After seven weeks off for the big clubs, and just five in the case of Santos after their trip to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup. It's back to business at weekend as oldest league tournament in Brazilian Football gets underway for it's 111th edition.
The new play off format which was introduced last season will continue into 2012. The first round will be single elimination on a 1 v 8; 2 v 7; 3 v 6; 4 v 5 format. The winners then progress to the semi finals and again that will be a single elimination game. The final as ever will be played over two games in mid-May. For the opening two rounds the highest placed team will be at home and if it's all square after 90 minutes penalties will decide things.
Santos are the defending back to back champions, but after dominating in 2010 they won the competition from fourth place last year despite having the Libertadores as huge distraction. This will again be the case this year as they look to defend their continental title as well. They will open up their campaign at last year's Série B champions XV de Piracicaba.
The four big clubs in São Paulo finished in the top four places in the league with São Paulo actually winning the league stage before crashing out to Santos in the semi finals. Corinthians were runners up last year, the finished third in the league despite having no Libertadores distractions. Although the National Title ended up with the Muskateers they will be looking for a 27th title. Palmeiras, under Felipão, finished second after the league state before losing on penalties to Corinthians in the semi finals. Their form was alarming in the national championship towards the end of last year and the pressure will be immediately on the former Brazil, Portugal and Chelsea coach.
Of the other teams, Ponte Preta and Portuguesa will be looking for strong seasons as they prepare for a return to the National top flight in May while last year's Troféu do Interior winners Oeste and Mirassol will be looking to repeat last years play-off qualifying success.
The four promoted clubs who take their place in the top flight are XV de Piracicaba, Guarani, Comercial and Catanduvense the champions of Série A2 this year. They will be looking to keep their place in the top flight as four team will be relegated to Série A2. One more change has seen Americana return to Guaratinguetá and change their name back again.
So we get underway this weekend and they line up like this and we'll have a full round up on Monday. Confirmation that coverage on Premier Sports TV is yet to arrive but we expect a couple of games to feature.
Corinthians x Mirassol - Selected for TV Coverage
Portuguesa x Paulista
Ituano x Guaratinguetá
XV de Piracicaba x Santos
Guarani x Oeste
Comercial x Linense
Bragantino x Palmeiras
São Paulo x Botafogo SP - Selected for TV Coverage
São Caetano x Ponte Preta
Catanduvense x Mogi Mirim
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