Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Trouble At Mill?

Well, we though the dust had settled on the Campeonato seasons in Brazil but suddenly the brown stuff has hit fan so to speak. This incident is about to become as famous as the Bosman affair which changed the was transfer deals are done forever. The incident is so severe it could lead to the Seleção being removed from the FIFA World Cup Finals in South Africa next summer. Imagine a World Cup without Brazil.

The problem has been caused by a complaint from Portuguesa, they finished 5th in Série B this year, one place outside of the promotion zone and their gripe is with Guarani de Campinas. They are claiming that Bruno Carazine Constantino has played for more than two clubs during the last calender year, which is a clear breach of the FIFA Players' Status rules Article 5, Paragraph 3. The player left Série D side Chapecoense as the season in Brazil started and signed for Gyeongnam FC in South Korea. He then arrived back in Brazil at Guarani de Campinas in July.

Guarani de Campinas have claimed that the registration is valid as Constantino was exempt from the regulation because FIFA rules allow a player to have three clubs in a season if one club's championship is not on the same calendar as his new club. The season in Korea runs from March to December, whilst it's May to December in Brazil. It's a flimsy excuse at best and now the CBF and Guarani have dismissed the complaint from Portuguesa, that's not gone down well with the São Paulo based club and they have got some hot shot lawyers on the case and have complained directly to FIFA themselves.

FIFA will discuss the case on January 5th. Paulo Teixeira, who is leading the case, has proof that the CBF have failed in their responsibility as an association in charge to punish Guarani. The ultimate punishment that FIFA could apply if the CBF is found not to have applied the FIFA rules is to suspend the national team from the next official tournament. Now some may argue that Sepp Blatter will find some loophole to keep the Seleção in South Africa but how has it come to this that the 5 time winners may not even get a chance to enter the tournament this year. This could lead to Ecuador, sixth placed finishers in the CONMEBOL qualifying, or maybe Costa Rica, who lost to Uruguay in the play-offs, getting a late invite to South Africa.

Those who argue that Blatter will find a way of keeping Brazil at the top table come next summer can look across the South American continent for clues. Chile were under a similar threat after Rangers were docked points leading to their relegation for failing to adhere to the 6+5 rule, i.e. no more than five overseas players on the field at any time. Rangers took their appeal to the courts and once legal action is taken to resolve footballing matters, FIFA get twitchy. Rangers subsequently withdrew the legal threat and Chile maintained their place in South Africa. Whether a similar ultimatum to the CFB that Chile's ANFP received urging them to resolve the matter without recourse to the courts remains to be seen. If not, next summer could see Brazil absent at the finals for the first time.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Nervy Banfield seal first ever title

Argentinos Juniors 5-1 Huracán
Lanús 0-0 Independiente
Boca Juniors 2-0 Banfield
Newell's Old Boys 0-2 San Lorenzo
Racing Club 0-2 Chacarita Juniors
Tigre 0-2 River Plate
Vélez Sársfield 1-2 Rosario Central
Atlético Tucumán 1-0 Gimnasia La Plata
Godoy Cruz 0-0 Arsenal

Going into the final round of matches in the 2009 Apertura season, it stacked up like this: it was Banfield's to lose. If they won, they were champions for the first time in their history. If they drew, Newell's had to win in order to force a play-off between the two sides. Given what was at stake, the matches involving Banfield and Newell's kicked off at the same time on Sunday, Banfield at Boca and Newell's at home to San Lorenzo. Newell's got a lifeline early on when Kily Gonzalez missed a penalty and news got better still for them a couple of minutes later when Martín Palermo did better than Kily from 12 yards putting Boca ahead. But then it all went wrong for the Rosario-based side as Fabian Bordagaray put San Lorenzo ahead. As time ticked on, it looked more and more likely that Banfield were going to hang on, but Palermo's second on the hour meant they were sweating on the result from Rosario. Their nerves were eased when Bordagaray put his second away 23 minutes from the end and both games petered out into 2-0 defeats for the two title contenders. That was just the second defeat for Banfield in the nineteen-match season and they run out worthy winners.

Tigre finished bottom following their fifteenth defeat of the season which ends a miserable Apertura for them. Rogerio Funes put River Plate ahead on the stroke of half-time and Diego Buonanotte made the game safe early in the second half. Huracán's transformation from contenders to strugglers was completed by a 5-1 thumping by Argentinos Juniors. An Nestor Ortigoza's penalty set Argentinos on their way, but the star was Gabriel Hauche with a hat-trick. Gimnasia end in 18th after a topsy-turvy season, beaten by Atlético Tucumán, Emmanuel Gigliotti with the vital goal. Godoy and Arsenal drew 0-0 while Racing, perhaps in celebratory mood after pulling themselves away from trouble and went down 2-0 to nine-man Chacarita. Gustavo Alustiza and Daniel Pereira were both sent off, but Facundo Parra and German Cano had already done enough to win the game.

Colón finish third having already completed their season in the previous round of fixtures, while a point for Independiente's draw with Lanús was enough to secure fourth. Vélez went down to Rosario Central, allowing Independiente to climb above them. Emilio Zaleya and Gonzalo Castillejos put Central into a comfort zone and even had to give Vélez their consolation, Hernan Galindez putting through his own net late on.

And that's your lot for now. We'll pick up coverage when the Clausura season gets going next year.

Friday, 11 December 2009

South American Round Up

Uruguayan Jorge Fossati has been confirmed as the new coach of Internacional. He joins the Porto Alegre based side from LDU Quito where he won the Copa Libertadores, Recopa Sudamericana and Copa Sudamericana and arrives at the Série A runners up with a proven track record. Vasco da Gama's Série B winning coach, Dorival Junior has also got a new club after replacing Vanderlei Luxemburgo at Santos. Santos are now favourites to capture Keirrison if he decides to return to Brazil.

The Adriano situation rumbles on, after being linked with West Ham United in England the rumour mill now has the Flamengo striker heading back to Italy but not to Milan. This time his preferred destination is the capital Rome where AS Roma has reportedly made an offer. More clubs are also in the frame including Milan and Bayern Munich Adriano is currently taking a break after the Série A season and according to his agent a decision will be made before Christmas.

Fluminense's Dario Conca polled 51% of the votes to be crowned Craque da Galera. The runner up, Dejan Petkovic of Flamengo polled 41% of the vote whilst Hernanes of São Paulo was a distant third with just 8 of the vote. It's a worrying sign though that the local talent in Brazil is being over shadowed by imports. Zé Roberto has stated his desire to make his move to Flamengo permanent. He is currently on loan from German club FC Schalke 04 and has now made them aware he wishes to remain in Rio and not return to Gelsenkirchen when the loan period expires.

Italian club SS Lazio are lining up a move for Botafogo defender Andre Lima. He previously played in Europe in the Bundesliga at Hertha Berlin but he doesn't have the all important EU passport which would make his passage into Italy much easier. São Paulo has told SS Lazio to up their bid for defender Andre Dias. The first offer of €1.5million has been rejected by the São Paulo president who is looking at a price more in the region of €5million.

Meanwhile in Chile, Colo Colo have been crowned as Clausura Champions after coming from a goal down to defeat Universidad Católica 4-2 in the second leg of the final after the first game finished level at 2-2. Colo Colo now join Vélez Sársfield and Deportivo Italia in Group 7 of the Copa Libertadores whilst Universidad Católica will face a to be determined Argentinean side in the qualifying round.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Luxemburgo in at Atlético-MG, Keirrison unsettled

After starting the year with Palmeiras before moving to Santos in mid season former Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo has been announced as the new coach of Atlético Miniero by the club website. Luxemburgo's tenure at Palmeiras came to an end after he was forced to sell star striker Keirrison to Barcelona against his will.

Luxemburgo left Santos when presidennt Marcelo Teixeira lost this position in the club elections last weekend. Writing on his blog, Luxemburgo expressed his happiness at returning to Belo Horizonte where he steered Atlético's bitter rival Cruzeiro to the title in 2003.

No other coach has won as many titles as Luxemburgo, his tally currently stands at 5. He was victorious with with Palmeiras in 1992 and 1993, Corinthians in 1998 and Santos in 2004 plus Cruzeiro in 2003.

Keirrison meanwhile isn't having the best of times since his move to Europe. Immediately farmed out by Barcelona to SL Benfica in Portugal, he has struggled to get much game time at the Estadio da Luz after finding himself behind Javier Saviola and Oscar Cardozo for a place in the starting side. Keirrison has made his frustrations known to his parent club and Barcelona are now looking at cancelling his loan move in January whilst Liverpool and Vasco da Gama are ready to pounce to sign the striker.

Meanwhile back in Brazil, Diego Souza of Palmeiras has been named as the player of the year in Brazil for 2009 ahead of Flamengo's Adriano and Dejan Petkovic. There was better news for Flamengo as Andrade was named Coach of the year.

Primera División de Argentina - week 17

Godoy Cruz 1-1 Rosario Central
Huracán 0-1 Banfield
Racing Club 1-0 Tigre
Argentinos Juniors 2-1 San Lorenzo
Atlético Tucumán 2-0 Colón
Boca Juniors 1-2 Independiente
Vélez Sársfield 3-1 River Plate
Newell's Old Boys 1-2 Arsenal
Lanús 2-0 Gimnasia La Plata

The Apertura season is coming to a disjointed close. Some clubs have already finished, some have one game remaining while most have two. So despite how the table looks, only three clubs are in with a chance of winning and one of those is very much an outside shot.

Banfield are back at the top and in the box seat to win the title given games to come against Tigre and Boca Juniors. The run-in certainly has been their friend; a single goal was enough to beat lowly Huracán before those two final, eminently winnable games. Santiago Silva it was with his 14th of the season to send his side back to the top because Newell's slipped up at home to Arsenal. Quarter of an hour in, Franco Sara scored a cracker on the break and he turned provider for the second, ten minutes from half-time, playing in Marias Perez who took it round the keeper and fired it high into the roof of the net. Joaquin Boghossian got one back after the break - and after a dog was removed from the pitch - but Arsenal held on for the win. The other side that could win are Vélez Sársfield, 3-1 winners over River Plate. In order to win, they need to beat Chacarita and Rosario Central while hoping Banfield fail to pick up another point and Newell's fail to beat either of Gimnasia and San Lorenzo. Maxi Morales put Vélez ahead with a fizzer from the edge of the box half an hour in. They had chances to extend the lead, but River got back level through Mauro Diaz on 75 minutes who chipped over the keeper from just inside the box. With time running out, Hernan López bundled the ball in at the back stick and Rolando Zarate powered home a header to seal the win.

Tigre remain three points adrift at the bottom, beaten by Racing for whom Sébastien Grazzini got the only goal of the game. It's going to take a mighty effort for them to avoid the wooden spoon now. Huracán and Gimnasia are the only sides Tigre can now overhaul and it's unlikely to be the latter of those despite defeat at Lanús. Sebastien Blanco scored a fine solo effort in the first half and Santiago Salcedo wrapped it up in second half stoppage time.

Everyone else is jockeying for mid-table position. Boca Juniors went down again, 2-1 at home to Independiente, a late Ignacio Piatti strike snatching all three points. Colón's title push ended with defeat in Tucumán with Luis Rodriguez getting both goals for Atléti, one from the penalty spot. The only red card of the round went to Argentinos Juniors' Gustavo Oberman who had, four minutes previously, grabbed what turned out to be the winner against San Lorenzo.

A round of midweek games began yesterday:

Huracán 0-0 Boca Juniors
Colón 1-0 Godoy Cruz
Independiente 1-1 Argentinos Juniors
San Lorenzo v Lanús
Gimnasia La Plata v Newell's Old Boys
Banfield v Tigre
Chacarita Juniors v Vélez Sársfield
Arsenal v Atlético Tucumán
River Plate v Racing Club

Colón finished their season with a win, Federico Nieto's penalty enough to beat Godoy Cruz. No goals between Huracán and Boca leave the former hanging on, three points ahead of Tigre who have a game in hand. Independiente's charge up the table started a bit too late and the draw with Argentinos Juniors ends their title push. Dario Gandín looked to have given them a win with ten minutes left, but Gonzalo Prosperi snatched a late equaliser which leaves Independiente too far adrift to win it.

Banfield ought to beat Tigre, especially at home, which means Newell's need to beat Gimnasia in order to take the title to the final weekend. Should Banfield win, then Tigre are all but bottom, no matter what Huracán do against River Plate. The relegation places are decided on an average of the last three campaigns and, frankly, there aren't enough minutes in the day to go through all the permutations.

We'll round up the penultimate games and preview the final weekend of this Apertura season on Friday.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Week 38

Náutico 0-1 Avaí
Atlético Miniero 0-3 Corinthians
Barueri 0-0 Atlético Paranaense
Santos 1-2 Cruzeiro
Coritiba 1-1 Fluminense
Vitória 2-2 Goiás
Flamengo 2-1 Grêmio
Botafogo 2-1 Palmeiras
Internacional 4-1 Santo André
São Paulo 4-0 Sport Recife

The last round of the 2009 Brasileiro and there were lots of things still to be sorted out as the weekend started. The non-entity games were moved to Saturday night and Avaí capped a remarkable first season in the top flight when they defeated already relegated Náutico to claim 6th place and finish above an Atlético-MG side who were still in the title hunt three weeks ago. Eltinho grabbing the only goal of the game in Recife. Atlético-MG's poor finish to the season was rounded off when they were comfortably disposed of by an under stength Corinthians side that has had the cue on the rack since winning the Copa do Brasil. A brace from Souza, the second from the spot, put the visitors 2-0 up at half time and Bill wrapped things up in the last minute. There was also disappointment for Diego Tardelli who failed in his attempt to overtake Adriano at the top of the scoring charts.

And onto Sunday. Flamengo were in the box seat going into the round but all the talk had been of Grêmio and their fans actually wanting to lose the game to deny hated rivals Internacional the title. As things stood at half time, Internacional were top as they led Santo André 2-0 thanks to Alecsandro and Índio, whilst São Paulo led relegated Sport by a 35th minutes Washington strike. Grêmio meanwhile proved the Inter doubters wrong by actually taking the lead at a packed Maracanã. Roberson poking home a corner that was poorly defended but David levelled for Flamengo despite an alleged offence by Adriano in the build up.

Flamengo then dramatically fell to third in the table after São Paulo went three goals clear of Sport thanks to a free kick from Rogério Ceni and a second from Washington. Inter then went three up against Santo André through Andrezinho before the defining moment of the season. Ronaldo Angelim put Flamengo ahead at the Marananã with 20 minutes to go and the Vultures were in sight of their first title since 1992. Giuliano then put Inter 4-0 up before Nunes got a consoalation for Santo André to give them something to show before their relegation. Washington then completed a hat-trick for São Paulo to give them a convincing 4-0 victory but it was all in vain as Flamengo held on at the Maracanã to spark wild scenes of celebration.

At the other end of the table there was relief for Botafogo and Fluminense but heartbreak for Coritiba who joined Santo André in Série B. Botafogo ensured their safety with a 2-1 victory at the Engenhão over Palmeiras and in the process denied the Big Green a place in the 2010 Copa Libertadores. Palmeiras had a disrupted build up to the game, including being attacked by their own fans in the week, and Botafogo took full advantage. Wellington put Botafogo ahead 10 minutes into the second half and Jobson doubled the lead 10 minutes later. Robert's goal in injury time was mere consolation for Palmeiras who must be wondering who they haven't won the league, let alone not qualified for the Libertadores. After Botafogo's victory Coritiba had to beat Fluminense to ensure they stayed in the top flight. It all went wrong when Marquinho put the visitors ahead in the 27th minute but Pereira levelled to send the teams into the break all square. Try as they might, Coritiba couldn't find the goal that would have relegated Fluminense and they exited the top flight and it was compounded by their fans entering the field of play after the match and attacking the match officials, Fluminense players and members of the military police on duty.

The biggest beneficiaries of the Palmeiras defeat were Cruzeiro, who sneaked into the qualifying round of the Copa Libertadores after a 2-1 victory over Santos. Wellington Paulista put Cruzeiro ahead with only 5 minutes on the clock. Cruzeiro then had Jonathan sent off just after they hour and then Neymar equalised to knock Cruzeiro out of the Libertadores. Cruzeiro rallied and edged ahead again when Kléber found the net. Atlético-PR missed out on a Sudamericana spot when they were held 0-0 by a Barueri side who must be happy with their efforts in the top flight this season. Finally Vitória and Goiás shared the points with an entertaining 2-2 draw. Roger put the home side ahead before a quick fire brace early in the second half from Felipe put Goiás ahead. Leandro Domingues levelled 8 minutes from time for Vitória to see both teams into the Sudamericana next year.

So this is who got what at the end of enthralling season in Brazil.

Champions: Flamengo
Copa Libertadores Group Stage: Internacional, São Paulo, Corinthians (via Copa do Brasil)
Copa Libertadores Qualifiers: Cruzeiro
Copa Sudamericana: Palmeiras, Avaí, Atlético Miniero, Grêmio, Goiás, Barueri, Santos, Vitória
Relegated: Sport Recife, Náutico, Santo André, Coritiba

So that's it for the 2009 Campeonato Brasileiro. Then national competition will return in May 2010. We'll be doing a team by team review and picking our team of the season but don't forget our coverage of the Campeonato Paulista and Campeonato Carioca begins in the middle of January. Also our coverage of the 2010 Copa Libertadores begins in January as well.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Twitter Coverage

Abbreviations guide for the Twitter coverage tonight

BAR - Barueri
BOT - Botafogo
CAP - Atlético Paranaense
COR - Coritiba
CRU - Cruzeiro
FLA - Flamengo
GRE - Grêmio
GOI - Goiás
INT - Internacional
PAL - Palmeiras
SAA - Santo André
SAN - Santos
SPA - São Paulo
SPO - Sport
VIT - Vitória

Friday, 4 December 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Week 38: Fixture Changes

We at CONMEBalls have just discovered that two games that don't really matter in Week 38 of the Brasileiro have been moved to 2130 GMT on Saturday night.

Naútico v Avaí
Atlético Miniero v Corinthians

All other games are 1900 GMT on Sunday. Don't forget we'll be covering those 8 games LIVE via our Twitter page.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Week 38: Who Can Do What

Here is the simple version from Goal.com

Here is the CONMEBalls version

Right, this is what could happen this weekend in the Brasileiro.

If Flamengo win

They are champions. Simple.

If Flamengo draw.....

Internacional win, they go above Flamengo
Palmeiras win, they go above Flamengo
São Paulo need to win by 3 clear goals to go above Flamengo.

A draw is no good for Internacional, Palmeiras or São Paulo to be champions, but enough to ensure a spot in the Copa Libertadores.

For Internacional to be Champions

They need Flamengo to lose/draw
Palmeiras or São Paulo can't finish above Internacional if they win

For Palmeiras to be Champions

They need Flamengo to lose/draw
They need to better the result of Internacional
They also need São Paulo to win by LESS than 4 goals

For São Paulo to be Champions

They need Flamengo to lose/draw and in the case of a draw win by 3 clear goals.
They need to better the results of Internacional and Palmeiras

As an aside....

For Cruzeiro to qualify for the Libertadores

Cruzeiro need to win and hope one of Palmeiras or São Paulo lose

That's the top sorted out.

At the bottom

Vitória and Atlético-PR are safe win or lose as Botafogo can't go above them.

A win for Santo André will see them go above both Coritiba and Botafogo if they lose.
A point for Coritiba and Botafogo will relegate Santo André regardless.

Botafogo will be relegated if they do not get a better result than Coritiba.

Coritiba will be relegated if they lose and Botafogo draws, regardless of what Santo André do. Coritiba defeats Fluminense and they will be safe.

Fluminense will be relegated if they lose to Coritiba and Botafogo win.

If Botafogo loses/draws they can't go above Fluminense but can go above Coritiba if they lose so they are relying on Fluminense.

Confused? I am.

Let's see how it all pans out on Sunday. Don't forget live coverage via Twitter from 1855 GMT. Add us http://twitter.com/CONMEBalls

Copa Sudamericana Final 2nd Leg

Fluminense 3-0 LDU Quito
LDU Quito wins on goal difference

LDU Quito have been crowned the 2009 Copa Nissan Sudamericana champions despite a 3-0 loss to Fluminense at a packed Maracanã.


LDU Quito, Copa Sudamericana

The 5-1 first leg win last week in Quito was decisive for Jorge Fossati's side to lift their third continental title inside 18 months, having won the Copa Libertadores last year and the Recopa Sudamericana against Internacional earlier on in the year.

However, LDU experienced a fair bit of squeaky bum time before making sure of their success.

Needing at least a four goal win just to take the game to extra-time, Fluminense were desperate for an early goal to give them momentum and keep their hopes alive. Unlike on Sunday against Vtiória when they were two up inside the first five minutes it took them 14 minutes to make the breakthrough.

Diguinho's deflected shot off William Arajou beat LDU goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez. Fluminense should have doubled their advantage shortly but Alan failed to connect with a Dario Conca cross. Fluminense were then presented with the opportunity of playing against 10 men after LDU's Ulises de la Cruz, scorer of the firth goal in Quito last week, was dismissed for a nasty foul on Diguinho. Then two minutes before half time the defecit on aggregate was halved when Fred scored to make it 2-0.

Fluminense now had the momentum and the Fluzão behind them in the second half and they went so close to a third in the 57th minute when Ruy hit the woodwork. With 20 minutes to go the fans in the Maracanã started to believe the impossible could happen when Gum headed in a corner to send the stadium into rapture. However, four minutes later they lost their man advantage when goalscorer Fred was given a second yellow card for dissent at referee Carlos Amarilla.

Then Neicer Reasco had the chance to kill the tie off but Rafael kept Fluminense in the game with a save. Fluminense got their man advantage back when Jairo Campos was shown a red card for tugging back Alan by the shirt for his second booking on the night. Despite the best efforts of Fluminense, the home side failed find the net and at the final whistle LDU were able to celebrate their third CONMEBOL title in a little over 12 months.

LDU now get to defend their Recopa title against Estudiantes before another trip to Japan, after their FIFA World Club Championship appearance in 2008, to face FC Tokyo in the Suruga Bank Championship.


Also, I hate to beat my own drum. But I did pick the winner back in October. Check the first paragraph.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

2010 Copa Libertadores Draw

The draw for the 51st Edition of the Copa Santander Libertadores took place at CONMEBOL Headquarters in Asunción last Wednesday. Most berths have yet to be filled but teams in brackets are the current position holders. The games begin with the Qualifying Round in the week beginning January 18th.

Qualifying Round

Deportivo Táchira (Venezuela) v Paraguay 3 (Game 1)
Peru 3 v México 3 (Game 2)
Argentina 5 v Chile 3 (Game 3)
Bolivia 3 v Cruzeiro (Brazil) (Game 4)
Argentina 6 v Ecuador 3 (Game 5)
Colombia 3 v Racing Club Montevideo (Uruguay) (Game 6)

Group 1

Corinthians (Brazil)
Cerro Porteño (Paraguay)
Colombia 2
Winner Game 6

Group 2

São Paulo (Brazil)
Paraguay 2
Once Caldas (Colombia)
México 2

Group 3

Estudiantes (Argentina)
Bolívar (Bolivia)
Peru 2
Winner Game 2

Group 4

Argentina 4
Blooming Santa Cruz (Bolivia)
Peru 1
Winner Game 1

Group 5

Internacional
Cerro (Uruguay)
Ecuador 1
Winner Game 5

Group 6

Argentina 3
Nacional (Uruguay)
Ecuador 2
Morelia (Mexico)

Group 7

Vélez Sársfield (Argentina)
Chile 2
Deportivo Italia (Venezuela)
Winner Game 4

Group 8

Flamengo (Brazil)
Universidad de Chile (Chile)
Caracas FC (Venezuela)
Winner Game 3

Colón has qualified from Argentina but yet to be allocated a berth.
Deportivo Cuenca and Deportivo Quito have qualified in Ecuador but have yet to be allocated berths.
Alianza Lima and Universitario have qualified from Peru but have yet to be allocated berths
Universidad Católica has qualified from Chile but has yet to be allocated a berth

We'll be a better idea in the New Year

The 8 group winners plus the six best runners up will qualify for the Round of 16. They will be joined there by Mexican clubs Guadalajara and San Luis, ranked 13th and 14th respectively, after the H1N1 virus forced their withdrawal from the competition at this stage in 2009 and they have been invited by CONMEBOL to join the competition at this stage this year.

Primera División de Argentina - week 16

Rosario Central 1-1 Atlético Tucumán
Independiente 2-0 Huracán
Chacarita Juniors 2-1 Godoy Cruz
River Plate 1-1 Estudiantes
San Lorenzo 3-0 Boca Juniors
Tigre 0-3 Vélez Sársfield
Banfield 1-2 Racing
Arsenal 2-5 Lanús
Colón 0-1 Newell's Old Boys
Gimnasia La Plata 1-2 Argentinos Juniors

Banfield lost their first game of this Apertura season and, with it, the leadership of the league as they were surprisingly beaten at home by strugglers Racing Club. Matias Martinez put Racing ahead early on, converting a free-kick at the back post, but leading goalscorer Santiago Silva struck his 13th of the season, also from a free-kick. Surely then it was matter of Banfield kicking on, but Racing dug in and weathered the storm before, midway through the second half, they hit Banfield on the counter and Gabriel Mercado was teed up for a simple finish. That gave Newell's the chance to take over at the top and they did on Monday with a 1-0 win over Colón, Joaquin Boghossian with it, as both sides finished with ten players.

If Estudiantes hoped to get a few points in the bank before their trip to the FIFA World Club Jamboree, then it's blown up spectacularly as they dropped yet more points away to River Plate, blowing a lead in the process. Leandro Desábato put them in front on the half hour with an excellent header from a corner. That looked like being enough until Maxi Nuñez was shown a second yellow and, eventually, River levelled it, Ariel Ortega with a tap-in at the back post after Estudiantes keeper Damián Albil could only parry a long-range shot to Ortega's feet four minutes into stoppage time. Vélez move up after a routine win over rock-bottom Tigre, the wonderfully monikered Waldo Ponce with a brace and San Lorenzo also put three away against Boca who look likely to lose Juan Roman Riquelme to Brazilian outfit Corinthians in the near future. Gaston Aguirre put the Saints two up at the break and Fabian Bordagaray wrapped it up in the second half.

The tale of Huracán's demise is a sad one, the club simply unable to replace the vibrant talent that served them so well before the bigger clubs swooped in and swiped them all. They went down again to leave them entrenched near the foot of the table, Leonel Galeano and Dario Gandin in target for Independiente who strengthen their position just behind the front-runners. Gimnasia join them down there after another defeat, this time after blowing a lead against Argentinos Juniors. Jose Luis Vizcarra put Gimnasia ahead on the hour, but the lead lasted barely five minutes before Gabriel Hauche levelled. Ten minutes from time, Gonzalo Prosperi snatched all three points. Chacarita pulled level with Godoy Cruz by beating them at home, Gustavo Alustiza putting them in front in the first half and Diego Morales with a stoppage-time winner after Ariel Rojas had equalised but, crucially, Leonardo Sigali had been sent off in the last minute.

Rosario Central and Atlético Tucumán shared the spoils, Guillermo Burdisso with an early opener for Rosario and Fabio Escobar with a second half equaliser. Game of the day was in Sarandi where Arsenal led twice before succumbing to an onslaught. Diego Galvan put the home side in front five minutes in, but it was back level at the break thanks to Sebastien Blanco. Javier Yacuzzi restored the lead on the hour, but only for two minutes before Cristian Menéndez equalised again. That seemed to break Arsenal as Lanús went on the rampage with three goals in the last ten minutes, Santiago Biglieri, Santiago Salcedo's penalty and Agustin Pellegrini sealing a big win.

There's a full programme this weekend before a couple of rounds without Estudiantes while they're on their holidays. Indeed, Estudiantes kick us off on Thursday night so they can go and get their plane in good time.

Estudiantes v Chacarita Juniors
Godoy Cruz v Rosario Central
Huracán v Banfield
Racing v Tigre
Argentinos Juniors v San Lorenzo
Atlético Tucumán v Colón
Boca Juniors v Independiente
Vélez Sársfield v River Plate
Newell's Old Boys v Arsenal
Lanús v Gimnasia La Plata

Twitter Me Now

We have just added a CONMEBalls Twitter. We will be running live coverage of Round 38 of the Campeonato Brasileiro via the Twitter site from 18.55 GMT on Sunday. Including live score updates and tables.

Please add us

http://twitter.com/CONMEBalls

Cheers

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 37

Palmeiras 3-1 Atlético Miniero
Grêmio 4-2 Barueri
Atlético Paranaense 2-0 Botafogo
Cruzeiro 4-1 Coritiba
Corinthians 0-2 Flamengo
Sport Recife 1-2 Internacional
Santo André 5-3 Náutico
Avaí 2-2 Santos
Goiás 4-2 São Paulo
Fluminense 4-0 Vitória

Another crazy week in the Brasileiro which saw the lead at the top of the table change hands again with only 90 minutes of the season left and the remarkable escape of Fluminense continue at the bottom of the table.

São Paulo drop from top to fourth after their second successive defeat, this time away at Goiás. Washington put the Champions ahead after 15 minutes but they went into the break behind after Vitor and Rithely struck for Goiás. Fernandão made it three before Washington's second got São back into the game with 20 minutes to go. It took Goiás less than a minute to resote their two goal cushion. Léo Lima with the crucial goal to condemn São to a second succesive defeat. Flamengo take over at the top of the table after a controversial 2-0 victory over Corinthians. It was billed as Ronaldo v Adriano, but the latter didn't even make the run on side and Ronaldo hobbled off with injury before half time. Zé Roberto put Fla ahead with 26 minutes gone, Corinthians then had Chicão sent off with 20 minutes to go and when Fla were awarded a penalty in the last minute it was all too much for one fan who ran onto the pitch to confront the referee. Leo Moura dispatched the penalty and the title is now in Flamengo's hands. Flamengo are now assured a place in the 2010 Copa Libertadores.

Internacional and Palmeiras also leapfrogged over São Paulo. Inter moved into second after coming from a goal down at already relegated Sport. Vandinho put Sport ahead but Inter kept going and Kleber equalized half way through the second half and Andrezinho got the winner with 7 minutes left. Palmeiras emerged from their recent run of bad form to claim a victory over Atlético-MG and condemn them to a place in the Sudamericana next season. Cleiton Xavier put Palmeiras ahead in the first minute but Diego Tardelli's 19th of the season levelled things with 12 minutes on the clock. 4 minutes later Palmeiras were back ahead through Diego Souza and Vagner Love added a third on half time to wrap up the points. Cruzeiro remain the only team with a chance of a Libertadores spot after they put Coritiba in a whole heap of relegation trouble with a 4-1 victory. Jeci put Coritiba ahead with 11 minutes gone but they were sunk under a blue tidal wave as two goal just before half time from Henrique and Jonathan sent Cruzeiro into the break ahead before Wellington Paulista and Eliandro put the game beyond the reach of Coritiba and left them staring into the abyss of Série B.

Atlético-PR are now safe after they won their crucial battle with Botafogo in Curitiba. Wallyson put Atlético-PR ahead six minutes before half time and Paulo Baier finished things off 15 minutes from time. Botafogo now fall into the last relegation spot after the great escape of Fluminense continued in the Maracanã after they showed great bouncebackability after the disappointment in Quito in midweek to dispose of Vitória 4-0. They game was all over with 5 minutes on the clock as Fluminense were already two up through Alan and Fred. A brace from Dario Conca doubled the lead in the second half but three red cards marred the final 7 mintues of the game. It's the first time that Fluminense have been out of the relegation zone all season. Náutico's 5-3 defeat to Santo André left them relegated alongside Recife rivals Sport. Nunes and Wanderley put Santo André two up before Carlinhos Bala pulled a goal back. Wanderley's second ensured a two goal cushion at half time for Santo André before Romulo extended the lead to 4-1. Anderson Lessa pulled one back on the hour for Náutico before a second for Nunes made it 5-2 with 15 minutes to go. Nilson's goal with 9 minutes left for Náutico turned out to be little more than consolation.

In the games that didn't matter, Grêmio ensured they stayed unbeaten at home all season in the league when they beat Barueri 4-2. Grêmio were three up before half time thanks to Douglas Costa, Souza and Adilson. Barueri hit back with a brace from Val Baiano, his 17th and 18th goals of the season, before Maxi López secured the points for Grêmio with a goal in injury time. Avaí raced into a two goal lead against Santos thanks to two goals from Cristian in the opening 9 minutes. Kléber Pereira pulled one back just before the half hour before Adaílton was sent off for a second yellow card. Paulo Henrique Lima rescued a point for Santos though when he struck with a minute to go in regulation.

So that's it, we're down to the final 90 minutes of the season. We at CONMEBalls will be bringing you all the action live and as it happens from 1900 GMT next weekend. The format is yet to be decided but we'll let you know well in advance what we are doing.

Can Flamengo win Série A for the first time and claim their first national title since 1992? Only a win will guarantee them the title and they welcome a Grêmio side with the worst away record in the league. Inter host Santo André who must win to stay up, Palmeiras travel to Botafogo who also must win to stay up whilst São Paulo entertain relegated Sport. Who will join Sport and Náutico in Série B next year? You can pick two from four for the unwanted honour. Already mentioned are Santo André and Botafogo who face title challengers, the other two sides in the mire, Coritiba and Fluminense go head to head.

Here is how they line up for Week 38......

Barueri x Atlético Paranaense
Náutico x Avaí
Atlético Miniero x Corinthians
Santos x Cruzeiro
Coritiba x Fluminense
Vitória x Goiás
Flamengo x Grêmio
Botafogo x Palmeiras
Internacional x Santo André
São Paulo x Sport Recife


Meanwhile, Série B came to a conclusion at the weekend and as expected Vasco da Gama returned to the top flight as champions, finishing 7 points clear of Guarani de Campinas. Joining them in the top flight are Ceará and Atlético Goianiense.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Final 1st Leg

LDU Quito 5-1 Fluminense

LDU have opened up a huge advantage in the Copa Sudamericana final after thrashing Fluminense 5-1 at the Estadio Casa Blanca in Quito.

Fluminense led with less than 60 seconds on the clock when Marquinho pounced to give the visitors a shock lead. Fluminense began to struggle in the altitude and were behind by half time thanks to two cracking goals from Edison Méndez, pictured right celebrating with LDU coach Jorge Fossati. Méndez completed his hat-trick with a header on the hour and then turned creator for Franklin Salas to add a fourth. 4-1 was probably enough for Fluminense to haul back in Rio next week but Ulises de la Cruz put one hand on the trophy for LDU with a 30 yarder with three minutes to go.

What the ramifications are for Fluminense no one can tell. It's their first defeat after a 13 match unbeaten run, including victories in the last 8 on the spin, and with Vitória due at the Maracanã in a must win game in their fight against relegation it may have had a devastating effect on the confidence of the side coming into what could be one of the biggest weeks in the history of Fluminense.

You can't fault the efforts of LDU, they were masterful tonight. Ripping Fluminense to shreds at times and fully deserving their four goal lead. After last years Libertadores final, you shouldn't write this game off. It finished 5-5 on aggregate last time and who is to say that with a full to bursting Maracanã behind them, Fluminense might pull off the impossible. They've been doing it in the league for the last 6 weeks but I think this may be a bridge too far for them and there may be tears at the end of it all.



Primera División de Argentina - week 15

Estudiantes 3-1 Tigre
Lanús 3-0 Colón
Huracán 0-2 San Lorenzo
Atlético Tucumán 2-1 Chacarita Juniors
Independiente 1-2 Banfield
Newell's Old Boys 2-2 Rosario Central
Boca Juniors 4-0 Gimnasia La Plata
Godoy Cruz 1-1 River Plate
Argentinos Juniors 1-1 Arsenal
Vélez Sársfield 4-2 Racing Club
Estudiantes 0-1 Colón

Banfield continued their winning run to open up a gap at the top of the Apertura table after coming from behind to halt Independiente's surge up the table. After a goalless first half, Dario Gandin put Los Diablos Rojos ahead, but Lucas Mareque's own goal three minutes later squared it back up again. Handed that lifeline, the league leaders weren't about to pass up the opportunity and it was that man Santiago Silva who won it for them. The gap opens up because Newell's were held in the Rosario derby, coming from two goals down to snatch a point against their big city rivals. Two goals in two minutes put Rosario Central in front, Gervasio Nunez and Diego Chitzoff striking in the eleventh and twelfth minutes. Joaquin Boghossian pulled one back three minutes later and Jorge Achucarro sent the sides in level. And that's how it remained in a tense second half.

Estudiantes are two games ahead of most sides now having played twice for the second successive week. They put Tigre away, as expected, even scoring the bottom club's goal for them as Mauro Boselli starred in a 3-1 win, but they were turned over by Colón, Federico Nieto's stoppage time goal denying them a point. Colón lost their other game of the weekend, surprisingly beaten by Lanús. El Granate got all three goals around the half-time break, Cristian Menéndez just before and Sebastien Blanco and Santiago Salcedo's penalty just after. Colón remain third.

Huracán remain in bother after yet another defeat, short-handed to San Lorenzo. Paulo Goltz saw red early in the second half by which time Huracán had already gone behind to Renato Civelli. Juan Manuel Torres made it safe late in the second half. Chacarita and Racing are also still way down after both lost. Racing were in front against Vélez thanks to Gaston Diaz's own goal, but four unanswered goals left them with a mountain to climb. They did pull one back, way too late to make a difference. Chacarita went behind in first half stoppage time to Sebastien Longo, but went in level thanks to the wonderfully named Emmanuel Centurión. Fabio Escobar won it quarter of an hour from time for Atlético Tucumán.

River Plate were ahead in the third minute at Godoy Cruz, but were pegged back by Ariel Rojas shortly after the break and that's how it remained. Arsenal also drew 1-1 despite being a man and a goal down. Gabriel Hauche put Argentinos Juniors in front and when Franco Jara was sent off, that looked it for Arsenal, but Facundo Silva got the equaliser seven minutes from time. Finally, Boca won big, 4-0 at home to Gimnasia with Federico Insua getting two of them.

Back to a regular ten fixtures this week:

Rosario Central v Atlético Tucumán
Independiente v Huracán
Chacarita Juniors v Godoy Cruz
River Plate v Estudiantes
San Lorenzo v Boca Juniors
Tigre v Vélez Sársfield
Banfield v Racing Club
Arsenal v Lanús
Colón v Newell's Old Boys
Gimnasia La Plata v Argentinos Juniors

Banfield are favourites to remain top with a home game against a Racing side for whom the word hapless seems apt. Colón v Newell's looks a cracker, as do the games at River Plate and San Lorenzo. We'll have a round-up early next week.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Final preview

Fluminense and LDU Quito meet again at Estadio Casa Blanca in the first leg of the Copa Nissan Sudamericana final tonight in the Ecuadorean capital at an altitude of 2850 metres.

Flu are hoping for better luck than the last time they faced LDU in a continental final. That was last year in the final of the Copa Libertadores, which LDU won 3-1 in a dramatic penalty shootout at the Maracanã after finishing level at 5-5 over two legs and a further half an hour of extra time.

"They will have a bad memory of what happened in Maracanã," said Jorge Fossati, pictured, the Uruguayan coach of LDU.

The Sudamericana is the continent's equivalent of the Europa League but neither team have yet to taste success in this competition. LDU's Libertadores success has already been mentioned but Fluminense have never won an international title.

"Playing an international cup final in the continent that exports the most soccer talent to the world is a great honour," said LDU vice-president Patricio Torres.

LDU reached the final by hammering River Plate Montevideo 7-0 and rested several players for their league game at weekend, which they lost 1-0 to Manta FC. Fluminense got to the final by beating Cerro Porteño 3-1 on aggregate after a dramatic late finish in the Maracanã. Fluminense were in Recife at the weekend and defeated already relegated Sport 3-0 in the Campeonato and are likely to field the same lineup.

LDU have a slight doubt over the fitness of Jairo Campos, but Renán Calle is on standby to take his place if he fails a fitness test.

Fluminense coach Cuca reckons his team can deliver success, "We can't play defensively, because that is what LDU want us to do. We will not change out style of play just because it's a final."

Fluminense will depend on striker Fred for the goals but will be without injured defender Digao, who has a fractured left foot, and forward Maicon, who has a thigh problem.

The Brazilian players have tried to play down playing at altitude in Quito. Fred, left, said, "I'm not worried because I talked to the coach and he said playing at altitude is a psychological thing, so I'll try to keep it out of my mind."

Possible line ups

LDU Quito: Alexander Domínguez; Norberto Araujo, Carlos Espínola, Jairo Campos or Renán Calle; Néicer Reasco, Diego Calderón, Ulises De La Cruz, Miller Bolaños, Édison Méndez; Walter Calderón, Claudio Bieler.

Fluminense: Rafael; Gum, Dalton, Cassio; Mariano, Diogo or Marquinho, Diguinho, Darío Conca, Marquinho; Alan, Fred.

Referee: Roberto Silvera (Uruguay)

The game is being streamed live on certain bookmakers sites (subject to national restrictions) and kicks off at 23.50 GMT

Just to point out, the rules are different for the final. Away goals don't count. If it's level at the end of 180 minutes, we'll have a further 30 minutes of extra time before the game goes to a penalty shoot out.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 36

Grêmio 2-0 Palmeiras
Atlético Paranaense 1-1 Cruzeiro
Corinthians 2-3 Náutico
Santo André 4-2 Avaí
Santos 4-0 Coritiba
Sport Recife 0-3 Fluminense
Botafogo 3-2 São Paulo
Vitória 2-1 Barueri
Flamengo 0-0 Goiás
Atlético Miniero 0-1 Internacional

Oh my god! What a round in the Brasileiro. The top 6 collected a total of five points between them, the bottom six meanwhile picked up 14 points between them in another crazy week in the Brasileiro.

The round began in Porto Alegre on Wednesday night when any hope Palmeiras had of picking up the title were finally dented at Fortress Grêmio. Rafael Marques put the home side ahead right on half time and that led to the Palmeiras pair of Mauricio and Obina doing a Bowyer/Dyer as the players trudged off for half time. They were both subsequently dismissed by the referee and later told they'd never pull the Green shirt on again for Palmeiras. Down to nine men, it was too much of a task and Maxi López ensured that Grêmio remain unbeaten at home with a second 20 minutes from time.

Only two games on Saturday, where Atlético-PR had thought they had secured a valuable win in their fight against Libertadores chasing Cruzeiro. Marcinho had put Atlético ahead with only 17 minutes left but Leonardo Silva broke Atlético-PR hearts and kept Cruzeiro in the hunt for a Libertadores spot with an equaliser as the game went into injury time. Gilberto was then sent off for the visitors for a second yellow card but the points were shared. In the other game Náutico kept their heads above the relegation parapet with a shock come from behind win at Corinthians. Náutico went into half time ahead thanks to Bruno Miniero's goal 5 minutes before the break. Ronaldo then levelled before Elias put the home side ahead to leave Náutico joining Recife neighbours Sport in Série B. In between the goals Bruno Miniero had been sent off, but Náutico showed great spirit and Carlinhos Bala levelled with 6 minutes to go before Ailton kept his nerve to convert an injury time penalty.

And onto Sunday......

In the early kick offs Avaí's slim hopes of the last Libertadores spot were crushed by Santo André, who like Náutico the night before kept their heads off the relegation chopping block with this victory. Marcelinho Carioca put Santo André ahead form the spot in the first half before Wanderley doubled the advantage 9 minutes into the second half. Muriqui then pulled one back for Avaí before Camilo restored the two goal advantage. Marquinhos then reduced the defecit again before Camilo secured the points for Santo André with a second in injury time. Coritiba are now looking nervously over their shoulders after they were humped 4-0 by Santos at the Vila Belmiro. Two goals in the space of 4 minutes from Madson and Kléber Pereira mean Santos went into the break two goals to the good before the latest prodigy off the Santos production line, 17 year old Neymar added a brace in the second half. Fluminense made it 8 in a row (in all competitions) after finally disposing of already relegated Sport in Recife, who are now confirmed for the CONMEBalls Série A wooden spoon. Moacir and Ciro were sent off for Sport and to further hamper them it was an own goal from Zé Antonio which put Fluminense ahead. Fred then doubled the lead before Dario Conca put the icing on the cake to send Fluminense off to Quito in confident mood.

In the final Sunday afternoon game at the Engenhão, there was only one word to describe it. Carnage. 5 goals, a hat trick and 4 red cards as Botofogo kept themselves alive in the relegation race and São Paulo threw a lifeline to Flamengo in the race for the title. Jobson put the home side ahead with 14 minutes on the clock but that was cancelled out right on half time by Washington. Ten minutes into the second half Jorge Wágner put the Champions ahead but Jobson's second levelled matters 4 minutes later. Then two red cards, the first to Richarlyson from São Paulo with 20 minutes to go before he was followed by Botafogo's Juninho with 6 minutes to go. As the game entered injury time Jobson completed his hat-trick to win the game for Fogo before becoming the third player to be sent off after picking up a second yellow for taking his shirt off in celebration and he was joined deep in injury time by Rodrigo Dantas. Botafogo finishing with 8 men but picking up three valuable points.

When the late games started on Sunday, across town from the Engenhão, Flamengo were in pole position to go top of the table when they entertained Goiás at the Maracanã. 78,000 people turned up for the game but were left disappointed and frustrated by a dull goalless draw which left Flamengo still a point behind São Paulo and left Goiás without a chance of a Libertadores spot and in the Sudamericana. Vitória qualified for next season's Sudamericana after overcoming 10 man Barueri. Leandro Domingues put Vitória ahead just after half time before Roger doubled the lead 10 minutes later. Otacilio Neto saw red for Barueri who got a consolation through Val Baiano's 16th goal of the season in injury time. Internacional still have a chance of title glory after a backs to the wall win at an Atlético-MG side who saw their title hopes ended by this defeat. Both teams went into the game on 56 points and to be fair a draw was no good for either side. It was settled by a single goal 15 minutes into the game, Inter midfielder Giuliano with the crucial strike to lift Inter into third, three points off the pace.

The heat is on now, 11 red cards over the weekend shows the pressure is getting to the players a little. But just look at the relegation battle now. Fluminense on 42 with Botafogo, Coritiba and Atlético-PR all with touching distance just two points ahead. How much will Flamengo regret not picking up more than a point against Goiás? How much will the surprise defeat at Barueri in week 32 come back to haunt them? Inter suddenly have a chance of the title but São Paulo must be breathing a sigh of relief after Flamengo failed to take advantage.

All the games are scheduled to kick off at the same time on Sunday at 7pm UK time. Atlético-PR and Botafogo meet in the big game at the bottom of the table whilst Palmeiras and Atlético-MG, which had title decider written all over it three weeks ago is now a battle for the last qualification spot for the Libertadores. One of Santo André and Náutico will defenitely be relegated this weekend as they clash, a draw though would send both teams down.

Here is how they line up for Week 37, the penultimate round.

Palmeiras x Atlético Mineiro
Grêmio x Barueri
Atlético Paranaense x Botafogo
Cruzeiro x Coritiba
Corinthians x Flamengo
Sport Recife x Internacional
Santo André x Náutico
Avaí x Santos
Goiás x São Paulo
Fluminense x Vitória

It's awesome this finish to the season in Brazil and we're back next Monday with a round up of all the action.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Semi Final 2nd Legs

Fluminense 2-1 Cerro Porteño
Fluminense advances 6-0 on points
LDU Quito 7-0 River Plate Montevideo
LDU advances on goal difference

Fluminense reached the Copa Sudamericana final by scoring twice in second half injury time to overcome Cerro Porteño 2-1 and 3-1 on aggregate at Maracanã on Wednesday.

The Fluzão were certainly up for it but Cerro Porteño, trailing after the first leg, levelled the tie with only six minutes on the clock when midfielder Luis Caceres converted a cross from striker Cesar Ramirez which deflected in off a Fluminense defender. Diego Barreto was again having a marvellous game in the Cerro goal, denying chance after chance as Fluminense looked to retake the initiative. With the tie heading for penalties there was a dramatic conclusion. Two minutes into second half injury-time defender Gum struck home to put Fluminense level on the night and ahead in the tie and as Cerro Porteño chased an equaliser in what little injury time was left goalkeeper Barreto was caught upfield in attack and Alan made it 2-1 rolling the ball into an empty net to send the Fluzão wild and give Fluminense a 7th straight win in all competitions.

Then after the final whistle a massive fight broke out between all the players on both teams, with the Fluminense and Cerro Porteño coaching staff also trading blows before Brazilian military police stormed the field to break it up and force the Cerro players down the tunnel and back into the sheds before the Fluminense players could finally celebrate with their supporters.

Liga de Quito stormed into the Copa Sudamericana finals with a thumping 7-0 win over River Plate Montevideo, easily overturning a 2-1 defeat in the first leg.

Claudio Bieler opened the scoring from the spot after 18 minutes after Neicer Reasco was brought down in the box. Then Carlos Espinola headed home Edison Méndez's corner in the 28th, and River ability to defend disappeared at the end of the first half when Bieler's cross was headed back across the goal by Walter Calderon for an unmarked Miller Bolanos to smash the ball home. The tie was all over there and then and Méndez scored LDU's fourth 12 minutes after the break before former Birmingham City player Ulises De La Cruz made it 5-0 in the 78th minute it was party time. Bieler put the candles on the cake when he completed a hat-trick with strikes with 84 and 89 minutes on the clock.

So the final will be a repeat of last years Copa Libertadores final which LDU Quito won dramatically on a penalty shoot out in the Maracanã to stun the Fluzão. The first leg is again scheduled for Quito next week with the return in the Maracanã the week after.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Primera División de Argentina - week 14

Rosario Central 3-0 Estudiantes

Chacarita Juniors 0-1 Newell's Old Boys
Tigre 2-0 Godoy Cruz
Banfield 3-0 Vélez Sársfield
Colón 2-0 Argentinos Juniors
San Lorenzo 0-3 Independiente
River Plate 3-1 Atlético Tucumán
Arsenal 1-1 Boca Juniors
Racing 1-0 Estudiantes
Gimnasia La Plata 4-1 Huracán
Rosario Central 0-0 Lanús

Two defeats across the weekend have seen Estudiantes fall off the pace in the Apertura. They had a game midweek last week in Rosario and collapsed to a 3-0 defeat, falling behind in the sixth minute when Juan Veron put past his own keeper. Gonzalo Castillejos added a second on the stroke of half-time and a second own-goal wrapped it up, Agustin Alayes the culprit this time. They went down again on Monday away at lowly Racing Club, Pablo Luguercio with the only goal of the game. That leaves Estudiantes six adrift of the leaders, but having played a game more.

Banfield and Newell's continue to lead the way. Newell's needed an Omar Zarif own goal to get past Chacarita Juniors while Banfield put three past Vélez Sársfield to strengthen their position at the top. Goalless at half-time, Banfield were two up within three minutes of the restart through James Rodriguez and Cristian Garcia. Garcia's second, ten minutes after his first, sealed the points. Two Esteban Fuertes penalties helped Colón to victory Argentinos Juniors and they now lead the chase, four points behind the leading duo.

With Racing winning, Tigre were in danger of being cut adrift at the bottom, but upset Godoy Cruz with a 2-0 win. Martin Morel put Tigre in front early on and they were clinging on until Jorge Curbelo's second yellow reduced Godoy to ten. Carlos Fondacaro sealed the points deep in stoppage time. Huracán remain in trouble after going down hard to Gimnasia. Diego Rodriguez equalised Gimnasia's opener, scored by Jose Vizcarra, on the half hour, but it lasted just two minutes before Sebastien Romero put the La Plata side back in front. Marcos Perez and Denis Stracqualursi added second-half goals to wrap up an emphatic win. A rare win for River Plate, just their third of the season, eased the pressure a little and took them above their opponents Atlético Tucumán. Atléti were ahead in the first minute through Emmanuel Gigliotti, but three goals in six second-half minutes turned it around. Marcelo Gallardo's strike on 70 minutes opened the floodgates and Diego Buonanotte and Daniel Villalba had both struck before Tucumán knew what had hit them.

Rosario's second game of the week ended goalless against Lanús and Boca Juniors also finished level, Cristian Álvarez grabbing a point for Arsenal after Gary Medel had put Boca in front. San Lorenzo and Independiente are going in opposite directions and the latter go above the former following a thumping win. Dario Gandin sent Independiente into half-time ahead and two goals in as many minutes sealed it, Martin Gomez and Leonel Nunez with them. The Saints' collapse was complete when Alejandro Gomez was sent off ten minutes from time.

Next week, top game is the Rosario derby with Newell's the hosts. River Plate's resurgence gets tested at Godoy Cruz while Estudiantes can get back on the horse at home to lowly Tigre. Indeed, Estudiantes play twice this week as well with a Wednesday clash with Colón as they clear their schedules ahead of the Copa Libertadores. Independiente are on the up and host Banfield in what looks a tasty clash.

Estudiantes v Tigre
Lanús v Colón
Huracán v San Lorenzo
Atlético Tucumán v Chacarita Juniors
Independiente v Banfield
Newell's Old Boys v Rosario Central
Boca Juniors v Gimnasia La Plata
Godoy Cruz v River Plate
Argentinos Juniors v Arsenal
Vélez Sársfield v Racing
Estudiantes v Colón

Final World Cup place up for grabs

After Saturday's game in San Jose, Uruguay take a one-goal lead over Costa Rica back to Montevideo for tonight's second leg of the CONMEBOL/CONCACAF play-off. Diego Lugano got the only goal of the opening leg, but Costa Rican midfielder Luis Antonio Marin is in bullish mood. "They profited from one chance from a corner. This is not over. We can go to Uruguay and win there" he said in the pre-match press conference.

It'll be tough, whatever Marin says. Randall Azofeifa was sent off for a second yellow in San Jose, so is banned for the return, while Uruguay boast the likes of Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez among their number, but the performance - if not the result - will certainly fill The Ticos with confidence. They generally held sway on the attacking front and only conceded from a corner while defender Gilberto Martinez was off the field receiving treatment. Even after the sending off, they more than held their own and could/should have got something out of the game, the in-form Bryan Ruiz with a couple of chances.

It's nicely poised, but at home and with a goal advantage, surely this is Uruguay's to lose.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 35

Palmeiras 2-2 Sport Recife
Coritiba 2-1 Atlético Miniero
Cruzeiro 1-1 Grêmio
São Paulo 2-0 Vitória
Barueri 3-0 Botafogo
Avaí 3-1 Corinthians
Náutico 0-2 Flamengo
Fluminense 2-1 Atlético Paranaense
Internacional 3-1 Santos

Sport Recife's fight against the drop was ended by Palmeiras last Wednesday night but it was also a result that put a huge dent in the title ambitions of Palmeiras. Just like last week Sport were two up inside 16 minutes, Juan Acre with the opener before Wilson doubled the lead to stun the Palestra Itália. With their title ambitions on the line, Palmeiras had to fight back, they were helped when Durval was sent off for Sport with 67 mintues gone but Deyvid Sacconi pulled one back 5 minutes after before Diego Souza rescued a point three minutes from time. It was enough to put Palmeiras top at the time but that ended on Saturday when São Paulo went back top when they beat Vitória in the Morumbi. Jorge Wágner opened the scoring with 25 minutes on the clock before a second three minutes after the break from Hugo secured the points. Flamengo are now second after their 2-0 win in Recife against Náutico more or less opened the relegation trapdoor for them. Dejan Petkovic put Flamengo ahead with 17 minutes on the clock and it was all over by half time thanks to Adriano's 19th of the season.

Internacional moved up to fourth after a comfortable win over Santos. They were two up by half time thanks to Danilo Silva and Marquinhos strikes within three minutes of each other. Neymar got Santos back into the game just after the hour but Andrés D'Alessandro sixth goal of the season sealed things for Inter. Cruzeiro were held to a draw by a Grêmio side that finished the game with 9 men and equalised whilst down to that number. Gilberto put Cruzeiro ahead before Tulio and Fabio Santos were dismissed before German Herrera for Grêmio to give them only their fifth point on the road this season. Atlético-MG were the big losers of the weekend, going down to Coritiba 2-1. Rômulo put Coritiba ahead but a 12th of the season for Éder Luís levelled things after some comedy defending. When it looked like a point would be better than nothing for Atlético-MG, with three minutes later and poor challenge from Pedro Benitez saw him sent off and Marcelinho converted from the spot to ease Coritiba's relegation worries and dent Atlético-MG's title hopes.

The Fluminense revival continued a pace after they picked up their fourth straight win in front of a huge crowd at the Maracanã against Atlético-PR. You can't keep a good man down as Fred scored for the fourth straight game to put Fluminense ahead with 18 minutes on the clock before Maicon doubled the lead on the hour. Atlético-PR then realised they needed to get back into this game and served up a nervy last 10 minutes when Marcelo pulled a goal back. Botafogo are now within touching distance for Fluminense after going down to Barueri. Val Baiano, returning from an injury lay off, caused the damage. He put Barueri ahead after 28 minutes before doubleing the advantage 7 minutes into the second half. He completed his hat-trick in injury time. Goiás snapped a three game losing run by pushing Santo André closer to Série B with a come from behind win. Marcelinho Carioca put Santo André ahead, a lead they held until half time, before a brace from Fernandão put Goiás ahead. Renato Dias was then sent off for Santo André before Iarley's 12th of the season wrapped thing up. Finally Avaí are suddenly within three points of a Libertadores spot after overcoming a Corinthians side who clearly have put the cue on the rack for the season. William put Avaí ahead before an own goal from Marquinhos levelled things. William's second had Avaí ahead by half time and Corinthians were reduced to 10 men right on half time when Edgar Balbuena was sent off. Leo Gago then secured the points when he struck 20 minutes from time.

Three games to go, you have to think now that it's a two horse race between São Paulo and Flamengo. The Palmeiras ship has sailed I think. At the bottom can Fluminense pull off the greatest of escapes and will Náutico and Santo André fall through the trap door this weekend. Here's how they line up for Round 36 which starts on Wednesday night in Porto Alegre. The game of the weekend is Atlético-MG v Internacional.

Grêmio x Palmeiras
Santo André x Avaí
Santos x Coritiba
Sport Recife x Fluminense
Botafogo x São Paulo
Vitória x Barueri
Atlético Paranaense x Cruzeiro
Flamengo x Goiás
Atlético Miniero x Internacional
Corinthians x Náutico




Friday, 13 November 2009

Copa Libertadores 2010

We at CONMEBalls are led to believe that the draw for the 2010 Copa Santander Libertadores will take place at CONMEBOL HQ on November 27th.

As soon as we hear anything, you will.

Copa Sudamericana Semi Final 1st Legs

Cerro Porteño 0-1 Fluminense
River Plate Montevideo 2-1 LDU Quito

For the third consecutive game Fluminense had Fred to thank after his strike gave them a 1-0 win in Asunción on Wednesday night. Fluminense dominated the early exchanges but Cerro Porteño goalkeeper Diego Barreto produced a string of fine saves to keep the home side in the tie. The breakthrough finally came in the 76th minute, when Fred controlled a long kick from keeper Rafael before entering the box and striking the ball past Barreto. Take the time to watch the clip, the commentary is superb. I think the commentator might have had a few Reais on the first goalscorer. The second leg takes place in the Maracanã next Wednesday night.


River Plate Montevideo will take a slight advantage to the altitude of Quito next week in the second leg after beating LDU Quito 2-1 at the Centenario on Thursday night. LDU began the game well, but fell behind with 8 minutes on the clock as River hit them on the break and Richard Porta slotted home. River then took control of the game , but against the run of play LDU levelled on the half-hour, when Edison Méndez finished from Neicer Reasco's cross. River regained their composure and looked much the better side in the second half and scored the winner on the hour through Jorge Córdoba. River then went close to adding a third in the closing moments, whether they come to rue their failure remains to be seen when the teams clash again in Quito next Thursday night.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Another one bites the dust. 33 and counting.....

Grêmio coach Paulo Autuori became the 33rd change of coach in Série A this season when he announced he was quitting the Porto Alegre club with immediate effect to take over at Al-Rayyan in Qatar. Grêmio are currently 9th in Série A with the best home record in the competition, counterbalanced by the one of the worst away records in the league which has seen them pick up only 4 points on their travels compared with the 44 collected at the Olímpico Monumental.

On the official Grêmio website Autuori was quoted, "I am leaving as an upset man because this team had the quality to be better placed in all the competitions we took part in. We have failed and I assume that responsibility". Grêmio were defeated in the semi finals of the Copa Libertadores by Cruzeiro and by a quirk of fate travel to Belo Horizonte on Sunday. Grêmio hope to have a replacement in charge by kick off on Sunday.

Only 5 clubs now have same coach now as they had in May when the season started. They are Atlético-MG, Corinthians, Goiás, Cruzeiro and Avaí.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Primera División de Argentina - week 13

Argentinos Juniors 1-1 Rosario Central
Independiente 1-0 Gimnasia La Plata
Lanús 0-3 Chacarita Juniors
Godoy Cruz 3-1 Racing
Newell's Old Boys 2-1 River Plate
Atlético Tucumán 4-2 Tigre
San Lorenzo 0-1 Banfield
Estudiantes 3-0 Vélez Sársfield
Boca Juniors 0-0 Colón
Huracán 1-1 Arsenal

A relatively quiet week in Argentina where Banfield and Newell's both won in week 14 and so continue to lead the way. Banfield sit top on goal difference and are yet to lose, but only required a single goal from Uruguayan Sebastien Fernandez to beat San Lorenzo who drop right down as a result. Joaquin Boghossian, another Uruguayan, is in good form for Newell's and struck twice in their win over beleaguered River Plate. The opener went in after four minutes, but Diego Buonanotte equalised on the hour. Boghossian's second, eleven minutes from time, denied River a much-needed point. Estudiantes lead the chase with three more goals for the top scoring La Plata side as they brushed fellow challengers Vélez Sársfield aside. Leandro Desabato's free-kick on the half-hour started them off and second half goals from Mauro Boselli and Leandro Benitez finished off Vélez.

One small comfort for River Plate is that their arch-rivals Boca Juniors aren't doing a whole heap better. They did pick up a point in a miserable 0-0 draw with Colón, denting Colón's title push, but treading water while they're without the injured Juan Roman Riquelme.

Relegation shouldn't be a worry for River Plate as it's determined on an average over three campaigns. Tigre, however... They twice blew a lead to go down hard in San Miguel to Atlético Tucumán. Matias Gimenez put Tigre ahead after five minutes, but he was then sent off on the stroke of half-time as he picked up a second yellow. Juan Pereyra had equalised by then, but Tigre were back in front two minutes after the restart through Carlos Luna. Then came the implosion, Jonathan Blanco putting through his own net and Pereyra's second coming in the space of 90 seconds, while Emmanuel Gogliotti's late fourth merely added gloss. Racing reverted to type after last week's win, thumped by Godoy Cruz. Jesus Vera put the Mendozans in front early and Federico Higuain increased the lead on 18 minutes. Leonardo Sigali gifted Racing one back, putting past his own keeper, but Cristian Chavez put away a free-kick in stoppage time after Matias Martinez had been sent off. Huracán move a point ahead of the bottom two after drawing with Arsenal who were thankful for Diego Galvan's stoppage time equaliser to snatch a draw after Nicolas Trecco had put Huracán in front early in the second half.

Gimnasia are still in a bit of bother after losing to Independiente, Eduardo Tuzzio getting the only goal of the game three minutes from time, while Chacarita Juniors pull away a bit with a good win away at Lanús. Cristian Milla put them in front late in the first half and Facundo Parra added two after the break to complete a 3-0 win.

There's one game on Wednesday this week, Rosario Central and Estudiantes facing off, before a full programme over the weekend. Here's how they line up:

Rosario Central v Estudiantes

Chacarita Juniors v Newell's Old Boys
Tigre v Godoy Cruz
Banfield v Vélez Sársfield
Colón v Argentinos Juniors
San Lorenzo v Independiente
River Plate v Atlético Tucumán
Arsenal v Boca Juniors
Racing Club v Estudiantes
Gimnasia La Plata v Huracán
Rosario Central v Lanús

Top game sees leaders Banfield host Vélez Sársfield while Newell's have a tricky trip to Chacarita. Should either slip up, Estudiantes have a relative 'gimme' against Tigre.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 34

Grêmio 1-1 São Paulo
Santos 3-1 Náutico
Vitória 0-1 Avaí
Sport Recife 2-3 Cruzeiro
Corinthians 2-0 Santo André
Atlético Miniero 1-3 Flamengo
Fluminense 1-0 Palmeiras
Botafogo 2-0 Coritiba
Atlético Parananese 2-0 Goiás
Barueri 1-1 Internacional

We started Round 34 last Wednesday night as São Paulo went to Fortress Grêmio looking for a win to take them above Palmeiras at the top of the table. Grêmio have only dropped 6 points at home all season, the only team not to have lost at home all season. It was going to be a huge task for São Paulo and it was even tougher when Rafael Marques put the home side ahead with just 23 minutes on the clock, São Paulo though managed to get back into the game when Marques deflected a shot from Dagoberto for the equaliser. Then the carnage of the second half that saw São Paulo finish the game with 8 men. Borges and Dagoberto went within 2 minutes of each other with 15 minutes left and then Jean saw red in injury time. The point though, was enough to keep São Paulo top as Palmeiras crashed to defeat against Fluminense in front of over 70,000 in the Maracanã. It was a third straight win for Fluminense whose winning goal came from Fred with 32 minutes on the clock but they are still 5 points adrift of safety thanks to other results.

The big clash of the weekend saw Flamengo go ahead of Atlético-MG after a stunning win in the Mineirão. Dejan Petlovic put Flamengo ahead with 9 minutes on the clock before Claudio Maldonado doubled the lead 6 minutes before the break. Ricardinho got Atlético-MG back into the game 5 minutes after half time but Adriano's 18th of the season 9 minutes from time wrapped up the points to leave Flamengo in third, 2 points off the pace. Internacional are now down in sixth and 6 points away from the lead after they came from behind take a point at Barueri. Marcio Careca put Barueri ahead with 15 minutes on the clock before Fabiano Eller levelled matters for Inter with 65 minutes on the clock. Sport Recife are all but doomed after letting a two goal lead slip against Cruzeiro, who themselves now move up into fifth. Wilson scored twice in the opening quarter of an hour to put Sport in control but Thiago Ribiero reduced the defecit in the 19th minute. Leonardo Silva then levelled before Sport were reduced to ten when Andrade was sent off. Joffre Guerron got the winner for Cruzeiro with 25 minutes to go and Sport ended up with nine when Hamilton was shown a straight red card in injury time.

Náutico remain in danger after defeat at Santos. Kléber Pereira put the home side ahead on the half hour before Naymar doubled the lead on the hour. Ailton halved the defecit eight minutes later but a second from Neymar in the last minute leaves Náutico 6 points away from safety. Santo André are in a similar position to Náutico and they didn't help their cause with a 2-0 defeat at Corinthians. Ronaldo put Corinthians ahead, his third in the last two, before Denthino doubled the lead 14 minutes from time. It's hard to see either Náutico or Santo André surviving now.

Botafogo hauled themselves level on points with Coritiba after defeating them 2-0 at the Engenhão. After tossing off the Copa Sudamericana in midweek Botafogo picked up a vital win to leave Coritiba suddenly looking over their shoulders. Renan put Botafogo ahead eight minutes before half time before Lucio Flavio made the game safe half way through the second half. Atlético-PR did their survival hopes no harm after a 2-0 win over 10 man Goiás. Marcinho put Atlético-PR ahead half way through the first half before Wallyson grabbed the second 15 minutes from time. João Paulo saw red for Goiás. Vitória are in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle after a 1-0 defeat at home to Avaí. William grabbing the only goal of the game with 12 minutes left to give Avaí the victory which ensured they will be in the top flight next season.

So 4 games to go in Brazil and again we are underway on Wednesday night when Palmeiras will be looking for the win which will send Sport to Série B and them back to the top of the league. Here is how they line up.....

Palmeiras x Sport Recife
Coritiba x Atlético Miniero
Cruzeiro x Grêmio
São Paulo x Vitória
Barueri x Botafogo
Avaí x Corinthians
Náutico x Flamengo
Fluminense x Atlético Paranaense
Goiás x Santo André
Internacional x Santos

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Vasco Promoted



After an absence of just one season, Vasco da Gama will return to Série A in 2010 after confirming their promotion with a 2-1 victory against Juventude on Friday night. Vasco are also 7 points clear at the top of the table and with only 4 games left it seems likely they will return as champions.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Copa Sudamericana Quarter Final 2nd Legs

San Lorenzo 0-1 River Plate Montevideo
River advances 7-6 on penalties
Botafogo 1-3 Cerro Porteño
Cerro Porteño advances 6-0 on points
Universidad de Chile 0-1 Fluminense
Fluminense advances 4-1 on points
Liga de Quito 2-1 Vélez Sársfield
Liga de Quito advances 4-1 on points

River Plate of Montevideo secured their place in the semi-finals by beating San Lorenzo on penalties. River Plate won the second leg 1-0 leaving the tie level at 1-1, before sealing a 7-6 shoot-out triumph. San Lorenzo adopted a negative defensive policy, looking to hang on to their 1-0 lead from the first leg, but they fell behind 46 seconds into the second half when Richard Porta made the most of mistake from Kily Gonzalez to slot home the winner. With the tie level after 90 minutes, no extra time of course, the teams went straight to a penalty competition. The decisive miss came from Pablo Pintos, who saw his effort saved by Luciano Dos Santos to send River into the semi final.

At the Engenhão, Cerro Porteño claimed a 3-1 win over a Botafogo side which seemed to have an eye on league survival. Towards the end of the first half Botafogo had a couple of chances to open the scoring and level the tie. Cerro Porteño went in front 11 minutes after the interval, when Jorge Núñez's header found the back of the net. Andre Lima equalised in the 73rd minute but Alessandro left Botafogo down to 10 men two minutes later when he was sent off for a poor challenge on Luis Cardozo. Botafogo needing to score to take the tie to penalties, were sunk when Julio Irrazabal killed the tie off with three minutes remaining and in injury time Luis Caceres hammered the final nail into the coffin.

The Fluminense revival continued as they claimed an impressive win over Universidad de Chile in Santiago. Maicon and Fred missed super chances for Fluminense in the first half before the pair combined for the game's only goal. It came on the hour when Fred headed home Maicon's cross. Fluminense now are two games away from the final and a possible rematch of last years Libertadores final.

Liga de Quito recovered from a goal down to beat Vélez Sársfield. Hernan López put Vélez ahead just before half-time but the high-altitude conditions affected the visitors in the second half and Liga de Quito levelled through Enrique Vera on 68 minutes before Carlos Espinola got the winner 6 minutes later to send last years Libertadores winners into the semi finals.

We can confirm the dates and times for the semi finals of the competition. All kick off times GMT

November 11th Kick off 23.50 Cerro Porteño v Fluminense
November 12th Kick off 23.15 River Plate Montevideo v LDU Quito
November 18th Kick off 23.50 Fluminense v Cerro Porteño
November 19th Kick off 00.15 LDU Quito v River Plate Montevideo

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Primera División de Argentina - week 12

Vélez Sársfield 2-0 Godoy Cruz
Racing 4-0 Atlético Tucumán
Gimnasia La Plata 2-2 San Lorenzo
Chacarita Juniors 2-2 Argentinos Juniors
River Plate 0-1 Lanús
Rosario Central 2-1 Boca Juniors
Arsenal 1-0 Independiente
Banfield 2-1 Estudiantes
Tigre 1-2 Newell's Old Boys
Colón 3-0 Huracán

It's often noted that sides rally on appointing a new boss. Suffice to say that Lothar Matthaus's managerial career hasn't been as glittering as his playing career was, but nothing summed it up more than, the weekend after talks between Matthaus and Racing broke down, the Córdoba didn't just take their first win, but smacked four away in the process. Ouch. They were one up on Atlético Tucumán inside five minutes, some slack defensive work allowing Pablo Lugüercio to sneak one in and Pablo Caballero stuck the second away after a right game of pinball in the Tucumán area. Adrian Lucero made it three before half-time and Lucas Aveldaño wrapped it up twenty from time while Tucumán finished a man down after Hector Desvaux's late red card. Tigre are therefore adrift at the bottom after defeat to Newell's for whom Joaquin Boghossian managed to score at both ends. Mauro Fórmica put Newell's ahead only for Boghossian to put through his own net two minutes later. Five from time, Boghossian's conversion from villain to hero was complete as he pounced for the winner that sent Newell's second.

Banfield are top after beating ten-man Estudiantes who had Enzo Perez sent off after just thirteen minutes. By that time, the league's top scorer, Santiago Silva, had already put Banfield ahead. Juan Sebastien Veron equalised just before the break, but Walter Erviti sealed the win in the second half. Colón are third thanks to a Federico Nieto hat-trick against Huracán which takes him to ten for the season, one behind Silva. Vélez Sársfield are level with them on points after beating Godoy Cruz through Fabian Cubero and Leandro Somoza and then come Estudiantes and Diego Simeone's San Lorenzo who were held by Gimnasia thanks to a late, late goal from Ruben Maldonado. Jose Vizcarra had put Gimnasia ahead, but Juan Mesenguez's penalty and Pablo Pintos put the Saints ahead before Maldonado's late intervention denied them all three points.

Characarita and Argentinos Juniors shared four goals and two red cards evenly, leaving the former second bottom. Juan Mercier was sent off on 25 minutes before Cristian Grabinski put Chacarita ahead as Argentinos failed to clear. Nicolas Pavlovich equalised with an excellent 18-yard header and Mariano Etchevarria was sent off in the aftermath. Facundo Parra volleyed in from 20 yards to put Chacarita back ahead, but Mauro Bogoda squared it up in the last minute, lashing in a half-cleared corner from 25 yards. River Plate and Boca Juniors both lost, River at home to Lanús, Maxi Velazquez with a 30-yard thunderbolt of a free-kick, and Boca away in Rosario. Jesus Mendez struck first for Rosario Central with a fourth minute free-kick which wrongfooted the keeper, but Juan Krupoviesa sent the sides into the break level with a similarly impressive long-range free-kick. Gonzalo Castillejos won it with a superb individual goal, dancing through the entire defence before slotting it under the keeper at the near post. Arsenal and Independiete remain in mid-table after Arsenal's 1-0 win, Franco Jara with the winner.

Next weekend sees four of the top six play each other:

Argentinos Juniors v Rosario Central
Independiente v Gimnasia
Lanús v Chacarita Juniors
Godoy Cruzv v Racing
Newell's Old Boys v River Plate
Atlético Tucumán v Tigre
San Lorenzo v Banfield
Estudiantes v Vélez Sarsfield
Boca Juniors v Colón
Huracán v Arsenal

Monday, 2 November 2009

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 33

Avaí 2-0 Atlético Paranaense
São Paulo 1-0 Barueri
Flamengo 1-0 Santos
Goiás 2-3 Atlético Miniero
Internacional 0-1 Botafogo
Palmeiras 2-2 Corinthians
Coritiba 1-0 Vitória
Cruzeiro 2-3 Fluminense
Santo André 2-0 Grêmio
Náutico 3-2 Sport Recife

The drama continues abound in the Brasileiro with movement again this week at both ends of the table. It was also a round of early goals being decisive in games as well. Of the leading contenders, São Paulo were first into action on Saturday they over came Barueri at the Morumbi. Jorge Wágner with the goal with just 6 minutes on the clock to put São Paulo top on Saturday night. Big rivals Palmeiras squared up to local rivals Corinthians, again the game was played on neutral territory at Presidente Prudente for the Paulista Derby, and the "home side" needing a win to take and outright lead at the top of the table. Unfortunately for the Big Green, Ronaldo had other ideas. After goalkeeper Marcos was sent off for Palmeiras he put Corinthians into the lead twice, firstly 6 minutes before half time before Danilo levelled matters. Then Ronaldo struck 20 minutes into the second half before Mauricio grabbed a much needed point with the equaliser 7 minutes from time. Palmeiras remain top on goal difference, the teams have identical records but Palmeiras are 3 goals better off on goal difference.

Of the other title contenders it was a very mixed weekend of results. Atlético-MG remain third after a very hard fought win at Goiás. It was all going Atlético-MG's way When they stormed into a 2 goal lead inside 20 minutes. Ricardinho with the first before Éder Luís grabbed his 11th of the season to double the lead. Goiás were level by half time, a stunning fightback in the last three minutes before half time with goals from Julio César and Leandro Euzebio. Ernando was then sent off for Goiás just after half time before Diego Tardelli grabbed his 18th of the season form the penalty spot, and the winner for Atlético-MG with 22 minutes left. Flamengo crept into a Libertadores spot after a 6th minute goal from Adriano, his 17th of the season, saw them overcome Santos at the Maracanã and climb above Internacional who were stunned by Botafogo at the Beira-Rio. Juninho claimed the only goal of the game, a snorter of a free kick, with just two minutes on the clock and Botafogo held on for a valuable win, desipte the dismissal of Andre Lima for two bookable offences.

At the wrong end of the table Fluminense's fight against the drop continues after a dramatic come from behind win at the Mineirão against Cruzeiro. It snapped Cruzeiro's 7 game winning strak and probably knocked them out of the title race. It was all going the home sides way as they led 2-0 through goals from Jonathan and Wellington Paulista in the first half hour. Fluminense though, fought back. 2 goals in three second half minutes from Gum and Fred levelled things before the former Lyon striker grabbed the winner 19 minutes from time. After scoring both goals Fred "did a Tevez" and refused to celebrate his goals, he was with Cruzeiro prior to going to France. Grêmio's travel sickness continued as they were downed by Santo André. Nunes struck for the third consecutive game to put Santo André ahead before a Rafael Marques own goal sealed Grêmio's fate.

Atlético-PR are now nervously looking over their shoulders after a 2-0 reverse at Avaí, who should be set now for a second season in Série A. Rogelio put them ahead with 7 minutes on the clock and William's spectacular bicycle kick made the game safe 14 minutes from time. Coritiba swap places in the table with local rivals Atlético-PR after a single goal from Pereira with 21 minutes on the clock was enough to see off Vitória. In the big relegation clash, Sport fell to the bottom of the table after being defeated by local rivals Náutico in the Clássico dos Clássicos. A thrilling game in Recife saw Sport twice fight back from a goal down. Bruno Miniero continued his recent run of goals to put Náutico ahead with 4 minutes on the clock. Sport were level 4 minutes later through Vandinho but Náutico went into the break ahead thanks to Carlinhos Bala. Wilson then levelled again for Sport on the hour but four minutes later Irenio grabbed a crucial winner for Náutico to leave them with a fighting change of escaping the drop whilst Sport now seem doomed.

Now might be a good time to explain how all the tie breakers work in the league

The tie-breakers in Brazil’s Série A are:

1) number of victories
2) goal difference
3) goals scored
4) head-to-head
5) lower number of red cards
6) lower number of yellow cards
7) drawing lots

If it’s head-to-head between two clubs, their two games are treated like a cup tie, with the away goals rule. Also, the championship and the relegation spots can’t be decided by drawing lots — they would hold another game in a neutral venue.

Week 34 begins on Wednesday night when São Paulo enter the Grêmio graveyard, it's going to be a big ask if they are to claim a win there as Grêmio have dropped only 6 points at home all season. Botafogo and Coritiba is the big relegation battle of the weekend whilst Fluminense entertain leaders Palmeiras.

Grêmio x São Paulo
Santos x Náutico
Vitória x Avaí
Sport Recife x Cruzeiro
Corinthians x Santo André
Atlético Miniero x Flamengo
Fluminense x Palmeiras
Botafogo x Coritiba
Atlético Paranaense x Goiás
Barueri x Internacional