Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

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: 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)

Copa Libertadores: Round of 16 Review (+video)

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

The Copa Libertadores has concluded its round of 16 stage and “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” highlights the events of a compelling and, at times, controversial first knockout round:

The first games were completed on Tuesday night and there was one upset and one near upset as big boys from Argentina and Brazil struggled against teams from Mexico and Peru respectively. Vélez Sársfield, whose only Libertadores triumph came in 1994, were expected to go through against Mexican team Chivas especially as the Guadalajara based side were resting players ahead of a crucial Mexican championship match. Sadly for Vélez their opponents hadn’t read the script as Chivas won the first leg in Guadalajara by three goals to nil thanks to a brace from Omar Bravo and a penalty kick from Héctor Reynoso struck in second-half stoppage time. This spot kick proved to be the difference between the two sides as the Argentines pulled two goals back in the return fixture but could not equalize late on. Penalties were also crucial in deciding the match between three-time champions São Paulo FC and Peruvians Universitario Lima who were unable to score a goal between them over two games so had to decide the fixture in a shoot-out. São Paulo missed their first spot kick but converted the rest of their four attempts whilst Universitario reversed that pattern to lose the shoot-out 3-1. Watch the shoot-out here:

The all-Brazilian clash between Flamengo and Corinthians was arguably the most anticipated tie of the round when the draw was made. Flamengo, who won their sixth Brazilian championship last season, haven’t won the Libertadores since their sole triumph back in 1981 but their opponents Corinthians were hoping to win the big one for the first time in their centenary year, hence bringing players of the calibre of Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos back to their homeland. However Flamengo had a couple of quality strikers of their own in Adriano and Vágner Love, the latter’s second leg goal proving crucial. After Adriano had given Flamengo a 1-0 home win in the first leg O Mengão travelled to São Paulo for the return and were behind after 28 minutes thanks to a David own goal. Corinthians then took the lead overall in the tie when Ronaldo scored against his boyhood club six minutes before half-time. Flamengo were not to be denied and struck back just four minutes after the restart thanks to Vágner Love whose away goal proved the difference between the sides as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate. Watch second leg match highlights here:

In Wednesday night’s other games defending Libertadores champions Estudiantes de La Plata eased through to the quarter-finals after wrapping up a 3-1 home victory against Mexican side San Luis who, along with Chivas Guadalajara, were invited back to the competition this year due to their forced withdrawal from last season’s tournament due to the swine flu epidemic. Leandro González, who scored the only goal in the first leg for Estudiantes, opened the scoring after just four minutes for the Argentines but Diego de la Torre replied for the visitors just three minutes later. The game was sealed in the second half with two goals in five minutes from Leandro Benítez giving Estudiantes a 4-1 aggregate victory. Brazilians Cruzeiro also eased their way through against three-times Libertadores winners Nacional of Montevideo with Thiago Rebeiro scoring four times in a 6-1 aggregate win for the Belo Horizonte side who will play against compatriots São Paulo in the next round.

On Thursday Brazilian success in the tournament continued with the progression of Internacional at the expense of Argentinian Apertura champions Banfield thanks to away goals. Inter were beaten 3-1 in the first leg but their away goal proved crucial once Alecsandro and Walter had given the Porto Alegre outift a 2-0 lead in the second leg. With the game tied 3-3 on aggregate the Brazilians just squeezed past El Taladro who were participating in only their third ever Libertadores. In Paraguay Club Libertad were involved in a struggle against 2008 champions Once Caldas from Colombia. Dayro Moreno gave the Colombians the lead after 55 minutes meaning that Club Libertad had to score twice without reply in order to go through. Roberto Gamarra stepped up to the occasion by converting a 73rd minute penalty and a last-gasp 89th minute winner to give the Paraguayans a 2-1 win on the night and on aggregate. The final match of the round was played in Chile and it turned out to be very controversial. One nil down from the first leg, Peruvians Alianza Lima were leading the second leg 2-1 on the night and going through on away goals when, a couple of minutes into stoppage time, Seymour’s shot gave Universidad de Chile a third goal of the tie to give the Chileans the advantage. However there appeared to be three players in an offside position but the linesman and the referee deemed the goal valid much to the annoyance of the Alianza players who surrounded the referee after the game, forcing the officials to be given a police escort from the field. Watch highlights here:

COPA LIBERTADORES QUARTER-FINAL DRAW

Universidad de Chile v Flamengo

São Paulo v Cruzeiro

Estudiantes de La Plata v Internacional

Club Libertad v Chivas Guadalajara

(1st Legs May 11-13; 2nd Leg May 18-20)

Copa Libertadores: First Stage Preview

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 27, 2010
Newell's Old Boys

Newell's Old Boys from Argentina begin in the first stage of the 2010 Copa Libertadores against Ecuadorian team Emelec

The Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club competition, begins again this week as twelve teams fight it out in the first round in order to qualify for the group stage which begins next month. “Stoppage Time” previews the impending match-ups which are played over two legs during the next couple of weeks:

JUNIOR (Colombia) v RACING (Uruguay)

Junior qualified for the Copa Libertadores as the best placed non-champion team in Colombia’s Copa Mustang competition in 2009 whilst Racing fought it through a tough pre-Libertadores ‘Liguilla’ (mini league) competition in Uruguay and qualified as runners-up. Whereas Racing will be making their maiden appearance in the Libertadores Barranquilla based side Junior have a little more experience in what will be their tenth tournament, their best finish coming in 1994 when they reached the semi-finals. The team who qualifies for the group stage will find themselves against Corinthians (Brazil), Cerro Porteño (Paraguay) and Independiente Medellín (Colombia) in Group 1.

JUAN AURICH (Peru) v ESTUDIANTES TECOS (Mexico)

Both sides are little known outside their borders and should prove to be a tough encounter seeing as they are making their third and first appearances in the Libertadores respectively. Juan Aurich qualified as the best placed team that didn’t win any of the two groups during the ‘Descentralizado’ whilst Tecos had to play in a post-season “InterLiga” for those teams that didn’t directly qualify for the Libertadores for fill up the two final berths. Despite beating Puebla in their last match they finished runners-up behind Monterrey who qualified directly. South American champions Estudiantes de La Plata (Argentina), Bolivar (Bolivia) and Alianza Lima (Peru) await the winners in Group 3.

DEPORTIVO TÁCHIRA (Venezuela) v LIBERTAD (Paraguay)

Deportivo Táchira compete in their thirteenth Libertadores having qualified for the tournament as the best placed non-champion with the best aggregate points total at the end of the Opening and Closing tournaments whilst Libertad got through in a similar fashion having accumulated the most points in the Paraguayan championship. Libertad have plenty of experience in the Libertadores, their best performance coming as recently as 2006 where they were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual champions SC Internacional. Deportivo also have some history in the tournment having reached the quarter-finals in 2004. The winners from this tie will play in one of the weaker groups of the tournament against Lanús (Argentina), Blooming (Bolivia) and Universitario (Peru) in Group 4.

NEWELL’S OLD BOYS (Argentina) v EMELEC (Ecuador)

The side from Argentina’s second city of Rosario have come close on two occasions to winning the Libertadores but were defeated in the 1988 and 1992 competitions. They begin in this year’s tournament having qualified with the third best average points total among non-champion clubs. They face an Emelec side who finished third in Ecuador’s ‘Serie A’ after beating 2008 Libertadores champions LDU Quito in a two-legged play-off. Whoever comes through the two matches will be in the same group as SC Internacional (Brazil), Cerro (Uruguay) and Deportivo Quito (Ecuador) in Group 5.

REAL POTOSI (Bolivia) v CRUZEIRO (Brazil)

Bolivia’s Real Potosi are making their fifth appearance in the competition having won an end of season play-off whilst Cruzeiro guaranteed their berth by finishing fourth in the Campeonato Brasileiro on the final day of the 2009 season. The Brazilian side have a distinguished history in the Libertadores having been crowned champions on two occasions in 1976 and 1997 whilst the Bolivians are making only their fifth ever appearance amongst South America’s elite. Velez Sarsfield (Argentina), Colo Colo (Chile) and Deportivo Italia (Venezuela) await the winners in Group 7.

COLÓN SANTA FE (Argentina) v UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA (Chile)

Colón qualified for the Libertadores thanks to having the second best average among non-champions in Argentina whilst Universidad Católica were the best placed non-champion in the 2009 Torneo Clausura. The Chileans came close to winning the competition in 1993 but succumbed to the superiority of their opponents São Paulo whilst Colón have only ever made one appearance in 1998 where they reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out by compatriots River Plate. The winners of this tie will meet up against Flamengo (Brazil), Universidad de Chile (Chile) and FC Caracas (Venezuela) in Group 8.

FIFA Club World Cup preview

FIFA Club World Cup

Seven teams will fight it out in the UAE for the trophy

Love it or loathe it the FIFA Club World Cup is going to remain a staple part of the football calendar. To some observers it’s a chance to win a trophy and add more prestige to their club. To some others it’s a competition that turns up in the middle of a long hard season, getting in the way of domestic progress. Either way there will be seven teams in the United Arab Emirates from December 9-19 who will be giving everything to win the cup. Here is Stoppage Time’s guide to the participants:

FC BARCELONA – UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

FC Barcelona became European champions for the third time in May after beating Manchester United 2-0 in Rome. It is surprising that a massive club such as “Barça” has never won the FIFA Club World Cup or its predecessor, the Intercontinental Cup. After twice being crowned European champions in 1992 and 2006 the Catalans have been defeated by Brazilian clubs in their attempts to be crowned the world’s best. In 1992 a São Paulo side inspired by Rai beat Barça 2-1 and then, three years ago, Internacional scored a late goal to deny Barcelona again. This time the ‘Blaugrana’ hope to make it third time lucky in this tournament and add the FIFA Club World Cup to the other five trophies they’ve won under their coach Pep Guardiola.

ESTUDIANTES DE LA PLATA – COPA LIBERTADORES WINNERS 2009

Estudiantes won their fourth Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 victory over two legs against Brazilian side Cruzeiro. The Argentinian side had a mixed record in the Intercontinental Cup during their heyday in the late 1960s and early 70s. Their solo victory came in 1968 after a 2-1 aggregate win over Manchester United (before 1979 the champions of Europe and South America played home and away matches to win the cup). Their next two efforts, however, ended in failure; in 1969 Milan won 4-2 on aggregate and in 1970 Feyenoord Rotterdam claimed their only world title with a 3-2 aggregate win. Can Juan Sebastián Verón emulate his father Juan Ramón’s achievements and become a world champion with his boyhood club?

ATLANTE CF – CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The Mexican side secured their second CONCACAF Champions League title after an all-Mexican affair with Cruz Azul ended up 2-0 after a two-legged final. Atlante’s other title win was back in 1983 when they defeated Surinam’s Robinhood FC (yes, really!) 6-1 over two legs. Atlante’s Club World Cup campaign will kick-off at the quarter-final stage against either Al Ahli or Auckland City, who meet in the first match of the competition.

POHANG STEELERS – AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The three time Asian champions have not always dominated the domestic scene in South Korea but tend to thrive in Asian club competition. After previous successes in 1997 and 1998, Pohang Steelers won a third title this year by defeating Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Tokyo’s National Stadium. Pohang will play against TP Mazembe at the quarter-final stage, the winner of which faces Estudiantes in the semi-finals.

TP MAZEMBE – CAF AFRICAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The Congolese side have been African champions on three occasions after their most recent success was decided on away goals against Nigerian team Heartlands FC. After the Nigerians won the first leg 2-1 at home, Mazembe won the second leg 1-0 to secure a passage to the Middle East. A meeting with Estudiantes de la Plata awaits if they can overcome Pohang Steelers in the quarter-final.

AUCKLAND CITY – OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The New Zealanders will be participating in the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time, after their previous appearance in 2006, following their 9-4 win over Soloman Islands’ club Koloale FC in the two-legged OFC Champions League final. In 2006 Auckland City lost in the opening play-off match to Al Ahly of Egypt 2-0. Can they avoid a repeat against a similarly named Al Ahli of UAE in this year’s tournament?

AL AHLI – UAE LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2009

Representing the host country in this year’s tournament, Al Ahli have never been Asian champions but are the current UAE League champions after winning the title by one point from nearest challengers Al Jazira Club. Last season’s attempt at continental glory came to an end in the group phase of the AFC Champions League competition. Will meet Atlante CF in the quarter-final if they beat Auckland City in the play-off match.

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.