The talent, the gossip, the inside track
Celso de Campos Jr
Last year at the Minas Gerais State Championship final, Cruzeiro were pounded by their cross-town archrivals Atlético 4-0.
It was supposed to be close game to call, so no one saw the ugly massacre coming – especially goalkeeper Fábio, who blacked out after the third goal and literally didn’t see Vanderlei scoring the fourth.
The unexpected result was the end of the line for newly-appointed coach Paulo Autuori, who was signed for a truckload of money but gave up his job whilst still in the dressing rooms – the Belo Horizonte foes have a Celtic-Rangers kind of rivalry.
“I can’t go on after this. I’m ashamed as a man and a professional,” he said, already packing his bags.So, all through 2007 Atlético fans mocked their foes wildly. Despite the humiliation still resounding, the State losers eventually bounced back at the Brazilian championship, earning a Copa Libertadores spot in the last round of matches.
Atlético didn’t do so well, but who cared? Their year was already won with the 4-0 thrashing and the Minas Gerais trophy.But the Fox, as Cruzeiro is known in Brazil, waited silently. They were looking for the right time to attack Atlético – or the Rooster, their nickname. Revenge finally came exactly one year and two days later, at the same stage – the Mineirão Stadium jam-packed for the first leg of the State tournament decider.
Mercilessly, Cruzeiro trashed Atlético 5-0, paying them back with interest. It was the biggest score-line between the two clubs ever recorded in the Mineirão history.
The Rooster aka Atlético get deep fried and battered by Cruzeiro
While the Foxes enjoy their fried rooster meal - best served cold - Atlético, who celebrate their centenary this year, try to piece themselves together.
Their coach, Geninho (Portuguese for “little genious”), had obviously experienced better days but stuck to his job – despite the protests of the fans, who tried to break in the directors meeting and had to be shooed away by the police.
We still have the second leg next Sunday, but the title already belongs to Cruzeiro. The sensational victory also provided the added bonus of facing Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores round of 16.
The first game is today at La Bombonera. Not to be missed.
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