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

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

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

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.

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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.