While the attentions are at UFC’s fight between Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva, I’ll try to move the focus to things that don’t involve as much blood as MMA: football!
This round at Brazilian League Serie A has some good and important matches, for example Internacional at home playing against Cruzeiro, both title contenders. But none of those matches are as important as the most important Brazilian derby: the Fla-Flu.
21:30 (GMT) – Saturday 7 July, 2012 – Botafogo x Bahia
– Seedorf, unfortunately, isn’t likely to feature in this match. He will be introduced to Botafogo supporters, but he won’t put on a uniform. Bahia comes from 3 draws, a win and a loss in the last 5 matches while Botafogo accumulated 2 wins and 3 losses. Botafogo hasn’t established their home field yet – one of their main advantages last season – but Bahia hasn’t been strong, and Seedorf might motivate the team to perform better.
21:30 (GMT) – Saturday 7 July, 2012 – Internacional x Cruzeiro
– This match could be important at the end of the season, as Inter and Cruzeiro always enter in the competition as title contenders. Internacional has the edge, even though their record of 2 wins, 2 draws and a loss is much worse than Cruzeiro’s 4 win and a loss in the past 5 matches. Cruzeiro is coming from a loss at home to a São Paulo side which had lost their coach in the previous Wednesday, and Inter knows how to use their home field advantage.
00:00 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – Atlético-GO x Náutico
– Interesting match, as both teams are relegation candidates. While Atlético-GO only got 2 points in 7 matches in the league, Náutico only got their current 7 points at home. It’s like dividing by zero: both teams have been atrocious, and whoever wins will run on profit.
19:00 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – Figueirense x Vasco
– Figueirense has failed to emulate their 2011 performance in the league so far, when they managed to dispute a Copa Libertadores spot until the ending rounds. They’ll face a Vasco team motivated by their 2nd place in the league table, as they try to push for 1st place by winning this match and rooting for an Atlético-MG loss or draw. One factor that might disrupt Vasco is Diego Souza, one of their key players, leaving the team for Al-Ahly, an Egyptian team which offered him megabucks. But it could serve as motivation as well; I’m sure he doesn’t want to leave with a loss.
19:00 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – Santos x Grêmio
– Both teams had rough events last month. While Santos was eliminated in the semifinals by Corinthians at the Copa Libertadores, Grêmio was eliminated in the same stage at Brazilian Cup, failing to contain Palmeiras. Both are still trying to recover, but Grêmio has an advantage as they won Flamengo at home and lost to Atlético-MG, current league leaders, after a much disputed game. Meanwhile, Santos looks lost and demotivated on the pitch, much due to an out of form Neymar. He could also resolve the game in one play, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
19:00 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – São Paulo x Coritiba
– Coritiba has been involved with the Brazilian Cup final, coming from a 2-0 loss to Palmeiras away. São Paulo is in better form after beating Cruzeiro at their home and is looking to avenge their Brazilian Cup elimination to Coritiba, after failing to hold onto a 1-0 win at home and losing 2-0 at Curitiba (yeah, the city has an “u” and the team an “o”. Portuguese is awesome). If Marcelo Oliveira, current Coritiba’s coach, is wise enough, he’ll rest his starters. Ney Franco, new São Paulo’s coach, will try to show service, so we might see a good open game.
Edge: São Paulo
19:00 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – Fluminense x Flamengo (Fla-Flu derby)
– The most important match in this rounds will also be important for both sides, but for different reasons. While Fluminense is the only unbeaten team in the championship so far, Flamengo’s boss Joel Santana has been looming a boot since Flamengo failed to qualify for Copa Libertadores knockout rounds and had a poor Rio State championship. This would give Fluminense an instant edge, but as it is a classic with so many mystiques involved, there can’t be a clear favourite. While Fluminense has been at better form, they’re coming out from a very lucky win against Náutico away where their goalkeeper, Diego Cavalieri, was the star of the match by saving the team in many opportunities. As for Flamengo, they managed to win their last game against Atlético-GO 3-2 after trailing in the scoreboard. It’s hard to predict anything, but it’ll be a close game. I wouldn’t be impressed if both teams snatch a bore draw.
21:30 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – Atlético-MG x Portuguesa
– 1st place team against relegation candidate at home, where they didn’t lost a game in the 5 last matches while their opponent has failed to pull an upset when playing away. Do I have to extend on that?
21:30 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – Ponte Preta x Palmeiras
– Ponte Preta has been surprising so far, giving teams a rough time wherever they played. Their last match against Vasco was a thrill filled with controversy, as Vasco had a disallowed goal and Ponte Preta had a penalty against them that wasn’t so clear. Palmeiras is focused on the Brazilian Cup final, so there shouldn’t be much discussion about who is favored in this match as well.
Edge: Ponte Preta
21:30 (GMT) – Sunday 8 July, 2012 – Sport Recife x Corinthians
– After getting a much wanted Copa Libertadores trophy, Corinthians travels to Pernambuco to face Sport Recife at Ilha do Retiro. This game should show an interesting aspect of Brazil: how many fans big teams from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo gather in other states. Matches at Northeast states involving teams like Flamengo and Corinthians had stadiums divided by half with home and visitor supporters from the same city. And that might happen tomorrow, but those lads shouldn’t expect a Corinthians win as Tite will certainly look to rest his players after a physical and mentally absorbing Copa Libertadores final against Boca. A surprise is likely, but you shouldn’t put much into it.
And how do you think this round at the Brazilian League will close? Leave a comment, voice your opinion! It’s much appreciated.