15 Under-the-Radar Brazilians Who Could Be in the Champions League This Season
It has been a poor summer for Brazilian football with the devastating manner of their World Cup semifinal exit to Germany set to linger over the game for some time.
However, normal service must resume and Brazil are not short of ambassadors at any level of the game—including the pinnacle of European football, the UEFA Champions League.
The likes of Neymar, Oscar and Dani Alves will resume their careers in Europe in the weeks ahead, but who are the players outside of the spotlight who could shine in this year's competition?
Bleacher Report takes a look at 15 Brazilians who will hope to make an impact this time around.
Fabinho (AS Monaco)
Former Fluminense right-back Fabinho has achieved a quick rise to prominence in Europe over the last two years and is well established in the Monaco side.
A forward-thinking full-back, he started 21 times in Ligue 1 last season having joined from Real Madrid Castilla.
A first shot at Champions League football awaits with the future of the Brazil's No. 2 shirt open for debate.
Alex Telles (Galatasaray)
Another youngster and another full-back, left-sided defender Alex Telles arrived in Turkey last season after making a significant name for himself with Gaucho giants Gremio.
By the end of the campaign, he was firmly established as the club's first choice in his position and even made his first strides in the Champions League over two legs against Chelsea.
He remains largely unproven at the highest level, but is tipped for big things over the years ahead.
An Under-20 World Cup winner in 2011, central midfielder Casemiro is one of this summer's biggest casualties of Real Madrid's haphazard approach to player development.
The 22-year-old only started one league and one Champions League game last season, but he had shown signs that he was beginning to win the trust of coach Carlo Ancelotti. Now, though, he will spend the year on loan at Porto.
It may be just what he needs, though, given the space opened up by the departure of countryman Fernando. If he can become a regular over the next 12 months, his future may well look as bright as his talent has always suggested it could be.
Rafael Cabral (Napoli)
Former Santos goalkeeper Rafael came to prominence at an early age, starring as Santos won the 2011 Copa Libertadores. Alongside Neymar and Ganso, he was one of the leading lights.
A 2013 move to Napoli, though, was quickly followed by the arrival of manager Rafa Benitez who sought to bring in the experienced Pepe Reina on loan. That deal has not been made permanent, though, and it appears the Brazilian will now take up a starting berth following injury.
Another with realistic national team prospects in the short term, he will hope to impress on Europe's biggest stage.
Alex Sandro (Porto)
A diminutive wing-back, Alex Sandro has all the talents required to reach the very top of the game in the years ahead should he earn a move onwards from Porto.
Santos' academy has produced a number of exceptional players over recent years and the left-back may well be one of the best. With Filipe Luis and Maxwell highly unlikely to make the 2018 World Cup, it would appear he is best placed to challenge Marcelo for the left-back jersey.
He has all the attributes needed to succeed, but now he must ensure he puts in top performances on the biggest stages.
Alan (Red Bull Salzburg)
With 26 goals in 27 games in the Austrian Bundesliga last season, Alan is one of the hottest Brazilian strikers in the world game right now—with a further four Europa League goals to his name.
Red Bull Salzburg are an emerging side and will be better opponents than many will give them credit for should they achieve qualification to the competition proper. Alongside Spaniard Jonathan Soriano, Alan will be their biggest threat.
Perform as he has been in the Champions League and his value will rocket, but there will be no shortage of suitors for his services.
Wendell (Bayer Leverkusen)
Another former Gremio left-back, Brazil Under-20 international Wendell has recently made a €6.5 million switch to Bayer Leverkusen where he will likely take up a first-team berth.
The 21-year-old has only limited experience to his name, with six Copa Libertadores matches the sum total of his non-Brasileirao background. He has been scouted, but even Bayer coaches will accept there is risk attached to his purchase.
The Champions League will be a major proving ground, where he will encounter some of the very best wingers in world football. It is on that stage that we will discover the true extent of Wendell's potential in the years ahead.
Mario Fernandes (CSKA Moscow)
Former Gremio right-back Mario Fernandes has been steadily progressing in Russia over the past couple of years and, unlike his compatriots in Ukraine, should be relatively unaffected by the current situation in the region.
A tall converted centre-back, Fernandes is one of the strongest full-backs on Brazil's radar when it comes to defensive attributes and has improved considerably going forward.
He is somewhat hidden away in Russia, though, and needs a good Champions League season to push him into the limelight.
Fernando (Man City)
Manchester City will make another attempt at a serious Champions League challenge in 2014-15 and among their reinforcements will be former Porto defensive midfielder Fernando.
Likely to form a midfield three with Fernandinho and Yaya Toure for big games, there are few better anchors in Europe than the Brazilian—albeit that his talent has not been recognised by his country.
A destroyer with good passing abilities from the base of midfield, his energy will add much to the Citizens and stand them in better stead for the campaign ahead.
Anderson Talisca (Benfica)
Until recently the property of Bahia, Anderson Talisca is one of the latest batch of Brazilians to join Benfica as they look to plot a career in European football.
An attacking midfielder, the 20-year-old can also play in the forward line and has an eye for goal. With the departure of Lazar Markovic, he should get opportunities.
Having arrived from outside of one of Brazil's leading clubs, he still has much to prove even in his homeland. Benfica, though, is a good place to commence the next stage of his career.
The season ahead, his third in European football, would appear to be crucial in the development of PSG's 20-year-old defender Marquinhos.
With Serge Aurier and David Luiz's arrivals at the Parc des Princes, the former Corinthians youngster now faces a significant fight for a first-team place—particularly in big matches.
The £30 million defender is a significant talent and arguably the successor to David Luiz with the national team—not someone to be easily ignored. He needs game time and must now prove himself worthy of such.
Sporting defender Mauricio arrived at the Lisbon-based club last summer after a career that had threatened to wander off course in Brazilian football.
Thus far, though, the former Palmeiras and Sport Recife player looks to have put some or all of his previous issues behind him to make a positive start to his European career.
The club as a whole far exceeded expectations last campaign and, as a result, have a Champions League campaign to look forward to. Defence will be key if they are to achieve any success and Mauricio must step up to the mark.
Lucas Piazon (Chelsea)
Whether Lucas Piazon will be at Chelsea this season remains undecided, but the Brazilian thus far appears determined to fight for his place at Stamford Bridge.
Before falling out of the side as Vitesse's Eredivisie season fell apart last campaign, Piazon was instrumental to the side's success in scoring 11 goals and providing 8 assists.
He now has the task of persuading Jose Mourinho he is ready for the step up and, if he can do so, could be a useful weapon in the Blues' Champions League armoury.
Victor Andrade (Benfica)
The natural heir to Neymar, or so it had once seemed, former Santos forward Victor Andrade has made the switch to Benfica this summer after a stuttering two years since his first-team debut in Brazil.
Now 18, Andrade does not lack talent, but has suffered on account of his attitude under more than one Santos manager. It has become a major concern.
Benfica, though, have returned for a player they had eyed up in his formative years and will hope that he can come good on his obvious potential. He could get chances this season.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Not "under the radar" in the grand scheme of things, Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho will this year take a first crack at Champions League success as a first-team star.
Much improved since his arrival in England, Coutinho is now a player able to influence big games but will need to step his performances up another gear if the Reds are to successfully overcome the loss of Luis Suarez.
From an early age, Coutinho has been touted as a potential star on football's biggest stages, but his progress was temporarily halted following his initial move to Europe. He must now show that he has put those travails behind him and is ready to fulfil his much-anticipated destiny.
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