State championship wrap

Round one. Fight.

The State Championships are nearing their conclusion. In most states, the finals are played over two legs: the first legs were played last weekend and the second legs will be played this weekend.

In the state of São Paulo, Palmeiras beat Corinthians 1 – 0 at the Itaqueirão stadium. That match was a fiesty affair – not for the first time – and both Felipe Melo (Palmeiras) and Clayson (Corinthians) were sent off. Palmeiras have the best team and have played the best football in the championship, but you can never write off Corinthians. The big issue for them though, is that they haven’t replaced Jí´, who left the club at the end of last year, and they are struggling to score goals.

Corinthians and Palmeiras got to the final by overcoming São Paulo and Santos on penalties respectively; Corinthians had to rely on a last minute goal to take their semi final to penalties, while Palmeiras made tough work of getting through against Santos after winning the first leg away from home.

In Rio, Vasco beat Botafogo 3 – 2 thanks to two goals from Yago Pikachu (named so, because he is small, like a Pokemon). That was the third time in a row that a match between these two teams finished 3 – 2. Vasco got to the final by beating Fluminense 3 – 2 in the semi, while Botafogo got there by beating Flamengo 1 – 0. That defeat for Flamengo ultimately cost their coach Paulo César Carpegiani his job; both him and the club’s director of football were fired after that match.

In Bahia (the state), Bahia (the team) beat Vitoria 2 – 1 in the first leg. Cruzeiro’s good form went out the window at exactly the wrong time and they lost 3 – 1 against Atlético Mineiro in Minas Gerais. Ricardo Oliveira scored two, and their Venezuelan midfielder Otero laid on three assists. Grêmio breezed past Brasil de Pelotas 4 – 0 in Rio Grande do Sul. In reality, they did the difficult bit by beating Internacional in the quarter final two weeks ago.

Some teams have midweek Libertadores matches this week, which could complicate team selection a little for the clubs. But Palmeiras won’t be too tired for their second leg as they comfortably beat Alianza Lima 2 – 0 on Tuesday night. Corinthians don’t have a Libertadores match this week, but Cruzeiro play Vasco in Group 5. Not ideal for either of them, but at least they don’t have a very long plane journey. Grêmio play Monagas.

There is a new name to look out for. Paulinho, of Vasco. The kid is only 17 but is playing frequently now for Vasco’s first team and he looks like quite a prospect. This clip shows some of his skills, and his goal, in the match against Fluminense:

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