Monday, 22 November 2010

Brasileirão > Premiership

Yesterday while driving home I heard commentator Nigel Adderley on Radio 5 Live refer to the Barclays Premier League as the most exciting league in the world when commentating on the Fulham x Manchester City game. And after shaking my head about it all day I've decided to put it into words and defend my choice of league.

He's obviously not been a regular reader of this blog or keeping up to date with what is going on in other leagues around the world, especially in Brazil. With two rounds to go the title is a three horse race between Fluminense, Corinthians and Cruzeiro who as separated by just two points at the moment. When was the last time this happened in the English league, a league that sees a two horse race after Christmas and one team pulling away at the beginning of April. Could you imagine the Premiership still having three teams two points apart with just two games to go? Until much recently it was a four horse race until Botafogo's ability to draw rather than win finally caught up with them. And another thing, before the start of the season you know it's going to be only one of two teams who has any chance of winning the league. In the Brasileirão it could be anyone of fifteen teams that could win the league before an opening ball is kicked. On the flip side of that it could be anyone of 15 teams that could get relegated, and the so called big clubs aren't exempt from that. Botafogo, Palmeiras, Vasco da Gama and Corinthians have all had spells in the second tier in recent times. We tried to predict this league at the start of the season and we've ended up a county mile away with most of the predictions.

Look at the finish last year, when Flamengo came from nowhere to take the title and Palmeiras went from the box seat to not even qualifying for the Libertadores after their last day defeat at Botafogo, a result that saved the Alvinegro from relegation. The way Fluminense somehow avoided relegation with an incredible late run and the heartbreak in Coritiba, which ultimately led to violence as they were relegated from the top flight by Fluminense. One thing you can't do in Brazil is buy success, it just simply causes too many problems.

The relegation race this year is just as intriguing. Coming into the final two rounds there are still six teams with a chance of filling the final two relegation places. Grêmio Prudente and Goiás are already gone, the former not helped by a three point deductions for fielding a suspended player in a league game. Guarani and cup finalists Vitória currently occupy the final two spots but Flamengo in 13th are still not safe. Champions last year, they've been in wretched form since losing Adriano and Wágner Love to Roma and CSKA Moskva respectively and gone through coaches like hot dinners. Avaí were one of the form teams before the world cup break but have since plummeted. Atlético Mineiro, who could well have been in the Libertadores this year with different results at the end of last season have only just exited the relegation zone after being in it for nearly all of the season. The other team with a chance of going down is Atlético Goianiense, who will be hoping to avoid the same fate as their near neighbours. Normally in the English league there is probably only one relegation spot to be decided on the last day and there are only two teams contesting the final available spot.

Admittedly in the premiership there is the odd veteran or two like Scholes and Giggs but in Brazil you still have the likes of Fabio Rochemback, Paulo Baier, Iarley, Roberto Carlos and Geraldo still doing their stuff. But it's the young talent that gets it's chance to shine and the two name that spring to mind are Neymar and Ganso. Could you see them getting as much game time at an English club as they have at Santos?

I really don't think the commentator in question really has a clue what he was on about. He's been brainwashed into believing that the Premiership is the best league in the world when it simply isn't. It isn't even the best league in Europe but that is an argument that our sister site Euroballs should be undertaking.

When the Premiership is a three horse race with two games to go I might believe them then but until that happens give me the Brasileirão anyday.

Thanks to Jack, John and Ben for their help in the creation of this article. Feedback welcome.


Filipe Nunes said...

As a brazilian I honestly say that the Brasileiro is certainly the most exciting, unpredictable league I know. There's also a larger variety of tactical systems. But the Premier League is superior in technical terms - we produce a bunch of tricky players each year, true, not all really talented though - and in physical terms. The refereeing is so different but ours is much worse.

Rogério Penna said...

the fact the two comments on your blogpost comes from brazilians (me and Filipe) is testament that even if the brazilian league is the best, thats not enough to make a league the most watched.

now, some points I like to make, althogh I wont really reach to conclusions:

- the "best league" is not always a synonym to "most unpredictable".

- thus, my guess is that best is really a personal taste. For some, being unpredictable is not always the best thing.

- an important consideration I reached not long ago: I think being unpredictable is good for the average fan of a club of determined league. Because the average fan of any club in any league, doesnt necessarily roots for the teams that are always on top. Thus, in Brazil, your club always has a chance of winning... or getting relegated. Each new season there are big hopes. Thats refreshing. I imagine how bad it must be for some fans in England, who at the start of EVERY SEASON only hope to see maybe some good displays of football in some matches, and hope to stay in the Premier League. EVERY YEAR!

But on the other hand... unpredictability must be BAD for international ratings. Which explains why the Brazilian league is not really popular. International fans are 85% gloryhunters. When they decide to root for a team, most of them will root for teams who are always winning. International fans wont follow a club in Brazil. Not only they cant really a team to follow because its difficult to be a glory hunter for a specific team when its champion one year and the next its fighting against relegation, as also INTERNATIONAL MEDIA WILL MOSTLY (if at all) SHOW MATCHES OF TEAMS AT THE TOP OF THE TABLE. How to follow a specific team that did well and was on tv in 2009, if you barely has access to see its matches in 2010, when its struggling in the bottom of the table?

Football is like religion. You dont choose your religion. You are inserted in it. You are christian because your parents, grandparents were christian. You were brought up in a christian culture. Had you been born in India with hindu parents, you would be hindu.

The same way, in YOUR COUNTRY/CITY you usually follow your parents team. If each parent roots for a different team, big chances you will follow one of the two. Some stray into other teams because of a uncle... or maybe some classmates. Those are much rarer, like a christian converting to islamism.

Rooting for teams from other countries is something entirely different.

Matt said...

I'll level with you. I visited Brazil two years ago. Went to a couple of games and that basically started my interest. I decided to do the blog as it was a way of keeping in touch with events in Brazil. I just find it a lot lot more interesting that here in England.

Thank you both for your comments.