Serie A preview: Tite to triumph?

Tite wondering how to get the better of Palmeiras

This year’s Serie A looks set to be as competitive as ever. Check out the one and only English language preview below.

20 – Atlético-GO

A fourth place Serie B finish last year, and a Goiano state championship this year. Vagner Love (now 39) and Yony González, provide the stardust, but that won’t be enough.

19 – Criciúma

They won their state championship this year, but like Atletico, they are doomed to a relegation fight. Player to watch: Renato Kayzer.

18 – Vitória                

Another promoted team and another state champion. Extra impressive too: they won last year’s Serie B by a seven-point margin and beat Manchester City-backed Bahia in this year’s state championship. That said, I still expect a struggle.

17 – Juventude

I recently had a spiritual moment in which it dawned on me, for unexplained reasons, that out of the promoted teams, Juventude have the best chance of staying up.

16 – Cuiabá

Cuiabá did some admirable stuff last year, but I’m getting some concerned vibes this season. Mainly because they have lost midfielder, Raniele, and coach, António Oliveira.

15 – Cruzeiro

The club is owned by O fenômeno Ronaldo. The great man has asked the club’s fans to be patient as he looks to put Cruzeiro back to the top. But when it comes to not firing managers, the fenômeno hasn’t exactly demonstrated much patience himself. All that chopping and changing doesn’t help. And to be honest, they don’t have the best team anyway.

14 – Vasco

As an Everton fan, I have a keen eye on Vasco, who are owned by 777 Partners. I can’t say I’m impressed. They move fast, but everything is chaotic. They sign too many players. They don’t pay their bills on time. Their director of football was recently given the boot for buying too many average players, who ended up playing…. averagely. Dimitri Payet is their best player, but currently injured. At least they signed highly-rated Argentine midfielder Sforza.

13 – Botafogo

Oh dear oh dear. After throwing away a 13-point lead at the top of the league last year only to finishing 5th, Botafogo are mentally scarred. It will be a huge job for their new Portuguese manager to sort things out. Getting to the Libertadores group stages was a big deal, but their opening group stage performance suggests the demons of last year haven’t gone away. They are backed by American businessman John Textor, who is winding people up like there is no tomorrow.

12 – Bahia

Manchester City’s feeder team in Brazil. They haven’t pumped in silly money yet and last year the team came close to relegation. But they have improved the team by signing Everton Ribeiro. That suggests the club isn’t just prioritizing developing youth, who might go on to make it at Manchester City, or be sold for a profit. To improve the youngers players, a few older heads are needed.

11 – Red Bull Bragantino

They did really well last year and had a shot at winning the league. But they fell away towards the end of the season and the pain has continued this year after they missed out on the group stages of the Libertadores. They have some good young players, but unlike the other Red Bull franchise teams, there are no obvious candidates for global stardom in this one. Moving in the right direction, but a mid-table finish most likely.

10 – São Paulo

The mess that the club is in is reflected by the James Rodrigues situation, who was told to look for a new club and was happy to leave. He pimped himself out to the market, but nobody wanted him, so he came back and both sides pretended that they really loved each other all along. They need each other now. Even though former Brazil, PSG and Tottenham winger Lucas is on the books, the team lacks balance and swag. Not playing well. Not getting results. New, inexperienced coach Carpini, is already under pressure. Not impossible that he gets fired by the time I’ve finished writing this blog post. All of that said, they have some good players so not impossible things can turn around.

9 – Corinthians

Struggling financially and for direction. The recent change in club management is welcome, but it is not clear that the new lot really know what they are doing. The players aren’t the best, but Corinthians is Corinthians, and when things click, and the team has the fans at their back, it can be a powerful force. The collective is the thing that really matters and they will be hoping that António Oliveira, who they pinched from Cuiaba (where he did a great job on limited resources), will be able to harness that force.

8 – Fortaleza

Fortaleza in 8th? Yes, they made a mess of their state championship final against Ceara, but they have a decent team and have been getting good results for a few years now. I can’t think of a strong reason why that won’t continue.

7 – Fluminense

Bravo Fernando Diniz. What the team did last year, especially in the Copa Libertadores, was incredible. But this team ain’t getting any younger and they have added two more golden oldies: Douglas Costa and Renato Augusto. Diniz can work magic, but no pace means Flu will get hit on the counter-attack time after time. Yes, Diniz wants his teams to have the ball 100% of the time, but you need some pace to win it back when you lose it, and when you do, you need some pace to deal with counter attacks. Yes, but Diniz wants his teams to have the ball 100% – NEVER give it away! Stubborn, but you’ve got to admire that. In a recent game he played with no centre backs and had his two central midfielders playing in central defence – so that they wouldn’t never lose the ball! But they did, and the opponents nearly scored. They scraped a win. They haven’t been great so far this year, but their first team players were given an extended break after competing in the World Club Cup so maybe it is too early to judge.

6 – Internacional

Controversially Internacional have changed their kit from all red, to red with white sleeves, making them look suspiciously like Arsenal. The real problem is they are not playing like Arsenal and since the kit change results have been poor. Again, they failed to win this week, this time in the Copa Sulamericana, against Real Tomayapo. For all of these recent struggles, they have a good team and Eduardo Coudet is a good coach. Too early to write them off.

5 – Grêmio

After a strong season last year, it has been a confusing start to the season from Grêmio in 2024. They won their state championship, beating Juventude. Weirdly, their coach, and club legend and guy who claims he was a better player than Cristiano Ronaldo, Renato Gaucho, has prioritised the state championship over the Copa Libertadores. Some of this relates to the badly-organised Brazilian and South American football calendars, which meant that the final was sandwiched in between two Libertadores matches, all in the space of a week. But still, their reserves lost playing at altitude in Bolivia, and a mixed, but strong, team lost at home to Huachapito. If they lose away at Estudiantes in their third group game, that could be it. An early departure could help their league position. They miss Luis Suarez, even though they have replaced him with Diego Costa.

4 – Athletico Paranaense

Heady heights, I know. Athletico have been building solid foundations for years and with some of the big teams struggling for form, this could be the year that Athletico nip in to the automatic Libertadores spots. Coach Cuca has been successful at many clubs and has something to prove after having a rape conviction annulled by a Swiss court. Controversy around that meant he lasted six days in his previous job at Corinthians. My lawyer advised me not to comment any further about Cuca’s situation, but the fact is that Athletico have had some impressive results since he took charge of the team. Fernandinho is their boss man in midfield although he isn’t exactly a spring chicken.

3 – Atlético Mineiro

Have some fine players, but I’m not sure they fit into a team. They had a great end to last season, but a poor start to this season, which led to the departure of Big Phil Scolari (yes, him). In comes Argentine Gabriel Milito, who will need some time to adapt to the league. He likes his teams to control possession, but also win the ball back fast when they lose it. Bernard and Scarpa – two new signings – will be good at the former, but not so good for latter. Scarpa has already scored a few important goals though, so maybe this will work after all.

2 – Palmeiras

Reigning champions and serial winners under their Portuguese coach Abel Fereira, who has committed to at least another year at the club. They haven’t set the world alight in the early stages of the season, but they keep getting results and winning when it matters. Teenage sensation Endrick leads their attack, but he will be heading to Real Madrid soon. Replacing him will be hard, but they do have strength in depth and Abel usually finds a way.

1 – Flamengo

Some might argue that Flamengo have a stronger team than Palmeiras. More resources to pay for the top players – but since Jorge Jesus left the club, that hasn’t translated into success on the field. Could that change with former Selecao manager Tite at the helm? The early signs suggest it will. They are very strong defensively and won the State championship at a canter. Fan favourite Gabigol has been banned for evading doping tests, but he wasn’t in the starting XI anyway. Slight favourites ahead of Palmeiras.

3 thoughts on “Serie A preview: Tite to triumph?

  1. Hi Brian. It seems to me that your prospective view of the scenario is very reasonable.
    Flamengo has the best player by far in the Brazilian league and show signs that it will be the favorite to win all championships this year.
    Palmeiras is always eligible, but as a deep-rooted pessimistic Palmeirense, I’m not quite sell-assured that they be able to live up to their fame as “the turnaround team” so chanted be their fans through the stadium. Palmeiras doesn’t seem so consistent at defense this year as they were in other seasons, and reversing scores against stronger teams like powerful Flamengo doesn’t seem easy task.
    Nonetheless, I learned to respect Palmeiras’ victorious Administration and their obsessive achiever coach Abel Ferreira, who specialized in finding ways. Hope we can win something this season.
    P.S. Luis Guilherme e Estevão are two excellent young talents who are starting to emerge.

    • Grande Eduardo! Nice to hear from you and thanks for the insights. Look forward to seeing Luis Guilherme and Estevao in action. I saw that Estevao scored in the Libertadores last night so already starting to make a name for himself. What’s happened to Dudu and Rony?

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