Brasileirão 2018 preview

Will it be a straight fight between Palmeiras and Corinthians? (Pic: Amanda Perobelli /Estadao)

The Brasileirão kicks off this weekend. Palmeiras are the bookies’ favourites. Corinthians are the pundits’ favourites. Cruzeiro, Grêmio and Flamengo will want to have something to say about that. Here’s a lowdown of all the teams, the major ins and outs, players to watch, my predictions and the latest betting odds.

The Brazilian league is notoriously hard to predict and this year is no different. Palmeiras have the strongest squad, but there are doubts about their big match temperament, which came to the surface once again during this year’s Sao Paulo State Championship. Corinthians have the opposite problem – composure on the big occassion, but they don’t have a striker. Grêmio might be the best team in Brazil, but Arthur seems likely to leave for Barcelona soon and their talisman Luan may well be heading to Europe too.

Flamengo have good players but they don’t even have a coach. Cruzeiro are defensive but have been impressive so far this year. São Paulo have been poor, very poor, over the last few seasons, but they have a new coach now and showed some signs of recovery towards the end of the state championship. They could be one to watch. Interested? Read on to find out the lowdown on each of the 20 teams taking part in this year’s competition.

 

20 – Paraná

My prediction: 20th and relegated

Bookies odds: 200/1 (20th favourites)

Position last year: 4th (Serie B)

Coach: Rogério Micale

Talisman: Carlos Eduardo

One to watch: Vitor Feijão

Not much to say on Parana other than that former Brazil international Carlos Eduardo (ex-Hoffenheim) plays for them. The analysis gets better than this, I promise.

 

19 – Sport Recife

My prediction: 19th and relegated

Bookies odds: 100/1 (18th favourite – i.e. relegation)

Position last year: 15st

Coach: Nelsinho Baptista

Talisman: Magrão

One to watch: Everton Felipe

Ins: Gabriel (Flamengo), Wesley (Sport), Marlone (Atletico-MG), Fellipe Bastos (Corinthians), Nonoca (Cruzeiro)

Outs: Mena (Bahia), Samuel Xavier (Atletico-MG), Andre (Gremio), Diego Souza (Sao Paulo), Rithely (Internacional), Patrick (Internacional), Osvaldo Filho (Fortaleza), Lenis (Atletico Nacional)

Starting XI: Magrão, Raul Prata, Leo Ortiz, Ronaldo Alves, Sander, Anselmo, Neto Moura, Gabriel, Pablo Pardal, Marlone, Everton Felipe

Sport are one of those teams that has been selling and not adequately replacing. The team only narrowly avoided relegation last year and their two best players – Andre and Diego Souza – have both left. Their talisman is a 41 year old goalkeeper, which pretty much sums it up. Do they have any tricks up their sleeve? They might, but I’m not aware of them. Avoiding relegation would be a success.

 

18 – Vitoria

My prediction: 18th and relegated

Bookies odds: 40/1 (joint 11th favourite)

Position last year: 16th

Coach: Vagner Mancini

Talisman: Neilton

One to watch: Luan

Ins: Lucas (Fluminense), Walisson Maia (Coritiba), Pedro Botelho (CRB), Guilherme Costa (Vasco), Denilson (Granada), Baumjohann (Coritiba), Jonatas Belusso (Al Shabab), Bryan (Cruzeiro)

Outs: Patric (Atletico-MG), Tréllez (Sao Paulo), David (Cruzeiro), Rene (Atletico-GO), Geferson (CSKA Sofia), Wallace Reis (Goztepe), Carlos Eduardo (Parana), Kieza (Botafogo)

Starting XI: Fernando Miguel, Rodrigo Andrade, Kanu, Ramon, Pedro Botelho, Willian Farias, Uillian Correia, Yago, Alex Baumjohann, Neilton, Jonatas Belusso

Overrated at 11th joint favourite. Insane odds from the bookies. They avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last year and they’ve now sold their three best strikers – Trellez (Sao Paulo), David (Cruzeiro) and Kieza (Botafogo). Good work lads. Don’t worry they’ve recruited Baumjohann, Denilson, Rhayner and Jonatas Belusso to take their place. Baumjohann actually played for Bayern Munich apparently, although I highly doubt that he is operating at the same sort of level any more. The one bright spot is Luan, who was the star of this year’s Copa Sao Paulo (the premier youth competition in Brazil).

 

17 – América Mineiro

My prediction: 17th and relegated

Bookies odds: 80/1 (17th favourite – i.e. relegation)

Position last year: 1st (Serie B)

Coach: Enderson Moreira

Talisman: Rafael Moura

One to watch: Matheusinho

I don’t have much to say about America Mineiro I’m afraid – apologies America fans. They did win the Serie B last year, pipping Internacional to the title, so I they can’t be too bad. They’ve signed a couple of experienced pros from Santos (Leandro Donizete and Serginho), Atletico Mineiro (Rafael Moura) and Sport (Marquinhos).

 

16 – Fluminense

My prediction: 16th

Bookies odds: 25/1 (10th favourite)

Position last year: 14th

Coach: Abel Braga

Talisman: Gum

One to watch: Pedro

Ins: hardly anyone

Outs: Wellington Silva (Internacional), Lucas (Vitoria), Leo Pele (Bahia), Orejuela (LDU Quito), Renato (Avai), Peu (Paysandu), Wendel (Sporting Lisbon), Nogueira (Figuierense), Henrique Dourado (Flamengo), Diego Cavalieri (Crystal Palace), Gustavo Scarpa (Palmeiras), Henrique (Corinthians)

Starting XI: Júlio César, Renato Chaves, Gum, Ibañez, Gilberto, Richard, Jadson, Sonorza, Ayrton Lucas, Marcos Junior, Pedro

Fluminense keep on flogging their best players which makes you think that sooner or later they are going to be in trouble. At one stage last year, relegation was a threat, but their coach Abel Braga continues to work miracles. This year the exodus continues with goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri joining Crystal Palace, star defender Henrique on his way to Corinthians, star defensive midfielder Wendel leaving, star attacking mifdielder midfielder Gustavo Scarpa to Palmeiras and striker Henrique Dourado off to Flamengo. Yep – the entire spine of the team ripped out. Somehow, the team continue to win football matches though and they picked up one of the trophies on offer in the Rio state championship. Fair play to their young kids and coach. I wish them well, but I fear the worst. Shame on the owners. Fluminense deserve better.

 

15 – Ceará

My prediction: 15th

Bookies odds: 150/1 (19th)

Position last year: 3rd (Serie B)

Coach: Marcelo Chamusca

Talisman: Arthur

One to watch: Arthur

I fancy Ceará to surprise a few people this year and I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps because they are from a far away place called Ceará, or perhaps because they have a kid called Arthur, who is just 19 years old but has scored 16 goals so far this season, making him the top marksman in the country. I don’t know that much else about them, I must admit. It will be a long flight there for most teams, so expect them to be knackered by the time they arrive. My one prediction then: Ceara will be good at home and rubbish away from home.

 

14 – Chapecoense

My prediction: 14th

Bookies odds: 40/1 (joint 11th favourite)

Position last year: 8th

Coach: Gilson Kleina

Talisman: Wellington Paulista

One to watch: Guilherme

Ins: Rafael Thyere (Gremio), Márcio Araújo (Flamengo), Guilherme (Botafogo), Bruno Pacheco (Atletico-GO), Eduardo (Bahia)

Outs: Reinaldo (Sao Paulo), João Pedro (Bahia), Victor Ramos (Meizhou Meixian Techand), Douglas Grolli (Bahia), Lucas Mineiro (Ponte Preta), Seijas (Internacional), Penilla (New England Revolution), Tulio de Melo (Avispa Fukuoka)

Starting XI: Jandrei, Apodi, Douglas, Rafael Theyre, Bruno Pacheco, Amaral, Márcio Araújo, Luiz Antonio, Canteros, Guilherme, Wellington Paulista

Chapecoense really pulled off a miracle last year. After the tragic plane crash in 2016, in which most of their first team squad were killed, they had to piece together an entirely new team. That tragedy seemed to inspire the players, fans and unite the city. The football team finished an incredible 8th. This season hasn’t gone well though so far – they were knocked out of the Copa Libertadores in the qualifying phase and they lost the state championship final against Figuierense. Many of their players last year were on loan from other Brazilian clubs. Some of them have returned, meaning that this Chape side are probably weaker than they were. Still, I wouldn’t write them off – they are gritty and very hard to play against. The Burnley of Brazil.

 

13 – Atletico Mineiro

My prediction: 13th

Bookies odds: 12/1 (8th favourite)

Position last year: 12th

Coach: Thiago Larghi

Talisman: Ricardo Oliveira

One to watch: Otero

Ins: Ricardo Oliveira (Santos), Arouca (Palmeiras), Roger Guedes (Palmeiras), Erik (Palmeiras), Samuel Xavier (Sport), Patric (Vitoria)

Outs: Fred (Cruzeiro), Valdivia (Sao Paulo), Robinho (Sivasspor), Rafael Moura (America-MG), Erazo (Vasco), Marlone (Sport), Marcos Rocha (Palmeiras)

Starting XI: Victor, Patric, Leonardo Silva, Gabriel, Fábio Santos, Elias, Adilson, Otero, Cazares, Luan, Ricardo Oliveira

Selling three good strikers (Fred, Robinho and Rafael Moura) and replacing them with a 37 year old, doesn’t sound like the best idea to me. But that is exactly what Atletico Mineiro have done this year. Ricardo Oliveira is a seriously good footballer and looks after his body and all that, but at 37 years of age, he aint the player that he used to be. The team looks overly reliant on him and their defeat against a weakened San Lorenzo in the Copa Sudamericana shows how light their squad really is. Losing the return leg of that match and getting knocked out of that competition quite soon would probably be a blessing in disguise for Galo. They do have two very good midfielders though in Otero and Cazares and when they are on form, the team is a threat. Young Argentina midfielder Thomas Andrade is on their books and rebuilding his career in South America after being rejected by Everton and Bournemouth.

 

12 – Vasco

My prediction: 12th

Bookies odds: 50/1 (joint 15th favourite)

Position last year: 7th

Coach:Zé Ricardo

Talisman: Paulinho

One to watch: Paulinho

Ins: Rafael Galhardo (Cruzeiro), Werley (Coritiba), Rildo (Coritiba), Erazo (Atletico-MG), Fabrício (Atletico-PR), Desabato (Velez Sarsfield),

Outs: Nenê (Sao Paulo), Jean (Botafogo), Guilherme Costa (Vitoria), Rafael Marques (free), Madson (Gremio), Mateus Vital (Vasco), Manga Escobar (Estudiantes), Thalles (Abirex Niigata)

Starting XI: Martín Silva, Rafael Galhardo, Paulão, Erazo, Fabrício, Desábato, Evander, Yago Pikachu, Wagner, Henrique, Riascos

After getting fired from Flamengo, Zé Ricardo did a pretty solid job at Vasco last year. He was being sounded out by a club from the Middle East this year, but he turned down the money to stay with Vasco. Fair play. There is potentially a lot to play for this season with a Copa Libertadores campaign, and the most exciting thing for Vasco fans since the emergence of Philippe Coutinho is the emergence of a young lad called Paulinho. He may well be the next big thing in Brazilian football and he is already one of Vasco’s best players at the tender age of just 17 years. The rest of this Vasco side are pretty mediocre though, except probably for their goalkeeper. I don’t expect much from Vasco this season.

 

11 – Bahia

My prediction: 11th

Bookies odds: 50/1 (joint 15th favourite)

Position last year: 12th

Coach: Guto Ferreira

Talisman: Zé Rafael

One to watch: Júnior Brumado

Ins: Douglas Friedrich (Avai), João Pedro (Chapecoense), Léo Pele (Fluminense), Douglas Grolli (Chapecoense), Kayke (Santos), Elton (Ponte Preta), Élber (Cruzeiro), Mena (Sport), Mendoza (Amiens), Mena (Sport)

Outs: Jean (São Paulo), Juninho Capixaba (Corinthians), Renê Júnior (Corinthians), Thiago Martins (Palmeiras), Eduardo (Chapecoense), Matheus Reis (Moreirense),

Starting XI: Douglas Friedrich, João Pedro, Tiago, Lucas Fonseca, Léo, Elton, Gregore, Vinícius, Marco Antônio, Zé Rafael, Edigar Junio

Quite harsh to make them 15th favourites in my opinion. They’ve lost a few important players, its true, but they’ve also recruited well. Keep an eye out for Junior Brumado, Leo Pele and João Pedro.

 

10 – Botafogo

My prediction: 10th

Bookies odds: 40/1 (joint 11th favourite)

Position last year: 10th

Coach: Alberto Valentim

Talisman: Gatito Fernández

One to watch: Luiz Fernando

Ins: Kieza (Vitoria), Luiz Fernando (Atletico-GO), Moisés (Corinthians), Renatinho (Mirassol), Jean (Vasco)

Outs: Victor Luis (Palmeiras), Bruno Silva (Cruzeiro), João Paulo (badly injured), Airton (Fluminense), Roger (Internacional), Guilherme (Chapecoense)

Starting XI: Gatito Fernández, Marcinho, Joel Carli, Igor Rabello, Moisés, Matheus Fernandes, Rodrigo Lindoso, Luiz Fernando, Leonardo Valencia, Brenner

I’m not expecting much from Botafogo. They did really well last year but had a sharp dip in form towards the end to the season, which saw them drop from the Libertadores spots into tenth place. They have also lost a few key personnel: coach Jair Ventura, left back Victor Luis, star midfielder Bruno Silva, as well as Guilherme, Roger and Joao Paulo (to injury). At least they have bought Luiz Fernando, who, in my opinion is one of the most underrated prospects in Brazil. Their coach Alberto Valentim is inexperienced but did a good job at Palmeiras last year. A mid table finish, staying away from a relegation fight will be a success.

 

9 – Atletico Paranaense

My prediction: 9th

Bookies odds: 40/1 (joint 11th favourite)

Position last year: 11th

Coach: Fernando Diniz

Talisman: Guilherme

One to watch: Matheus Rossetto

Ins: Camacho (Corinthians), Raphael Veiga (Coritiba), Bergson (Paysandu), Thiago Carleto (Coritiba)

Outs: Weverton (Palmeiras), Fabrício (Vasco), Carlos Alberto (free), Grafite (retired), Eduardo da Silva (Legia Warsaw), Sidcley (Corinthians)

Starting XI: Santos, Camacho, Thiago Heleno, Paulo André, Thiago Carleto, Matheus Rossetto, Pavez, Guilherme, Lucho González, Nikão, Pablo

Atletico gave a lot of young players a chance in the state championship. Not only did that provide a rest to their senior pros, but they still managed to win the trophy, beating their main rivals Coritiba in the final. I haven’t followed them too closely, but with the exception of Weverton, who has gone to Palmeiras, and Sidcley (Corinthians) it looks like the spine of the team that they had last year is still intact. They’ve added one or two decent players too. Mid table.

 

8 – Internacional

My prediction: 8th

Bookies odds: 18/1 (9th favourite)

Position last year: 2nd (Serie B)

Coach: Odair Hellmann

Talisman: Andres D’Alessandro

One to watch: Iago

Starting XI: Marcelo Lomba, Fabiano, Rodrigo Moledo, Victor Cuesta, Iago, Rodrigo Dourado, Gabriel Dias, Edenilson, Patrick, D’Allessandro, William Pottker

Internacional are one of Brazil’s traditional clubs so their relegation two the Serie B two years ago was a shock. They have rebuilt their team and can count on club legends Andres D’Alessandro and Leandro Damião this season. They also have one of the hottest properties in Brazil in their ranks in Iago, their attacking left back. Striker William Pottker knows how to find the net. With no continental commitments this year, they may spring a few surprises. Other than that I can’t say much because I don’t know much about the current team or their style of play.

 

7 – Santos

My prediction: 7th

Bookies odds: 10/1 (joint 6th favourites)

Position last year: 3rd

Coach: Jair Ventura

Talisman: Gabriel Barbosa

One to watch: Rodrygo

Ins: Gabriel Barbosa (Inter Milan), Dodô (Sampdoria)

Outs: Lucas Lima (Palmeiras), Ricardo Oliveira (Atletico-MG), Zeca (Sao Paulo?), Matheus Jesus (Gamba Osaka), Fabián Noguera (Estudiantes), Orinho (Ponte Preta), Vladimir Hernandez (Atletico Nacional)

Starting XI: Vanderlei, Daniel Guedes, Lucas Veríssimo, David Braz, Dodô, Alison, Renato, Bruno Henrique, Eduardo Sasha, Rodrygo, Gabriel Barbosa

Lucas Lima’s departure to Palmeiras (for free) is a massive blow for Santos, but knowing them, they will replace him with some gem from their academy. Already this year, Rodrygo and Arthur Gomes have stepped up to the plate and put in some good performances. In Jair Ventura, Santos have one of the best young managers in Brazil. Question marks over the fitness (due to an eye condition) of winger Bruno Henrique is a problem. Up front, Ricardo Oliveira has left, but the club have a probably better replacement in the form of Gabriel Barbosa (who was terrible in Italy, but knows how to find the net for his home club Santos). Left back Zeca wants to leave, but Dodô (on loan from Sampdoria) looks like a quality replacement. The big problem for Santos is that their midfield sucks. Great keeper, solid defence, exciting, pacey attack – but not much in the centre of the park. They bypass the midfield, which might help win some matches, but probably isn’t enough to win the league.

 

6 – São Paulo

My prediction: 6th

Bookies odds: 10/1 (joint 6th favourites)

Position last year: 13th

Coach: Diego Aguirre

Talisman: Nenê

One to watch: Liziero

Ins: Reinaldo (Chapecoense), Nenê (Vasco), Valdivia (Atletico-MG), Jean (Bahia), Diego Souza (Sport), Trellez (Vitoria), Liziero (youth team)

Outs: Diego Lugano (retired), Cicero (Gremio), Maicosuel (Gremio), Gilberto (Yeni Malatyaspo), Lucas Pratto (River Plate), Hernanes (Hebei China Fortune)

Starting XI: Sidão, Éder Militão, Arboleda, Rodrigo Caio, Reinaldo, Jucilei, Petros, Liziero, Marcos Guilherme, Nenê, Tréllez

Not playing in this year’s Copa Libertadores could be a blessing for São Paulo; the Copa Sudamerica has fewer games and is not as important (so fans don’t get too pissed off if the coach fields a weakened team in that competition), although it will still put extra workload on the São Paulo team this year. The real problem for São Paulo is a lack of harmony at the club. They don’t have the best squad and like Flamengo, they seem to have adopted a scattergun approach to recruitment. This year, for example, they signed three attacking midfielders for big money – Nenê, Diego Souza and Valdivia – yet only one of them plays every week. Meanwhile, they have lost striker Lucas Pratto and Gilberto and only signed Tréllez (from lowly Vitoria) as a replacement. They have some decent players but it just isn’t clicking and they narrowly avoided relegation last year. They have shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks, but its unlikely that they will be fighting for the title. Look out for Liziero and Brenner – two hot prospects.

 

5 – Flamengo

My prediction: 5th

Bookies odds: 13/2 (joint 2nd favourites)

Position last year: 6th

Coach: Maurício Barbieri (interim)

Talisman: Diego

One to watch: Lincoln

Ins: Henrique Dourado (Fluminense), Julio Cesar (Benfica)

Outs: Alex Muralha (Albirex Niigata), Marcio Araujo (Chapecoense), Conca (Shanghai SIPG), Rafael Vaz (Universidad de Chile), Mancuello (Cruzeiro), Gabriel (Sport)

Starting XI: Diego Alves, Rodinei, Juan, Rever, Renê, Cuéllar, Willian Arão, Diego, Éverton Ribeiro, Everton, Henrique Dourado

The impression I have of Flamengo is that they have just shoehorned many great attacking players into their squad without creating a great team. Nobody doubts the quality of their players, but the side lacks balance. That was probably why they recently fired their director of football. The club have also changed their manager several times over the last year, which doesn’t help and the now have a caretaker in change going into the new season. If they can get things sorted behind the scenes and get some structure on the pitch, they could potentially win the competition. I doubt it though. They are missing Paulo Guerrero who was banned for doping, but they have Henrique Dourado who banged in the goals for fun for Fluminense last year. They also have many exciting young players, including Vinicius Junior, Lucas Paqueta and Lincoln.

 

4 – Cruzeiro

My prediction: 4th

Bookies odds: 13/2 (joint 2nd favourites)

Position last year: 5th

Coach: Mano Menezes

Talisman: Thiago Neves

One to watch: David

Ins: Edilson (Gremio), Egídio (Palmeiras), Bruno Silva (Botafogo), Fred (Atletico-MG), Mancuello (Flamengo), David (Vitoria)

Outs: Thonny Anderson (Gremio), Fred (Atletico-MG), Diogo Barbosa (Palmeiras), Élber (Bahia),

Starting XI: Fábio, Edílson, Dedé, Léo, Egídio, Henrique, Ariel Cabral, Thiago Neves, Robinho, Arrascaeta, Sassá

Cruzeiro don’t t play the most exciting football under Mano Menezes and to be fair, they don’t have the best players. But the former seleção coach knows how to get results. They won the Minas Gerais state championship, beating City rivals Atletico Mineiro and they also won the Brazilian Cup last year. It was a big blow to lose Fred, who will be out for months after damaging his knee, but that might give Sassa and promising youngsters David and Raniel to show what they’ve got. Thiago Neves is the star and his good form has even led some to suggest that he should be called up by Brazil for the World Cup.

 

3 – Grêmio

My prediction: 3rd

Bookies odds: 15/2 (joint 4th favourites)

Position last year: 4th

Coach: Renato Gaúcho

Talisman: Luan

One to watch: Arthur

Ins: Andre (Sport), Thonny Anderson (Cruzeiro), Cicero (Sao Paulo), Maicosuel (Sao Paulo), Madson (Vasco)

Outs: Pedro Rocha (Spartak Moscow), Lucas Barrios (Argentinos Juniors), Edilson (Cruzeiro)

Starting XI: Marcelo Grohe, Léo Moura, Pedro Geromel, Kanneman, Bruno Cortez, Maicon, Ramiro, Arthur, Luan, Everton, Jael

Stability is the name of the game for Gremio, who haven’t done much business in the transfer market so far this year. But the big problem is that they might lose two of their best players (Arthur and Luan) in the middle of the season. The good news is that their coach Renato Gaucho is staying with the club. In attack, Jael has been a revelation so far this season, and the club have brought in Andre, from Sport, who scored 15 league goals last year. That should more than make up for the loss of Lucas Barrios, although Gremio fans will be hoping that Andre doesn’t get too fond of the night clubs in Porto Alegre. Their good Libertadores campaign last year saw them rest key players in league matches.

 

2 – Corinthians

My prediction: 2nd

Bookies odds: 15/2 (joint 4th favourites)

Position last year: 1st

Coach: Fábio Carille

Talisman: Rodriguinho

One to watch: Maycon

Ins: Juninho Capixaba (Bahia), Renê Júnior (Bahia), Henrique (Fluminense), Junior Dutra (Avai), Sheikh (Ponte Preta), Sidcley (Atletico-PR), Lucca (Ponte Preta), Ralf (Beijing Guoan), Mateus Vital (Vasco)

Outs: (Nagoya Grampus), Pedro (Bordeaux), Guilherme Arana (Sevilla), Felipe Bastos (Sport)

Starting XI: Cássio, Fagner, Balbuena, Henrique, Sidcley, Maycon, Ralf, Jadson, Rodriguinho, Clayson, Angel Romero

Corinthians have what it takes to be champions and many pundits in Brazil think that will be the case this year. They are the reigning Champions, they have the best defence, the best coach, passionate fans and some serious big match temperament. (They also have the referees on their side according to rival fans). So why do I think Palmeiras will pip them to the title? Well, the issue for Corinthians is that they don’t have a top quality striker. They struggled to score goals last year and since then they have sold Jo, only to replace him with Junior Dutra, from Avai, Lucca and Sheikh (a club legend but now 39 years old) from Ponte Preta. They were linked with Alex Teixeira, but ended up not signing him. They also have the added workload of the Copa Libertadores this year, which they didn’t have last year.

 

1 – Palmeiras

My prediction: Winner

Bookies odds: 3/1 (favourites)

Position last year: 2nd

Coach: Roger Machado

Talisman: Lucas Lima

One to watch: Antônio Carlos

Ins: Lucas Limas (Santos), Gustavo Scarpa (Fluminense), Marcos Rocha (Atletico-MG), Diogo Barbosa (Cruzeiro), Victor Luis (Botafogo), Weverton (Atletico-PR), Thiago Martins (Bahia)

Outs: Raphael Veiga (Atletico-PR), Egídio (Cruzeiro), Fabiano (Internacional), Arouca (Atletico-MG), Roger Guedes (Atletico-MG), Erik (Atletico-MG)

Starting XI: Jailson, Marcos Rocha, Antônio Carlos, Thiago Martins, Diogo Barbosa, Felipe Melo, Bruno Henrique, Lucas Lima, Dudu, Keno, Borja

Palmeiras’ second choice eleven are probably better than most teams’ first eleven. That strength in depth will help them cope with the league and Copa Libertadores. They picked up Lucas Lima on a free transfer from Santos and may well have nabbed Scarpa on a free transfer from Fluminense, provided some legal issues can be ironed out. Those two players are two of the in their position in Brazil. Their Colombian striker Borja struggled in his first season this year, but has been banging in the goals for fun so far in 2018. Assuming he stays fit, I am betting that he will fire them to the title.

Palmeiras had eight players in the Sao Paulo state championship team of the year. The issue is not the quality of players, it’s that this team doesn’t seem to handle big match pressure very well. I’ve also got some question marks about the coach. They almost threw away a lead against Santos in the state championship semi final (winning that on penalties after they seemed to be in control of the tie). They did throw away a lead against Corinthians in the final of that competition (albeit with some seriously dodgy refereeing). A few negatives there then for my predicted Champions – so it really is a non-conviction call. The good thing is that this championship promises to be as exciting as ever. Stay tuned.

 

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3 thoughts on “Brasileirão 2018 preview

  1. Great preview – incredible detail and insight! Wonderful for anyone seeking greater clarity on the beautiful game in Brazil.

  2. Pingback: Brasileirão round 1: advantage Corinthians in title race | Brazilian Football Blog

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