We wrapped up the 1st part of the current Brazilian League tournament in Round 19, where Atlético Mineiro closed it as champions even though they have yet to play one game against Flamengo which was delayed. Now we start the 2nd part of the competition, which is the hardest as teams start to pick up many injuries, suspensions and the schedule doesn’t have much room for teams to take a significant rest. Heck, even Seleção call-ups prejudice the teams down the road! What to expect from games? Right after the jump.
19:30 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Santos x Bahia
Santos has been playing without Neymar for a while due to the Olympics and a Sweden friendly right after it. They struggled to come up with good results, and the Mohawk brought them from the doom of relegation zone to the relief of the 10th position. Bahia has been under its own struggles as well, as they fired former Internacional and Brazil NT player Falcão after a run of losses, and their latest coach Caio Júnior left the team due to personal reasons. It’s hard not to give the home team the edge, even though Bahia might give them a surprise as teams usually get some kind of revamp following coach’s firings.
19:30 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Coritiba x Internacional
Coritiba was a (good) surprise last season, as they made a great 1st semester by making an incredible run of 20+ consecutive wins, were runner-ups in the Brazilian Cup and almost entered Copa Libertadores classification zone in the Brazilian League ending. Their 1st semester were good as well, but they seems to be losing steam. They currently stand at 15th position and have been struggling to get good results away from home. Internacional isn’t through a good form as well, only picking one win in the last five matches with Forlán struggling to get into the game. They also lost a game against Grêmio last round. It’s hard to come up with a prediction, but I’ll make it anyway.
19:30 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Atlético Mineiro x Ponte Preta
Atlético Mineiro and Ponte Preta: both teams wear black and white, and both teams have been surprisingly good in a way. Galo wasn’t expected to challenge for the title, not even a Copa Libertadores berth; Macaca was expected to struggle and stay in the relegation zone, but they’re seven points ahead of 17th place Palmeiras. Atlético will be looking to extend their amazing form at home, where they simply didn’t lose a single game so far, while Ponte Preta will try to make their life as hard as they can. Will they make up to challenge? I really doubt it.
Edge: Atlético Mineiro
20:30 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Portuguesa x Palmeiras
What was once a great rivalry between clubs that were funded by Portuguese and Italian immigrants respectively, is now a low-tier debacle as Portuguesa went under huge financial trouble. Now, Portuguesa is trying to maintain themselves in the Série A, while Palmeiras wants to get out of relegation zone after a bad start due to their focus on the Brazilian Cup, where they came up as winners.
20:30 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Náutico x Figueirense
Figueirense has been a huge deception so far, even though they lost some good pieces for this season after overachieving in 2011. They’ve changed coaches two or three times in a period of four months, and they stand dead last in the league table. Náutico had a rough start, but due to good results at home they’ve been steadily cementing themselves in a place where they won’t fear relegation that much. It’s hard to believe that Figueirense might come up with any results away from home.
22:00 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Fluminense x Corinthians
That might be the best match in this round. The 2010 Brazilian League champions against the 2011 Brazilian League and 2012 Copa Libertadores winners; two of the best squads in the country face to face in what could’ve been a title match if Corinthians hadn’t had a bad start. Fluminense has been under a great run, that isn’t as impressive as Atlético Mineiro’s, but they only lost one match so far against Grêmio. Corinthians, meanwhile, had some difficulty to get away from relegation zone, losing their 1st game in the league against Fluminense with both teams using reserve squads. Now they’re at the 12th position, and Corinthians coach Tite still believes they can fight for the title. A good clash, with no clear favorite.
22:00 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Grêmio x Vasco
Another great match to watch tonight, as the current 3rd place Grêmio receives former 3rd place Vasco at their home ground. Grêmio had an amazing August month which saw themselves going up in the table, while Vasco, that was fighting head to head with Atlético Mineiro for the 1st place entering the month, struggled to come up with good results and only got one win in their last five matches. The Rio de Janeiro side will try to recover their mood; but against Grêmio, that task will be much harder to be completed.
22:00 – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Atlético Goianiense x Cruzeiro
If that duel happened a month ago, Cruzeiro would have an immediate edge in this one. Luckily for Atlético Goianiense, it seems that they are pushing for a reaction after spending much of their time in this season at relegation zone. Cruzeiro on the other side collected a few bad results, and dropped a few places, getting away – at least for the moment – from Copa Libertadores zone. But Cruzeiro is still a very dangerous team, and managed to snatch a draw against their main rivals Atlético Mineiro near the end of a match last Sunday. After a slump, they seem set to get back to higher flights.
21:00 – Thursday, August 30, 2012 – Flamengo x Sport Recife
Botafogo and Flamengo had one of the worst games in the last round, with many fouls and a really bad pitch condition to take the blame for it. But Flamengo was the team that had the most chances, and they seem to be getting into form after hiring Dorival Júnior as coach. Sadly for Sport, their run of four losses and a draw won’t do much to help their case.
21:00 – Thursday, August 30, 2012 – São Paulo x Botafogo
Another good clash as well, as São Paulo is looking to win three consecutive games in the Brazilian League for the first time this season against a Botafogo team that seems overly reliable on Clarence Seedorf performances. Oswaldo de Oliveira, current Botafogo coach, have employed an strange tactic due to a lack of a pure center forward, where Elkeson, which originally plays behind the striker, is now the man that leads the attack. That results in very poor performances from Glorioso as Seedorf shows true concerns over not only the professionalism of his teammates, but also regarding the empty stadium in Botafogo matches. São Paulo and their good form might result in true trouble for Botafogo. Also, Luis Fabiano, former Brazil NT and Sevilla striker, is one of Brasileirão’s top strikers with 9 goals in only 9 matches.
Edge: São Paulo
That’s all, folks. Give your predictions in the comment area, if you like. It’s not only allowed, but encouraged as well!