Brasileirão round 1: advantage Corinthians in title race

Rodriguinho (pic: Agência Corinthians)

After putting in the effort last week to get the 2018 Brasileirão preview done on time, annoyingly, I’ve only found the time to write about the first weekend of the league now. But it was a cracking opening round and not worth missing. Here’s the lowdown:

28,000 fans turned up at the Itaquera stadium in São Paulo to see Corinthians open their league campaign against Fluminense. In theory this should have been a walk in the park for they home team: they are full of confidence after winning the 2017 Brasileirão and 2018 Paulista championships, had home support, and better players than Fluminense, whose squad has been decimated by player sales. But Corinthians struggled to break down their opponents, who played better than nearly everybody expected. In the end though, it was a familiar story: Corinthians found a way to win, despite not playing very well.

Corinthians might not have a top class striker, but this week they found a way to win thanks to their midfield supremo Rodriguinho (nicknamed Rodreiguinho, which, in English, means Rod-the King-guinho) who scored two goals. Corinthians will be hoping that their striker problems will be solved by Roger, who arrived this week from Internacional on a two-year deal. But at 33 years of age and this now his 18th professional club, this signing doesn’t really set the pulses racing.

Palmeiras got their campaign off to a frustrating start on Monday as they drew with Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro. After scoring a brilliant opening goal, some ridiculous defending (particularly from Felipe Melo and Thiago Martins) allowed Botafogo to equalise. Palmeiras’ goalscorer Alejandro Guerra should really have won the game for Palmeiras with the last kick of the game, but he did an air shot instead. Brazil coach Tite was in the crowed, presumably to cast an eye on Lucas Lima. But Palmeiras’ new playmaker had a poor game and was hauled off at half time to be replaced by goalscorer Guerra. Three things I learnt from this game: 1/ Palmeiras striker Dudu is a class act, 2/ Roger Machado is willing to make bold decisions and 3/ Palmeiras have a bad habit of letting leads slip when they should be controlling the game. Alejandro Guerra’s goal is worth watching:

Grêmio had the most impressive result of the weekend, by beating Cruzeiro away from home. These teams are two of the favourites for the title, although by most accounts the game was very dull. André Balada scored the winning goal for Grêmio. Walter Kanneman was sent off for this ridiculous challenge and then had the nerve to do a Buffon-style protest and refuse to leave the pitch.

Flamengo had a brilliant start in their match against Vitória, scoring after just 18 seconds, with Vinicius Júnior (on loan from Real Madrid) laying on the assist for Lucas Paquetá. í‰verton Ribeiro was given a red card after miraculously heading a shot off the goal line. But some reason the ref thought that the player blocked the shot with his hand, even though the ball clearly struck him in the face. Vitoria duly converted the penalty. Flamengo, to their credit, managed to draw the game, although their second goal shouldn’t have been allowed since Willian Arão, who laid on the assist for Rever, was offside.

In other matches, Santos’ new prodigy Rodrygo scored as they beat newly-promoted Ceará 2 -0. The other promoted side had mixed fortunes. América Mineiro beat Sport 3 – 0 with two goals from former Santos midfielder Serginho. Internacional beat Bahia thanks to two goals from substitute Nico López. Paraná lost 1 – 0 to São Paulo on Monday night.

The biggest winners of the round were Atlético Paranaense, who beat Chapecoense 5 – 1, with all of the goals coming in the second half (after I stopped watching and had gone to bed). Some of those Atlético goals were great.

Last but not least, Atlético Mineiro threw away a lead against Vasco, losing that game 2 – 1. Not only does poor Roger Guedes look a bit ridiculous with this backheel that went to nobody, but Vasco went straight down to the other end of the field (in second half injury time), and won a penalty, which was converted by Yago Pikachu to give Vasco three points.

That’s all for this week. For additional info, see the dedicated Serie A page.

[table id=2018_R1 /]

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