Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Brazil: Big kick-off awaits new Brasileiro season

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 18, 2012

No sooner have Brazil’s vast array of localized state championships reached their conclusion does the time come for the national championship to commence. The “Brasileiro” is now in its 41st year and the quality of the competition has increased in recent years thanks to the adoption of a standard round robin league format, as used in many of Europe’s top leagues, which has brought about many a dramatic finish since it was introduced in 2003.

Corinthians are the defending Brazilian champions having pipped Vasco da Gama to the 2011 season title with just two points separating the top two as the Timão sealed their fifth national crown in dramatic fashion. Corinthians were involved in a big derby clash against São Paulo city rivals Palmeiras whilst Vasco were due to face off against their eternal rivals Flamengo CF in Rio de Janeiro on the last day of the campaign. Corinthians could only muster a goalless draw at home to Palmeiras but, with the visitors thinking that they had done enough to deprive their arch-rivals of the title, news came through that Vasco had blown their big chance, dropping two points with a 1-1 draw.

The allocation of places for the South American club tournaments has certainly played its part in helping to create a more interesting domestic championship. At the end of the season only four clubs will finish in a league position (i.e. from 13th to 16th) with virtually no meaning other than league safety. The top four, along with the winners of the domestic knockout competition “Copa Brasil”, qualify for South America’s premier continental competition Copa Libertadores whilst the next eight teams qualify for the secondary tournament Copa Sudamericana. The bottom four, meanwhile, go straight down into Serie B with famous clubs such as Grêmio, Corinthians and Vasco da Gama having seen the drop at some point over the last decade which is an indication as to how competitive this league has become.

Four clubs – Corinthians, Santos FC, Vasco da Gama and Fluminense – may lose some of their focus in the first few weeks of the season as they play out the latter stages of this year’s Copa Libertadores competition, which is currently at the quarter-final round, but should feature prominently as the Brasileiro season progresses. Out of that quartet, Santos and Fluminense have had state championship success to celebrate over the past seven days; the former defeated Guarani in the Paulista final to win their 20th São Paulo title whilst the latter got the better of Botafogo to claim their 31st Carioca state crown. Amongst the other state title winners in the Brasileiro include Internacional of Porto Alegre (Campeonato Gaúcho), Coritiba (Paranaense), Atlético Mineiro (Mineiro) and EC Bahia (Baiano) with those clubs have varying degrees of potential for success in this year’s national championship. Famous clubs such as São Paulo FC and Cruzeiro will have their eyes on one of the South American spots with the former hoping to win their first title since the famous “Tri-Campeão” season of 2008 in which they won the Brasileiro for the third successive year, the first time a club had accomplished that feat in the modern era.

This season’s Brasileiro begins this weekend and is due to finish in early December. In the first round of matches Corinthians will begin their title defence with a home tie against Fluminense, Vasco da Gama welcome Porto Alegre giants Grêmio whilst Santos FC, champions in 2010, must travel to face EC Bahia. Other stand out fixtures on the opening weekend sees São Paulo FC play host to losing Carioca state finalists Botafogo, three-time champions Internacional face off against Coritiba and 2003 champions Cruzeiro play against Atlético Goianiense. The four teams that were promoted from Serie B last season will also begin their campaigns. Portuguesa, promoted as Serie B champions, begin with a difficult away tie against Palmeiras whilst Club Náutico also find themselves on the road with an away day at Figueirense. Ponte Preta and Sport Recife, on the other hand, will begin the new season with home fixtures, the former against Atlético Mineiro and the latter face up to the challenge of Flamengo CF.


Brazil: Corinthians seal fifth title in tight Brasileiro finish (video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

The Brazilian national championship has made a habit of last day climaxes in recent years and this season’s competition is no exception. Corinthians (Played 38, Points 71) won their fifth Brasileiro tonight, their first league title since 2005, following a goalless draw against arch rivals Palmeiras. This came at the expense of Vasco da Gama who, needing all three points in the event of a slip up by Corinthians, were only able to draw 1-1 at home to Flamengo in another high profile derby match. On a day in which Brazilian football legend Socrates passed away, it was perhaps a fitting tribute to him that one of his old clubs should go on to win the title. Socrates served the São Paulo based club with distinction from 1978-84 in what was his most productive spell with any one club.

It was derby day in Brazil as the national federation had decided that the final round of matches should produce some thrilling drama on the last day and they weren’t disappointed. Although Corinthians’ match with Palmeiras remained goalless both teams were reduced to nine men as each side battled to get one over the other in a derby where there is no love lost and in which emotions certainly ran high with confrontations amongst the players commonplace throughout the game. Palmeiras thought they had ruined Corinthians’ title party by getting the draw but news came through of Vasco’s draw with Flamengo which prevented the former from overtaking Corinthians in the standings, the margin between the top two teams remaining at two points. Just to add a little spice to that encounter there were two red cards in that game as well, one for each side.

But it wasn’t just at the very top of the table where things were interesting. With places in next season’s Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana to be sorted and relegation matters to be resolved at the bottom there were very few teams playing tonight for whom nothing mattered. Fluminense and Flamengo got the point they needed to secure Copa Libertadores placings for next season along with Internacional who, in the Porto Alegre derby, got the better of arch foes Grêmio by a 1-0 score line. Santos FC (2011 Copa Libertadores champions) and Vasco da Gama (2011 Copa Brasil winners) were already assured of their Libertadores places for next season before tonight’s games took place.

Copa Sudamericana places went to eight clubs – São Paulo, Figueirense, Coritiba, Botafogo, Palmeiras, Grêmio, Atletico Goianiense and EC Bahia – whilst four clubs were unfortunate to experience that sinking feeling as Avaí, América Mineiro, Ceará SC and Atlético Paranaense were relegated into Serie B next season. Cruzeiro of Belo Horizonte and Atlético Mineiro were lucky to stay in the top flight as they finished just two and four points above the relegation zone respectively.


Brazil: Corinthians top tight contest at halfway stage

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on August 29, 2011

Corinthians logoThe Campeonato Brasileiro has reached the halfway stage and it once again is proving to be a tightly fought contest with six teams at the top of the standings separated by just five points.

Corinthians currently lead the way with 37 points from 19 games but they have already lost four games this season including yesterday’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Palmeiras who, as a result of the victory, maintained their sixth placed position and are not far behind the league leaders. Just as well for Corinthians that the big Rio de Janeiro derby between Flamengo and Vasco da Gama finished goalless especially as a win for the former would’ve seen the Rubro-Negro jump to the top of the standings whilst a win for the latter would’ve seen Vasco join Corinthians at the top with the same number of points.

Third place São Paulo were ten minutes away from joining Corinthians at the top but they let a one goal lead slip to draw 1-1 away at Copa Libertadores champions Santos FC who have recovered domestically following a terrible start and now lie 14th in the standings after taking seven points in their last three games. Fifth placed Botafogo are also looking like potential title challengers and their Saturday night 2-1 win away at defending Brazilian champions Fluminense will certainly have a the front runners looking over their shoulders. Fluminense have had an average season up to now, lying in eleventh place and twelve points behind Corinthians, and look unlikely to defend their crown at the moment.

At the bottom of the standings things are looking bad for the city of Belo Horizonte with América propping up the table with thirteen points gained so far whilst neighbours Atlético Mineiro are just one place and two points ahead of them. Both sides were on the receiving end of crucial home defeats at the weekend with América and Atlético losing to Goianiense and Cruzeiro respectively by a similar 2-1 score line.

Brazil: São Paulo open Brasileiro with victory against champions (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 23, 2011

Following the umpteen state championships which have filled up the first four months of the Brazilian domestic calendar the national championship, known as the Brasiliero, is back for a new season.

Defending champions Fluminense got off to a terrible start in their opening game of the campaign going down to a 2-0 reverse at home to São Paulo. The visitors struck shortly before and after half-time thanks to Dagoberto and Lucas, thus allowing the Tricolor to get off on a winning note. Carioca state champions Flamengo are the provisional leaders of the championship following their 4-0 demolition of Avaí FC with former FIFA World Cup winner Ronaldinho amongst the goalscorers. Santos FC and Internacional SC, winners of their respective Paulista and Gaucho state titles, were the only teams neither to win nor lose as they played out a 1-1 draw against each other.


In the other matches there were wins for some of the traditional powers such as Vasco da Gama (3-1 v SC Ceará), Atlético Mineiro (3-0 v Atlético Paranaense), Corinthians (2-1 v Grêmio) and Palmeiras (1-0 v Botafogo). Amongst the newly-promoted teams América Mineiro (2-1 v Bahia) and Figueirense (1-0 v Cruzeiro) secured three points on Matchday 1 whilst last season’s Serie B champions Coritiba went down to a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Atlético Goianiense.


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Brazil: Fluminense wins second Brasileiro title

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 5, 2010

Brasileiro trophyIn a dramatic last day of action in the Campeonato Brasileiro the championship was won by Fluminense. The Rio de Janiero based club claimed only their second ever league title following their final match. Emerson scored the only goal of the game for Fluminense after 69 minutes in their home game against Guarani EC and it was enough to see Flu finally get their hands on the Brazilian league trophy which they hadn’t won since 1984. Cruzeiro of Belo Horizonte finished second in the table thanks to Wallyson’s 90th minute winner in their 2-1 victory at home to Palmeiras whilst Corinthians had to make do with third place as they could only muster a 1-1 draw away at Goiás.

The fight for 2011 Copa Libertadores places is not quite finished due to Goiás’ continuing involvement in the Copa Sudamericana. Should Goiás hold out to win South America’s second club tournament, in which they currently have a 2-0 lead over Argentinians Independiente after the first leg of the final, then the already relegated team will find themselves in the remarkable situation of playing in Brazil’s second division whilst simultaneously participating in South America’s elite club competition in 2011. At the moment champions Fluminense along with defending South American champions Internacional, Copa Brasil winners Santos FC, Cruzeiro and Corinthians are guaranteed to play in next year’s Libertadores whilst fourth place Grêmio must sweat it out to see if Goiás will rob them of their place in the competition.

There are eight places available for the 2011 Copa Sudamericana and these are usually given to those teams finishing from fifth to twelfth place but because of the situation involving Sudamericana finalists Goiás it isn’t quite so straightforward this season. At the time of writing Atlético Paranaense, Botafogo, São Paulo FC, Palmeiras, Vasco da Gama, Ceara SC and Atlético Mineiro will be playing in South America’s equivalent of the UEFA Europa League next season with Grêmio likely to join them depending on what happens in this week’s second leg of the 2010 Copa Sudamericana final.

Joining Goiás in Brazil’s second tier next season will be bottom placed Grêmio Prudente, Guarani EC and Vitória EC who were unable to save themselves on the final day. They drew 0-0 at home in what was effectively a relegation play-off against Atlético Goianiense. The visitors stayed up only due to a better number of wins in the overall table than their hosts. Last season’s Brasileiro champions Flamengo have had a season to forget as they, not merely annoyed at having seen their arch-rivals Fluminense win the title, could only finish in 14th place and avoided the relegation zone by a mere two points. Coming up to replace those four unfortunate teams going down into the second division will be Serie B champions Coritiba, Figuierense, Bahia and América Mineiro.

Brazil: Libertadores champs back in hunt for Brasileiro; Review (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on September 27, 2010

Corinthians started the weekend as league leaders in the Campeonato Brasileiro but ended it in second place. O Timão were involved in a thrilling encounter with this year’s Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League) winners Internacional whose victory allowed Fluminense to leapfrog Corinthians into first place. With three more teams a handful of points behind the leaders the Brazilian championship is still one of the most open in world football and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks back at yet another captivating weekend in South America’s most exciting league.

Internacional have had a tough schedule in the Brasileiro since mid-August when they were crowned South America’s best team for the second time. In what was their eleventh league match in thirty-eight days Internacional welcomed league leaders Corinthians to their Estadio Beira-Rio home and it was the home team who went ahead after half an hour thanks to the cool, calm finishing of Tinga. After the break Jorge Henrique equalized with a beautifully curled shot for Corinthians in the 65th minute but it wouldn’t be long before they were behind again, allowing Alecsandro to creep in at the far post after 77 minutes from an Andrés D’Alessandro cross. But just when Inter thought it was afe to assume that the three points were theirs they suffered a setback when Corinthians won a 91st minute penalty kick which was converted by Bruno César. But that didn’t prove the end of the action as Andrezinho remarkably gave Inter the lead yet again with a free-kick goal four minutes into stoppage time to send the home crowd wild and that proved to be the last action of a pulsating match.


The unfortunate circumstances in which Corinthians lost their game were only compounded by the fact that Fluminense went on to win their game away at Esporte Clube Vitória. Darío Conca’s 56th minute penalty gave O Fluzão the lead only for the home side to equalize six minutes later through Henrique. The disappointment for Fluminense wouldn’t last long, however, as they regained the lead just sixty seconds later after Rodriguinho finished off a beautiful move to score the goal which made the game 2-1 which was how it stayed. Before the weekend Cruzeiro were one of the form teams having won six of their previous seven games but that meant nothing as they went down to a heavy 4-1 reverse at the hands of sixth place Santos FC for whom Neymar, a target for English champions Chelsea FC,  scored the fourth in stoppage time at the end of the game. In contrast to Cruzeiro’s good form Botafogo had only won one game in the last four before they had to settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Atlético Paranaense. Edno’s 22nd minute goal for Botafogo looked like being the winner before a 90th minute equalizer from Joffre Guerrón meant that the home team would drop two more crucial points in the race for the title.

Fluminense lead the way with 48 points from 25 games but they are followed by Corinthians on 47 points and who have a crucial game in hand. Third place Cruzeiro have 44 points from 25 games whilst Internacional climbed up to fourth as they now have 41 points from 24 games. In fifth place lies Botafogo whose recent bad form has seen them drop eight points off the pace as they have 40 points from 25 matches. From now until the end of the season the Brasileiro is one league that you can’t afford to miss.


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Brazil: Corinthians and Ceará share the lead (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on June 7, 2010

Brasileiro new boys Ceará SC continue to keep up the pace with league leaders Corinthians whose lead is now determined by goal difference after Matchday 7 of Brazil’s national football league. With the league taking a pause ahead of the FIFA World Cup tournament it was important for all of the teams to record a win before the enforced break set-in but Corinthians were unable to preserve their two point lead in the table and were, in fact, very fortunate to remain top when equalizing in the last minute of their 2-2 draw against Botafogo. Ceará SC, who were promoted from Brazil’s Serie B last season, have started well and kept up the momentum with a 1-0 win against Atlético Mineiro and means that the top two are still unbeaten since the Campeonato Brasileiro season began. Champions Flamengo, however, continue their inconsistent streak going down to a two goals to one home defeat against Goiás Esporte Clube, who promptly overtook their opponents in the standings.

Corinthians were away in Rio de Janeiro and hoped to beat Botafogo in order to maintain a two point cushion in the standings but things wouldn’t work out like that despite Bruno César giving O Timão the lead after thirty minutes when taking advantage of some sloppy Botafogo defending to drive the ball hard and low into the corner. Corinthians kept hold of their narrow lead into the half-time interval but it only took two minutes of the second half for Botafogo to restore parity when Renato Cajá was able to turn the ball home from a couple of yards out after Corinthians’ keeper Felipe failed to keep out an earlier effort. There were chances aplenty in the second half with both teams looking dangerous and it was no surprise in the 73rd minute when the ball was hitting the back of the net again. This time it was Lúcio Flávio who stunned Corinthians after Botafogo broke away on the counter attack from a Corinthians corner kick. Marcelo Cordeiro brought the ball forward for Botafogo in a three against two situation and passed the ball to Lúcio Flávio who steered the ball home from just inside the box to give the home side a 2-1 lead. But just when it seemed Botafogo would gain all three points the visitors rescued a point in dramatic fashion. Paulo André ghosted into the penalty box to rise highest and meet a corner kick three minutes into stoppage time at the near post to stun the home side and give Corinthians a share of the spoils from an exciting game. Watch Match Highlights HERE:

Ceará SC only needed a solitary strike to put themselves level on points with Corinthians in their 1-0 win over Atlético Mineiro. Washington popped up at the far post in the 54th minute getting on the end of a left-sided cross to give Ceará SC the three points and they now trail the league leaders by just one goal’s difference. Fluminense, Santos and Guarani all remain in the top five of the table having secured victories against Avaí FC, Vasco da Gama and Grêmio Prudente respectively while joint record champions São Paulo also won to stay in sixth place, a Dagoberto hat-trick giving the Tricolor the points in a 3-1 home win over Grêmio of Belo Horizonte. Flamengo, whose title win last season brought them level with São Paulo with six Brasileiro title wins, have stuttered at the start of this season and remain in mid-table after losing 2-1 at home to Goiás Esporte Clube. Toró’s 50th minute goal seemed to have given the Mengão the three points but two goals in the last five minutes won the tie for Goiás thanks to goals from Hugo and Otacílio Neto. Watch Match Highlights HERE:

Other matches on Matchday 7 saw bottom side Atlético Goianiense finally record their first win of the season defeating Cruzeiro by two goals to one reducing the gap between themselves and Vasco da Gama to one point. Internacional came from behind to retrieve a point in their 1-1 home draw against mid-table Palmeiras while Esporte Clube Vitória squeezed to a narrow 1-0 win against Atlético Paranaense, Schwenk’s goal was the difference allowing Vitória to overtake their opponents on the back of this win. When the league resumes on July 14th there is an early-season top of the table clash between Ceará SC and Corinthians with both teams wanting to make a statement. There are also a couple of Clásicos with Rio rivals Flamengo and Botafogo meeting each other while in São Paulo there’s a meeting between Santos FC and Palmeiras. At the bottom of the table there’s a crucial game between bottom side Atlético Goianense and Atlético Mineiro who lie two places above their opponents in 18th place.

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Campeonato Paulista: will Corinthians be on fire again?

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 17, 2010

The Paulista trophy caught fire during the bizarre presentation after Corinthians won the 2009 tournament.

Following on from yesterday’s preview into the Carioca championship taking place in neighbouring Rio de Janeiro, the Paulista championship of 2010 begins this weekend in São Paulo where defending champions Corinthians go in search of their 27th title.

There are hopes among everybody involved in Sport Club Corinthians that 2010 will be a truly memorable year. Having won the 2009 Paulista state championship and the Copa do Brasil, the Timão will be hoping to do better in their centenary year, winning either the Campeonato Brasileiro (national championship) or a maiden Copa Libertadores (South American Champions League). But first they will concentrate on winning the Paulista tournament for a second successive year, starting today away at Monte Azul.

The Campeonato Paulista has a different format to the Carioca (indeed, each state championship decides its own format). In the first stage the twenty clubs play each other once only and the top four go through into the two-legged semi-finals followed by a two-legged final with teams playing at each other’s stadiums in contrast to the Carioca, where teams play the final games at the Estadio Maracanã. The first stage of last year’s competition was topped by Palmeiras (44pts from 19 games) followed by São Paulo FC, Corinthians and Santos FC. Out of the top four though only Corinthians managed to maintain an unbeaten record, the others losing at least one game. In the semi-finals Corinthians came from behind in the first leg to beat São Paulo FC 2-1 before seeing off their arch-rivals with a 2-0 return leg victory at the Estadio Morumbi to clinch the tie 4-1 on aggregate. The final proved to be more comfortable for Corinthians as they defeated Santos FC 3-1 away from home in the first leg with newly-returned Brazilian legend Ronaldo scoring twice. In the second leg at home Santos FC scored early on through Kléber Pareira on 28 minutes before an equaliser six minutes later from André Santos restored the overall two goal cushion of the tie and the match petered out into an easy triumph for Corinthians who won 4-2 on aggregate to seal their 26th title, the fifth Paulista championship which they had won with an unbeaten record (they did likewise in 1914, 1916, 1929 and 1938). The trophy presentation that took place after the match proved to be the abiding memory of the championship. Upon receiving the trophy on a raising platform the Corinthians captain William had an almighty scare as the fireworks and streamers going off around him flew on to the trophy which promptly caught fire, forcing him to drop the cup. Thankfully neither he nor any of the presentation party were hurt in what proved to be a comical episode (watch the video clip here).

Not only will Corinthians have Ronaldo on their roster but another Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos comes back to play in his home country having spent many years at Real Madrid and the last two and a half seasons at Fenerbahçe Istanbul. The pair will hope to bring domestic and international success to the club having won many titles together with the Brazilian national team. If the Corinthians team can catch fire in a similar manner to the Paulista trophy then one expects that they will be celebrating again at the end of the competition.