Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 18 Preview

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

Yet another midweek round in Brazil as they catch up from the World Cup break continues. Everyone in action apart from Corinthians and Vasco da Gama who play their game on October 14 alongside the Santos x Internacional game held over after the Libertadores final. Speaking of Inter, they ended Botafogo's winning run at weekend and they are on the road to Vitória hoping to get some momentum in their title charge. With a game in hand they may trail by ten points at the moment but nothing is certain yet. Vitória though, haven't won in two. Their last win was against Santos so Inter can't take this one lightly. Guarani picked up a morale booting victory at the weekend and travel to the totally out of form Grêmio. Guarani are unbeaten in their last three whilst Grêmio haven't won in three but have picked two draws up on the way. Home form in normally the key for Grêmio and they need to get back on track as soon as possible. Prudente are also in the cart at the moment, the lie just above the relegation zone and if they hadn't had those three points deducted there would be clear daylight to the relegation zone. Botafogo suffered their first defeat since the first game since the World Cup break at weekend and will be looking to get back on track if they are to have any chance of Libertadores success at a minimum.

Two teams in deep sh*t meet at the Serra Dourada, Goiás who have slumped to the bottom of the table and without a win since that late show at Flamengo prior to the World Cup entertain a just as bad Atlético-MG side. Atlético-MG's post break form is better and includes back to back wins along the way but they have the worst defence in the league and if they can stop shipping goals and Diego Tardelli is in the mood there is nothing to say they can't pick up all three points. Managerless Flamengo are like a rudderless ship at the moment and a trip to Cruzeiro is about the last thing they need at the moment. Defeat at Guarani wasn't in the plan at weekend when they were only moments away from all three points and with Cruzeiro on the brink of a Libertadores spot at the moment you can't see things getting much better for them at the moment. Atlético-PR are doing quite nicely at the moment and are unbeaten in their last three and the visit of Ceará to the Arena de Baixada give them a good chance to make it four. Although good before the break Ceará are about as inconsistent as inconsistent can be at the moment and if they are to achieve a high finishing position in the league need to start winning more.

Fluminense welcomes Palmeiras to the Maracanã and with Corinthians not in action because of their 100th anniversary celebrations this week can extend their lead at the top of the table to six points. The draw against São Paulo at the weekend wasn't in the script but it was better than the defeat that stared them in the face at one time. Palmeiras finally managed to register another win for Felipão at the weekend but they desperately need to start turning all the draws they have been getting in three points if they are to have any chance of a decent finish in the league. Santos will look for revenge on Avaí knocking them out of the Sudamericana when they meet at the Vila Belmiro. Avaí's 3-1 away win in the first leg eventually just about saw them through but Santos put a much stronger team out in the second leg and if it's like the one in that second leg then they will close their own gap on Corinthians to four points with both having played the same number of games. São Paulo will never get a better chance to get the show on the road when they welcome Atlético-GO to the Morumbi. Strange as things are, Atlético-GO are actually about São Paulo in the form table at the moment but only one win on the road all season you'd be a braver person than me putting your money on Atlético-GO. São Paulo must hit form soon and this is an ideal game for them to start.

We'll be back on Friday with a round up of all the action.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 17

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

Internacional opened the weekend by ending Botafogo's five game winning streak to take them into the top four. The Libertadores win is now definitely forgotten as Inter begin a title charge. One goal seperated the side and came with 24 minutes on the clocks from Leandro Damião. Botafogo finished with then men after Caio saw red in injury time. Vasco da Gama still remain unbeaten since the break as they picked up a point at home to Cruzeiro. Both goals came withing a minute of each other, first Zé Roberto put Vasco ahead a minute before the break with a screamer before an own goal from Fernando less that sixty seconds later gave both sides a point. Prudente managed to pick up a valuable point away from home in their relegation battle at inconsistent Ceará. The home side took the lead with 11 minutes on the clock through Washington but Prudente went into half time ahead after a doubled strike from Wesley in the last ten minutes in the half. Prudente were five minutes away from a valuable victory but Careca snatched an equaliser for Ceará. The final game on Saturday saw Santos make it three wins in a row as they climbed to third. They left it late though to get victory, Zé Eduardo put Santos ahead fifteen minutes from time and Alan Patrick sealed things six minutes later to leave Goiás, who sacked coach Emerson Leão in the week, rooted to the foot of the table.

Sunday saw Corinthians kept up the heat on Fluminense at the top of the table after a 2-1 victory of Vitória. Iarley set Corinthians on their way in the tenth minute and Paulinho doubled the lead on the stoke of half time. Vitória didn't give up and pulled a goal back through Kléber Pereira with eight minutes to go but they couldn't find the equaliser. After giving Rogério Lourenço the boot in midweek managerless Flamengo went down to a sixth defeat of the season at Guarani. It was all going well for Flamengo when Jean put them ahead just before half time and it looked like they were going to get all three points until Aílson levelled as the game went into injury time. Instead of a point, they left with nothing after Reinalso stunned the Champions with a second two minutes into injury time to more or less kill off any hopes Flamengo had of retaining their title. Palmeiras got a second win under the belt for Felipão as they came from behind to take all three points against Atlético-MG. Neto Berola put Atlético-MG, now embroiled in a desperate relegation battle, ahead seven minutes after the break but Marcos Assunção levelled matters with 66 minutes on the clock. Palmeiras won the game fifteen minutes from time when Kléber struck to leave Atlético-MG wondering which level they will be playing in next season.

São Paulo are another team that needs to get their season back on track and they picked up a point at the Maracanã to reduce the lead of Fluminense at the top of the table. It all started well for the Tricolor as Deco picked up his first goal since his move from Chelsea to put them ahead with nine minutes on the clock. Two goals in as many minute turned the game on it's head as São Paulo took the lead, firstly a free kick from Rogério Ceni levelled matters and Fernandão put São Paulo ahead. Fluminense though got back into the game on the hour thanks to Leandro Euzébio and their gap at the top of the table was down to three points. Avaí picked up a point at Atlético-GO after back to back wins. Vandinho put Avaí ahead half way through the first half but they went into half time trailing after an Elias double, giving him five in his last two, put Atlético-GO ahead. But Avaí got themselves back in the game twenty minutes from time when a second from Vandinho levelled things. Finally two teams at the wrong end of the table met as the travel sick Grêmio came from behind to pick up a point at the Arena de Baixada against Atlético-PR. Maikon Leite put Atlético-PR ahead nine minutes before the break but on the hour Grêmio levelled matters when Vilson struck.

All hands to the pump at the moment and another midweek round ahead of us with only nine games, as the Vasco da Gama x Corinthians match has been held over until October

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

Friday, 27 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 16

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

Leaders Fluminense were first up on Wednesday night and they extended their lead at the top of the table to five points after a hard earned victory at strugglers Goiás. It took the Tricolor 65 minutes to break the deadlock through Washington and Emerson doubled the lead eight minutes later. Marquinho wrapped things up in injury time as Goiás remain rooted in the relegation zone. Internacaional played more of their Libertadores winning team at the Ressacada and came away with a fantastic victory over in form Avaí. One goal seperated the teams and it came with ten minutes on the clock from Índio. Inter, who moved up to fifth with the win, finished with ten men after Wilson Matias received a second yellow card half way through the second half. Botafogo are up to third after their fifth consecutive win, this time at the Engenhão against a fading Ceará side who after their bright start are now slipping down the table. Again one goal was enough and it came five minutes after the break from Jóbson.

The late games on Wednesday saw Atlético-PR make it back to back wins after success at the Prudentão. We mentioned in the preview the needed to build on the success over Flamengo and they duly did with a rasper from Branquinho just short of the hour. The defeat leaves Prudente on the edge of the relegation zone. No goals at the Morumbi as Vasco da Gama still remain unbeaten after the world cup break as they picked up a point against a São Paulo side that jut can't buy a victory at the moment. Corinthians fell to their third defeat of the season when they went down to Cruzeiro at the Mineirão. Again only a single goal in the game and it came with on the three minutes on the clock from Walter Montillo. The vicotry keeps Cruzeiro in contention for a Libertadores spot but leaves clear daylight between Corinthians and Fluminense. The Olímpico Monumental is fast losing it's Fortress reputation as Grêmio fell to yet another defeat at home, this time to Santos. It all started well for Grêmio when Borges put them ahead with only six minutes on the clock. Santos eventually levelled halfway through the second half when Neymar converted from the spot and it looked like it was going to be a point each until Rodriguinho grabbed a winner deep into injury time despite having Alex Sandro sent off nine minutes from time.

The Thursday games saw a stalemate at the Maracanã as Atlético-MG managed to keep a clean sheet in the league for the second time this season against Flamengo. The point sees Atlético-MG remain in the relegation zone and leaves Flamengo a long long way from retaining their title. Stalemate also at Vitória as Guarani picked up a point in a game that ended 10 a-side. José Junior put Vitória ahead with just 12 minutes on the clock but after Reniê was sent off for Vitória Rômulo levelled from the spot for Guarani, who had Fabão sent off in injury time. The biggest shock of the week came at the Pacaembu as Atlético-GO picked up their third win of the season to lift them off the bottom of the table. Elias was the hero as his hat-trick stunned the Palmeiras faithful, the first came from the spot after 26 minutes and the second ten minutes later. The hat-trick was completed seven minutes from time to wrap up a marvellous night for Atlético-GO

Back into the swing of things again this weekend and they line up like this with the game of the weekend at the Beira-Rio as Internacional entertains Botafogo in a top four clash.

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

Copa Sudamericana Week 4

1st Stage First Leg

Universidad de Chile 2-2 Oriente Petrolero

Some three weeks after their elimination from the Libertadores Universidad de Chile set off on another continental campaign as they came back from two goals down against Oriente Petrolero of Bolivia. Ronal Rea put Oriente ahead a minute after the break with a deflected shot and when Mauricio Saucedo doubled the advantage with a chip over the keeper two minutes later it was a long way back for "La U". However, it took them just a minute to halve the deficit through a Carlos Bueno header and they levelled 20 minutes after Edson Puch beat the offside trap to fire home. The second leg for this one is next week.

1st Stage Second Legs

Barcelona 3-1 Universidad César Vallejo
Barcelona advances 6-0 on points
Colo Colo 3-1 Universitario
3-3 on points, Universitario advances on away goals
Santa Fe 4-0 Deportivo Lara
3-3 on points, Santa Fe advances on goal difference

After victory in the first leg in Peru, Barcelona of Ecuador made it to the second stage after a 3-1 win over Universidad César Vallejo. Ricadro Noir but Barcelona ahead with nine minutes on the clock but Jorge Cazulo levelled things for Universidad César Vallejo after 32 minutes. A minute later and Barcelona were back in front through Matias Oyola and Juan Samudio wrapped things up just short of the hour. The only disappointment for Barcelona was the dismissal of Omar De Jesus six minutes from time. Chilean big gun Colo Colo are always a dark horse in any continental competition but they were elminiated at the first stage by Universitario of Bolivia despite winning. Javier Cámpora put Colo Colo ahead on the night seven minutes before the break but Roberto Galindo's equaliser right on half time was to prove decisive for Universitario. It left Colo Colo needing to score at least three times, a second for Cámpora seven minutes after the break edged Colo Colo ahead on the night and half way through the second half Jose Fuenzalida levelled things on aggregate. Universitario held on and that goal from Galindo saw them qualify on away goals. Santa Fe of Colombia overturned a two goal first leg deficit to knock out Deportivo Lara of Venezuela. Sergio Otálvaro put Santa Fe ahead with six minutes on the clock and the tie was all square on aggregate when Alejandro Bernal doubled the lead on the night five minutes after the break. Then with twenty minutes to do Carlos Valdés of Santa Fe and Deportivo's Daniel Montoya were dismissed after clashing and two minutes later Felipe Noquera put Santa Fe ahead in the tie. Deportico Lara's Alexander Rondón became the third player to be sent off six minutes from time before Yulian Anchico wrapped things up from the spot for Santa Fe deep in injury time.

2nd Stage First Leg

Independiente 1-0 Argentinos Juniors

Argentinian clubs made their first appearance in the competition this season when the two struggling Primera League sides met. Both have yet to register victory in the Apertura and were looking to this to kick start their campaigns. Only one goal separated the teams it came with only nine minutes on the clock courtesy of a header from Leonel Galeano. The second leg for this one takes place in two weeks time.

Recopa Sudamericana 1st Leg

LDU Quito 2-1 Estudiantes

This is the South American Super Cup, played between the winners of the previous years Libertadores and Sudamericana. LDU are actually defending the title that they won last year after a comfortable victory over Internacional and welcomed last years Libertadores winners Estudiantes to the Estadio Casa Blanca. All the goals came in a frantic opening 17 minutes and LDU nudged themselves ahead in the tie. Hernan Barcos headed LDU ahead with only 8 minutes on the clock after Cristian Lara had got round the outside of the visitors defence to get the cross in. The visitors were level four minutes later, a free kick causing confusion in the LDU penalty area and defender Marco Rojo took the initiative to fire home.

The game still didn't settle down and five minute later LDU grabbed what turned out to be the winner, a poor clearance was pounced on by Hernan Barcos and he fired home past Cesar Taborda's near post. It wasn't the best piece of goalkeeping you are ever likely to see. The second leg for this one takes place in Quilmes in a fortnight due to the renovations at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata.

This game is also played to the same rules as the finals of the other two CONMEBOL club competitions, away goals don't count and if we are level at the end of 90 minutes next week we will have extra time and penalties if needed.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 16 Preview

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

Fluminense got legged up at the weekend after the draw with Vasco saw their lead at the top of the table cut to two points but they should get back to wining ways when they visit at Goiás side that can't buy a win in the league at the moment. The form table has Fluminense in second and Goiás rock bottom at the moment so the sensible money will be on the Tricolor. Internacional need to get the Libertadores win out of the sytem now if they are the have an impact on the title race. Sandro now has departed for Tottenham but they recently acquired Ilan who was a West Ham last season. They visit Avaí who came unstuck against Botafogo at the weekend and the Recassada is no easy place to visit, Avaí have lost only once at home this season, sit fifth in the table a point ahead of Inter and the winner of this could end up in the top 4 come the end of the round. Botafogo are the form horses in the league at the moment, unbeaten in their last four they have shot up they table and they entertain a Ceará side that have the same number of points as Fogo but have been patchy in form since the world cup break. Despite the absence still of El Loco Abreu it's not affecting Fogo and they will look to keep their good run going.

Prudente, after their three point deduction, took care of Goiás at the weekend but entertain an Atlético-PR team on a high after victory over the champions at the weekend. This three lost points could be crucial in the long run for Prudente and they will be looking to try and give them some breating space from the bottom four. Atlético-PR though need to try and string some consecutive wins together though to avoid another battle with the drop. Vasco enter the Morumbi fancying their chances against a real out of sorts São Paulo. Vasco are still unbeaten since the break and if they had turned more of their draws into wins they'd be even higher in the table. São Paulo are only two points away from relegation trouble and really need to get their season back on track as making Libertadores qualification is a huge ask at the moment. Corinthians will look to close the gap on Fluminense when they travel to the Mineirão to take on Cruzeiro. Defeat at home on the weekend to Vitória wasn't in the script and they will be looking for their first win in four. Corinthains got back to winning ways with victory over São Paulo at the weekend and this is a big test for them if they are to be crowned champions come December. Grêmio are back on home soil and they look at escape the drop zone, even their form at home this year hasn't matched previous season and if their shocking road form continues it is going to be this that is going to save them. Santos still have designs on the title and winning at the Olímpico will send out a message to the rest of the teams in the league that they want to make it a league and cup double this year.

Flamengo welcomes Atlético-MG to the Maracanã as they look to get back into winning ways after defeat at the weekend. Atlético-MG have actually got more goals in the league than Flamengo, but the Rubro-Negro are sorely missing Adriano and Wágner Love as they goals seem to have dried up. The difference is in the defence, Atlético-MG have the worst defence in the league and even this goal shy Flamengo team may just have too much. Vitória entertain Guarani and after back to back wins in the league it seems they have got over the disappointment of their cup final defeat. Guarani are making a good fist of things back in the top flight and they are settled in mid table but don't seem to be able to put a string of decent results together, their failure against Atlético-MG a couple of rounds ago being a case in point. Finally the draw specialists Palmeiras welcomes bottom of the tabl Atlético-GO to the Pacaembu. Although only one defeat in the league since the world cup break, Scolari needs to get his team winning rather than drawing and this is an ideal opportunity for them. Atlético-GO have only two victories to their name all season, the last that stunning success over Corinthians six rounds ago but victories here and there are no good at all if they are to retain their status in the top flight next year.

A round up, should appear on Friday.

River's resurgence

Banfield 0-0 Estudiantes
Newell's Old Boys 2-0 Tigre
Quilmes 1-1 Lanús
Vélez Sarsfield 2-0 Argentinos Juniors
Godoy Cruz 1-0 Olimpo
Racing Club 1-2 San Lorenzo
Gimnasia La Plata 0-0 Colón
River Plate 3-2 Independiente
Arsenal 2-0 Huracán
All Boys 2-0 Boca Juniors

We've said from the off that River Plate needed a rocket up their collective backside if they were to avoid the drop in Argentina's convoluted promotion/relegation system. Well they've had it and now sit level on points at the top of the league alongside Vélez Sarsfield, the only two sides left with 100% records. Rogerio Funes turned in the opener from close range, despite appearing to be offside as the initial, wayward shot came in and he restored the lead after Nestor Silvera equalised Independiente after latching onto a long ball forward. Funes was on the limit of offside for his second, sweeping it in from the 12 yards, and it was 3-1 by half time, Paulo Ferrari beating the keeper at the near post as he was distracted by Funes at the far post and available for the cross. A last-minute own goal pulled one back, but too late. Their big rivals, meanwhile, are in all sorts of bother with just one point from three games after defeat to promoted All Boys. Boca keeper Cristian Lucchetti brought down Mauro Matos on the half hour for a penalty which Matos converted himself. Eduardo Dominguez added a thumping header from a corner six minutes before half time and there was no way back for Boca.

Vélez lead the way on goal difference thanks to a 2-0 win over champions Argentinos who, after having lost manager Claudio Borghi to Boca have lost their way. Leandro Somoza smacked in a penalty with twenty minutes to go and Santiago Silva, with his now customary goal, made it two before Santiago Gentiletti managed to get himself sent off in order to ensure no way back for Argentinos. Banfield and Estudiantes both drop two points on the leaders after drawing with one another without troubling the scorers. So did Gimnasia and Colón while Quilmes and Lanús did at least get one each. Juan Morales headed Quilmes ahead in the seventh minute, but the lead lasted just six minutes until Santiago Salcedo latched onto a poor clearance from Quilmes keeper Emanuel Tripodi and chipped him as he came to atone for his mistake. Godoy Cruz just needed one goal to see off Olimpo, Ariel Rojas with it, finally prodding the ball home after a barrage of shots had been turned away. An unfortunate deflection off the keeper took it into Rojas's path and he couldn't miss from four yards.

Two off and two goals as Newell's beat Tigre. The first dismissal came in the 41st minute, Gonzalo Vera leaving Tigre with ten, and was followed by the first goal, a free-kick floated across the box for the head of Rolando Schiavi to meet it perfectly. Tigre were down to nine with five minutes to go, Cristian Trombetta given his marching orders, and the second goal followed quickly as the undermanned defence left an aching gap in the centre for Luis Rodriguez to get onto a well-weighted through ball and finish to seal the points. Arsenal are up to fifth after beating Huracán. Mauro Obolo put them in front on the quarter hour, a bullet header from a free kick, and on the hour the game was safe as Luciano Leguizamon converted a penalty which his own tricky feet had won. They pass Racing who were beaten at home by San Lorenzo who were ahead inside twenty minutes as Guillermo Pereyra was found on the edge of the box from where he placed a lovely shot just beyond the grasp of the keeper. Ten minutes after the break, Pablo Luguercio equalised with a rasping shot from long range which just took enough of the inside portion of the post to divert it into the back of the net. With time running out, Sebastian Balsas looped a header over the keeper and in for the winner.

Next week, Boca fans have a major problem. Would they rather beat Vélez but potentially see River go top by beating struggling Argentinos or take a dive lest their rivals steal a march? The La Plata derby between Estudiantes and Gimnasia was scheduled for this round, but is held back a month as Estudiantes are in Recopa Sudamericana action against LDU Quito, so Banfield can put some daylight on them if they beat Lanús.

Huracán v Newell's Old Boys
Lanús v Banfield
Tigre v Quilmes
Colón v Godoy Cruz
San Lorenzo v All Boys
Independiente v Arsenal
Argentinos Juniors v River Plate
Olimpo v Racing Club
Boca Juniors v Vélez Sarsfield

Monday, 23 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 15

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

Goiás just can't get anywhere in the league at the moment, 10 days ago they went to Grêmio in the Sudamericana and won but it's not helping their league form at all as they went do to defeat at home to Prudente. Wanderley put the visitors ahead eight minutes after the break but two minutes later Éverton Santos levelled for Goiás to get them back in the game. Ânderson Luis got the winner for Prudente twelve minutes from time and even the sending off for Roberto three minutes from time didn't prevent Prudente picking up win number four of the season. Botafogo are the real form horses of the league at the moment and they made it four in a row with victory over Avaí, who were also in good form. One goal seperated the teams and it came with 33 minutes on the clock from Fábio Ferreira to lift Fogo into the title race. Grêmio remain in the relegation zone after another away defeat at Ceará. The home side were ahead inside a minute courtest of an own goal from Willian Magrão, but they levelled with 25 on the clock and it was yet another own goal that levelled things, this time from Anderson. It looked like Grêmio were going to pick up a valuable away point but Geraldo won the game for Ceará a minute from time.

Santos ensured Atlético-MG remain in the relegation zone at they recorded a 2-0 victory at the Vila Belmiro. Both goals came in the second half, Neymar, who rejected a move from Chelsea in the week, put Santos ahead ten minutes after the break and Danilo wrapped things up 12 minutes from time. After their progression in the Sudamericana in midweek Palmeiras played out a goalless draw at Guarani. The hero of the midweek win for Palmeiras, Marcos Assunção was dismissed with 16 minutes left after collecting a second yellow card. After their defeat at Atlético-PR last season it was a wary Flamengo side that turned up at the Arena da Baixada. And after setting out looking like a side settling for a point they were undone eight minutes from time when Manoel got the only goal of the game for Atlético-PR and condemn Flamengo to their fifth defeat of the season, bearing in mind they lost only nine en route to the title last year. After their triumph in the Libertadores, Internacional couldn't have had better opponents in town than bottom of the table Atlético-GO and the visitors soon gave Inter and the Beira-Rio a reality check four mintues before the break when they went ahead through Victor Ferraz. Inter though still hace designs on the title and they levelled matters half way through the second hald courtesy of Leandro Damião.

Vitória got over the disappointment of their last gasp Sudamericana exit in midweek as they made it back to back league wins at Cruzeiro. A pretty impressive scalp to win at the Mineirão and one goal from José Junior eight minutes after break won it for Vitória. Both sides though finished with ten men, Cruzeiro's Thiago Ribeiro went first with 13 minutes to go and Anderson Martin of Vitória saw red three minutes from time. In the "Majestoso" at the Pacaembu Corinthians narrowed the gap at the top of the table with a comfortable 3-0 victory over São Paulo. A first half double from Elias, the second coming on the stroke of half time put Corinthians in charge and Jucilei wrapped the points up with the third twenty minutes from time. Finally the Clássico dos Gigantes at the São Januário saw Vasco da Gama end Fluminense's three game winning streak. Gum put Fluminense ahead with only three minutes on the clock but on-loan Éder Luís levelled matters eight minutes before the break. When Fágner put Vasco ahead two minutes after the break the Tricolor were on for a third defeat of the season but Júlio César rescused a point for Fluminense on the hour but their lead over Corinthians is now down to two points.

And we're back to midweek action again and they line up like this

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

Friday, 20 August 2010

Copa Sudamericana Week 3

1st Stage 1st Legs

Deportivo Lara 2-0 Santa Fe
Universitario 2-0 Colo Colo
Guaraní 2-0 River Plate Montevideo

Deportivo Lara of Venezuela gained themselves a second leg buffer after a 2-0 victory over Santa Fe of Colombia on Tuesday night. Both goals came in the first half, Aquiles Ocanto put Deportivo ahead with 12 minutes on the clock and Mauricio Chalar made it two on the stroke of half time. Despite playing against ten men after Cristian Nazarit was sent off for Santa Fe with 20 minutes to go Deportivo Lara couldn't get what could have been a killer third goal. In the other Tuesday game, Universitario of Bolivia also got themselves a two goal cushion with victory over highly rate Colo Colo of Chile. Both goals this time came in the second half, Roberto Galindo with the first just short of the hour and Sacha Lima with the second ten minutes from time. The second leg for both of the Tuesday night ties are next week.

Guaraní put themselves in good shape after a 2-0 victory over River Plate of Montevideo. Jonathan Fabbro put Guaraní ahead halfway though the second half and they doubled their advantage six minutes later through Rodrigo Teixeira. The second leg for this one takes place in two weeks time.

2nd Stage 2nd Legs

Avaí 0-1 Santos
3-3 on points, Avaí advances on goal difference
Palmeiras 3-0 Vitória
3-3 on points, Palmeiras advances on goal difference

After being upstaged on "home soil" last week Santos could not rescue their Copa Sudamericana campaign as they crashed out to Avaí despite winning the second leg in Florianópolis. Santos were clearly stunned by their first leg defeat and rolled out the big guns in Neymar and Ganso in an attempt to rescue the tie. They took the lead with 24 minutes on the clock when Zé Eduardo put them ahead but Avaí dug in and held on advance to face the winner of the Emelec and Universidad San Martin tie.

Late drama in the Thursday tie as Palmeiras made it back to back wins as they grabbed a place in the round of 16 with victory over Vitória. After a poor first half the tie sprung to life two minutes into injury time when Tadeu put Palmeiras ahead on the night and halved the aggregate deficit. That got the Palmeiras fans believing and Tadeu levelled the tie 12 minutes after the break. With the tie heading for penalties, Marcos Assunção's marvellous free kick won the tie for Palmeiras a minute from time where potential dengerous opposition in Cerro Porteño could lie in wait.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Copa Libertadores Final 2nd Leg

SC Internacional 3-2 CD Guadalajara
SC Internacional wins 6-0 on points

Internacional claimed their first title since 2006 as the Copa Santander Libertadores returned to Brazil for the first time since that last triumph of Internacional.

After a 2-1 victory in Mexico last week the Porto Alegre based side needed to avoid defeat in order to collect their second triumph in the competition. After resting most of their starters in their Série A defeat at Fluminense at the weekend Inter were stunned when Marco Fabian stunned the Beira-Rio by putting Guadalajara ahead two minutes before the break. It levelled the tie on aggregate and with away goals not counting in the final it was all level on aggregate.

Inter were now suddenly under pressure as the fans in the stadium began to worry, but they levelled on the hour when Rafael Sorbis levelled to edge them ahead again on aggregate. The Beira-Rio though began to believe when Leandro Damião put Inter ahead with fourteen minutes to go. Guadalajara then had Omar Arellano sent off four minutes from time and the party began when substitute Guiliano gave Inter a three goal gap in the last minute. Omar Bravo claimed a consolation goal for Guadalajara in injury time but Inter were not to be denied.

So, congratulations to Internacional who claim their second Copa Libertadores. This also means they will represent CONMEBOL at the FIFA World Club Championships in the United Arab Emirates in December and contest next years edition of the Recopa Sudamericana and get the chance to defend this title.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Five go two-for-two

Colón 0-1 Banfield
Boca Juniors 1-2 Racing Club
Lanús 1-2 Newell's Old Boys
Tigre 1-2 Arsenal
San Lorenzo 2-2 Godoy Cruz
Huracán 0-1 River Plate
All Boys 1-2 Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes 2-0 Quilmes
Olimpo 0-1 Gimnasia La Plata
Independiente 1-1 Argentinos Juniors

Five clubs remain with 100% records after two weeks of football in the Apertura. It seems that the very real threat of being embroiled in a relegation battle has finally resulted in River Plate pulling out their collective finger out and they're one of the five thanks to a second straight 1-0 win, this time over Huracán. Shifting defence into attack, River went from goalkeeper to goal in four passes and a combined total of about eight touches. Facundo Affranchino got on the end of it, almost threatening to fall over the ball before stabbing it in with the keeper nowhere. They had to hang on a bit at the end, Ariel Ortega sent off with 19 minutes to go. River's big rivals Boca couldn't improve on their opening day draw, ending up losers to Racing Club. Lucas Viatri, scorer in the first round, put Boca ahead with a lovely header, but Racing had pegged it back by half time, Claudio Yacob prodding a free-kick home from close range at the back post. Five minutes after the restart, Boca failed to clear a long range shot and it fell to Marcos Caceres lashed it in from the edge of the box and that was enough for the win.

Banfield, winners of the last Apertura, are back in the winning groove, albeit against the run of play against Colón who should have been two or three ahead by the time Cristian Garcia turned a corner in with little over ten minutes to go. You know what they say about sides who win when they're not playing well... Estudiantes also left it late to beat Quilmes. Just eight minutes were left when Estudiantes cleared downfield. The ball was held up wonderfully well and shifted to Rodrigo Brana who bust a gut to get up in support before finishing with the lightest of touches to lift the ball over the advancing keeper. Rodrigo Lopez added a penalty in stoppage time to make sure. And Vélez are the other 100% side as they beat All Boys, albeit less than convincingly. Maxi Martinez lifted a free-kick over the wall and in for the opener ten out from half time and it was two on the stroke of the 45 minute mark, Santiago Silva playing in Juan Martinez who finished from a tight angle. Fernando Sanchez headed in late on from a free-kick, but Vélez closed it out.

Mauricio Sperdutti scored and was dismissed for Newell's as they were held by Lanús, who also finished a man short. Santiago Salcedo headed in from close range to give Lanús the lead, but they were pegged back late in the first half through Sperdutti's stunning free-kick - no back-lift, bang, keeper no chance. Marcos Aguirre was sent off on the stroke of half-time for Lanús, but Sperdutti followed ten minutes after the restart when he picked up a second yellow and 1-1 it remained. San Lorenzo led then had to come from behind to claim a draw with Godoy Cruz. Cristian Tula powered in a header from ten yards out to give San Lorenzo the lead, but two goals either side of half time from David Ramirez swung the advantage back the other way. Both were lovely weighted left-foot finishes from an angle as San Lorenzo were pulled apart down their right. But Diego Rivero, via a massive deflection and the goalkeeper's fumble, squared it up with twelve minutes left.

Luciano Leguizamon got two for Arsenal as they beat Tigre, both coming early in the first half. The first was route one stuff, Leguizamo volleying in a knock down from a massive clearance while the second was raw pace followed by lightness of touch to dink it over the keeper for a stylish goal. A defensive shambles let Denis Stracqualursi prod home a less stylish goal for 2-1 twenty minutes from time, but Arsenal hung on. Champions Argentinos got their first point of the season against Independiente. They were ahead in the sixteenth minute as Gonzalo Prosperi volleyed in from the edge of the box, but Argentinos were level inside thirty seconds, Federico Mancuello profiting from a defensive mix-up. No more goals, but Nestor Ortigoza did leave Argentinos hanging on for ten minutes after his late red card. Finally, Olimpo got their first win back in the top flight, Marcelo Mosset captialising on some poor defence midway through the first half for the only goal of the game.

Argentinos go to Vélez as they look to get their title defence on track while the River revival - if it's not too early to call it that, which it probably is - continues against Independiente. Estudiantes and Banfield put their 100% records on the line against each other while Racing face San Lorenzo. All Boys welcome Boca as they seek their first point of the campaign while Tigre, in the same boat, go to Rosario to face Newell's.

Newell's Old Boys v Tigre
Banfield v Estudiantes
Quilmes v Lanús
Vélez Sarsfield v Argentinos Juniors
Godoy Cruz v Olimpo
Racing Club v San Lorenzo
Gimnasia La Plata v Colón
River Plate v Independiente
Arsenal v Huracán
All Boys v Boca Juniors

Monday, 16 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 14

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

Botafogo climbed into the top four after a third successive victory, this time at rock bottom Atlético-GO. Two goals were enough for "O Fogão", the first came seven minutes after the break from Somália and Jóbson wrapped things up seven minutes from time. Luiz Felipe Scolari finally got his first victory in charge of the "Big Green" after their 2-0 victory pushed Atlético-PR back into the relegation places in the table. Danilo gave Palmeiras the perfect start when he put them ahead with just three minutes on the clock. Palmeiras suffered a blow three minutes after the break when Tadeu was sent off for a second yellow card but Ewerthon sealed things with a second 15 minutes from time. Flamengo got back on track in the defence of their title when they picked up their first victory in five with success over Ceará. One goal separated the teams and it came from the penalty spot courtesy of veteran Dejan Petkovic just before the break. The final game on Saturday night saw Atlético-MG build on their midweek Sudamericana success with a 3-1 victory over Guarani. A Diego Tardelli double put Atlético-MG ahead after strikes six minutes apart just beyond the hour. Things got better for Atlético-MG when Guarani had Fabão sent off eighteen minutes from time and they made the game safe when Obina added a third three minutes later. Guarani got a consolation goal in injury time from Mazola.

São Paulo needed a late strike to snatch a point against Cruzeiro at the Morumbi. The home side took the lead four minutes before the break when Casimiro got his first goal in Série A. Cruzeiro levelled half way through the second half through Wellington Paulista and went ahead seven minutes from time after Thiago Ribeiro struck. São Paulo dug deep and snatched a point a minute from time when Ricardo Oliveira levelled matters. Vasco da Gama remain unbeaten since the break after a fine 2-1 success at the Prudente. On-loan strike Éder Luís put Vasco ahead with five minutes on the clock but the home side levelled thirteen minutes after the break through João Vitor. Vasco though, claimed all three points 11 minutes from time when Nilton got a winner. Fluminense extended their lead at the top of the table after defeating a vastly understrength Internacional at the Maracanã. Inter obviously have other things on their mind and Fluminense weren't going to say no to collecting a gift three points. Fabiano Eller's own goal after 20 minutes put the Tricolor ahead and two minutes later Washington doubled the advantage. Emerson made things safe with a third on the hour and Inter finished with ten men after Rafael Sobis saw red three minutes from time.

Avaí are another team in form and they dented Corinthians title hopes with a 3-2 victory at the Recessada. Davi put Avaí ahead with ten minutes on the clock but the teams went into the break level after Bruno César levelled five minutes before the break. Chicão's unfortunate own goal restored Avaí's lead a minute after the break and Corinthians were deep in trouble after Rafael Souza doubled the advantage six minutes later. Corinthians had nothing to lose and went for it, they pulled a goal back fifteen minutes time with a second for current Série A leading scorer Bruno César but they couldn't find the leveller despite Rafael Souza'a late dismissal. Vitória gained some revenge for their Copa do Brasil final defeat with a 4-2 victory over 9 man Santos. Henrique put Vitória head with twenty minutes on the clock and Wallace doubled the lead five minutes later. Marcel halved the deficit on the half hour for Santos but a second from Henrique restored Vitória's two goal advantage at the break. Zé Eduardo reduced the deficit again half way through the second half but Santos then lost Edu Dracena to a second yellow card before Schwenck's sixth of the season from the spot again restored the two goal advantage. Marquinhos was then the second Santos player to see red five minutes from time. Struggling Grêmio gained revenge for their midweek defeat to Goiás in the Copa Sudamericana after a 2-0 victory at the Olímpico. Willian Magrão put Grêmio ahead with 32 minutes on the clock and his second on 63 minutes gave Grêmio some breathing space. The result lifts Grêmio out of the bottom 4 and leaves Goiás next to bottom of the table.

No midweek games in the league but Internacional have their second leg Libertadores final and there is also some Copa Sudamericana action for some clubs as well. Week 15 takes place next weekend and includes the "Clássico dos Gigantes" and the "Majestoso".

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

Friday, 13 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 14 Preview

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

Saturday's action sees cellar dwellers Atlético-GO welcome a Botafogo side that has managed to put back to back wins together and suddenly finds itself in mid-table. Atlético-GO are unbeaten in their last two, but both were drawn but if this game goes their way and other results around them do as well they may find themselves off the bottom of the table come Sunday night. Palmeiras still can't win under Scolari and the league's draw specialists welcome Atlético-PR to the Pacaembu. A midweek defeat at Vitória in the Sudamericana snapped their recent run of draws but they need to get back into the W column as soon as possible. A victory for Atlético-PR would see them leapfrog over the Big Green in the table. Flamengo welcome a Ceará team to the Maracanã that hasn't won a game in Série A since the break for the world cup. Ceará's last win was against Atlético-MG back on June 6. The Champions meanwhile haven't won since success at Atlético-GO the first weekend after the break and desperately need to get some form together if they are to retain their title. Guarani's victory over Avaí last weekend should give them confidence for the visit to Atlético-MG. The Belo Horizonte club don't believe in drawing games, they either win or lose and this season they've mostly lost. If Guarani are to stay in the top flight this a must win target game for them but Atlético-MG's last gasp midweek Sudamericana victory may springboard their season.

On Sunday São Paulo welcome Cruzeiro to the Morumbi with caretaker manager Sérgio Baresi looking to get their season back on track. Qualification for the Libertadores is a must for São Paulo and they have a long way to go to achieve this. Cruzeiro arrive in town on the back of a draw against Prudente last weekend but need to get more consistent if they are to challenge for honours. Vasco da Gama are one of the form teams in the competition at the moment and will look to extend their recent good run of form at Prudente. With their Sudamericana challenge ended in midweek but a last minute goal they need to overcome that disappointment first but seek to requalify for the competition next year. Vasco can't string back to back wins togther, draws are following victories so get your money on the tie in this one. Avaí's midweek win at Santos in the Sudamericana won't have done the confidence no harm and they welcome Corinthians to the Ressacada. Corinthians have dropped points in recent weeks and have seen themselves deposed at the top of the table but this is no run of the mill away game. The Ressacada isn't an easy place to go to and Avaí will be looking to claim the scalp of another big club.

Fluminense have struck lucky as they welcome Internacional to the Maracanã on Sunday. On the back of a Mexico trip in midweek and attention more focused on sealing the Libertadores crown in the coming week Internacional may well rest players as they seek to claim a second Libertadores. Fluminense are top of the Série A form table at the moment and the arrival of Deco will only make them stronger, this should be a home banker. A repeat of the cup final in Vitória as they entertain Santos. It's the third time the clubs have met in the last fortnight and in the second leg of the Copa final Vitória ended up two one winners. Santos sent out a weakened side in midweek, they have a Libertadores place next year so they may well just put the cue on the rack like Corinthians did last year and just cruise home to the end of the season. Two more teams who have very recent history meet at the Olímpico in the final game in the round. Goiás dumped Grêmio out of the Sudamericana on Thursday night with a 2-0 victory at the Olímpico and with both teams in the relegation zone at the moment this could prove to be a crucial game. A repeat performance from Goiás will lift them out of the relegation zone, defeat for Grêmio will leave them with a long uphill battle as the season goes on.

We'll review these games on Monday

Copa Sudamericana Week 2

1st Stage First Leg

Universidad César Vallejo 1-2 Barcelona

Barcelona, the Ecuadorian version, came from a goal down to take an advantage into the second leg against Universidad César Vallejo in Peru last night. César Vallejo went ahead with twenty minutes on the clock, the ball falling kindly to Hector Hurtado who slammed the ball home from the edge of the area. Barcelona were level inside two minutes, a free kick causing confusion in the home sides box and Jefferson Hurtado got the slightest touch to head home. The winner came just beyond the hour, Ricardo Noir latching onto a long ball before beating the keeper to give Barcelona the advantage for the second leg in two weeks.

1st Stage Second Leg

Universidad San Martin 2-1 Deportivo Quito
Universidad San Martín 3–3 Deportivo Quito on points. Universidad San Martín advanced on away goals

Universidad San Martin booked their passage into the second stage of the competition after a come from behind victory over Deportivo Quito. Luis Checa fired Deportivo ahead on the stroke of half time to put the two goals up on aggregate. Universidad got a life line after a soft penalty was awarded with 11 minutes left and Heber Arriola levelled the tie on the night from the spot and in the ensuing meleé Arriola went for the keeper to get the ball back and received his marching orders. The ten men pushed on and two minutes later they went ahead on the night and with away goals in their favour ahead in the tie. The goal was spectacular, the ball bounced high in the area and German Alemmano's bicycle kick found the back of the net to spark huge celebrations. Universidad hung on and they went to the second stage where they have another trip to Ecuador to face Emelec.

2nd Stage First Leg

Vitória 2-0 Palmeiras
Santos 1-3 Avaí

A week after their Copa do Brasil final defeat Vitória got back to business with a 2-0 defeat of Palmeiras, which left the Big Green still searching their first victory under Scolari. Two second half goals gave Vitória an advantage to take back the Pacaembu next week. Ramón cracking free kick put Vitória ahead three minutes into the second half and Neto Coruja's header crucially doubled the advantage two minutes from time. Cup winners Santos made seven changes from their team as they showed the competition is not a priority as they crashed to a 3-1 defeat to an Avaí side making it's debut in the competition. Rudnei fired Avaí ahead after a goalmouth scramble after seventeen minutes and they doubled their lead with 64 minutes on the clock thanks to Vandinho's chip over the goalkeeper. Zé Eduardo pulled a goal back five minutes later for Santos five minutes later but a second from Vandinho restoted Avaí's two goal advantage with fourteen minutes to go.

2nd Stage Second Leg

Atlético Mineiro 1-0 Prudente
Atlético Mineiro advances 4-1 on points
Grêmio 0-2 Goiás
Goiás advances 4-1 on points

Prudente's maiden foray into continental competition came to an abrupt halt at the Ipatingão as Atlético-MG put aside their poor league form to progress to the round of 16. After the dull draw at the Prudentão last week, Prudente were a goal away from putting themselves in control of the tie. The goal though, never game and as the game drifted towards penalties Atlético-MG grabbed a dramatic late winner two minutes into injury time. Ricardinho's strike from the edge of the area sent the few Atlético-MG fans who bothered to turn up home with a smile on their face as they hope to turn their season around. Grêmio's season just goes from bad to worse after a second straight home defeat saw them dumped out of the competition by Goiás. The visitors took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock when Amaral headed home to stun the Olímpico. Grêmio were left chasing the game but couldn't find the equaliser and in the last minute Éverton Santos beat a couple of defenders to fire home and make the tie safe for Goiás. It's a painful defeat for Grêmio, especially with deadly rivals Internacional having one hand on the Libertadores at the moment as well

Thursday, 12 August 2010

River scrape a win

Arsenal 1-2 Lanús
Quilmes 1-1 Colón
Argentinos Juniors 1-2 Huracán
Newell's Old Boys 0-1 Estudiantes
Racing Club 1-0 All Boys
Banfield 2-1 Olimpo
River Plate 1-0 Tigre
Gimnasia La Plata 0-0 San Lorenzo
Vélez Sarsfield 1-0 Independiente
Godoy Cruz 0-0 Boca Juniors

As you all know, relegation issues in Argentina are worked out on a three-season average. This is a not very thinly-veiled method designed to keep the big boys in the top flight even if they have a wobble one season. Well, for the traditional powerhouses of the country, Boca and River Plate, it's been a few seasons now since they were genuine forces. Boca are low down the average table, but not in any immediate danger. River Plate, however, are in bother. Just the three promoted sides - Quilmes, All Boys and Olimpo who haven't played in the top flight in the last three seasons and therefore have ratings of zero - are below them. With the truncated nature of the Argentine season - very much a sprint rather than a marathon - a good start is essential for those with title ambitions or those fighting at the bottom. River were the better side for long periods of their opener against Tigre and struck a post in the 24th minute, but were being held 0-0 as the game went into stoppage time. Ariel Ortega then found a cross for Rogerio Mori to head in a crucial winner.

Estudiantes are one of those sides with ambitions of the title, even if Mauro Boselli reckons Wigan is nicer than La Plata. A single goal was enough to get them off to a win after a needless and obvious handball midway through the second half gave Juan Sebastian Veron the opportunity to smash a penalty away to seal the three points. Santiago Silva was on the mark on opening day as Vélez beat Independiente who ended with ten men when Julian Velazquez was sent off after picking up a second booking. Champions Argentinos Juniors were beaten despite going ahead, Gonzalo Vargas springing the offside trap and finishing with a lovely dink over the advancing keeper. Two goals in two second half minutes turned the game. Marino Martinez got the first, a ricochet falling at his feet six yards out, and Cesar Montiglio lashing in the winner from a tight-ish angle. Any chance of an Argentinos comeback was dashed with Gabriel Perez sent off for a second caution with 15 minutes left. Banfield won the last Apertura and start this campaign with a win over Olimpo, though the new boys were in front within 30 seconds of the start, Alejandro Delorte getting his head on a deep cross. Banfield were back into it with a penalty half way through the first half, smashed straight down the middle by Walter Erviti, and they ended the half in front, Cristian Garcia nodding in from close range from a set piece.

Neither of the other new boys could manage a win, but Quilmes did at least get a point off Colón thanks to a late, late equaliser. Esteban Fuertes had Colón in front late in the first half, bundling the ball over the line after seeing it blocked twice and eventually pushed over the line with his face. Juan Morales rescued a point in the last minute of normal time with a tap-in at the back post as a cross evaded everyone in the box. A stupidly optimistic free-kick somehow found it's way through to Lucas Aveldano for Racing's only goal against All Boys, but that was enough despite the late dismissal of Claudio Yacob.

Boca Juniors were caught napping in defence to allow Roberto Russo round the back to latch onto a deep cross to put Godoy Cruz ahead, but the lead lasted just six minutes when Lucas Viatri ended some patient build-up play with a nice chested control, swivel and shot. Lanús beat Arsenal after going ahead through Marcos Aguirre who wove his way through the defence before firing in from close range. Mauro Obolo equalised, albeit thanks largely to some generous goalkeeping, but the game was won with a routine header from a corner from Guido Pizarro with quarter of an hour to go.

Next week, Estudiantes have a good chance to continue their good start with a home tie against Quilmes while day one winners Huracán and River Plate are lined up against each other. In this format, you can't afford to fall too far behind, so Argentinos need to get moving soon, but have a tough trip to Independiente in round two.

Colón v Banfield
Boca Juniors v Racing Club
Lanús v Newell's Old Boys
Tigre v Arsenal
San Lorenzo v Godoy Cruz
Huracán v River Plate
All Boys v Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes v Quilmes
Olimpo v Gimnasia La Plata
Independiente v Argentinos Juniors

Copa Libertadores Final 1st Leg

CD Guadalajara 1-2 SC Internacional

Internacional came from a goal down to secure a vital 2-1 away win over Guadalajara in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final. Guadalajara took the lead just before half time after Renan was beaten by a looping header from the edge of the penalty area by Adolfo Bautista. It was a goal against the run of play, Inter had much the better of the chances, with Kleber and Alecsandro both rattling the Guadalajara woodwork.

But the 2006 Champions, turned the game around after the break with two quick goals. Firstly Giuliano headed past Luis Michel from near the penalty spot in the 72nd minute to level matters and four minutes later captain Bolivar put Inter ahead from an Andres D'Alessandro cross. It silenced the vociferous home fans in the brand new Omnilife Stadium as they couldn't believe the four minutes they had seen, but left the small pocket of Inter fans, who had probably moved heaven and earth to get to Mexico, in raptures. The return leg is in Porto Alegre at a sure to be sold out Beira-Rio next week.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 13

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

Botafogo fans waited ages for one win and then two come along in quick succession as they made it back to back wins with victory over Atlético-MG at the Engenhão. Maicosuel put Botafogo ahead no the half hour and Somália doubled the lead ten minutes later. German Herrara sealed the win from the spot half way though the second half to leave Atlético-MG in serious trouble at the bottom of the table. The other Saturday game saw Guarani get back on the horse and end Avaí's recent good run of form. The home side were two up inside ten minutes thanks to Renan and Ricardo Xavier. Robinho halved the defecit for Avaí from the penalty spot with 13 minutes gone but Guarani went into half time with their two goal lead intact with Mazola struck nine minutes before the break. Fabão wrapped things up twenty minutes from time to give Guarani their first win since Week 7. As we mentioned in the preview, the clash between Santos and Internacional was called off to give Inter adequate preparation time for their trip to Mexico for the Libertadores final first leg on Wednesday.

The big game of the round came at the Pacaembu where the Champions travelled to take on Conrinthians. The home side had revenge on their mind after their Libertadores exit to the Rubro-Negro as they looked to keep the pressure up on Fluminense. One goal eventually separated the sides and it went the way of Corinthians five minutes before the break, Elias with the decisive strike. Palmeiras are still without a victory since Scolari but they will be disappointed not to collect all three points at Goiás. Ewerthon put Palmeiras ahead with twelve minutes on the clock and it seemed they were going to collect all three points but Amaral snatched a late equaliser for Goiás as the game went into injuty time. No goals at the Castelão as Atlético-GO made it back to back draws and picked up their first point away from home this season against Ceará. Fluminense stated their title credentials are genuine as they came away from Grêmio with all three points in the bag. It's a second home defeat of the season for Grêmio and they fell behind to a double whammy from Flu. Mariano put Fluminense ahead with 16 minutes on the clock and Emerson doubled the lead two minutes later. Flu were reduced to ten men on the hour when Fernando Silva was sent off, André Lima pulled a goal back two minutes from time but Fluminense held on to stay top of the pile.

After their midweek Libertadores exit in midweek São Paulo dismissed coach Ricardo Gomes and put Milton Cruz in temporary charge for the trip to Atlético-PR. When Cléber Santana put São Paulo ahead half way through the second half he was onto a dream start. Sadly the lead lasted only four minutes before Maikon Leite levelled and despite having Manoel sent off two minutes later Atlético-PR hung on for a draw. After the disappointment of losing out to Santos in the cup final in midweek, the misery continued for Vitória when they fell to defeat to Vasco da Gama. The only goal came half way through the first half from Zé Roberto and despite having Carlos Alberton sent off on the stroke of half time Vasco held on to stay unbeaten since the break. Finally no goals in Belo Horizonte with a stalemate between Cruzeiro and Prudente. The result leaves Cruzeiro in fifth whilst Prudente are comfortably in mid-table.

No midweek games with Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana action taking precedence.

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

Friday, 6 August 2010

Apertura kicks off

Arsenal v Lanús
Quilmes v Colón
Argentinos Juniors v Huracán
Newell's Old Boys v Estudiantes
Racing Club v All Boys
Banfield v Olimpo
River Plate v Tigre
Gimnasia La Plata v San Lorenzo
Vélez Sarsfield v Independiente
Godoy Cruz v Boca Juniors

It's all back on in Argentina as the Apertura kicks off this weekend. We've had the relegation which occurs every three seasons and Rosario Central, Chacarita Juniors and Atlético Tucumán take the drop. In their place come Quilmes, Olimpo and All Boys.

The title has changed hands season on season lately as the turnover of players gets ever more rapid, the traditional powerhouses struggle for finance and the whole thing becomes more unpredictable as a result. Estudiantes have lost a major source of firepower in selling Mauro Boselli to Wigan, but the millions of quids they get in return in invaluable. Again, Juan Veron is the main man and if he stays fit, they've got a chance. Argentinos Juniors are the champions which they achieved more by consistency than anything else and will be there or close to it this time around too. Boca still have Juan Riquelme on one side of the dressing room and Martin Palermo on the other which is not going to help matters while their big rivals at River Plate will once again rely on the creaking knees of Ariel Ortega. Neither will be challenging for silverware.

Elsewhere, there's not a lot to get the pulses racing. Roberto Ayala joins Racing at the ripe old age of 37, though he's unlikely to get them up among the title challengers. One side whose gib we like the cut of is Vélez Sarsfield providing Nicolas Otamendi can get over his World Cup nightmare quickly. It promises to be another season that gapes open as wide as possible. While the quality might not be there, you can guarantee excitement, horror tackles, no small amount of skill and every prediction we make to be wrong.

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 13 Preview

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

Week 13 in Série A and only nine games as the CBF have called off the game between Santos and Internacional to give the Porto Alegre side plenty of preparation ahead of their first leg of the Libertadores in Mexico on Wednesday night. So, we start on Saturday with two games and Botafogo welcome Atlético-MG to the Engenhão. Boosted by victory last time out Fogo will be looking to put a string of wins together and they will have this one down as winable. Atlético-MG were in action in midweek in the Sudamericana and they need to start picking points up and getting out of the relegation zone. Avaí are one of the form horses in the competition at the moment but the trip up to Guarani is a test if they are to stay in contention in the title race. The Sunday games open with a massive clash at the Pacaembu as Corinthians and Flamengo meet for the third time this year. The previous meetings in the Libertadores saw Flamengo advance on away goals and Corinthians will be looking for revenge on Sunday.

Palmeiras are still looking for their first victory since the arrival of Big Phil and the trip to an out of sorts Goiás gives them an opportunity to register a victory. Goiás were in midweek action in what was classed as the tie that no one wants to win and they too are winless since the break. After a promising start to the season, Ceará have stumbled since the break but still remain in the top four. They welcome bottom of the table Atléico-GO to the Castelão and they will be looking to get back on track. Top of the table Fluminense face their toughest test yet as they travel to Fortress Olímpico where Grêmio lie in wait. The form table doesn't lie, Fluminense are currently top of it but Grêmio don't tend to drop points at home as the Tricolor look to keep their place at the top of the table.

São Paulo's exit from the Libertadores in midweek leaves them with only Série A to concentrate on. Their win last time out was their first since the break but they are so out of form in the league it's untrue. Atlético-PR loss last time out snapped a two game winning run but they have been steadily climbing the league table and will be looking to take advantage if the disappointment of midweek is still lingering. Vasco da Gama welcome beaten cup finalists Vitória to the São Januário. Undefeated since the break, Vasco have climbed out of relegation zone during this run but despite a cup distraction Vitória have managed to keep their league form promising as well. After making their continental debut in midweek it's back to league action for Prudente as they travel to Cruzeiro. Cruzeiro's only blemish since the break was defeat at Fluminense whilst Prudente's came last week at home to Santos. Home advantage though could be the deciding factor in this one.

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

Copa Libertadores Semi Final 2nd Legs

Universidad de Chile 0-2 CD Guadalajara
CD Guadalajara advances 4-1 on points
São Paulo 2-1 Internacional
Internacional advances on the away goal rules

A shock in Santiago as "La U" crashed to defeat against Guadalajara as the Mexican club qualified for the final of the Copa Libertadores following in the footsteps of Cruz Azul in 2001. "La U" goalkeeper Miguel Pinto was at fault for the first goal, he lost the ball and Xavier Baez was on hand to finish halfway through the first half. That levelled the away goal count in the tie and forced the Chilean side onto the offensive as Juan Manuel Oliveira and Rafael Olarra rattled the woodwork. Guadalajara doubled their lead ten minutes after the break as Pinto couldn't handle a José Magallón shot and he bundled in the rebound. It left "La U" 35 minutes to score three goals to progress, Victorino had a header cleared off the line but that was as close as they came to breaking the resolute Guadalajara defence.

With a Mexican team in the final it meant that the winner of the second semi final between São Paulo and Internacional would represent CONMEBOL at the FIFA World Club Championship no matter what happened in the final. São Paulo came into the second leg a goal down but levelled the tie on aggregate when Alex Silva headed home with half an hour on the clock after a shocker from Inter keeper Renan. With the tie poised as the game went into the second half the decisive moment came seven minutes after the break when Alecsandro deflected a free kick past Rogério Ceni. It left São Paulo needing to score twice to progress and two minutes later the went ahead on the night when Ricardo Oliveira fired home to level the tie on aggregate. Inter though, had the away goal and as São Paulo piled the pressure on they were reduced to ten men 11 minutes from time when Tinga went for a second yellow card. Internacional held on and qualified for their first final since 2006 with the added bonus of being guaranteed their place in FIFA World Club Championships, the first leg takes place in Mexico next week.

Copa Sudamericana Week 1

This competition is a bit mad this year. At the moment there are first stage and second stage ties taking place at the same time. Some ties have a month between the legs and some ties don't actually get underway until September. So, until things smooth over we'll be doing coverage on a week by week basis.

1st Stage 1st Leg

Defensor Sporting 2-0 Olimpia
Deportivo Quito 3-2 Universidad San Martin
Atlético Huila 4-1 Trujillanos

The 2010 Copa Nissan Sudamericana got underway in Uruguay on Tuesday night as Defensor Sporting opened up a two goal advantage over Olimpia of Paraguay. A goal in each half from Rodrigo Mora enough to give Defensor an advantage for the second leg which take place in a months time. Ecuador's Deportivo Quito needed a last minute goal from Luis Checa to give them a slim advantage ofver Universidad San Martin of Peru. Deportivo took the lead half way through the first half through Isaac Mina but six minutes after the break Pablo Vitti levelled for Universidad San Martin. Ten minutes later Jose Fernándex restored Deportivo's and the visitors were reduced to ten men a minute later when John Hinostroza was sent off. Despite being a man short Universidad levelled again through German Alemanno 16 minutes from time before Checa stole victory for Deportivo ahead of the return next week.

Atlético Huila of Colombia tentatively put a foot into the second stage after a 4-1 victory over Trujillanos of Venezuela. Carlos Carbonero gave Atlético the perfect start when he put them ahead with only five minutes on the clock. Trujillanos though stunned the home fans when Ruben Garcia levelled after twenty minutes. Atlético restored their lead thirtenn minute before the break when Rafael Castillo found the back of the net and they doubled their lead six minutes later when Gonzalo Martínez converted from the spot. Trujillanos' Jose Díaz saw red eight mintues from time and Atlético made the man advantage count when Ivan Velásquez got the fourth in injury time. The return leg takes place the first week of September.

2nd Stage 1st Leg

Prudente 0-0 Atlético Mineiro
Goiás 1-1 Grêmio

No goals at the Prudentão as a strong Atlético-MG side kept their second second clean sheet since the start of the Série A campaign. Prudente were making their debut in a continental competition and had the better of the chances but Atlético-MG kept their defence intact for the return in Belo Horizonte next week. Goiás and Grêmio could have been the tie that neither team wanted to win given their positions in Série A but after the experience of Fluminense last year it could be a springboard to survival. Onto the game, and Grêmio took the lead with 35 minutes on the clock when Hugo took the lead. Grêmio of course have a shocking away record and the let their lead slip with 13 minutes to go, Rafael Moura converting from the penalty spot. The second leg is in Porto Alegre next week.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Copa Kia do Brasil Final 2nd Leg

Vitória 2-1 Santos
Santos wins 3-2 on aggregate

Santos clinched their spot in the 2011 Copa Santander Libertadores after lifting the Copa Kia do Brasil despite a 2-1 defeat at Vitória. After taking a two goal lead last week at the Vila Belmiro, Santos effectively killed the tie off a minute before half time when Edu Dracena beat Julián Viáfara in the Vitória goal. It was Viáfara who got Vitória back in the game 12 minutes after the break when his free kick beat Rafael.

José Junior then gave Vitória a lifeline 13 minutes from time when he put the home side ahead on the night and just a goal behind on aggregate. Santos managed to hold on and claim their first Copa do Brasil title and the golden ticket to the Libertadores. It's also a second title of the year for Santos to go along with their Campeonato Paulista success in May.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Week 12

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

On Saturday night Fluminense went back top of the table after the returning Washington was the star man in their victory over Atlético-PR. He put the Tricolor ahead half way through the first half and when Emerson doubled the lead nine minutes after the break the points were in the bag. A second from Washington sealed things 21 minutes from time but substitute Bruno Mineiro got a consolation for Atlético-PR five minutes from time. Honours even at the Serra Dourada as Atlético-GO picked up their eighth point of the season against Guarani. Rodrigo Tiuí put Atlético-GO ahead with only four minutes on the clock but the lead lasted on 13 minutes before Mazola levelled for the visitors to gain them a point but leave them without a victory since the break. The final game on Saturday night saw São Paulo pick up their first win since the break and give them a timely confidence boost ahead of their Libertadores return in midweek. Two goals in a many minutes around the midway point of the second half put São Paulo in control, Fernandão opened the scoring and Ricardo Oliveira doubled the lead. Erick Flores pulled one back for Ceará five minutes from time but they fell to their second defeat of the season.

The early Sunday games opened up with the Paulista Derby at the Pacaembu. Corinthians took a controversial lead with 21 minutes on the clock when Jorge Henrique's cheeky back heel found the back of the net despite him appearing to be offside. The lead lasted only 12 minutes before Edinho levelled for the Big Green but this result leaves Big Phil still looking for his first victory as coach. With Vitória have an eye on midweek this was Botafogo's golden opportunity to break their 8 game winless run and they duly took the chance. All the goals game in the last 10 minutes with a crazy period that saw three goals. Edno put Fogo ahead but a minute later José Junior levelled for Vitória. A further minute later Jóbson put Botafogo ahead and his second as the game entered injury time wrapped things up. Avaí are still unbeated since the break and they put a struggling Goiás side to the sword at the Ressacada. Two goals in a minute put them in the driving seat, Emerson got the scoreboard moving and Davi doubled the lead almost immediately. Davi's second three minutes before the break put the result beyond doubt but Goiás gave their hosts a scare when Bernardo pulled one back half way through the second half. Robinho wrapped things up for Avaí with the fourth thirteen minutes from time. At the Biera-Rio there was a lot to report as the 382nd Gre-Nal finished scoreless. Grêmio as we know are poor away from the Olímpico but with Inter off to the Morumbi to defend a one goal lead in the Libertadores in midweek this was as good a chance as any for them.

In the Belo Horizonte Derby, Cruzeiro pushed deadly rivals towards the Série A trapdoor after a 1-0 victory in the Minerão. The crucial goal came from Wellington Paulista with 32 minutes on the clock. Cruzeiro had to hold on for the last seven minutes with ten men after Gil saw red. Santos banished any thoughts that their minds were on the Copa do Brasil return on Wednesday night with their first win since the break and a more then welcome 2-1 win at Prudente. Danilo set Santos on their way with the opener after six minutes and when Rodriguinho doubled the lead an hour later the points were in the bag. It was though, a nervy last eight minutes for Santos after Róbson pulled a goal back for Prudente. The 337th "Clássico dos Milhões" finished goalless at the Maracanã. Despite poor advance ticket sales and respectable audience turned up to witness the game in the stadium and it was Flamengo who were ruing missed opportunities. Fernando Prass took the honours as Vasco's man of the match after a string of outstanding saves. Val Baiano was ineffective on debut for the Rubro-Negro whilst Vasco gave some game time to new loan signing Éder Luís.

No midweek games with the Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana and Copa do Brasil taking centre stage, we're back next weekend with two games on Saturday and the rest on Sunday

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