Thursday, 6 May 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 1 Preview

Botafogo x Santos
Atlético-GO x Grêmio
Palmeiras x Vitória
Flamengo x São Paulo
Atlético-MG x Vasco da Gama
Internacional x Cruzeiro
Corinthians x Atlético-PR
Ceará x Fluminense
Guarani x Goiás
Avaí x Prudente

The national championship resumes in Brazil at the weekend as Flamengo look to retain the title they won in dramatic circumstances in 2009. It's been a traumatic opening to the year for the Vultures, unsuccessful in the Carioca and scraping into the last 16 of the Libertadores has seen coach Andrade pay with his job. They welcome São Paulo to the Maracanã in what is the stand out opening fixture of the season as the previous two champions clash. Palmeiras somehow managed to throw the league away last year and their form in the Paulista doesn't excite us for their chances this season. An exit from the Copa do Brasil in midweek on penalties hasn't helped and they start at home to Vitória who come into the game on the back of winning their State title last weekend and qualifying for the semi finals of the Copa do Brasil themselves. Another big clash actually opens the season on Saturday as the Carioca and Paulista champions clash at the Engenhão. Botafogo will be rested up after winning the Carioca title but Santos, who made the semi finals of the Copa do Brasil defeating Atlético-MG, after two successive defeats will be game ready and that may just be enough for the visitors.

The newly promoted sides all face tough tasks, Copa do Brasil semi-finalists Atlético-GO entertain Grêmio in another clash of State Champions. Have to favour the visitors in this one who will be more game sharp after back to back clashes with Internacional. Série B Champions Vasco da Gama have a tough ask as they go to the Minerão to face an Atlético-MG side who were unlucky to miss out on Libertadores football last year. The big bonus for Atlético is retaining the services of Diego Tardelli, last seasons joint top scorer in the competition. Both teams exited the Copa do Brasil in midweek. Ceará welcome Fluminense to the Castelão and new Flu coach Mauricy Ramalho has a tough task ahead of him with another side who performed poorly in the state competition and exited the Copa do Brasil in midweek. The other promoted side Guarani entertains a Goiás side which were comfortable in mid table last year. Goiás are a tough side to beat and this will be no easy introduction for a Guarani team who finished runners up to Vasco last year.

The third big game of the weekend sees Libertadores round of 16 qualifiers Internacional and Cruzeiro go head to head at the Beira-Rio. Both teams had difficult midweek games and but Cruzeiro came through their trip to Montevideo with ease but the travelling may tip things in the balance of Inter. Avaí exceeded expectations last year with a sixth place finish and they will look to build on the when they entertain Prudente. Known as Barueri last year, Prudente also exceeded expectations as they finished in 11th. It's a big year for both clubs as they look to avoid second season syndrome. Finally Corinthians, in their centenery year, entertain Atlético-PR. Well, I say entertain but the club will start this season under a ground ban that was imposed by the CBF after an incident towards the end of last season in a game involving Flamengo. A midweek Libertadores exit at the hands of Flamengo means winning the title is now Corinthians main priority. Atlético-PR were involved in the relegation scrap for most of last year and must improve if they aren't going to be dragged into it again this year.

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