The Rio de Janeiro state championships kicked off this weekend with minimal fuss for the score keepers.
The first round of games of the Rio State Championship kicked off on Saturday, barely five weeks after the national first division ended on 8 December. The turnaround gave players enough time to enjoy Christmas and New Year break and a few ice cold beers on Copa Cabana beach, but not much else. For London-based Brazilian football bloggers it was the same, minus the beers on Copa Cabana beach.
Teams take different approaches to the early games. Some play their kids while their first team gets back up to speed, others treat the games as part of their pre-season fitness programmes and another group takes the games really seriously, performs very poorly and it all ends in tears.
Botafogo fell into the ‘lets play our kids’ category this weekend and slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Volta Redonda; yes, it was their kids and reserves, but they were still desperately poor. A bloke called Saulo came off the bench for Volta Redonda, scored the only goal of the game, and played like Lionel Messi.
Flamengo’s involvement in the World Clup Cup meant that they have had an even shorter turnaround; Jorge Jesus decided that the calendar is nonsense and has given his first team an extended time off. They still haven’t even returned to training and their youth team took to the field against MacaÃ© on Saturday.
That match finished 0-0 in front of more than 15,000 fans at the MaracanÃ£. It wasn’t a bad performance or turnout, given that it was their kids on the field, but Flamengo is Flamengo and the fans expect to see them winning so decided to boo the team and some of the misfiring young stars. Harsh.
Vasco fielded a close to full strength side, which included 17-year-old Talles Mago and new signing GermÃ¡n Cano in attack. Neither of them could break the deadlock though and their match against Bangu finished 0-0. This would have to go down as a ‘we take this very seriously, but this didn’t go well and it could all end in tears’ category of performance and team selection from Abel Braga’s side. He has since said he will play his kids against Flamengo in the next match. Good choice; you don’t want to lose against your main rivals’ kids with your full stregnth team.
Fluminense were the only one of the four big teams to win, and they eeked out a 1-0 victory against Cabofriense. The stand out moments of that game were the incredible save by Marcos Felipe and the incredible miss by the Cabofriense striker after he had done all of the hard work. Check em out below on Brazilfooty’s new Youtube channel. If you like them, share the love.
Overall, there were only three goals in the six games of this weekend’s Guanabara Cup matches, which equates to a pretty poor start to the action. But players are still finding their feet and as they get fitter and the first team starts start coming back, the quality should get better in the coming weeks, hopefully.
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