Brasileirão preview/update

Can Jorge Sampaoli guide Galo to the title? (pic: Getty)

Most season previews get published before the season begins. But a combination of lockdown fatigue, work and a football crazy calendar meant this one got published eight games in. Better late than never.

The 2019 season finished in December last year, but with the State Championships and a global pandemic to take care of first, the 2020 Brasileirão Serie A season only got under way on the 8th of August this year. The big news is that while Flamengo have kept the spine of their team intact, and even added a few quality players, their wonderfully successful coach Jorge Jesus has left. It remains to be seen whether his replacement – Spaniard Domènec Torrent, who has limited experience as a manager – will be able to lift the team to the same heights.

Domènec has a good reputation as an assistant (he was Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Man City), but he lacks experience as a the main man. After Pep, he went on to manager New York City, but that with Flamengo, he has taken one of the biggest jobs in world football. European readers might scratch their head at that statement, but Flamengo have an estimated 32 million fans in Brazil. The passion, the shithousery, the banter, the demands, are huge there. So it remains to be seen how he will get along.

This preview/update comes after eight games of the new season. Flamengo had a really poor start and it was hard not to feel sorry for Domènec at the beginning – a Flamengo title win was surely another certainty, but Domènec’s reign got off to a catastrophic start and he lost his first two games, including a 3-0 defeat at promoted Atlético-GO. The games were coming thick and fast and the new coach had no time to train his players. He’s in a new country, he doesn’t speak the language and people couldn’t even see his face properly because whenever he did an interview he was forced to wear a mask. Luckily for him, fan protests were on the low due to the pandemic and to be fair to him, results have turned around since then.

Atlético Mineiro are perhaps the most exciting challenger to Flamengo’s dominance this year. Ineed, they beat Flamengo on the opening day of the season, highlighting their credentials. Jorge Sampaoli has been doing a great job there so far, imposing a style and identity. And they’ve also been spending money and have signed the likes of Guilherme Arana, Marrony, Eduardo Sasha, Keno and Allan. They have quality in depth too, although Sampaoli might not be 100% convinced about that because he recently told his board that he’d like to sign another five players.

Internacional, another team managed by a gringo (Argentine Eduardo Coudet), have been setting the early pace and sit top of the top with 17 points after eight games. The team hasn’t played the most beautiful football, but they grind out results and are hard to beat. Thiago Galhardo is in great form and although he was signed as a midfielder he has stepped into the number 9 role with ease so far (Paulo Guerrero has been ruled out for the season with injury). To be realistic challengers for the title, they will surely need to replace Guerrero or give Galhardo some more support up front. Alexandre Pato is being spoken about as the man to do that, but while the player is available and Pato is an Internacional legend, the player is way past his best and isn’t the man to fire them to the title.

Palmeiras have one of the best squads in the country. Young midfielders Patrick de Paula and Gabriel Menino are excellent and worth keeping an eye on, but the team lacks in the creativity and goal scoring departments. Part of that might be down to the coach, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who is managing the club for the 4th time. He did a good job at Vasco last year, but in Brazilfooty’s opinion, he is not the type of manager that the club needs; they need someone with an identify and clear style of play. They should have gone for Sampaoli. In fact, they tried, and he was their first choice, but they couldn’t agree personal terms. Palmeiras’ loss. Atlético’s gain.

São Paulo, Vasco and Fluminense have had decent starts to the season, but are not expected to be challenging for the league. São Paulo fans might be dreaming but Brazilfooty is not convinced. Grêmio, on the other hand, are one of the most highly-rated teams in Brazil but not only do they tend to prioritise cup competitions and field weakened teams in the league, they have had a poor start to the competition and look slow and laboured in attack now that Everton Cebolinha has gone. Corinthians, meanwhile, were hoping that the appointment of Thiago Nunes would turn them into title contenders but that doesn’t look like happening, not this year anyway.

At the other end of the table, promoted sides Atlético Goianiense, Sport and Coritiba will be looking to avoid relegation. Bragantino, who are now Red Bull’s premier franchise team in Brazil, where also promoted and haven’t had the best start to the new season. But being the Red Bull franchise team in the country, naturally means that they have had a significant cash injection and have been signing some quality young players. It also means that they will be hoping for a lot more than simply avoiding relegation this year, which is why they sacked their manager Felipe Conceição on Monday last week. There has been the usual coaching merry-go-round with no fewer than five managers losing their jobs in less than a month. The pick of the bunch was Dorival Junior who missed three games as he was ill with coronavirus, came back, lost and was fired. That’s Brazilian football for you.

That the games will be coming thick and fast this year which has meant the poupar (rest players) or not to poupar debate has gone into overdrive. (It has also become a nightmare for fantasy football managers). More significantly, it means that teams have almost no time to train so any new coaches have an extra hard job to turn things around. There are no crowds either, which has given another matches this year.

The bottom line is that the form book, and the rule book have gone out of the window and it’s all to play for this year, which is reflected in some of the results so far this season and the league table below, which shows that not much separates Santos in 7th with Coritiba in 17th. It’s all to play for really, and the matches and league will be harder to predict than even. So without further ado, see the current league table below, followed by a team by team review (with ones to watch, star men, all of the major transfers since last year and Brazilfooty’s 2020 predictions to boot). It’s a mugs game predicting things in Brazil but we’ve done it anyway. Vamos!

Atlético-GO

Brazilfooty prediction: 20th

One of Brazil’s yo-yo club clubs. They only booked their place in the Serie A this year after a surprise defeat for America-MG on the final day of the Serie B season last year. They have lost their key striker Pedro Raul, who has packed his bags and gone to Botafogo, but they have added some decent players with Serie A experience including Jean, Gustavo Ferrareis, Janderson and Everton Felipe. While those names will help and they managed to beat Flamengo 3-0 recently; they also turned in a decent performance and got a draw against Grêmio last night (a match Brazilfooty watched), we still have our doubts that they have what it takes to stay in the division.

Fighting spirit will be key

Coach: Vagner Mancini

Key Player: Edson

One to watch: Janderson (something to prove after Corinthians loaned him out)

Major ins: Jean (São Paulo, loan), Edson (Ponte Preta), Júlio César (Chapecoense), Gustavo Ferrareis (Internacional, loan), Everton Felipe (São Paulo, loan) , Janderson (Corinthians, loan)

Major outs: Pedro Raul (Botafogo), André Castro (Mirassol), Jonathan (Agua Santa)

Coritiba

Brazilfooty prediction: 19th

Coritiba fans haven’t had much to shout about in recent years and that is unlikely to change too much in 2020. They finished 3rd in the Serie B in 2019 and things were looking up going into 2020, following the appointment of Eduardo Barroca (who did a pretty good job with Botafogo last year). But he has now been sacked and the club have given the reigns to Jorginho. Chopping and changing is not the key to success, yet the likes of Coritiba seem to think this is a great idea, year in, year out. On the playing staff side they have quality in the likes of Matheus Galdezani, Sassá, Robson, Rhodolfo and Sabino. Teenager Igor Jesus is one to watch too. They have some quality, but staying up won’t be easy.

Sassá’s goals (or lack of) could determine whether Coritiba stay up (pic: Getty)

Coach: Jorginho

Key Player: Sassá (quality, but can he find the consistency?)

One to watch: Igor Jesus (they rate him highly)

Major ins: Renê Júnior (Corinthians, loan), Rhodolfo (Flamengo), Lucas Ramon (Bragantino), Guilherme Parede (Internacional, end of loan), Rodolfo (Parana), Nathan Silva (Atlético-MG),  Gabriel (Flamengo), Sassá (Cruzeiro), Giovanni Augusto (Corinthians), Caetano (Corinthians, loan), César (Londrina), Patrick Vieira (Santa Clara, loan), Sabino (Santos, loan), Jorginho (no club)

Major outs: Elyesser (Figuierense), Juan Alano (Kashmina Antlers), Diogo Mateus (Ferroviaria), Eduardo Barroca (fired), Guilherme Parede (CA Talleres), Lucas Ramon (Bragantino, end of loan), César (Vitória)

Sport

Brazilfooty prediction: 18th

Finished second in the Serie B last year, but have lost their key man in that campaign – striker Guilherme, who banged in 17 Serie B goals, but returned to Gremio and was subsequently flogged to Middle Eastern club Al Faisaly. Sport have brought in the numbers and a few decent players – such as Patric and Jonathan Gomez – but they have a limited budget and haven’t been able to add a big name, like Diego Souza (darling of their team when they were last in the division). Staying up will be considered a success. Sport’s Ilha do Retiro stadium is a notoriously difficult place for opposing teams to pick up points, but it isn’t quite as intimidating without a crowd. The sooner the fans get back in, the better for Sport.

Down but not out (pic: Getty)

Coach: Jair Ventura (has a point to prove)

Key Player: Jonathan Gomez

One to watch: Bruninho (hoping to build on a promising breakthrough season last year)

Ins: Ewandro (Fluminense), Carlos Eduardo (Brasil de Pelotas), Betinho (Figueirense), Jean Patrick (Cuiaba), Lucas Mugni (Oriente Petrolero), Marquinhos (Ponte Preta), Leandro Barcia (Goiás), Rithely (Internacional, end of loan), Patric (Atlético-MG), Lucas Venuto (Santos, loan), Jonathan Gomez (São Paulo), Bruninho (Atlético-MG), Ricardinho (Guarani), Rafael Thyere (Grêmio, loan), Iago Maidana (Atlético-MG, loan), Betinho (Tombense), Marquinhos (Corinthians, loan), Maxwell (Corinthians, loan), Lucas Venuto (Santos, loan), Jair Ventura

Outs: Pedro Carmona (free), Norberto (free), Yago (Atlético-MG, end of loan), Marquinho (free), Marcinho (Goiás, end of loan), Leo Arthur (free), Kaio (free), Charles (Internacional, end of loan), Guilherme (Grêmio, end of loan), Leandrinho (Botafogo, end of loan)

Fortaleza

Brazilfooty prediction: 17th

Rogerio Ceni has a lot of credit at Fortaleza – so much so that last year he quit, went to Cruzeiro, but fell out with the management there just a month after joining, so they welcomed him back at Fortaleza with open arms. Amazing story really given the managerial merry-go-round in Brazil. Managerial credit and a little stability are good, but things don’t really seem to be kicking on massively at Fortaleza. So I’m gunna be a party pooper and predict a relegation. They’ve lost a few players, bought and loaned a few players, but its hard to see whether they will find their spark and inspiration.

DEIXA COMIGO

Coach: Rogério Ceni

Key player: Wellington Paulista (the 37-year-old veteran is the man they turn to for goals)

One to watch: Yuri César

Ins: Michel (Grêmio), David (Cruzeiro), Ronald (Juventus-SC), Luiz Henrique (Flamengo, loan), Fragapane (Talleres, loan), Yuri César (Flamengo, loan), Tiago Orobo (America-RN), Edson Carius (Regatas Brasil-AL)

Outs: Edinho (Atlético-MG, end of loan), André Luís (Corinthians, end of loan), Kieza (Náutico), Araruna (São Paulo, end of loan), Paulo Roberto (Corinthians, end of loan), Felipe Pires (Hoffenheim, end of loan)

Goiás

Brazilfooty prediction: 16th

Goiás were the surprise package in the Serie A last year with a respectable 10th place finish. But second season syndrome is a risk and keeping up the good form this year, especially after they lost their best player, Michael, to Flamengo, will be hard. They’ve also had a COVID outbreak to deal with already this season. Despite that, and having 15 players out with the virus at one stage (yes, matches went ahead), they still managed to turn in a few decent performances, and even drew with Palmeiras at the peak of their depletion. That wasn’t enough to keep Ney Franco in his job though. It’s not clear what effect the managerial change will have, or how the team is going to settle following their club COVID outbreak. I wish them all the best, but most probably the club will do well to avoid relegation.

Rather harshly dismissed

Coach: Thiago Larghi

Key player: Rafael Vaz (leader at the back and dead ball specialist)

One to watch: Jefferson (good performances last year – still only 23)

Ins: Luiz Gustavo (Vasco), Caju (Braga, loan), Vidal (Juventude), Juan Pintado (Juventud de las Piedras), Sandro (Genoa), Daniel Bessa (Hellas Verona, loan), Ratinho (Gwangju, loan), Mike (Atlético-GO), Victor Andrade (Estoril Praia), Ignacio Jara (Cobreloa), Henrique Almeida (Grêmio), Quevedo (Allianza Lima), Thiago Larghi

Outs: Michael (Flamengo), Marcelo Hermes (Cruzeiro, end of loan), Sidão (Figuierense), Yago Felipe (Vitória, end of loan), Giovanni Augusto (Corinthians, end of loan), Marcão (Parana, loan), Daniel Guedes (Santos, end of loan), Paulo Ricardo (Sion, end of loan), Yago (Corinthians, end of loan), Renatinho (Mirassol, end of loan), Geovane (CSA), Marlone (Corinthians, end of loan), Rafinha (Botafogo-SP), Alan Ruschel (Chapecoense, end of loan), Rafael Papagaio (Palmeiras, end of loan), Giovanny (Athletico-PR, end of loan), Dudu (CRB), Kayke (Qatar SC), Ney Franco

Bahia

Brazilfooty prediction: 15th

Bahia seemed to have a good thing going last year, finishing a respectable 11th. But a few bad results this year, culminating in a 5-3 home loss to Flamengo just this last week, resulted in Roger Machado getting the boot. The transfer business hasn’t been too exciting although their attacking lineup of Rodriguinho, Rossi and Gilberto, does have a lot of Serie A experience and quality. The question mark is over the quality of the strength in depth. Unlikely to be qualifying for the Libertadores, but unlikely to be going down either. Mid table.

Gilberto and Rossi will cause teams problems

Coach: not confirmed (Roger Machado fired shorly before publication)

Key player: Rodriguinho

One to watch: Saldanha

Ins: Fessin (Corinthians), Jadson (Cruzeiro), Régis (Chapecoense), Daniel (Fluminense), Rossi (free), Zeca (Internacional), Juninho Capixaba (Grêmio), Rodriguinho (free), Clayson (Corinthians)

Outs: Rogério (Ceará), Lucca (Al Khor), Shaylon (São Paulo, end of loan), Moisés (Internacional), Ramires (Basel, loan), Arthur Caike (Al Shabab), Régis (Chapecoense, end of loan), Guerra (Palmeiras, end of loan), Giovanni (Cruzeiro), Ezequiel (Fluminense, end of loan), Regis (Cruzeiro)

Ceará 

Brazilfooty prediction: 14th

Ceará stayed up by the skin of their teeth last year. The Argel Fucks situation left a pretty poor taste in the mouth, but he is now gone and been replaced by Guto Ferreira, who is doing a decent job. They’ve got a few quality players in their team and interesting names to keep an eye on – Fernando Sobral and Cleber, in particular. But the financial realities of Ceará are not the same as those of the big boys and a top half finish would be an achievement.

Fernando Sobral: good all-round midfielder

Coach: Guto Ferreira

Key Player: Fernando Prass (42 years old but still the team’s talisman)

One to watch: Fernando Sobral (not a youngster anymore, but impressive in 2020 so far)

Ins: Tiago (Bahia via Lanus), Eduardo (Chapecoense), Rogério (Bahia), Fernando Prass (Palmeiras, loan), Vinícius (Atlético-MG), Marthã (Lviv), Rafael Sobis (Internacional), Klaus (Internacional), Charles (Internacional), Cléber (Barbalha FC), Léo Chú (Grêmio, loan), Alyson (Oeste), Bruno Pacheco (Chapecoense), Rodrigão (Santos)

Outs: Felippe Cardoso (Fluminense via Santos, end of loan), Thiago Galhardo (Internacional), João Lucas (Cruzeiro), Argel Fucks, Valdo (Shimizu S-Pulse), Thiago Carletto (Vitoria), Auremir (Cuiaba) , Lucas França (Cruzeiro), Pedro Ken (Juventude), Christovam (Parana, end of loan), Valdo (Shimizu S-Pulse), Tiago dos Santos Alves (Mirassol), Roger (Ponte Preta)

Red Bull Bragantino

Brazilfooty prediction: 13th

Considering they are Red Bull’s major team in Brazil, it would be fair to say that things are not quite on track yet in the 2020 Brasileirao. Bragantino used to be the underdogs – a small team from the interior of São Paulo with a few big trophies to their name and a quirky team to manage on football management games (convinced my Dutch mate Cas to take the reigns there on Championship Manager once). But things have changedwith Red Bull’s cash injection. They would still be cool to manage, perhaps even better now that they have an exciting project, money and have bought some of the best young players in Brazil – admittedly, not the elite ones, but the likes of Artur, Alerrandro and Claudinho are very good young players and together they form a good forward line. Their coach recently got the boot and they were quick to appoint 38 year old Maurício Barbieri as the new boss. The chopping and changing doesn’t help, but with the quality in the squad and determination of their kids, they should steer clear of relegation. A bit too soon for them to be competing near the top.

Claudinho – one of Bragantino’s exciting young players

Coach: Maurício Barbieri

Key player: Artur (one of the best for his age)

One to watch: Alerrandro (lethal marksman)

Ins: Artur (Palmeiras), Alerrandro (Atlético-MG), Thonny Anderson (Grêmio), Leo Realpe (Independiente del Valle), Luan Cândido (RB Leipzig, loan), Matheus Jesus (Corinthians, loan), Claudinho (Ponte Preta), Pedrinho (RB), Fabrício Bruno (Cruzeiro), Felipe Conceição (America-MG), Cleiton (Atlético-MG), Luis Phelipe (RB Salzburg), Jan Hurtado (Boca Juniors, loan), Lucas Evangelista (Nantes, loan), Vitinho (Palmeiras, loan with obligation to buy), Weverton (Cruzeiro), Weverson (São Paulo), Cuello (Atlético Tucuman)

Outs: Antônio Carlos Zago (Kashmina Antlers)

Athletico-PR

Brazilfooty prediction: 12th

One of Brazil’s better-run clubs and a surprise package over the last few years – not surprising for those that have watched them play, but surprising in the sense that they have been near the top, got to finals and done things that many of the traditionally big teams haven’t done. Good management. That’s the key. Things haven’t gone to plan so far this year though and Dorival Junior was relieved of his duties shortly after coming back from a bout of coronavirus. The management complained that the team had lost its identity. Perhaps they are right, but what to expect when the coach changes? They have some experienced players, old and young, but a top half finish looks like a bit of a stretch. Brazilfooty thinks they’ve gone sideways, or even backwards, this year.

Identity required

Coach: Eduardo Barros

Key player: Léo Cittadini

One to watch: Vitinho

Ins: Carlos Eduardo (Palmeiras, 20% of the players economic rights and 3-year loan), Marquinhos Gabriel (Cruzeiro, loan), Aguilar (Santos), Geuvânio (Tianhai via Atlético-MG), Walter (free), Pedrão (Palmeiras), Jajá (Novozirontino), Fernando Canesin (Oostende), Richard (Corinthians, loan),

Outs: Thiago Nunes (Corinthians), Marco Ruben (Rosario Central, end of loan), Guimarães (Lyon), Marcelo Cirino (Chongqing Lifan), Camacho (Corinthians, end of loan), Madson (Grêmio, end of loan), Thonny Anderson (Grêmio, end of loan), Pedro Henrique (Corinthians, end of loan), Bruno Nazário (Botafogo), Everton Felipe (São Paulo, end of loan), Leo Pereira (Flamengo), Robson Bambu (Nice), Paulo André (free), Abner Felipe (Agua Santa, loan), Braian Romero (Independiente), Matheus Rossetto (Atlanta United), Adriano (KAS Eupen), Caio (Agua Santa)

Botafogo

Brazilfooty prediction: 11th

Botafogo fans can rightly get excited about this team and its been a while since we’ve been able to say that. They’ve brought in some gringo star dust with the signings of Salomon Kalou and Keisuke Honda. But more importantly, they are bringing through some good young players – guys like Matheus Babi, Caio Alexandre, Kanu, Kevin, Pedro Raul and Bruno Nazario. The team has energy, quality and a decent balance. What you feel they need most though, is a mind and culture shift, to get them further up the table. It could happen, but Brazilfooty are opting for a an 11th place finish this year.

All together now

Coach: Paulo Autuori

Key player: Bruno Nazário

One to watch: Matheus Nascimento (born in 2004, made his first team debut this year)

Ins: Pedro Raul (Atlético-GO), Ruan Renato (Vitoria), Alexander Lecaros (Real Garcilasco), Thiaguinho (Corinthians), Saulo (end of loan), Leandrinho (Sport, end of loan), Luiz Otavio (Tombense), Gabriel (Atlético-MG, end of loan), Bruno Nazário (Athletico-PR, loan), Guilherme Santos (Tombense), Federico Barrandeguy (Montevideo Wanderers), Danilo Barcelos (Atlético-MG), Warley (Santa Cruz), Honda (Vitesse), Diego Souza (São Paulo, end of loan), Rafael Forster (Ludogorets), Salomon Kalou (free), Victor Luis (Palmeiras, loan)

Outs: Thiago Ribeiro (Novorizontino); Leonardo Valencia (Colo Colo); Rodrigo Pimpão (CSA), Yuri (Ponte Preta), Ezequiel (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Vinícius Tanque (Cartagena – Spain), Diego Souza (Grêmio), Thiaguinho (Corinthians, end of loan), Joel Carli (free), Gilson (Botafogo-SP), Rickson (America-MG), Gustavo Bochecha (Juventude), Jean Carlos (Corinthians, end of loan), Alan Santos (Tigres, end of loan), João Paulo Mior (Seatle Sounders – USA), Leandrinho (free), Alex Santana (Ludogorets), Marcos Vinícius (Botafogo-SP), Igor Cássio (Porto-POR), Erik Lima (Palmeiras, end of loan), Victor Rangel (Santa Cruz)

Vasco

Brazilfooty prediction: 10th

Vasco have made an unexpectedly good start to the season. Argentine striker German Cano is a goal poacher, Felipe Bastos is rolling back the years, Leandro Castan is a rock at the back and Talles Magno is the hottest prospect in Brazil right now. Vanderlei Luxemburgo did a very solid job with Vasco last year and many people (Brazilfooty included) thought that Vasco’s performances would slip after his departure. But they have found a formula and look like a solid team now, even better than last year perhaps. Two key questions: 1/ do they have the quality in depth to deal with two games a week for the next several months? And 2/ how long will Talles Magno stick around for with Liverpool heavily linked.

Felipe Bastos has made a strong start to the season

Coach: Ramon Menezes

Key player: Cano (goals!)

One to watch: Talles Magno (still only 18 – quality player)

Ins: Germán Cano (Independiente de Medellin), Rafael Galhardo (Grêmio, end of loan), Lucas Santos (CSKA Moscow, end of loan), Marcelo Alves (Madureira, loan), Neto Borges (Genk, loan), Benítez (Independiente, loan), Carlinhos (Standard Liege), Guilherme Parede (Talleres, loan), Catatau (Madureira, loan), Ribamar (Pyramids, loan)

Outs: Vanderlei Luxemburgo (Palmeiras), Richard (Corinthians, end of loan), Valdívia (Avaí), Danilo Barcelos (Atlético-MG, end of loan), Rossi (Shenzen, end of loan), Oswaldo Henríquez (free), Clayton (Atlético-MG, end of loan), Raúl Cáceres (Cerro Porteno), Sidao, Marquinho, Fellipe Bastos, Luiz Gustavo (Goiás), Raul Caceres (Cerro Porteno, end of loan), Abel Braga (out), Maxi Lopez (Crotone), Bruno Silva (Guarani)

Fluminense

Brazilfooty prediction: 9th

Fluminense are an exciting team to watch this year. There are good young players coming through and getting game time: Evanilson (20), Marcos Paulo (19), Fernando Pacheco (21), Caio Paulista (22), Calegari (18), Luiz Henrique (19) and Miguel (17). Dodi and Nino are a little older but still good players with room for improvement. And they have some big veteran names on their roster too – Nene (39), Fred (36) and Ganso (only 30 but plays like a veteran). Nene, in particular, is rolling back the years. What a player! While writing this post it has been announced that Evanilson will be heading to Porto, which is a big blow to Odair Hellman’s plans. Fred (yes, Fred) is still playing and still knows where the goal is, but the guy does not run anymore, so swapping the youthful energy of Evanilson for the lack of pace, but good marksman Fred, is going to have an effect on the team. Until now Odair Hellman had been succeeding where others have failed in previous seasons and is getting the balance right. Many were worried about Fluminense after they lost Yony Gonzalez, Allan, Gilberto, João Pedro and co. But somehow, they lose their best players and manage to improve. Can they manage that again with the departure of Evanilson?

Youth and experience: Marcos Paulo, Evanilson and Nene

Coach: Odair Hellman

Key player: Nene

One to watch: Evanilson (on the radar of Manchester City apparently)

Ins: Odair Hellman (free); Caio Paulista (Tombense, loan); Felippe Cardoso (Santos, loan), Fernando Pacheco (Sporting Cristal), Michel Araújo (Racing Montevideo, loan), Egídio (Cruzeiro), Hudson (São Paulo, loan), Yago Felipe (Vitória), João Lopes (Santa Clara), Fred (Cruzeiro), Wellington Silva (Internacional)

Outs: Marcão (released), João Pedro (Watford), Ewandro (Sport), Allan (Liverpool, end of loan), Caio Henrique (Atlético Madrid, end of loan), Yony Gonzalez (Benfica), Lucão (Goiás), Daniel (Bahia), Guilherme (released), Ezequiel (Chapecoense), Rodolfo (Suspended), Gilberto (Benfica), Matheus Mascarenhas (Vitória de Guimarães), Airton (Ermis Aradippou), Wellington Nem

Santos

Brazilfooty prediction: 8th

Santos (sadly, sorry Santistas) take the prize of one of Brazil’s worst-run clubs. They have the history thanks to Pele, Neymar and co. but they are overly reliant on their youth system, which really is their get out of jail free card. It’s great that so many young talents keep coming through and its great to see them get a chance in the Serie A, but the club finances are in a terrible shape despite the large incomings from player sales over the years – players do not get paid on time, which pushes the best ones out the door. Santistas like to dream, but that is hard at the moment with the lack of budget and organisation. Those were the reasons that Sampaoli left and he wasn’t shy about expresing his feelings, which didn’t endear him to the owners. That said, Marinho was a very good signing and he is one of the best forwards in Brazil at the moment. Sanchez in midfield is still top class too.

Marinho is the man

Coach: Cuca

Key player: Marinho

One to watch: Kaio Jorge

Ins: Cuca (free), Madson (Grêmio), Raniel (São Paulo), Luan Peres (Bruge, on loan)

Outs: Jorge Sampaoli (released), Gustavo Henrique (Flamengo), Bryan Ruiz (free), Victor Ferraz (Grêmio), Jorge (Monaco, end of loan), Vanderlei (Grêmio), Yuri Alberto (Internacional), Jorge (Monaco, end of loan), Eduardo Sasha (Atlético-MG), Evandro (released), Cueva (Pachuca), Derlis González (Olimpia), Lucas Venuto (Sport, loan)

São Paulo

Brazilfooty prediction: 7th

São Paulo Fernando Diniz is an enigma. He insists on the possession. Like really. Don’t hoof it away – rather do that stepover and backheel in your own box. It’s cool. Most of us want it to work but it didn’t at Athletico-PR or Fluminense. And it hasn’t been working at São Paulo either – not until the recent three wins in four matches. While Brazilfooty still likes Diniz and wishes him the best, we’ve realised that rather than being a genius, he is stubborn and ultimately he puts style before substance and his teams make the same mistakes over and over; a soft defence and lack of end product. This is Brazilfooty sticking its neck out because São Paulo have suddenly found some form, but we cannot see things ultimately working at São Paulo and while Diniz might get some time, due to a lack of obvious alternatives , we cannot see this ending with a trophy. All of that said, they do have some good players and quality youngsters, so the team may yet offer us some excitement in the Brasileirão in 2020.

São Paulo need Pablo to start scoring on a more regular basis

Coach: Fernando Diniz

Key player: Dani Alves (still quality and now São Paulo’s midfield general)

One to watch: Diego Costa

Ins: Shaylon (Bahia, end of loan), Brenner (Fluminense, end of loan), Luciano (Grêmio)

Outs: Jean (Atlético-GO, loan), Everton Felipe (Cruzeiro, loan), Everton (Grêmio), Pato (released), Anderson Martins (released), Jucilei (released), Antony (Ajax)

Corinthians

Brazilfooty prediction: 6th

The much anticipated appointment of Tiago Nunes has not worked out so far and on current form it would be a push to think that Corinthians will finish in the top six. But Corinthians are Corinthians and they have shown in the past that they can grind out results without playing well. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if they did that again this year. Tiago Nunes arrived with the expectation that he could evolve Corinthians’ notoriously defensive style of play into something more pleasing on the eye; but what has happened is that they are no longer as solid at the back and going forward they are predictable and laboured. Jô is back and provides a much-needed goal threat, but he isn’t the same player he was when he left Corinthians two years ago. Also, he is 35 now and looks like he’s struggling with the two games per week schedule. Luan came from Grêmio at the request of Tiago Nunes, but instead of replicating his Rei das Americas form, he looks more like the slow and predictable Luan of 2019. Otero, the new signing from Atletico Mineiro, could be the one they need.

Big pressure on Jô to deliver

Coach: Tiago Nunes

Key player: Otero

One to watch: Éderson (just 20, but has made a spot in central midfield his own)

Ins: Thiago Nunes (Athletico-PR), Luan (Grêmio), Cantillo (Junior Barranquilla), Sidcley (Dynamo Kiev, loan),Camacho (Athletico-PR, end of loan), Richard (Vasco, end of loan), Davó (Guarani), Pedro Henrique (Athletico-PR, end of loan), André Luís (Fortaleza, end of loan), Jô (Nagoya Grampus), Léo Natel (São Paulo), Araos (Ponte Preta), Ederson (Cruzeiro), Otero (Atletico-MG)

Outs: Junior Urso (Orlando City), Fessin (Bahia), Renê Júnior (Coritiba, loan), Sornoza (LDU Quito, loan), Jadson (released), Ralf, Manoel (Cruzeiro, end of loan), Matheus Jesus (Bragantino, loan), Giovanni Augusto (Coritiba), Caíque França (Oeste, loan), Marllon (Cruzeiro, loan), Richard (Athletico-PR, loan), Ralf (Avai), Regis (Bahia), Jadson (free), Pedrinho (Benfica), André Luís (Daejeon Citizen-Korea), Gustavo (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC – Korea), Vagner Love (Kairat – Kazakhstan)

Grêmio

Brazilfooty prediction: 5th

For several seasons Grêmio have been considered one of Brazils best teams, if not the best team. It’s an interesting theoretical debate since this cannot be proven by their league standings since their coach prioritises the cup competitions instead. Frequently, Renato Gaúcho will field an entire reserve team in the league when he has an important Cup match before or after. But last season’s thumping at Flamengo with a full-strength team in the Copa Libertadores proved that Flamengo were on another level and put that debate to bed, at least last year.

Renato Gaúcho pointed out the differences in finances and he is right – Flamengo, and others like Palmeiras, are operating on a different budget to Grêmio, which is highlighted by their transfer business this year: Everton Cebolinha has been sold, but Grêmio have bought golden oldies such as Diego Souza, Robinho (not the golden boy, but the 32 year old midfielder from Cruzeiro), Thiago Neves and Vanderlei. Orejeula is decent and Everton (brought in from Sao Paulo) adds some pace to replace that of Cebolinha. Pedro Geromel and Kanneman are the best centre back pairing in the league and Matheus Henrique is one of the most exciting midfield talents in Brazil. They also have a great youth system and more young players coming through. But they lack real quality in depth and something is wrong with their attack this year too. No league title and its 5th place at best.

Good players but can they replace Everton?

Coach: Renato Gaúcho

Key player: Pedro Geromel (still their rock at the back)

One to watch: Matheus Henrique (heavily linked with Barcelona before Corona and the Barca meltdown)

Ins: Madson (Athletico-PR, end of loan), Victor Ferraz (Santos), Lucas Silva (Grêmio), Orejuela (Cruzeiro, loan), Vanderlei (Santos), Thiago Neves (Cruzeiro), Diego Souza (São Paulo), Everton (São Paulo), Robinho (Cruzeiro)

Outs: Felipe Vizeu (Udinese, end of loan), Madson (Santos), Thonny Anderson (Bragantino), Rafael Galhardo (Vasco, end of loan), Léo Moura (retired), Rômulo (Flamengo, end of loan), Michel (Fortaleza), Juninho Capixaba (Bahia), Diego Tardelli (Atlético-MG), Everton (Benfica), Walter Montoya (Cruz Azul, end of loan), Luciano (São Paulo)

Palmeiras

Brazilfooty prediction: 4th

Palmeiras have spent big bucks in recent years but for all of the cash splashing, the team is still some way off being the finished product. The changes at Flamengo give them a chance, but Plameiras haven’t convinced. They have ground out some results though and their win against Corinthians in the Paulista State Championship final will give them confidence (even though their performance was criticised by some). There has been some belt tightening this year and big earners Dudu, Deyverson and Borja are off the book, for now anyway (shipped out on loan). They’ve got some very exciting youngsters coming through, such as Patrick de Paula and Gabriel Menino. Gabriel Vernon is younger and could be even better but has been struggling with injuries so far this year (in his first match back he scored one and set up another). Palmeirenses will hope that he is the answer to their creativity problem, but realistically he cannot replace Dudu yet. Rony is another good player, but again, not the same as Dudu. The bottom line is that Palmeiras have strength in depth, a crazy captain and good leader in Felipe Melo, but the main problem in Brazilfooty’s opinion is that the club lack a clear style and identity on the pitch – Luxemburgo isn’t the man to change that.

Gabriel Veron: big things expected from this young lad

Coach: Vanderlei Luxemburgo

Key player: Luiz Adriano

One to watch: Patrick de Paula (rejected the chance to join Benfica, preferring to make a name for himself at Palmeiras)

Ins: Vanderlei Luxemburgo (Vasco), Emerson Santos (Internacional, end of loan), Vinicius Silvestre (Clube de Regatas do Brasil, end of loan), Iván Angulo (Envigado)

Outs: Borja (Junior Barranquilla, loan), Edu Dracena (retired), Carlos Eduardo (Athletico-PR, 3-year loan); Fernando Prass (Ceará, loan), Hyoran (Atlético-MG, loan), Artur (Bragantino), Thiago Santos (FC Dallas), Deyverson (Getafe, loan), Gabriel Furtado (Vitoria, loan), Matheus Fernandes (Barcelona), Henrique Dourado (Henan Jianye), Antônio Carlos (Orlando City, loan), Jean (Cruzeiro, loan), Alejandro Guerra (Bahia, loan), Dudu (Al Duhail, loan)

Internacional

Brazilfooty prediction: 3rd

Odair Hellman did an excellent job at Internacional and it was a big surprise when he was relieved from his duties last year. Inter’s form got even worse after he left and Hellman is now doing a good job at Fluminense. Doubters (and Brazilfooty) right. Directors wrong. But after a few managerial changes last year (notably Zé Ricardo holding Odair Hellman’s beer), they have brought in Eduardo Coudet, a move that vindicates the directors. Coudet doesn’t appear to be the most attacking minded of coaches and Inter don’t control games in the same way that Sampaoli teams do, but Inter are tough, hard to beat and his team wins games. Diego Simeone anyone? Thiago Galhardo was brought in as a midfielder but he has now emerged as Inter’s main striker following the season-ending injury to Paulo Guerrero. But with two games a week likely for the foreseeable future, Inter will need another number nine if they are to sustain their title challenge. Saravia looks like a good player and Inter’s midfield is competitive, but where will all the goals come from?

Can Inter rely on Thiago Galhardo to keep scoring?

Coach: Eduardo Coudet

Key player: Thiago Galhardo

One to watch: Zé Gabriel (the exit of Bruno Fuchs has given him a chance)

Ins: Eduardo Coudet (Racing-Arg), Rodinei (Flamengo), Thiago Galhardo (Ceará), Damian Musto (Huesca), Marcos Guilherme (Al Wedha), Moisés (Bahia), Gabriel Boschilla (Monaco-FRA), Saravia (Porto, loan), Yuri Alberto (Santos)

Outs: Zé Ricardo (fired), Rafael Sobis (Ceará), Guilherme Parede (Coritiba, end of loan), Nico Lopez, Santiago Trellez, Rithely (Sport, end of loan), Emerson Santos (Palmeiras, end of loan), Zeca (Bahia), Wellington Silva (Fluminense), Bruno Fuchs (CSKA), Bruno Vieira (free), Bruno Silva (Avai), Jonathan Álvez (Atlético Junior – Col, end of loan)

Atlético Mineiro

Brazilfooty prediction: 2nd

Atlético Mineiro are on the move – they’ve got money, a new, crazy coach and good players. If one team is going to give Flamengo a run for their money, they are the team to do it. 2020 began with previous Venezuela boss Dudamel being given the managerial reigns, but that didn’t work out and he came and went before. It seemed like Sampaoli was on his way to Palmeiras, but that never materialised, meaning that Atlético had the chance to swoop. Sampaoli did a good job at Santos last year, despite all the problems at the club, which is why he is so highly regarded in Brazil now. He is a workaholic and goes nuts on the sideline, every game, but you can see the results. Sampaoli is constantly tinkering the team and its hard to know what his strongest XI would be. But most probably the tinkering is actually quite useful when you have strength in depth and are in the middle of a global pandemic which has resulted in a fixture list of two games a week for the next few months. They have recruited well with the likes of Guilherme Arana, Allan, Eduardo Sasha, Junior Alonso, Keno and Marrony. And although their first XI isn’t as strong as that of Flamengo on paper, they do have Sampaoli at the helm, which makes a difference.

Sampaoli. Passionate. Mad. Moody. Crazy. Genius? (pic: Getty)

Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

Key player: Eduardo Sasha

One to watch: Allan (Liverpool decided to let him go, but he makes this team tick)

Ins: Dudamel (Venezuela national team), Hyoran (Palmeiras, loan), Allan (Liverpool), Dylan Borrero (Independiente Santa Fe), Edinho (Fortaleza, end of loan), Gabriel (Botafogo, end of loan), Clayton (Vasco, end of loan), Guilherme Arana (Sevilla, loan), Marrony (Vasco), Rafael (Cruzeiro), Bueno (Kashmina Antlers), Júnior Alonso (Lille), Keno (Pyramids FC), Mariano (Galatasaray), Franco (Independiente del Valle – Ecuador), Diego Tardelli (Grêmio), Léo Sena (Goiás), Eduardo Sasha (Santos), Bruno Silva (Chapecoense, loan)

Outs: Vagner Mancini (released), Luan (V-Varen Nagasaki), Alerrandro (Bragantino), Vinícius (Ceará), Chará (Portland Timbers), Geuvânio (released), Elias (released), Wilson (released), Danilo Barcelos (Botafogo), Cleiton (Bragantino), Patric (Sport), Iago Maidana (Sport, loan), Leonardo Silva (retired), Hulk (Parana, loan), Ricardo Oliveira (free), Franco di Santo (San Lorenzo – Argentina), Maicon (free), Clayton (free), Terans (Penarol – Uruguay, loan), Edinho (Daejon, loan), Elias (free), Yago (CSA, loan), Bruninho (Sport)

Flamengo

Brazilfooty prediction: 1st

Flamengo had a terrible start to the campaign but seem to have found their rhythm, finally. The 5-3 thumping of Bahia in the midweek game last week gave hope that Domènec might be able to unleash the Flamengo we know from last season. So far, most of Flamengo’s games have been tight. It was never going to be easy to take over from Jorge Jesus, of course – expectations at Flamengo have never been higher and as mentioned in the introduction, the bulk of Domenec’s experience in coaching is as an assistant, not a manager. Yes, he learnt from the best in Pepe Guardiola, but managing players, egos, extremely passionate fans and dealing with the pressure at a massive club like Flamengo is another thing entirely. New York City is not the same.

The good news for Flamengo is that they managed to keep their best players from last year. Rafinha and Pablo Mari were the two major departures, but they signed Gabigol on a permanent deal, added Pedro as his backup, and kept Bruno Henrique and Gerson, while bringing in Thiago Maia, Gustavo Henrique, Leo Pereira and Isla. The players are there, but it will be a challenge to keep them all happy. Highlighthing the challenge, Gabigol was benched for the game against Fortaleza. Came on. Scored the winner. And subsequently sulked after the game. A challenge to Domènec and the first of many no doubt. That being said, with the team starting to find their feet under Domènec, coupled with the quality that they have, Brazilfooty cannot look past them to win the league for a second year running.

Gabigol + Domenec: love fest or will it end in tears?

Coach: Domenec Torrent

Key player: Gabigol Barbosa (goal machine, but not happy with squad rotation)

One to watch: Pedro (not a youngster anymore, but will interesting to see if he can find his best form again, and whether Domenec can fit him and Gabigol into the same team)

Ins: Gustavo Henrique (Santos), Pedro Rocha (Cruzeiro), Michael (Goiás), Rômulo (Grêmio, end of loan), Gabriel Barbosa (Inter Milan-ITA), Pedro (Fiorentina-ITA, loan), Thiago Maia (Lille-FRA, loan), Léo Pereira (Athletico Paranaense), Isla (free), Domenec Torrent

Outs: Rodinei (Internacional), Rômulo (Shijiazhuan Ever Bright), Reinier (Real Madrid), Vitor Gabriel (Braga-POR, loan), Rhodolfo (Coritiba), Pablo Marí (Arsenal-ENG), Jorge Jesus (Benfica), Rafinha (Olympiacos), Matheus Dantas (Farense), Rafael Santos (Apoel-GRE, loan), Bill (CRB, loan), Lucas Silva (Paços de Ferreira), Berrío (Khor Fakkan)

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6 thoughts on “Brasileirão preview/update

  1. Thanks for the in-depth update. I just hope that your prediction of the ‘Shithousery’ winning the Brasileiro doesn’t come to fruition.

  2. Pingback: Seven Brazilian sides in Libertadores action this week | Brazilfooty

  3. Pingback: Flamengo thrashed | Brazilfooty

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