Top 12 Brazilian Football Clubs
Brazil has earned a distinct place in football worldwide, having won five World Cups and produced dozens of creative players, including the incomparable Pele. Yet despite their country’s fabulous history in the sport, Brazilian football teams are underdeveloped compared to other countries’ teams, especially those from Europe, where football has become big business, however, football within Brazil is much more than a game. It is a type of religion that is followed by the nation with distinct pride and craze. Football is responsible for social, political, cultural, and economic implications all over the country. Therefore this football country undoubtedly has a greater number of top clubs than any other country in the world. Each team has its own beautiful history along with different traditions, achievements, top players, and teams’ rivalry and not to mention a large number of fanatical fans.
The country has a group of 12 big football teams famously called The Big Twelve. This group is made of those Brazilian clubs that won the most championships and tournaments becoming the most popular and successful clubs in the country.
Let’s talk a bit more about the Big Twelve, the biggest Brazilian Clubs (no particular order)
12. Atlético Mineiro
Clube Atlético Mineiro or simply known as Atlético was founded by a group of 22 students from the city of Belo Horizonte, in the state of Minas Gerais, in 1908. The club has a rooster named Galo as their mascot and therefore the club is also nicknamed Galo Doido. Their uniform and logo consist of black and white colours.
The club has won many important titles including 45 State Championships, between 1917 and 2021, one Serie B, two Copa do Brasil, two Brasileiro, one Copa Libertadores and one Recopa Sulamericana. Their biggest regional rival is Cruzeiro and their rivalry is known as Clássico Mineiro (“Mineiro Derby”), exists since Cruzeiro’s foundation in 1921. These two teams often locked heads with each other and the only national final between the two clubs happened in the 2014 Copa do Brasil when Atlético triumphed in a final match played at the Mineirao.
The Clássico’s most extreme result was a 9–2 win by Atlético, in the 1927 State Championship. Atlético has a private stadium under construction christened MRV Arena, which will have a capacity for 47,000 fans. It is scheduled to open in 2023 and the club currently plays in the Mineirao and Independencia stadium. The club has about 7 million supporters around Brazil.
11. Cruzeiro Esporte
Clube aka Cruzeiro is another one of The Big Twelve who represent in blue and white stripes for the club. It was founded in 1921 with the name of Sociedade Esportiva Palestra Itália but changed to its current name in 1942. It is founded in the same state and city as Atlético Mineiro. The supporters call it Cabuloso which means badass for its style and achievements right after its foundation.
The club’s mascot is a fox which also became its nickname Raposa. It currently plays its games at the stadium of Mineirao which has a capacity of 62,000 fans. They have won 38 state championship titles, 6 Copa do Brasil, 4 Brasileiro, 2 Libertadores, one Recopa Sulamericana. Being from the same state and city Atlético Mineiro and Cruzeiro’s rivalry is always speculated of who is bigger in the state. Former Real Madrid player Ronaldo Fenômeno started his professional career playing for Cruzeiro in 1993. The club has about 6.2 million followers from all over Brazil.
The 2021 Libertadores Champion Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, commonly known as Palmeiras has the colours green and white for the players to represent and was founded in 1914. Its founded name was Palestra Italia and is nicknamed Verdao due to its uniform colour or simply Palestra. The Club mascot is a parakeet (Periquito). It already has its stadium, the Allianz Parque arena with a capacity of 43,000 people which opened in the year 2014.
It has become the state champion 23 times already, with other titles including one Serie B title, 4 Copa do Brasil, 10 Brasileiro, 3 Libertadores. Its biggest rival of all time is Corinthians with Santos and Sao Paulo as state rivals.
Its rivalry with Corinthians even served as a plot for the Brazilian movie “Romeo and Juliet Get Married”. The rivalry between the two clubs is considered Brazil’s as the most intense in the country, entering the conversation of being one of the biggest rivalries in the world, and considered one of the oldest and their matches getting the name as the Paulista Derby. Initially, the club was heavily supported by Brazilians of Italian descent but over the years the descent slowly started to matter less and the following became more diverse.
There are big concentrations of Palmeiras fans across Brazil known as “consulados” or the consulates and currently, the fan following is around 10.6 million in Brazil.
9. Corinthians Sport Club
Corinthians Paulista or Corinthians to has black and white colours representing it. It was founded in 1910 by a group of five railway workers who were inspired by the English Corinthian Football Club. The club is nicknamed Time do Povo in reference to the fans of the poor class while at other times it is called Timao which means the “big team”.
Its mascot is the Musketeer or known as Mosqueteiro. They own the Neo Quimica Arena stadium located in Sao Paulo whose capacity for 49,000 fans opened in 2014. Its most important titles are including 30 State Championships, one Serie B, three Copa do Brasil, seven Brasileiro, one Copa Libertadores, one Recopa Sulamericana, two FIFA Club World Cups in 2000 and 2012. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, Corinthians has about 29 million supporters in Brazil, making it one of the biggest Brazilian clubs in terms of fan-following.
The Corinthians fans are called the Fiel which means the faithful and rightly so because of occasions like the “Corinthian Invasion” in 1976 when more than 70,000 Corinthians Fans travelled from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro to watch the match against Fluminense at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The club was also listed by Forbes in 2017 as one of the most valuable football clubs in the Americas, worth $576.9 million.
8. Santos FC
Santos Futebol Clube or just Santos is considered to be one of the biggest Brazilian clubs that are responsible for bringing out great players like Neymar, Robinho and even served as a home club to even legends like Pele. This club too has black and white as its colours and face off with its biggest rival Corinthians is usually known as “Clássico Alvi-negro” (the Black and White Derby) because of the colours of both teams. It was founded in 1912 and because of its beach origins it is nicknamed Peixe (Fish) and therefore also has a whale as its mascot.
Estádio Urbano Caldeira stadium also known as Vila Belmiro is its stadium with a capacity of 16,000 fans at most. In the year 2000, FIFA elected Santos the 5th biggest football club in the 20th century. Considered as one of the best club teams of all time, Santos FC has won 22 state championships, 1 Copa do Brasil, 8 Brasileiro, 3 Libertadores, 1 Recopa Sulamericana and 2 Intercontinental Cups. Their consistent big rivals are Corinthians, São Paulo and Palmeiras.
There are fans of Santos not only from Brazil but also from all over the world. Santos within Brazil has approximately 5 million fans and the fan following is scattered throughout Africa, Europe, North America and Latin American countries.
7. São Paulo
São Paulo Futebol Clube aka Sao Paulo is a club team founded in 1930. Its colours are red, black and white and thus the three colours lead to fans calling it the Tricolour. Its mascot is Santo Paulo or Saint Paul in reference to the name of a club. It owns the Morumbi stadium which is known as one of the best Brazilian stadiums with room for 66,000 fans in total. This comparatively younger club nevertheless has won numerous important titles like 22 state championships, 6 Brasileiro, 3 Libertadores, 2 Recopa Sulamericana, 2 Intercontinental Cups and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. The clash between Sao Paulo and Palmeiras is also referred to as the Kings’ Clash.It is one of the most iconic derbies in Brazil, which has turned out fierce between the two teams and is currently regarded as the third-best derby in the city of São Paulo.
It also has rivalries with both Santos and Corinthians. According to statistics, the club has a fan base of about 16 million.
Sport Club Internacional or Inter de Porto Alegrer is commonly called just Inter is based in Porto Alegre. It was founded in 1909 by the Poppe brothers in the Rio Grande do Sul. with colours Red and white for representation. It is also popularly known as Colorado as its predominant colour is red.
Its mascot is SACI, a popular character in the Brazilian Folklore and its stadium is Beira Rio which was opened in 1969 and was again modernized in 2014 with a stadium capacity of 50,000 fans. Their main titles are 45 state Champion titles, 1 Copa do Brasil, 3 Brasileiro, 2 Libertadores, 2 Recopa Sulamericana and 1 FIFA Club World Championship having as its biggest regional rival as Grêmio. During the ’70s, Internacional won the state championship eight times in a row and won the national championship in 1979 without losing a single game. Because of this, their fanbase calls this era ‘the golden decade’.
Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense, commonly known as Grêmio with blue, black and white colours, was founded in 1903 by two European immigrants. Fans gave the club the nickname “immortal” for never giving up and fighting gracefully till the end.l spirits. Just as the Corinthians, Gremio too has the musketeer as its mascot. It owns the Arena do Gremio stadium to which it moved in 2013, having previously played at Estádio Olímpico Monumental since 1954. The stadium has a capacity of 55,000 fans. Grêmio won 40 state championships, 1 Serie B title, 5 Copa do Brasil, 2 Brasileiro, 3 Libertadores, 2 Recopa Sulamericana and 1 Intercontinental Cup.
The current coach of the club Renato Gaúcho is Gremio’s biggest idol who himself played for the club from 1982 until 1987. Gremio has garnered over 6 million fans all over Brazil.
Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, known worldwide as Flamengo, is one of the most successful and famous clubs in Brazil. It was founded in 1895 as a rowing club initially but turned into a football club in 1912 using red and black to represent them. Since 1969, the vulture, the “Urubu ” has been the most recognized mascot of Flamengo and fans commonly know the club by the name Mengao. It plays its matches in the Maracana Stadium of Brazil which has a capacity of 78,000. Flamengo has 36 state championships, 3 Copa do Brasil, 7 Brasileiro, 2 Libertadores, 1 Recopa Sulamericana and 1 Intercontinental Cup.
Their Biggest rivals are Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo and Atlético Mineiro. Former footballer and Udinese player Zico played at Flamengo and is currently the head coach of the club. Flamengo is the most followed Brazilian football club with about 44 million followers all over Brazil.
The oldest Brazilian football club was founded in 1902 and they use the colours garnet, green and white and is based in the neighbourhood of Laranjeiras, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. It is also known as Flu by fans and is often called Tricolour just like Sao Paulo because of its use of three colours. Its mascot is a Guerreiro i.e. a warrior. This club uses Maracana stadium as its game destination that accommodates 78,000 fans easily.
Its achievements include 31 state championships, 1 Copa do Brasil in 2017 and 4 Brasileiro in 1970, 1984, 2010, and 2012. Fluminense and Flamengo are responsible for the biggest rivalry matches in Rio de Janeiro. Their matches are called Fla-Flu. Also, these matches get high numbers of following each time. Fluminense has about 3.6 million followers in Brazil.
2. Vasco CR
Vasco de Gama or simply Vasco was first founded as a rowing club in 1898 in the state of Rio de Janeiro but later in 1915, the football department was set up in it. It is one of the most famous Brazilian football clubs known worldwide, especially during the club’s early years. With more than 8 million supporters, Vasco is the fifth-most supported club in Brazil according to many studies. The club still has over 23 million fans across the country. The Portuguese community in Rio de Janeiro is still a strong fanbase for Vasco. It has the nickname Cruzmaltino in reference to the Cross pattée. This club opted for white and black colours and its mascot is the Almirante, the admiral.
Its stadium is Sao Januario with a capacity of 21,000 fans. Its major titles are 24 state championships, 1 Copa do Brasil, 4 Brasileiro, 1 Libertadores and 1 Serie B. The matches between Vasco and Flamengo are sensational in the sense that they become the most-watched matches in Brazil as the two reunite the crowds of Rio de Janeiro and therefore the clashes between these two clubs are often known as the Millions Derby.
Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas, also known as Botafogo is the home club to Brazil’s legendary footballer Garrincha, who played for the club from 1953 until 1965. The club is one of the most traditional clubs which started off as a rowing club in 1894 but then founded the football team in 1904. It is popularly known by the nickname Glorioso for its past glories and is often referred to as the “lonely star” because of its logo of a star in the centre. The colours black and white represent the club and their mascot is ‘Manequinho‘, a little boy. Its matches are played in the Enhengao stadium with a capacity of 46,000. This club has achieved important titles like 21 state championship titles, 2 Brasileiro, and 2 Serie B.