Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Brazil: Campeonato Brasileiro Preview

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 7, 2010
Adriano

Adriano's goals proved crucial in Flamengo's title success last season.

Such is life in Brazilian football that there is hardly any time left to get your breath back after the completion of the various state championships before the national championship (Brasileiro) gets back into action from this weekend. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” previews the big kick-off in South America’s most competitive football league:

It is hard to imagine that the most successful nation in world football has only had a national championship since 1971. This makes the Brasilero much younger than its counterparts in other footballing superpowers such as England, Italy and even Germany whose Bundesliga is pretty young by European standards having only been created in 1963. For many years the Brasileiro suffered from political meddling and ever-changing tournament formats but the 2003 season heralded a whole new way of thinking in Brazilian league football; a home and away, round-robin, first-past-the-post system with points accumulated throughout the season determining the winner. This has eventually proven popular with supporters and it is appropriate that the league should enjoy such stability as it celebrates its 40th championship this year.

Flamengo are the current defending champions having seen off Internacional and São Paulo on the last day of the season pipping their two nearest challengers by just two points. This was all the more remarkable given that O Mengão were a full twelve points behind the league leaders with just ten matches of the championship left. Striker Adriano, who was suffering a personal torment in Italy, was brought back to his homeland by Flamengo and he repaid their faith in him by scoring a joint best 19 goals in the Brasileiro to help his team climb the table and secure a sixth national title. It is perhaps fitting that they are involved in the pick of the ties on Matchday 1 of the new season as they are playing fellow six-time Brazilian champions São Paulo. Will Sunday’s game signal the start towards potential seventh heaven for either club?

Two Copa Libertadores teams face-off on Sunday with Internacional from Porto Alegre hoping to go one better than last season’s second place by starting off with a victory over Cruzeiro from Belo Horizonte. Corinthians, who cannot win the Copa Libertadores having been knocked out of the competition on Wednesday, will hope that they can win the Brasileiro in their centenary year and plays at home in their opening fixture against Atlético Paranaense. There’s an intriging tie on Saturday with the state champions of Rio and São Paulo facing off against each other. Botafogo and Santos FC will be heavily fancied after their local exploits but the Brasileiro has a habit of catching up on teams who have a good start to a season and squad rotation could prove to be important. This weekend also sees the welcome return to the top league of Vasco da Gama who comfortably won Serie B last season after suffered the ignominy of relegation in the 2008 season. The Rio-based side are hoping to signal their return with a welcome three points but they will have their work cut out away at Atlético Mineiro who will be on a high having won yet another state championship last weekend.

As well as Vasco da Gama three other teams – Guarani, Ceará SC and Atlético Clube Goianiense – will also enjoy their first matches back in the top flight as they compete against Goiás Esporte Clube, Fluminense and Grêmio Porto Alegre respectively. Palmeiras, four-time Brasileiro champions, have a home tie against EC Vitória, whilst Avaí, who finished a respectable sixth place last season, play against Grêmio Prudente to complete the weekend’s matches.

CAMPEONATO BRASILEIRO – MATCHDAY 1

Botafogo v Santos FC

Goianiense v Grêmio Porto Alegre

Palmeiras v EC Vitória

(All matches played on Saturday, May 8th)

Atlético Mineiro v Vasco da Gama

Corinthians v Atlético Paranaense

Flamengo v São Paulo

Internacional v Cruzeiro

Avaí v Grêmio Prudente

Ceará SC v Fluminense

Guarani v Goiás

(All matches played on Sunday, May 9th)

Campeonato Carioca – Flamengo the team to beat

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 16, 2010
Flamengo

Flamengo won their third Carioca championship in a row in 2009

Fresh from winning the Campeonato Brasiliero for the first time in seventeen years in 2009 Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, more popularly known as just ‘Flamengo’, will be hoping to keep up their recent domination of the Rio State Championship (Carioca) which begins this weekend. “O Mengão” won their third consecutive state championship last year which also helped them overtake arch-rivals Fluminense in the list of overall title wins (Flamengo have 31, Fluminense 30). Flamengo hope that they can carry on from where they left off in 2009 and begin another era of success for the club, starting this weekend against little Duque de Caxias on Sunday.

The Carioca championship is divided into two stages, the “Taça Guanabara” and the “Taça Rio”. In the first stage the sixteen clubs are divided into two groups of eight teams and each team plays against the teams in their own group once only. At the end of the group stage the top two from each group will play in the semi-finals (first of each group plays against the second team in the other group) and the winners will go to the one-leg final at Estadio Maracanã. In the Taça Rio the groups remain the same but each team, rather than playing the other teams in their group, will play all of the teams from the other group once only. Similarly the top two in this tournament go into the semi-finals with the final played at the Maracanã. If the same team wins both stages of the tournament then there is no need for a two-legged play-off to decide the overall champion. In 2009 Botafogo came close to becoming overall champion in this manner. However having won the Taça Guanabara with a 3-0 win over surprise package Resende, they couldn’t quite manage to win the Taça Rio, losing to Flamengo 1-0 which forced the championship play-off. Both legs of the 2009 Carioca final finished 2-2 so the title was decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Leandro Guerreiro missed Botafogo’s fourth kick in the shoot-out and this was enough for Flamengo to celebrate their 31st state championship.

The state championships may not be as important as they once were in Brazil but they still retain a place in the calendar as many fans see them as part of national footballing tradition, much the same as English football has a special place for the FA Cup. Flamengo will be optimistic of winning their 32nd tournament in 2010. Brazilian international player Vágner Love, who was being chased by German club Hamburger SV, has now opted to stay on loan in his homeland having been loaned previously to Palmeiras from his club CSKA Moscow. Love will team up with Adriano in the heart of the attack for the Rubro-Negro (Red and blacks) and will hope to add to a personal trophy cabinet that includes two Russian championships, a UEFA Cup and two Copa America titles which he won with the national team in 2004 and 2007.

Now that their national championship drought has been fulfilled can Flamengo create a new team to rival the the great side of Zico from the 1980s by capitalising on recent success? The 2010 Carioca championship will be the first place to find out.

Unlikely heroes end Flamengo’s 17 year title drought

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 7, 2009
Dejan Petkovic

Dejan Petkovic celebrates Flamengo's Brasileiro triumph

Brazilian giants Flamengo were, eventually, made to work hard for the Brazilian national championship (Brasileiro) after they toiled to a 2-1 victory over Grêmio at a sell-out Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The “Rubro Negro” (Red and Blacks) have now won six Brazilian national championships, thus equalling the number already achieved by outgoing champions São Paulo.

At the start of the day there were four teams with a mathematical chance of winning the title: Flamengo, Internacional, São Paulo and Palmeiras. The fact that Flamengo were playing at home to Internacional’s arch-rivals from the city of Porto Alegre, Grêmio, meant that many fans and pundits had written this game off as a certain three points for “O Mengão”. What wasn’t in the script though was Grêmio taking the lead, Roberson turning home a corner in the 22nd minute to stun the home supporters. Thankfully for the Red and Black masses they didn’t have too long to wait before parity was restored. Centre-half David shot from distance to level it at 1-1 on the half-hour mark and it was to remain at that score at half-time. Elsewhere Internacional’s 2-0 lead at home to already relegated Santo André meant that if scores stayed the same after 90 minutes then Flamengo would lose the title that they craved more than any other. They simply had to win.

The second half started quite slowly but Flamengo soon created chances. They were rewarded in the 70th minute when Dejan Petkovic’s left-sided corner was headed home by another unlikely scorer, centre-half Ronaldo Angelim, and the Flamengo fans started to party in the Maracana. Ten minutes from the end the party was very nearly brought to a halt as Adilson wasted a glorious close range effort for Grêmio. After that though both teams just saw the game out and at the final whistle the party really could begin. Adriano, who returned to Brazil after a roller-coaster period at Internazionale in Italy, finished the season as joint top scorer in the Brasileiro (along with Mineiro’s Diego Tardelli on 19 goals) and, more importantly, as a champion.

In the other matches Internacional beat Santo André 4-1 to secure the runners-up spot from São Paulo, whose three year reign as champions ended with a 4-0 win against Sport Recife. Flamengo, Internacional and São Paulo are joined in the 2010 Copa Libertadores by Cruzeiro, who finished fourth after their 2-1 victory against Santos was coupled with a defeat for nearest challengers Palmeiras (2-1 away to Botafogo). Corinthians, home of Ronaldo and recent signing Roberto Carlos, also have a berth in the Libertadores thanks to their Copa Brasil triumph over Internacional in the early months of the season.

Eight teams qualified for next year’s Copa Sudamericana: Palmeiras, Avaí, Atlético Mineiro, Grêmio, Goias, Barueri, Santos and Vitoria. At the bottom of the table a dramatic finish saw Rio giants Fluminense avoid relegation by one point after their 1-1 draw at Coritiba was enough to send their opponents down into Serie B along with Sport Recife, Náutico and Santo André. Those four clubs will be replaced in the 2010 Brasileiro by Vasco da Gama, Guarani, Ceará and Atletico Goianiense.