Brazil: 2011 State championships reaching business end (+video)
Brazilian football’s various state championships are in the business end of the year’s campaigns. In Rio de Janeiro Flamengo have the chance next weekend to win the Taça Rio title against old foes Vasco da Gama. In São Paulo’s Paulista State championship the big four of the city have all reached the semi-finals of the tournament whilst in the Mineiro state championship it’s far from surprising to see Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro almost certain to compete in yet another final whilst similarly in Rio Grande do Sul eternal enemies Internacional and Grêmio are set to do battle in this year’s Campeonato Gaúcho.
This year’s Taça Rio, the second of the Campeonato Carioca’s two tournaments, will feature Flamengo and Vasco da Gama in the final. The former got the better of Fluminense thanks to a penalty shoot-out win after the game had finished 1-1. Vasco, on the other hand, got the better of their opponents without the need for spot-kicks thanks to a 1-0 win over Olaria AC, thus setting up a meeting with their biggest rivals. Should Flamengo win the Taça Rio, the final of which takes place on 1st May, then they will seal their 32nd Carioca championship win, their fourth in five years, without having to play an overall final. Should Vasco win the Taça Rio then there will be another two-legged contest on May 8th and 15th to see who claims the overall prize.
WATCH FLAMENGO v FLUMINENSE HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
In the Paulista championship traditional city heavyweights Santos FC, São Paulo FC, Palmeiras and Corinthians have made it to the semi-finals following the first knockout round this weekend. Palmeiras and Corinthians both recorded 2-1 victories in their quarter-final ties against Mirassol and Oeste respectively and will face each other in the first semi-final. Defending Paulista champions Santos FC will face-off against São Paulo FC in the second semi-final after they defeated Ponte Preta (1-0) and Portuguesa (2-0) respectively.
The Campeonato Mineiro sees yet another final between Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro following both teams’ semi-final victories this weekend. Atlético, who currently have five more title wins than Cruzeiro in this competition, defeated América FC 3-1 in the semi-final, first leg. Cruzeiro, meanwhile, have as good as secured their place in the final with an 8-1 first leg win over América Teófilo Otoni and will fancy their chances of winning a sixth state title in nine years.
The Campeonato Gaúcho final will see Grêmio and Internacional meet once more for state honours. Defending champions Grêmio saw off the challenge of Cruzeiro RS in a closely fought contest 3-2 while Internacional were also involved in a tight battle eventually settling for a 2-1 victory against Juventude. Internacional hope to extend their record number of titles in this tournament to 40 whilst Grêmio hope to catch up further with a 37th championship.
WATCH CRUZEIRO RS v GREMIO HIGHLIGHTS HERE: