Campeonato Paulista Round-up
Two rounds of action bookended the festivities in São Paulo, where the traditional 'big four' have all risen to the top of the Paulistão table. Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos, and São Paulo have all accumulated 25 points after twelve games, with the latter currently holding first place due to their superior number of victories. The Tricolor picked up 2-0 wins over São Caetano and Ituano this week, with midfielder-cum-rightback Jean scoring in both games.
Another strike from Liédson helped Corinthians to a comfortable win over Linense on Saturday, but the Timão tasted defeat in midweek; an early Éverton Santos goal meant that Ponte Preta left the Pacaembu with all three points. Palmeiras recovered from their goalless draw against Santo André with a Jorge Valdivia-inspired victory over Noroeste. There appear, however, to be storm clouds brewing for the Verdão; star striker Kléber yesterday hit out at coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for criticising his own players.
Neymarvellous; the young striker celebrates a strike against Portuguesa.
Santos steadied their ship after the dismissal of Adílson Batista, recording comfortable wins over Oeste and Portuguesa. Zé Éduardo (or, as he is increasingly (and toe-curlingly) known, Zé Love) netted a brace in the former match, and Neymar repeated the trick in the second. Marcelo Martelotte, the club's caretaker manager, looks to be doing a decent job thus far.
Campeonato Carioca Round-up
Ronaldinho prepared for the carnaval in the best possible fashion, scoring Flamengo's second in a tight 3-2 win over Olaria at the weekend. Thiago Neves also popped up with a brace for the Rubro-Negro, whose fans would have been forgiven for expecting a post-party slump against Bangu on Thursday. As it turned out, Fla recorded another victory, despite never really getting out of second gear. Ronaldinho rounded off his week with a goal from the penalty spot, and Diego Maurício headed home the winner in injury time.
Fluminense have also started the Taça Rio in ruthless style. Araújo opened his account for the club in a narrow win over Resende, before a Darío Conca masterclass crushed América at the Engenhão. Young forward Alex scored his first professional goal for Botafogo on Sunday, as they strolled to a 4-2 victory over Volta Redonda. O Glorioso also claimed maximum points against Nova Iguaçu in midweek.
After performing terribly in the opening section of the Carioca, Vasco da Gama were hoping for a marked improvement in the second half of the campaign. Things got off to the worst possible start, however, with a 3-1 loss to Macaé at the weekend; new coach Ricardo Gomes could probably hear knives being sharpened at the away end. Luckily for him, the Gigante da Colina regained some pride with victory over Duque de Caxias on Wednesday evening, but it remains to be seen whether he can coax such performances from a modest squad on a frequent basis.
Best of the Rest
Excellent performances from youngsters Oscar and Leandro Damião propelled Internacional to a 4-0 win over Ypiranga in the Gauchão, a result that suggests that they'll be taking the second half of the competition somewhat more seriously than they did the first. In the Campeonato Paranaense, Atlético-PR needed a goal from Kléberson to rescue a point against Corinthians-PR.
In 'footballing icons debasing themselves for money' news, a team comprised of veteran seleção heroes (including Romário, Bebeto, and Cafu) played a Chechnya select side which included Ruud Gullit and Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the region. Brazil ran out 6-4 victors, but every goal was celebrated by the bleak grimace of men who really should know better.
Selected results. Paulista; São Caetano 0-2 São Paulo, Palmeiras 0-0 Santo André, Oeste 0-2 Santos, Linense 0-2 Corinthians, São Paulo 2-0 Ituano, Noroeste 1-2 Palmeiras, Santos 3-0 Portuguesa, Corinthians 0-1 Ponte Preta. Carioca; Macaé 3-1 Vasco, Botafogo 4-2 Volta Redonda, Flamengo 3-2 Olaria, Resende 1-2 Fluminense, Vasco 4-2 Duque de Caxias, Nova Iguaçu 0-1 Botafogo, Bangu 1-2 Flamengo, Fluminense 3-1 América.
(Photo credits; (1) Tom Dib, (2) Cleber Mendes.)