Série A week 1: Vinicius Júnior makes professional debut

Vinicius Junior and Robinho: a star of the future with his idol (Mowa Press)

Bahia were the big winners in the opening round of the Série A, thumping an under strength Atlético Paranaense 6-2. Palmeiras also got their title defence off to an excellent start, thrashing Vasco 4-0. Grêmio won, while fellow title hopefuls Flamengo and Atlético Mineiro drew with each other. Corinthians, São Paulo and Santos had days to forget. My predictions and fantasy football team all got off to a lousy start.

With the Série A season starting in the middle of a very busy calendar – immediately after the long state championships and in between key fixtures in the Copa Libertadores, Brazilian Cup and Copa Sul-Americana – the opening weekend of the Série A can sometimes turn into a damp squib. Quite often teams rest their star players, protecting them for the cup competitions. By and large, this wasn’t the case this year.

Last week I published an in-depth preview of the Brazilian Série A: a summary of all of the teams, how I think they will fare, their probable starting line ups and star players. My title pick, Flamengo, didn’t have the best of starts and were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Atlético Mineiro. 20-year old Matheus Sávio scored Flamengo goal, a goal that was really more of a cross. Elias equalised for Atlético, but really there was some awful defending from Flamengo in the buildup.

Both teams went for the win but the big news was the professional debut of Vinicius Júnior, the 16-year old kid that is likely to be heading to Real Madrid for 45 million euros when he turns 18. He was only called into the professional squad for the first time last week, but played the last 12 minutes of the game. Not much time to do anything noteworthy really, and that is exactly what he did: nothing noteworthy. But don’t let that disappoint you, this kid has some talent for sure. Check out the usual highlights video on Youtube accompanied by outdated techno music for more. I’m impressed with Flamengo’s attack this year, and it seems that Vinicius Júnior will play an important part, but the big question mark about this Flamengo team is their defence.

Palmeiras didn’t show any signs of a title hangover and were lethal in both defence and attack in their match against newly promoted Vasco da Gama. Even though Palmeiras’ title winning coach Cuca only returned to the club last week after a five month absence, the team played like he has never been away. Borja, Gabriel Jesus’ replacement, scored two goals.

Bahia and they were the week’s big winners, thrashing Atlético Paranaense 6-2 who rested some of their regular starters. I don’t know much about this Bahia team I must confess, although I did pick their striker Edigar Junior in my Cartola team (Brazil’s equivalent of fantasy football). I was disappointed to find learn that he only scored one of their six goals.

I watched some of the Corinthians vs. Chapecoense game on Saturday night. I thought Corinthians were decent in the first half and Jô (another player in my Cartola team!) put them into a deserved lead. At that point I thought Corinthians would walk away with it; but Chapecoense levelled in the second half and had chances to win the game. Bear in mind that Chapecoense had travelled to Colombia and back during the week to play the Recopa final against Atletico Nacional. Fair play to Chapecoense: many people expect them to go down this year and lose this game, but they fully deserved their point. I thought 20-year old João Pedro of Chapecoense looks like a good prospect. If Corinthians are to have any hope of winning the league, they will need to up their game. They looked well short of creativity.

São Paulo, with their clipboard kicking manager Rogerio Ceni, were beaten 1-0 at Cruzeiro. Fluminense beat Santos 3-2, while Grêmio beat Botafogo 2-0. Ponte Preta, a team I expect to struggle this year beat Sport 4-0. Not only have they just lost their star striker William Pottker to Internacional, but now it has been revealed that Clayson, their forward who scored two goals in that match, is going to sign for Corinthians. You’ve got to feel for them, but if they continue to pull off results like this even after losing their star players then pundits like me will shut up and eat humble pie. Good luck to them.

Coritiba beat Atlético-GO 4-1, but were given a helping hand from some terrible goalkeeping from Atletico’s goalkeeper Kléver. Not very clever really. Avaí and Vitória played out a 0-0 bore draw.

Unfortunately I’m still having some technical issues updating the new league table section of the website. But stay tuned on the blog for more news and updates.

Goal of the week: Tomas Bastos (Coritiba)

Moment of the week: Bruno Silva. The guy got sent off for kicking a ball at a ref the other week. This week he does this. Seriously!!!??

http://globoesporte.globo.com/tempo-real/videos/v/de-novo-bruno-silva-chuta-bola-em-juiz-e-leva-cartao-amarelo-aos-15-do-2o-tempo/5868842/

He got got booked for it by the way. For more, check out the new moment of the week page.

Surprise of the week: Bahia thrashing Atlético-PR 6-2.

Find of the week: João Pedro (Chapecoense)

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