Would the real Brazilian football please stand up. After a month long break for the Copa America, the Brazilian league is back.
Yes, Brazil won the Cup, on home soil, and that is very nice. But enough with overpriced tickets, snowflakes and broflakes complaining about the politics, and superstar players that get paid in euros and pounds jetting in and taking the glory – the bread and butter, the graft and sweat, roll up your sleeves, grass routes passion and best of Brazil is back.
As things stand Palmeiras top the log and are coasting towards the title – their second in two years. Their big signing of the year, Ricardo Goulart, got injured and went back to China. But despite this, they are top of the log after winning eight of their first nine games. The best piece of transfer business that they managed was to fend off interest in last years’ player of the season Dudu. Deyverson may remain their number nine and not quite be the level you would expect of Champions, but they keep getting the results, and goals, and their strong, settled squad is dominating Brazil.
Its not all over yet though and Flamengo will be hoping that their new con artist, I mean successful Portuguese coach, Jorge Jesus, can propel them to the title – they are eight points back in 3rd place. Replacing Abel Braga with Jesus was an interesting one move; not only was Braga given a premature exit in my opinion, but it is uncommon for European coaches find success in Brazil. In fact, very few European coaches even come to Brazil at all. It will be interesting is to see the way he manages the team, their style of play and how he deals with the club’s directors and fans.
Talking of style of play, tiki taka has arrived on Brazilian shores too. Not necessarily in the form of Jesus, but ex-Sevilla and Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli is going all Barcelona at Santos. It has taken a little time, and a few premature Cup exists, but the signs are that things are starting to click. The club are now second in the table and, unlike the other teams at the top, they no longer have the distractions of any cup competitions to spoil their focus on the league.
But if you thought Sampaoli and Santos were tiki taka you aint seen nothing yet because none other than mid table, and flirting with bankruptcy, Fluminense have gone full tiki taka with Fernando Diniz. I’m not sure if this guy’s team has ever finished a match with less possession than the opponent or if his centre backs have ever hoofed a ball into row z. Its a risky approach with a team that doesn’t have the best players. Brave, but I wish them well. There have some signs that the approach is working, but the club still remain uncomfortably close to the relegation zone and their star striker Pedro, now recovered from injury, wants out. The good news is that Watford-bound goal machine João Pedro is on their books for now.
Corinthians, Cruzeiro and Gremio have all had disappointing starts to the season: Corinthians’ lack of investment in their attack is showing, Cruzeiro’s poor form is hard to explain, while Gremio have been probably been a little bit unlucky. I will give a shout out to Everton who returned to their team this week, after his successful exploits for Brazil at the Copa America. They can certainly do with his skill on the left wing, although it seems like he might not be sticking around for much longer, with several European sides inquiring about his services recently.
Goias, Atletico Mineiro and Botafogo have all done better than I was expecting, while Vasco are struggling at the bottom.
The pick of this weekend’s games is the classico between Sao Paulo and Palmeiras on Saturday night. It will also be interesting to see how Jorge Jesus’ Flamengo get on against Goias in the early game on Sunday. The complicating factor for many teams this weekend is that their are sandwiched in between Brazilian Cup quarter finals. Expect teams like Gremio and Palmeiras are likely to field mixed lineups in the league.
This week’s Brazilian Cup quarter final first leg results were the following, with the return legs to take place next week:
Gremio 1 Bahia 1
Athletico-PR 1 Flamengo
Cruzeiro 3 Atletico-MG 0
Palmeiras 1 Internacional 0
This weekend’s league games:
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