Carnival banishment works a treat

Gustavo Scarpa of Palmeiras celebrated a good night’s sleep during Carnival with a goal

Conmebol may have ruined Carnival for Brazil’s best footballers, but the fans are delighted with how last week’s Libertadores games unfolded.

As discussed last week, by organising the first round of Copa Libertadores group games straight after Carnival, Conmebol’s fixture planning department were grossly inconsiderate to the needs of Brazil’s footballers. Last season it was dodgy refereeing decisions. Now this.

To make matters worse, most of the Brazilian sides played their first match away from home, meaning that instead of partying during the Carnival for three days in a row, the players at the top clubs were preparing for an important match or stuck in a hotel room in a different country.

The footballers themselves may be gutted, but the fans and clubs are doing celebratory cartwheels. That’s because the clean living approach to Carnival worked a treat and, out of the six Brazilian teams to play away from home in the opening round of games, four of them won. That is impressive, particularly as getting results on the road in South America’s premier club football competition is notoriously difficult. The one Brazilian side that played at home (and whose players presumably went out partying) lost.

Flamengo faced a tricky away tie at an altitude of 3,700 meters above sea level in Bolivia. Gabigol scored the winner for them, although they were indebted to a string of good saves from their keeper Diego Alves for keeping them in it. Cruzeiro were also indebted to their keeper Fábio, who pulled off a number of important saves in their 1 – 0 victory against Huracán. Rodriguinho, their big signing this year, scored the winner.

Internacional won by the same scoreline against Palestino, in Chile, thanks to a goal from Rafael Sobis. Meanwhile, Palmeiras had a somewhat more comfortable by beating Junior Barranquila 2 – 0, in Colombia, thanks to goals from Gustavo Scarpa (pictured above) and Marcos Rocha.

Grêmio picked up a good point against Rosario Central in Argentina with a goal from their impressive young forward Everton. There were a couple of setbacks for Brazilian teams though; Athletico Paranaense lost 1 – 0 away at Tolima, from Colombia, while Atlético Mineiro were booed off after losing at home to Cerro Porteño. A tough end after a couple of rough nights out.

Domestically, several clássico were played in the various Brazilian State Championships over the weekend. On Saturday, Vasco and Flamengo battled out a 1-1 draw. The game was poor quality, described by former Flamengo player, now pundit, Petkovic as a pelada, or kick about.

With the game sandwiched in between two Libertadores ties, Flamengo fielded a reserve side, and they appeared set to win, until Rodinei saw his effort cleared off the line in the second minute of stoppage time and Vasco went down to the other end of the pitch and won a penalty, duly dispatched by their Argentine striker, and ex-Barcelona man Maxi López.

By all accounts, the derby between Corinthians and Santos was a much higher quality game and a tactical battle between managers Jorge Sampaoli of Santos and Fábio Carille of Corinthians. Neither team could find a winner though and it finished 0 – 0. The clássico between Bahia and Vitória also finished 0 – 0 and, I’m guessing, was probably a less tactical affair.

The highlight of the derby match between Ceará and Fortaleza was a Ceará fan proposing to his fiancee, and Fortaleza fan, on the pitch at half time. She said yes. The match finished 0 – 0.

Most of the other results went as expected, with highlights including the following: Ganso has his best game for Fluminense so far and set up a goal in their 3-1 win against Cabofriense; after getting back to winning ways last week, São Paulo suffered a setback and could only draw against Ferroviária (Hernanes scored for São Paulo); youngster Alerrandro scored for Atlético-MG, again, as they fielded a reserve side in their state championship game; Diego Tardelli made his debut for Grêmio, although it was Andre who shined as they scored three excellent goals and beat São José; Athletico Paranaense won 8 – 2 despite fielding a team of mainly reserves.

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