Corinthians thought they had won the title. Their fans were singing and their players were celebrating after they had beaten Figueirense 1-0. But Bernardo popped up with a late winner for Vasco in their match against Fluminense meaning the title will go down to the final day of the season.
Corinthians are the overwhelming favourites since they need only a point in their final match. But their fierce local rivals Palmeiras stand in their way and after Palmeiras’ awful second half of the season this is their chance of a one match redemption. And they are on high spirits since they put a serious dent in São Paulo’s Libertadores hopes today too.
Having lived in São Paulo for three years myself, I know the relationship between both sets of fans very well. And I can tell you that spoiling the Corinthians title party would almost be as good as winning the league for Palmeiras fans. The banter this week is going to be amazing.
It’s no easy task for Vasco though. As well as hoping Palmeiras do them a favour, they will play Flamengo who themselves need a point to secure Libertadores football next year. If Vasco and Palmeiras both win, Vasco are Champions. Anything else and its Corinthians. That is the equation. Absolutely brilliant idea by the CBF to make the last day of the season an all derby affair (there are eight in total).
With only three points separating the top five teams a few weeks ago, Vasco and Corinthians have both shown fantastic form and accelerated away from the rest of the pack.
Corinthians have shown the grit and mental strength of Champions finally. Once again did their bit against Figuierense winning one nil. They rarely turn on the style but they restrict their opponents to very few chances, are dogged in midfield with the likes of Ralf and Paulinho and grind out results without playing well. There are two big differences to Corinthians this year and Corinthians last year: 1/ Alex and 2/ strength in depth up front. Their goal against Figueirense showed this.
Figueirense didn’t really offer much going forward at all and on this showing I’m wondering how they managed to get up there on the cusp of a Libertadores spot. The top five qualify for that competition and Flamengo beat Internacional 1-0. Judging by reports, Inter can feel pretty hard done by but they just couldn’t take their chances. Ronaldinho scored the winning goal for Flamengo, his first in two months.
Palmeiras beat their rivals São Paulo and all but ended their Libertadores classification hopes. São Paulo will now need to beat Santos (probable since Santos are playing their reserves in that match so nobody gets injured ahead of the World Club Cup) and hope that none of Coritiba, Internacional or Figueirense win. I’m not going to spend my entire night writing down all the permutations but feel free to run them yourself with the table and fixtures below. Remember games won (ahead of goal difference) separate teams on even points come the end of the season.
The relegation battle is also fierce. Atlético Mineiro are safe thanks to a 4-0 win against Botafogo. Bahia are also safe thanks to their point against Santos. Cruzeiro and Ceará battled it out to a 2-2 draw which means Cruzeiro’s future lies in their own hands. Matches kick off at 5pm Brazil (7pm UK) next Sunday. Wherever you watch them, enjoy!
Here are the highlights of Fluminense v Vasco. Fantastic player Bernardo (the guy who scored Vasco’s winner): always getting on the end of things, making things happen. Scores a last minute winner. Sits down and cries. Classic!
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