David Luiz believes Flamengo “without a doubt” have the quality to play in the Champions League as they prepare for the Copa Libertadores final against Palmeiras.
Former Chelsea centre-back David Luiz joined Flamengo in September, ending a 14-year association with European football after his contract with Arsenal expired.
Injuries have hampered his return to Brazilian domestic football, but his side have cruised to the final of South America’s showpiece event with a perfect six wins beyond the group stage.
Indeed, the 34-year-old made his debut in the Libertadores semi-final against Barcelona SC following a lengthy spell on the sidelines after knee surgery when at Arsenal.
While Palmeiras remain focused on the weekend, David Luiz told Stats Perform how he believes Flamengo are good enough to play in Europe’s premier club competition.
“I believe that is right,” David Luiz responded when asked whether Flamengo could cut it in the Champions League.
“Flamengo are the first club to be organised to give players the opportunity to represent and do best what we have to do, and that is to play football the best way we can.
“We have an amazing structure – high calibre players, players who have played in numerous places and have a lot of quality. I believe, yes, we have the quality to play in the Champions League, without a doubt.”
— David Luiz (@DavidLuiz_4) September 14, 2021
Palmeiras are eyeing a title defence in Montevideo after succeeding in last year’s final against Santos in CONMEBOL’s top-tier club tournament.
Flamengo, meanwhile, are searching for their second South American title in three seasons, and former right-back and now Cruzeiro assistant manager Juliano Belletti told Stats Perform how the pair have reached a class above in Brazilian football.
“It’s a fact that Palmeiras and Flamengo have reached another level here within Brazilian football,” Belletti said.
“With the signings that were made, the investment, both on and off the pitch. It’s interesting to highlight that too. The structure of the clubs has changed a lot, for the better.
“That’s why they deserve to be in the Libertadores final. It’s a match of great technical quality, which often goes against the spirit of the Libertadores that many people talk about.
“We see Palmeiras and Flamengo coming through, playing great football. They played good football to reach the final, a well-balanced game, and they deserved to be in this final match.”
However, Belletti – who enjoyed spells with Barcelona and Chelsea during his playing days – was more measured in his response when asked the same question about Flamengo’s Champions League credentials.
“The technical quality doesn’t define a team’s capacity to play or not in a competition like the Champions League,” Belletti responded.
“But there are players of quality that could play in teams that compete in the Champions League. That’s for sure.”