The talent, the gossip, the inside track
Celso de Campos Jr
Fellow Brazilian football fans, the Carnival's now over, which means the season can really start to get going.We’ve merely been warming up since January, since the beginning of the State Championships. And now that Ash Wednesday has been and gone we'll take a look at who’s hot and who’s not so far.
Flamengo, for instance, started on fire, as the only team undefeated in the Rio de Janeiro tournament's first phase.
But they lost their rhythm on Carnival Saturday in their one-legged semi-final, getting knocked out by minnows Resende 3-1 in the Maracanã Stadium, making headache meds more popular than condoms for the first time ever in Rio at this time of the year!
"Not tonight love, I've got a headache"
Since pre-season, Cruzeiro were considered one of the favourites in Brazil. The signing of bad boy Kleber, who starred last year as Edmundo’s heir in Palmeiras, empowered them even more.
And they’ve not been disappointing their fans, with The Fox hammering Estudiantes 3-0 in their opening Copa Libertadores clash, with Kleber – dubbed the 'Gladiator' – bagging a brace. Thumbs up!Down South, Internacional, with one of the best squads in the country with Nilmar, Alex, left-back Kleber, Guinazu, D’Alessandro and young sensation Taison, remained undefeated in the State Championships.
But then in the Copa do Brasil – the country's version of the FA Cup – they lost 1-0 to União from Mato Grosso, becoming the only Serie A team to fall at the first hurdle.
Nilmar (right) guides Internacional to unbeaten league start
Palmeiras have had their best start since the 1920’s, winning their opening nine matches – seven in the São Paulo State Championship, two in the Libertadores.
They could not make it a perfect 10, though, losing to, Libertadores holders, LDU in Ecuador 3-2 last Wednesday.
However, not even the tie against Portuguesa at the weekend is keeping the fans away, who are excited with a team where, young sensations, Keirrison and Cleiton Xavier combine with, veterans, Marcos and Edmilson, who both featured in Brazil's triumphant 2002 World Cup squad.
Keirrison: Brazil's hottest property right now?
Speaking of that side, there’s one man yet to feature this year.
Fat-turned-to-fit Ronaldo (at least for now) is expected to make his debut with Corinthians in the derby against Palmeiras on March 8. He’ll travel with the team for the first time this week, so the Phenomenon can remember the “smell of the game,” as coach Mano Menezes put it. Ronaldo and Keirrison going head-to-head is not one to be missed.
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