The talent, the gossip, the inside track
Celso de Campos Jr
The last time we spoke, I was telling you how the foreplay of the Brazilian season was over. But no one imagined the climax would arrive so fast… and be so good.
We’re still three weeks away from the beginning of the National Championship, Brazil’s main prize. But after last weekend, there’s no doubt the real season is already up and running.
The State Championships' final showdowns have been by far the most exciting in years, especially in São Paulo where the two semi-finals between the top four literally stopped the traffic.
(To prevent urban fighting, police blocked some São Paulo streets before the games so the ultras could march to the stadiums without clashing with their rivals. Scary.)
Corinthians and Santos, 3rd and 4th following the first phase, successfully saw off São Paulo and Palmeiras, 2nd and 1st.
The second leg of the Palmeiras vs Santos semi-final last weekend had it all: Neymar and Madson showcasing their talents, a display of incompetence from the Brazilian referee, who caused this year’s top pitch brawl – with Palmeiras’ Diego Souza going nuts with Santos’ Domingos poor acting.
And to wrap things up, a monumental blunder from Santos keeper Fabio Costa. Luckily for him, no Palmeiras players were anywhere to be seen, so Santos' ticket to the final wasn’t threatened.
Then, in last Sunday's semi-final, Corinthians rolled over São Paulo with Ronaldo doing his talking on the pitch after a São Paulo director had said the ace was an “ex-player.”
Ronnie scored the second after outrunning defender Rodrigo in such a speedy fashion that Corinthians coach Mano Menezes exclaimed: “You’re fast, fatso!”
The most amazing thing about a Corinthians vs Santos final this year is that Pelé had actually predicted it months ago. So naturally no one thought it would happen, given the King’s notoriously bad forecasting.
Now he says Santos will take home the trophy. Will Pelé nail it for a second time? Hmm… Corinthians fans are already celebrating.
Ronaldo goes turbo to see off Sao Paulo
Over in Rio de Janeiro, an own goal from Botafogo’s Emerson against Flamengo set up a two-legged final re-match: Bota and Fla will play over the next two Sundays to decide who rules Rio de Janeiro – similar to what Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro will do in the Minas Gerais state.
However, some titles have already been decided.
In Pernambuco, Sport Recife won their fourth crown in a row. But the biggest display of supremacy came from Rio Grande do Sul. Pay attention.
Centennial Internacional massacred poor Caxias 8-1 in the final of the second phase of the State Championship.
Since they had already won the first leg 7-0, they took home the trophy to add to their ever-expanding cabinet.
Suprisingly, Caxias coach Argel - the former Porto, Benfica, Palmeiras, Santos and Internacional defender - wasn’t ashamed after the hammering. In fact, during the week he had already predicted the Inter triumph.
“What could we do? Internacional is the best team in the world right now. Period. I watch the Spanish Championship, the Italian Championship, the English Championship, and there’s no one there better than Inter. They will win the National Championship, easy.”
Since he’s no Pelé, we should at least give him some credit.
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