Friday, 30 July 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 12 Preview

Fluminense x Atlético Paranaense
Atlético Goianiense x Guarani
São Paulo x Ceará
Palmeiras x Corinthians
Vitória x Botafogo
Avaí x Goiás
Internacional x Grêmio
Atlético Mineiro x Cruzeiro
Prudente x Santos
Flamengo x Vasco da Gama

The should have called this the "Rivalry Round" as we enter week 12 of the Brasileirão, with four derbies over the weekend as the action hots up. Fluminense are first in action at the weekend and will go top with victory over Atlético-PR at the Maracanã. The Tricolor, who have just confirmed the signing of Deco from Chelsea, are unbeaten since the break whilst Atlético-PR have had a recent resurgence winning their last two games. Atlético-GO are still rock bottom of the table and will see the visit of Guarani to the Serra Dourada as a winnable game. Atlético-GO's only win since the break came against Corinthians in their last home game whilst Guarani lost to the same opponents last time out. São Paulo are in wretched form and their midweek defeat at Inter in the Libertadores won't have helped matters. How Ricardo Gomes still has a job at the Morumbi is baffling but by next weekend that could well have changed. Ceará haven't won since the break and are slowly becoming the draw specialists with three out of their last four games ending in stalemate.

The first of the big games is the the Derby Paulista between Palmeiras and Corinthians at the Pacaembu. Corinthians won the Paulista meeting earlier in the year by a single goal and if Fluminense win on Saturday they may need to win this to go back to the top of the table. The Big Green are looking a lot more solid since the return of Scolari but this is their biggest test yet. Botafogo travel to Vitória looking to break their 8 game streak without a win. Boosted by El Loco Abreu signing a new contract in the week they might just catch Vitória with more minds on recovering a two goal Copa do Brasil defecit in the coming midweek. Avaí have been in good form since the break and entertain a Goiás side that has struggled since the restart. Roberto has been the star man for Avaí so far this season and the home side will be looking for more goal from him to continue their good run. Goias has plummeted since the break and need to get back on track soon. The second of the big games sees the 382nd Gre-Nal at the Beira-Rio. With Inter in the middle of a Libertadores semi-final you would think it could tip the odds in favour of Grêmio, but this is Grêmio away from the Olímpico and we know what that normally means.

Another big local derby takes place at the Minerão in Belo Horizonte as Atlético-MG and Cruzeiro lock horns. Atlético-MG are having a shocking season so far and they are currently 19th in the table. Scoring goals hasn't been a problem but they have been simply leaking too many goals. Cruzeiro, after winning their opening two games after the break have recently stuttered but should be looking to gain local bragging rights. Prudente entertain a Santos side who have one foot in next years Libertadores after a first leg victory in midweek. Prudente are unbeaten since the break, but that includes three draws. Santos have lost their last three league games and need to get back on track quickly. This game will also mark the end of Robinho's loan spell from Manchester City. Finally at the Maracanã on Sunday sees the final derby and the 337th "Clássico dos Milhões" between Flamengo and Vasco da Gama. Vasco won the last meeting in the Carioca in March and they have turned things round since the break with a four game unbeaten run. Flamengo lost their first game since the break last time out at Internacional and with the transfer window opening in the week will be glad to get a few more bodies on deck, especially in attack, before the next round of fixtures. Ticket sales have been a little slow for this one with only 17,000 sold as we published this article.

We'll be back with a full round up on Monday

Copa Sudamericana 2010

Next week the 2010 Copa Nissan Sudamericna gets underway with six of eight first stage ties getting underway. One place in the competition is still to be decided at the moment in Chile as we await the result of a play off between Copa Libertadores Semi Finalists Universidad de Chile and and the 2009 Copa Chile runner up Municipal Iquique. They have yet to play a two legged play-off for the last spot in the draw.

Sixteen teams start in the first qualifying stage, the eight winners then join 22 other clubs in the second stage, with Argentinian and Brazilian clubs seeded to meet each other at this stage. The holder LDU Quito of Ecuador, who defeated Fluminense of Brazil in the final last year, join the 15 other qualifiers at the Round of 16. The winners qualify for the Recopa Sudamericana and the Sugura Bank Championship

All games are played on a two legged home and away basis, The ties are settled on a points basis with three points for a win and one for a draw. If the two teams are level on points they are seperated by a: goals scored; b: higher number of away goals scored or c: kicks from the penalty mark. There is no extra time played after the second leg. The rules as ever are different for the final but we'll cross that bridge further down the line.

THe draw lines up like this.

1st Stage Draw

A: Universitario (BOL) v Colo-Colo (CHI)
B: Guaraní (PAR) v River Plate (URU)
C: Universidad César Vallejo (PER) v Barcelona (ECU)
D: Atlético Huila (COL) v Trujillanos (VEN)
E: Chile 3 v Oriente Petrolero (BOL)
F: Defensor Sporting (URU) v Olimpia (PAR)
G: Deportivo Quito (ECU) v Universidad San Martín (PER)
H: Deportivo Lara (VEN) v Santa Fe (COL)

2nd Stage Draw

1: Winner D v San José (BOL)
2: Independiente (ARG) v Argentinos Juniors (ARG)
3: Winner C v Peñarol (URU)
4: Vitória (BRA) v Palmeiras (BRA)
5: Winner H v Caracas FC (Ven)
6: Santos (BRA) v Avaí (BRA)
7: Winner E v Deportes Tolima (COL)
9: Winner B v Unión San Felipe (CHI)
10: Vélez Sársfield (ARG) v Banfield (ARG)
11: Winner G v Emelec (ECU)
12: Prudente (BRA) v Atlético Mineiro (BRA)
13: Winner A v Cerro Porteño (PAR)
14: Goiás (BRA) v Grêmio (BRA)
15: Winner F v Sport Huancayo
16: Newell's Old Boys (ARG) v Estudiantes (ARG)

Round of 16

1: Winner 16 v Winner 1
2: Winner 9 v LDU Quito (ECU)
3: Winner 12 v Winner 5
4: winner 13 v Winner 4
5: Winner 14 v Winner 3
6: Winner 11 v Winner 6
7: Winner 10 v Winner 7
8: Winner 15 v Winner 2

We'll be bringing you all the action from the competition here at CONMEBalls

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Copa Kia do Brasil Final 1st Leg

Santos 2-0 Vitória

At the Vila Belmiro on Wednesday night Santos put one foot in the 2011 Copa Libertadores after a 2-0 victory over Vitória in the first leg of the Copa Kia do Brasil final. With his loan spell due to expire next week, Santos took the opportunity to field Robinho before either extending his loan or sending him back to Manchester. In an open game, with many chances for both sides the only goal of the half came after 14 minutes from Neymar, who got on the end of Para's cross.

Neymar had a chance to double the Santos lead 17 minutes from time. After being awarded a penalty after being fouled by Wallace, Neymar tried to be clever and loft his penalty into the net but the Vitória keeper didn't move and easily caught the ball. Santos though, managed to get a cushion for the second leg 7 mintues from time when Marquinhos shot found the back of the net.

The second leg takes place next week.

Copa Libertadores Semi Final 1st Legs

CD Guadalajara 1-1 Universidad de Chile
Internacional 1-0 São Paulo

Universidad de Chile gained an important 1-1 draw with Guadalajara in the first leg of the semi-final at the Estadio Azteca. In the 47th minute, Argentinian playmaker Walter Montillo sent a free-kick into the area and Guadalajara defender Hector Reynoso's clearing header only reached Juan Manuel Olivera and he found Rafael Olarra who nodded the ball into the net. It was the first goal the Mexican side had conceded in the compeition but Omar Arellano levelled for Guadalajara five minutes later after "La U" keeper Miguel Pinto couldn't handle an Omar Bravo header and Arello was on hand to get Guadalajara level and leave it all to play for in Santiago next week.

In Porto Alegre, substitute midfielder Giuliano scored in the second half to give Internacional a 1-0 win over São Paulo in the first leg their semi-final on Wednesday night. Giuliano's shot went in off the post following good build up play by Andres D'Alessandro and Alecsandro half way through the second half. Inter had the majority of the play leading up to the goal but found Rogério Ceni in inspired form. Sao Paulo had few chances, with Dagoberto's deflected shot flying wide but missed a huge opportunity for an away goal when Hernanes shot straight at Inter goalkeeper Renan in stoppage tie.

The second legs take place next week

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Copa Libertadores Semi Final 1st Leg Previews

Guadalajara v Universidad de Chile (Live on, 0215BST Wednesday; UK Viewers only)
Internacional v São Paulo (Live on, 0145BST Thursday; UK Viewers only)

Guadalajara go into their semi final having only played the one competetive game, a 0-0 draw with Puebla on Sunday, since the 19th May. Also selling star striker Javier Hernández to Manchester United FC won't have helped matters either. The lack of competetive action is a worry for the Mexicans who have won both their home games 3-0 in the competition after being parachuted into the competition at the Round of 16 after the Swine Flu outbreak last year. Now those two games were held at the Estadio Jalisco, this game will be held at the Azteca, the home of deadly rivals América. If Universidad de Chile, making their first appearence at this stage since 1996, are to have any chance, they can't do what Vélez Sársfield and Libertad have done and go home with that kind of defeat. What is more important is that the Chileans have also have 180 minutes more of competetive action and like their opponents have only sold the one player since the last round, Álvaro Fernández to MLS club Seattle Sounders. Not losing by three goals will be a big boost if "La U" are to make their first ever final.

The contrast between Internacional and São Paulo as they line up for their first leg is startling, Since the World Cup break Internacional are the only team in the top flight in Brazil with a 100% record. A record the hung onto with a 1-0 victory over reigning champions Flamengo at the Beira-Rio on Sunday. Are the omens on Inter's side? Renan, Tinga and Rafael Sobis were in the last successful Inter side in 2006 and with Celso Roth now in charge he's managed to get Inter ticking at the right time. São Paulo are a shambles at the moment, 1 point from 12 since the break has them plummet to 15th in Série A. Inter on the other hand have moved completely is the opposite direction thanks to picking up 12 from 12 since the World Cup break. A similar shambles to what São Paulo are now before the break they have climbed up the table and now lie on fourth. All the smart money will lie with Inter but to write São Paulo off completely could be a big mistake, especially of their big guns rise to the occasion.

We'll have a wrap up of these games later in the week.

LATE EDIT: It has come to our attention that São Paulo have sold striker Washington to Fluminense, meaning he returns to his previous club where he scored 21 goals for the second placed team in Série A. Get your money on Inter now.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 11

Avaí 0-0 Atlético Mineiro
Vasco da Gama 2-0 Atlético Goianiense
Prudente 0-0 Vitória
Santos 1-0 São Paulo
Cruzeiro 2-2 Grêmio
Internacional 1-0 Flamengo
Goiás 0-2 Atlético Paranaense
Ceará 0-0 Palmeiras
Corinthians 3-1 Guarani
Botafogo 1-1 Fluminense

No goals at Avaí, but an entertaining game none the less as the hosts missed a range of chances. Atlético-MG gained their first clean sheet of the season but finished the game with nine men after second half dismissals for Daniel Carvalho and Neto Berola. Vasco da Gama climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time this season after victory of Atlético-GO. Nilton set Vasco on their way with the opener on 33 minutes before José Fumagalli doubled the lead 8 minutes after the break. No goals and not a lot to report from the Prudentão as the hosts, Prudente, finished goalless against cup finalists Vitória who seemed to have minds on Thursday nights first leg.

With a Libertadores semi-final in midweek on their mind, São Paulo are still without a post-break win after defeat to Santos at the Vila Belmiro. Santos of course take on Vitória in the first leg of the Cup Final on Thursday and won the game courtesy of a Renato Silva own goal on the hour. Grêmio picked up their third point away from the fortress this season but slumped into the relegation zone after the draw at Cruzeiro. Borges put Grêmio ahead on the stroke of half time but Henrique levelled matters a minute after the break. Jonas put Grêmio within 11 minutes of victory but a second from Henrique five minutes from time gave Cruzeiro a share of the spoils. The big game of the weekend saw in form Internacional entertain Flamengo. Inter were defending a 100% post break record and with a Libertadores semi-final in midweek they looked to keep on track. Only one goal separated the sides and it came from Inter's Taison with just four minutes on the clock to move Internacional into the top four.

Goiás are still without a post break win and defeat at home to Atlético-PR compounded their week after the problems in midweek. Manoel put Atlético-PR ahead with 27 minutes gone and Maikon Leite sealed things ten minutes from time. The victory moved Atlético-PR out of the relegation zone for the first time this season. No goals at Ceará as Palmeiras gained a valuable point for Big Phil. The Big Green though finished with 10 men after the dismissal of Léo fourteen minutes from time. Guarani are still winless post break and their 3-1 defeat at Corinthians allowed the home side to go back top of the table. Jorge Henrique put Corinthians ahead as early as the second minute and they held the lead for an hour before Mazola levelled for Guarani. Then came the red cards, Corinthian's Dentinho went first on 65 minutes and he was folloed 6 minutes later by Aílson from Guarani. Bruno César put Corinthians ahead with 13 minutes to go and his second sealed things five minutes from time in the farewell match for Mano Menezes before he takes over the national side. The Clássico Vovô at the Engenhão witness more red cards than goals as Fluminense relinquished top spot after a draw with Botafogo. Fluminense took the lead on the hour through Emerson but Endo levelled for Fogo 15 minutes from time. Flu's Thiaguinho was the first to see red four minutes from time but he was followed by Botafogo's Somália two minutes later and Danny Morais in injury time.

No midweek games as the first legs of the Copa Libertadores semi-final and Copa Brasil final take place so we're back in action next weekend and they line up like this

Fluminense x Atlético Paranaense
Atlético Goianiense x Guarani
São Paulo x Ceará
Palmeiras x Corinthians
Vitória x Botafogo
Avaí x Goiás
Internacional x Grêmio
Atlético Miniero x Cruzeiro
Prudente x Santos
Flamengo x Vasco da Gama

Friday, 23 July 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 10

Atlético Mineiro 1-2 Internacional
Vitória 2-2 Goiás
São Paulo 1-1 Prudente
Flamengo 1-1 Avaí
Atlético Paranaense 2-0 Santos
Grêmio 1-1 Vasco da Gama
Atlético Goianiense 3-1 Corinthians
Fluminense 1-0 Cruzeiro
Guarani 1-1 Ceará
Palmeiras 2-2 Botafogo

The early Wednesday games saw Internacional remain the only 100% side since the break after a victory over Atlético-MG at the Mineirão which plunged the home side into further relegation trouble. The game started well though for Atlético-MG when Diego Souza put them into the lead after only seven minutes. That lead lasted on 6 minutes before Alecsandro levelled for Inter and his second on the hour won it for Inter. Vitória fought back from two goals down to claim a point at home to Goiás and leave them unbeaten since the break. Rafael Moura put Goiás ahead on the half hour and Éverton Santos doubled the lead two minutes later. Ricardo Conceição pulled a goal back a minute for Vitória but they seemed to be heading for defeat until Soares levelled a mintue from time. That sparked some stupidity at the end of the game involving Goiás coach Emerseon Leão and Rafael Moura who weren't pleased with some of the reporters who were chasing on pitch interviews. São Paulo's form continues to baffle with their Libertadores semi final on the horizon. They made the perfect start when Washington put them ahead with less than a minute on the clock. Ânderson Luis levelled for Prudente after 20 minutes but the home side finished with 10 after Júnior Cesar saw red with nine minutes to go.

In the late Wednesday games Flamengo and Avaí both lost their 100% post break records as they shared they spoils at the Maracanã. Diego Mauricio put Flamengo ahead with 10 minutes on the clock but Avaí claimed a point when Gabriel levelled 15 minutes from time. If you thought São Paulo's form was poor since the break, spare a though for the Santos fans who have yet to see their team win since the break after a surprising defeat at Atlético-PR. Bruno Costa put Atlético-PR ahead with only two minutes on the clock to stun their illustrious visitors. Bruno Mineiro's second goal in as many games two minutes after the break kept the points in Curitiba. Grêmio aren't losing at home, but they aren't winning games either as they again dropped points at the Monumental. Struggling Vasco da Gama took the lead with only six minutes on the clock through Nunes but the lead lasted only three mintues before Jonas levelled matters for Grêmio. Huge shock at the Serra Dourada as Corinthians lost their unbeaten record against Atlético-GO. Robston put Atlético-GO ahead from the spot after 21 minutes but Iarley levelled for Corinthians 11 mintues later to take the teams into the break level. Pedro Paulo restored the Atlético-GO lead half way through the second half and Marcão confirmed Corinthians' first defeat of the season when he sealed things 11 mintues from time.

Thursday night saw Fluminense take advantage of the slip up by Corinthians to go top of the league. Who would have though that would happen 12 months ago. They did it by inflicting Cruzeiro's first post break defeat at the Maracanã. One goal separated the teams and it came nine minutes after the break from Leandro Euzébio. Ceará remain in third after a 1-1 draw at fellow promoted side Guarani. Ceará took the lead eight minutes after the break through Ernandes but were pegged back by a Ricardo Xavier strike sixteen minutes from time. Finally an entertaining game at the Pacaembu where it finished 10 a-side between Palmeiras and Botafogo. Marcos Assunção put the Big Green ahead two minutes after the break and when Kléber doubled the lead 10 minutes later Joel Santana would have been pulling his hair out. Jobsón pulled one goal back twenty minutes from time before Antônio Carlos levelled with 11 minutes to go. Two of the goal scorers, Assunção and Jobsón saw red after clashing in injury time but it means Botafogo are now seven games without at win.

Week 11 takes place this weekend and they line up like this.

Avaí x Atlético Mineiro
Vasco da Gama x Atlético Goianiense
Prudente x Vitória
Santos x São Paulo
Cruzeiro x Grêmio
Internacional x Flamengo
Goiás x Atlético Paranaense
Ceará x Palmeiras
Corinthians x Guarani
Botafogo x Fluminense

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 11 Preview

Avaí x Atlético Mineiro
Vasco da Gama x Atlético Goianiense
Prudente x Vitória
Santos x São Paulo
Cruzeiro x Grêmio
Internacional x Flamengo
Goiás x Atlético Paranaense
Ceará x Palmeiras
Corinthians x Guarani
Botafogo x Fluminense

Week 11 in the Brasileiro and for some teams it's four games in ten days as we try to catch up from the break. Atlético-MG are the biggest fallers from grace so far this season and being in 19th place is only acceptable to Cruzeiro fans. A trip to Florianópolis to face an in form Avaí is about the last thing they need at the moment especially with rumours circulating about Wanderley Luxemburgo and São Paulo as well. Atlético-GO pulled off the most stunning result of the season so far and will be full of confidence and their trtp to the São Januário to take on Vasco da Gama. Although still bottom of the table, Atlético-GO would leapfrog Vasco with victory in their battle to avoid the drop. At the Prudentão, two teams both on thirteen points meet up in the final Saturday game. Cup finalists Vitória and Prudente have identical records since the break but the home advatange for Prudente could tip things in their favour.

Two struggling sides meet at the Vila Belmiro with uncertainty regarding the positions of their incumbent coaches. Santos have lost all three games since the break and have slumped to 12th in the table whist São Paulo have just the point they picked up in midweek to show for their post break effort and lie a place below Santos. It is expected the losing coach in this San-São will be looking for new employment come Monday morning. Cruzeiro should bounce back from their defeat at Fluminense in midweek when they host Grêmio at the Mineirão. Grêmio are yet to win on their travels and need to improve their away form quickly. Cruzeiro are unbeaten at home so far this season and will expect this to continue. Game of the day comes at Beira-Rio where the form side Internacional take on Flamengo. Despite their widely reported lack of firepower Flamengo are still managing to score but this game may be a step to far for them this as Inter continue to build to their Libertadores semi-final clash with São Paulo. After the silly scenes that marked their game against Vitória in midweek Goiás welcome Atlético-PR to the Serra Dourada. Atlético-PR snapped a three game losing streak in midweek and hope to bring the confidence into the game whilst Goiás are still fuming from letting a two goal lead slip in midweek.

Has the bubble burst for Ceará? Unbeaten before the break they've only taken 2 points from 9 since and welcome an inconsistent Palmeiras looking to find it's feet under the new management of Big Phil Scolari. This result could forge the destiny of both teams for the rest of the season. Corinthians will look to bounce back from their disappointing defeat in midweek at Atlético-GO when they entertain Guarani at the Pacaembu. Guarani have only the one win away from home at Vasco whilst Corinthians are 5 from 5 so far and this could well be a home banker. Finally the oldest derby in Brazil, the "Clássico Vovô" takes place at the Engenhão as Botafogo welcome leaders Fluminense. O Fogão's problems are well documented, they haven't won in 7 whilst Fluminense are unbeaten over the same period since a loss at Corinthians. Knowing the way this league works, nothing would surprise us is Botafogo managed to turn the leaders over.

We're back Monday with a full round of all the action.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 10 Preview

Atlético Mineiro x Internacional
Vitória x Goiás
São Paulo x Prudente
Flamengo x Avaí
Atlético Paranaense x Santos
Grêmio x Vasco da Gama
Atlético Goianiense x Corinthians
Fluminense x Cruzeiro
Guarani x Ceará
Palmeiras x Botafogo

Internacional are one of three teams to have hit the ground running since the break and they entertain an Atlético-MG side that has only won one of their last 5 games. With a Libertadores semi-final looming at the end of the month Inter need to push on and keep this form up if they are to have any chance. Atlético-MG on the other hand are only one place out of the relegation zone and desperately need to kick start their season. Vitória have a cup final on their mind and their 3-2 win over São Paulo at weekend left them unbeaten in their last three games. After going into the break as the form club, Goiás have picked up a single point from two games as they look to rediscover their form. São Paulo are one of four teams without a win since the break and entertain a Prudente side in confident mode after victory over Grêmio at the weekend.

Fifth play sixth at the Maracanã as Flamengo entertain Avaí. The Rubro-Negro have surprised most of the pundits by winning both games since the break despite a lack of firepower up front. Avaí are also 100% since the break after wins over São Paulo and Palmeiras so something has to give on wednesday night. Santos are surprisingly one of the four teams without a point since the break, Atlético-PR are also 0 from 2 but you have to favour the Paulista champions to get their campaign back on the road, especially with the cup final looming on the horizon. The still travel sick Grêmio are back at the Fortress as they entertain Vasco da Gama. Vasco are still in the relegation zone despite victory at the weekend but not many teams take points from Monumental and you have to fancy the home side. Bottom v Top at the Serra Dourada as Atlético-GO entertain a Corinthians side which struggled to see off Atlético-MG at the weekend but are now the only unbeaten team in the league. Atlético-GO have scored the least goals so far this season and Corinthians are joint top scorers so the wise money would be on them.

Thursday sees an in form Cruzeiro take on Fluminense at the Maracanã. Two victories on the spin have seen Cruzeiro climb to fourth and a great win at Santos at the weekend saw Fluminense into second. It was a smash and grab win from Fluminense at the weekend but they will need to be on their guard if they are to keep the pressure on at the top of the table. Two of the promoted sides clash as Guarani entertain a Ceará side that lost it's unbeaten record at Inter at the weekend. Guarani picked a point at the Engenhão at the weekend but the remain five places behing Ceará in the league at the moment. Botafogo haven't won in five games and it's becoming a concern now for Joel Santanta, who quickly needs to turn fortunes around. Palmeiras came unstuck at Avaí at the weekend and need to stop being inconsistent as they have won three, drawn three and lost three of their games so far this season.

A round up will hopefully appear on Friday, subject to other committments.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 9

Vitória 3-2 São Paulo
Vasco da Gama 3-1 Atlético Paranaense
Corinthians 1-0 Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Goianiense 0-1 Flamengo
Avaí 4-2 Palmeiras
Internacional 2-1 Ceará
Cruzeiro 1-0 Goiás
Santos 0-1 Fluminense
Botafogo 1-1 Guarani
Prudente 2-0 Grêmio

São Paulo made it back to back defeats after the restart, this time falling away at cup finalists Vitória. Elkeson put Vitória ahead after 13 minutes but the teams went in level at half time after Jean's equalizer seven minutes before the break. Schwenck's fifth goal of the season put Vitória ahead again two minutes after the break and Ramón doubled the lead ten minutes later. Fernandão pulled one back for São Paulo four minutes later but Vitória held on for their third win of the season. Vasco da Gama got their second win of the season after victory over 9-man Atlético-PR at the São Januário. Jonathan put Vasco ahead after 19 minutes and Nunes doubled the lead from the spot six minutes later. Chico then saw red for Atlético-PR on the half hour and he was followed by Eli Sabia five minutes later but the nine men pulled a goal back right on half time through Bruno Mineiro. Léo Gago restored the two goal lead for Vasco on the hour to give them what could be a crucial win. Corinthians remain top of the leage but were made to work hard by Atlético-MG. Only one goal seperated the teams and he home fans had to wait until ten minutes from time when Bruno César found the back of the net.

Despite their reported problems, Flamengo are now two from two after the break and up to fifth after a win at bottom of the table Atlético-GO. Only one goal separated the teams and it came from veteran Dejan Petkovic's penalty nine minutes before the break after Diego Maurício had been upended. Avaí also went two from two after the break with a late late show against Palmeiras in a game that finished 10 aside. Gabriel Silva put the Big Green ahead after 11 minutes but Caio levelled for the home side. Robinho (a different one) put Avaí ahead five minutes before the break but they then lost Pará for a second bookable offence three minutes later. Kléber then levelled the game again nine minutes after the break and it looked like the game was heading for a draw when Léo's foul gave him a second yellow and Caio's second from the spot put Avaí ahead. Roberto then put the result beyond doubt for Avaí deep in injury time. Ceará fell to their first defeat of the season at Internacional. Alecsandro put Inter ahead from the spot after 15 minutes and Kleber doubled the advantage two minutes after the break. Michel pulled a goal back for Ceará just after the hour but they could find the goal to keep their unbeaten status in the league.

Cruzeiro were another team to make it two from two after the break when they moved up into fourth after a single goal victory over Goiás. The only goal came from Gilberto with eleven minutes on the clock. Fluminense won the big game on Sunday night after a smash and grab raid at the Vila Belmiro against Santos. The home side were much the better side for most of the game but keeper Fernando Henrique was in fine form for the visitors. Fluminense grabbed the winner 13 minutes from time when Alan slotted home after a pass from Mariano. Botafogo are now six games without a win after coming from behind to get a point against Guarani. The visitors went ahead after five minutes before the break through Ricardo Xavier but Fogo were level before half time thanks to Danny Morais. Grêmio and their travel problems continue despite the break after defeat at Prudente. Paulo César put the home side ahead half way through the first half but they were reduced to ten men when João Vitor saw red after 65 minutes. Grêmio tried to chase the game but Prudente made the game safe in injury time when Wanderley sealed things to give Prudente their first win in three.

Thick and fast the games come now and yet another midweek round to keep the players busy and they line up like this.

Atlético Mineiro x Internacional
Vitória x Goiás
São Paulo x Prudente
Flamengo x Avai
Atlético Paranaense x Santos
Grêmio x Vasco da Gama
Atlético Goianiense x Corinthians
Fluminense x Cruzeiro
Guarani x Ceará
Palmeiras x Botafogo

Friday, 16 July 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 9 Preview

Vitória x São Paulo
Vasco da Gama x Atlético Paranaense
Corinthians x Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Goianiense x Flamengo
Avaí x Palmeiras
Internacional x Ceará
Cruzeiro x Goiás
Santos x Fluminense
Botafogo x Guarani
Prudente x Grêmio

Week 9 of the Brasileiro as the games now come thick and fast for the teams. Just the two games on Saturday this week and São Paulo travel to cup finalists Vitória looking to bounce back from their midweek slip up against Avaí. Vitória are hovering around the relegation zone at the moment and need to start picking up points in the league soon. Another big relegation clash at the São Januário as Vasco entertain Atlético-PR. Vasco picked up a point in midweek but need to start to improve their goal scoring record quickly if they aren't to make a quick return to Série B. If Atlético-PR are to stay up, these are the kind of games they must be targetting. Corinthians face an Atlético-MG side bouyed by a victory in midweek and the return to some form for star man Diego Tardelli. It's getting tight at the top of the table now and Corinthians need to try and get back to the level of football they were at before the break.

Flamengo surprised many in midweek with their victory over Botafogo despite being short of firepower up front. A trip to bottom of the table Atlético-GO is just what they need to keep the pressure on at the top of the table in the defence of their crown. Two of the big winners in midweek meet in the Floriánapolis, Palmeiras kept their hoodoo over Santos going whilst Avaí recorded a marvellous victory up the road at the Morumbi. Home advantage though may be key in this one. Internacional certainly got back into their stride in midweek and they entertain second placed Ceará. The break doesn't seem to have affect Ceará who will looking to keep the 0 in the loss column. Cruzeiro picked up a useful win in midweek and face a Goiás side who are unbeaten in their last 5 outings. It's a big ask for Goiás as Cruzeiro aren't easy to beat in the Mineirão.

Probably the game of the weekend at the Vila Belmiro as fourth places Santos entertain third places Fluminense. After a setback in midweek Santos will be looking to get back into the title race and Fluminense will be disappointed not to have taken advantage when letting a lead sliip against Prudente. Should be a cracker this one and we had hoped it has been picked for broadcast on the various betting side. Problem is, it hasn't. Botafogo hope to welcome back El Loco as they entertain Guarani at the Engenhão. O Fogão haven't won in their last 5 and have slipped down the table but will need to be careful against a Guarani side who are adapting well to top flight life. Finally Prudente entertain Grêmio at the Prudentão. It's a battle of the Grêmio's and Prudente will want a win to pull them out of the relegation zone, which they dropped into despite a point against Fluminense in midweek. Grêmio started slowly after the break and had to rely on an own goal to rescue them in midweek but these are they games they need to win if they are to make the top 4 and Libertadores football next year.

A round up will appear on here on Monday

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 8

Grêmio 1-1 Vitória
Atlético Paranaense 0-2 Cruzeiro
São Paulo 1-2 Avaí
Flamengo 1-0 Botafogo
Guarani 0-3 Internacional *
Goiás 0-0 Vasco da Gama
Ceará 0-0 Conrinthians
Palmeiras 2-1 Santos
Atlético Mineiro 3-2 Atlético Goianiense
Fluminense 1-1 Prudente

As the Brasileiro swung back into action after the break for the FIFA World Cup it was more or less like starting the season all over again. Vitória came within 15 minutes of breaking Fortress Grêmio. Wallace put Vitória ahead 11 minutes before the break before an own goal from Egídgo levelled matters and saved the home side. Atlético-PR are in real trouble now after a 2-0 home defeat to Cruzeiro, it's a result that leaves them deep in the relegation mire. Wellington Paulista put Cruzeiro ahead just before half time and Robert finished things off four minutes from time as the home side chased a point. Avaí snapped a two game losing streak with a magnificent victory over São Paulo at the Morumbi. Roberto put Avaí ahead on the hour and five minutes later Vandinho doubled the lead for the visitors. Hernanes pulled a goal back 14 minutes from time for São Paulo but Avaí held on to claim the points.

In the big derby at the Maracanã, Flamengo stunned the pundits (us included) with a 1-0 victory over Botafogo. As expected El Loco didn't make it back to be in the Botafogo line up and Flamengo has a decimated front line. Dejan Petkovic showed his class as he run the show for the Rubro-Negro who won the game with the only goal from substitute Paulo Sérgio half way through the second half. Internacional hit the ground running and handed Guarani their first home defeat of the season. All the goals came in the second half, Sandro put Inter ahead on the hour and Alecsandro doubled the lead ten minutes later. Taison wrapped things up for Inter deep into stoppage time. The final two games on Wednesday night saw no goals. Chances were few and far between as Goiás and Vasco da Gama finished scoreless as did the big clash in Fortaleza between the top two, Ceará and Corinthians.

Palmeiras handed Santos their second Série A defeat of the season and repeated their success in the Paulista with a 2-1 win at the Pacaembu. A cracking goal from Ewerthon put Palmeiras in the driving seat with 13 minutes on the clock and Tinga doubled the lead half way through the second half. It was a nervous last 8 minutes foe the Big Green after Marcel pulled a goal back but they held on for win number three of the season. In the big relegation clash in Belo Horizonte Atlético-MG just for the better of Atlético-GO. After being discarded from the Seleção, Diego Tardelli is a man with a point to prove and he fired Atlético-MG ahead after 17 minutes. Marcão levelled for Atlético-GO on the half hour but Atlético-MG went into a two goal lead by the break thanks for a penalty from Tardelli and Ricardo Bueno just before the break. Atlético-GO reduced the defecit on the hour thanks to Rodrigo Tiuí but they finished with ten men after Jairo saw red two minutes from time. Fluminense missed out on a chance to close the gap at the top after being held by Prudente at the Maracanã. The evergreen Fred put the Tricolor ahead after just 16 minutes but Fluminense couldn't hold on and Wesley levelled matters for Prudente 8 minutes from time to leave it as you were at the top of the table.

The games come thick and fast and Week 9 takes place over the weekend. They line up like this

Vitória x São Paulo
Vasco da Gama x Atlético Paranaense
Corinthians x Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Goianiense x Flamengo
Avaí x Palmeiras
Internacional x Ceará
Cruzeiro x Goiás
Santos x Fluminense
Botafogo x Guarani
Prudente x Grêmio

* Highlights only of first two goals. Sorry.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 8 Preview

Grêmio x Vitória
Atlético Paranaense x Cruzeiro
São Paulo x Avaí
Flamengo x Botafogo
Guarani x Internacional
Goiás x Vasco da Gama
Ceará x Conrinthians
Palmeiras x Santos
Atlético Mineiro x Atlético Goianiense
Fluminense x Prudente

After a 38 day break due to the FIFA World Cup it's back to business on Wednesday night as the Campeonato Brasileiro resumes after the festival in South Africa which saw the total failure of the Seleção and the trophy remain in Europe. The first game after the break sees 13th placed Grêmio entertain Vitória in Porto Alegre. Vitória, after a poor start to the season, improved before the enforced break but Grêmio were defeated last time out but the home side are pretty unbeatable at home and for Vitória it's not the best of places to start. Despite winning 2 of their last 4 games before the break Atlético-PR are still in the relegation zone as we get back underway and they entertain a Cruzeiro side who also lost last time out. It's been a mixed start to the year for Cruzeiro, humbled in the Libertadores despite by São Paulo and in mid-table only being back in the competition next year will be enough for the Belo Horizonte public. São Paulo start again in 6th and entertain and Avaí side who were the early leaders of the competition. Avaí went into the break on the back of two defeats and will look to get their season back on track but the Morumbi isn't the place to look to start.

Huge game at the Maracanã as the "Rubro-Negro" and "O Glorioso" clash after a break that has seen contrasting fortunes for the club. Flamengo have lost Adriano, to Roma and admitted defeat in their attempts to sign Vágner Love back from CSKA Moskva. If losing your front line strikes wasn't enough, the back up strikers are also not available. Val Baiano, impressive with Barueri last season, has been signed from Monterrey in Mexico and other signings, defender Jean, midfielder Corrêa and Renato Abreu aren't available until August. Then we have the Bruno situation which has seen the goalkeeper arrested by the police over the death of his ex-girlfriend*. Botafogo have had a quiet break, they are likely to be without Sebastian Abreu who only arrived back in Montevideo with the fourth placed Uruguayans on Monday but it's been a quiet month at the Engenhão. With the lack of firepower in the Flamengo squad it's going to be a long year for them and we have a sneaky suspicion this could be Botafogo's night. Guarani, who have made a decent start to life in the top flight take on an Internacional side that have been impressive in the Libertadores but shocking in the league with only 2 wins from the seven games so far. Guarani have been impressive at home so far and Inter will need to be at their best to get anything from this game. Goiás were probably the one side not happy at seeing the break after three straight wins but they entertain a Vasco da Gama side that has struggled to adapt to life back in the top flight, having one only one game so far. Vasco have re-signed Carlos Alberto from Werder Bremen in Germany but he won't be available until August.

Second entertain First in Fortaleza as the surprise package Ceará welcome Conrinthians to the Castelão. Ceará and Corinthians are the only two side left in the league who have yet to taste defeat in the league and something may give in this time. Ceará certainly aren't short of match practice, playing 10 games during the break in the Liga do Nordeste. This though is their biggest challenge of the season so far and a Corinthians win would give them some daylight at the top of the table. Huge game at Pacaembu as Palmeiras meet Santos for the second time this year. Palmeiras won their clash in the Paulista 4-3 in an absolute classic at the Vila Belmiro back in March and it was only one of two defeats suffered by Santos in the regular season and gives added spice to this fixture. Santos will have Robinho back for the last month of his loan spell before he either returns to Manchester or is sold on. Two teams in deep relegation trouble meet at the Mineirão as an under achieving Atlético-MG entertain Atlético-GO. Atlético-GO broke their duck against Cruzeiro last time out but the month's break might not have come at the right time. For Vanderlei Luxemburgo it gave him the chance to knock his team into shape after seeing them win only two games despite scoring 10 goals in the process, it will be interesting to see how they get back on the horse. Fluminense are top dogs in Rio at the moment, they lie in third as we get back underway and it's been a good start for Muricy Ramalho. Prudente has a shocking start to the season, conceding 6 goals at Avaí before thumping Atlético-MG 4-0 the week after. Since then only one victory over Atlético-GO for Prudente and they will look to avoid a repeat of their 3-1 defeat to Flamengo at the Maracanã in week 3. Fluminense are looking to secure the signature of Deco from Chelsea but they would still be a month away from playing him due to the transfer window being closed but they look to keep up the pressure on the teams at the top of the league as they currently trail the top 2 by two points.

It's good to be back.

We'll have a round up of all the action on Friday.

* Bruno video may only be available to UK viewers only.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

All Gone

After a delay for alcohol intake, illness within the camp, other committments and the straight disappearence of some people there are no CONMEBOL teams left in the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Argentina were humbled 4-0 by Germany last Saturday. When the Albiceleste have won our special correspondent's report has been with us within hours. It's Tuesday now and we still haven't heard from him. Meanwhile Spain defeated Paraguay 1-0 after a David Villa goal seven minutes from time won the game for the European Champions. In a game which saw both sides miss penalties it took one moment of magic from the now FC Barcelona player to win the game.

Uruguay 2-3 Netherlands

Netherlands qualified for their first FIFA World Cup Final since 1978 after a 3-2 victory over Uruguay in Cape Town. The Oranje took the lead in the 18th minutes after a spectacular strike from captain Giovanni Van Bronckhorst flew past Mulsera in the Uruguay goal. The Dutch were also up to the same tricks they employed in the Brazil game with players falling to ground easily and trying to con the referee. Uruguay levelled though four minutes before half time, Diego Forlán finding space and letting rip from 25 metres and Stekelenburg flapped and it went into the net to give Forlán his fourth of the tournament.

Edinson Cavani nearly put Uruguay ahead early in the second half after more panic from Stekelenburg but Van Bronckhorst cleared from the line, the Forlán again tested Stekelenburg but the keeper was up to the task this time. The Netherlands though took control and re-established their lead on 70 minutes. A Wesley Sneijder shot took a couple of deflections and despite not hitting, but being played at by an offide Robin Van Persie it ended up in the back of the net and the decision went in favour of the Oranje. Three minutes later Holland has a foot in the final when Drik Kuyt's cross found Arjen Robben's head and the ball flew into the back of the net. Uruguay pressed, but were missing Suaréz and then Forlán had to be replaced injured. Friday's hero El Loco Sebastian Abreu got into the action but never really got into the game. Uruguay gave themselved hope when Maxi Pereira found the back of the net from the edge of the box. Uruguay threw the kitchen sink in what little time was left but they couldn't force extra time and so find themselves in the Third Place match on Saturday. The result also ensures that for the first team a European team will win the FIFA World Cup iutside the UEFA zone.

Highlights are again courtesy of the official FIFA website. These are subject to local restrictions. We recommend our UK readers use the BBC Website.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Uruguay End African Dreams

Uruguay 1-1 Ghana
Uruguay wins 4-2 on kicks from the penalty mark.

Africa's last team at the competition departed the competition after losing to Uruguay after a penalty shootout at Soccer City.

With the hosts gone from the tournament the whole of a continent were united behind the Black Stars and they were even referred to in the South African press as BaGhana BaGhana. Ghana made a bright start to the game and starved Uruguay of possession but as the game wore on the influence of Diego Forlán and Luis Suaréz became stronger and stronger and dodgy Ghanian keeper Richard Kingson was forced into action. But the Ghanians rode the storm as Uruguay suffered a blow 7 minutes before the break when they lost captain Diego Lugano to injury. Ghana stunned Soccer City when they took the lead with the last action of the first half, Sulley Muntari picked up the ball 35 metres away from the goal and unleashed a powerful shot that beat Muslera and had them dancing on the streets of Accra.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabárez made a positive move at half time when introducing Nicholas Lodeiro as they were 45 minutes away from elimination. Ten minutes into the half though Uruguay were level. After John Pantsil was booked for a foul, up steps Diego Forlán to get the free kick over the wall and past Kingson into the Ghana goal. Asamoah Gyan was a constant threat for Ghana and Kevin Prince Boateng was proving a thing or two to the Germans as well. Uruguay still tired to be positive and win the game within regulation, introducing El Loco Sebastian Abreu into the action with 14 minutes left but nothing came of it and we went to extra time.

As the game got into extra time both teams were tired and chances were few and far between. Ghana of course were going over old ground after their extra time win over the USA in the last round and for the majority of the extra period they actually looked the fresher of the two teams. As time ran out in extra time, Ghana pressed for a winner and after a goal mouth scramble as the game went into injury time at the end of extra time Adiyiah's goal bound header was handled off the line by Suaréz. It was a blatant act of cheating to be honest and after Suaréz was sent off he left the field in tears, the hopes of Africa fell onto the shoulders of Asamoah Gyan, already successful twice from the spot during the competition his smashed his spot kick against the bar and the final whistle went for full time and Suaréz celebrated before disappearing down the tunnel.

As the penalty competition the momentum seemed to be with the Uruguayans, despite losing one of their five regular penalty takers ths miss of Gyan seemed to gee them up. The now Uruguay captain Diego Forlán was first up and he cooly slotted past Kingson. Immediately after missing Asamoah Gyan was first up for Ghana and he bravely put his kick into the top corner to level things. Mauricio Victorino was up next and he blasted his kick into the net, he was followed by Stephen Appiah and he lifted his kick over Muslera despite the uruguay goalkeeper guessing the right way. Andres Scotti was next up and despite it being a poor penalty it found the back of the net, John Mensah followed for Ghana and it was easily saved by Muslera. Maxi Pereira then skied his penalty into row z to keep Ghana in the contest but Dominic Adiyiah had his saved by Muslera to put Uruguay on the hill. El Loco Abreu stepped up to be the Uruguay hero and he coolly slotted his penalty past Kingson to put Uruguay into a semi final clash against the Netherlands in Cape Town, a repeat of their 1974 clash in Hanover.

Asamoah Gyan was inconsolable at the end of proceedings but Uruguay will go to Cape Town without Suaréz and Fucile after both picked up suspensions. Highlights are again courtesy of the official FIFA website. These are subject to local restrictions. We recommend our UK readers use the BBC Website.

Brazil Crash Out

Netherlands 2-1 Brazil

The curse of the Confederations Cup strikes again as Brazil were dramatically dumped out of the FIFA World Cup after a 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands in Port Elizabeth. No winners of the Confederation Cup has ever gone onto win the big one the year after and this year will be no different.

It was a feisty opening as Arjen Robben set the tone for the afternoon by throwing himself to the floor in a challenge from Dani Alves. The Seleção thought they were ahead after 8 minutes but a late flag from the assistant denied Alves and Robinho. Two minutes later though the Seleção were ahead, Felipe Melo with a ball straight through the Netherlands defence and Robinho was on hand to put the ball past Stekelenberg in the Netherlands goal. Brazil controlled the first half, they were in a position to cope with everything that the Netherlands could throw at them. Kaká nearly doubled the lead on the half hour but he was denied by a great save from Stekelenberg. Robben eventually managed to get Michel Bastos booked 7 minutes before the break after more theatrics.

Netherlands levelled the game 8 minutes after the break, after another piece of acting from Robben drew a foul from Bastos, the Dutchman who quickly on his feet to take a pass from Wesley Sneijder. Robben returned the ball to Sneijder and his nothing cross was messed up by Julío Cesár and the ball flicked off Felipe Melo for the second Netherlands own goal of the tournament. The Seleção were rattled, Bastos was hauled off to save him from further punishment from Robben and Gilberto of Cruzeiro was introduced. Half way through the half it got worse for Brazil. Melo left Sneijder unmarked in the box and he headed the Netherlands ahead. Melo then stupidly got himself sent off five minutes later for stamping on Robben and the mountain got even higher for the Seleção. Try as they might they couldn't break down the Netherlands defence, Stekelenberg had a dodgy moment when Brazil had a run of corners but the Seleção could find no way through and as they pressed for the equaliser Huntelaar wasted a golden opportunity to seal the game.

So the Seleção head off for home after making it back to back quarter final exits. No competitive games now for them until the Copa América in Argentina next year and with hosting the next tournament they are exempt from the CONMEBOL qualification process. The Confederations Cup will be held in Brazil in 2013 as a build up to the big show the year after. They will also be doing it with a new coach after Dunga announced he was quitting after the game.

Highlights are again courtesy of the official FIFA website. These are subject to local restrictions. We recommend our UK readers use the BBC Website.