Coruna, Barcelona 1994-2002)
An outstanding breakthrough season in Spain with Deportivo convinced Barcelona that he should be the replacement for Italy-bound Ronaldo.
Rivaldo proved a great success, albeit as a different kind of forward who drifted between midfield and attack and from the middle out to the wing; wherever space could be found for him to wreak havoc with his skill and astute use of the ball.
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Ronaldinho (Barcelona 2003-08)
While never a player who could be relied on for consistency and model behaviour, Barcelona’s patience with Ronaldinho paid huge dividends as he developed briefly into an attacking colossus who stood head and shoulders above any other player in the world.
A World Cup winner like many of our selection and a Champions League winners too in 2006 - the year he was at his supreme best. Image Source: Twitter
While Spain’s big two are unsurprisingly well-represented here, Atlético Madrid have a sizeable contingent of four players which reflects their strong tradition in acquiring South Americans.
In a nod to the near past, Deportivo La Coruna have two players included which reflects the important role that Brazilians played in their rise to the top of the Spanish game around the turn of the century.