Pitacodogringo’s quick guide to the Campeonato Paulista 2010
Is it that time already? It seems like yesterday that some of us were cheering Flamengo as they lifted the Campeonato Brasileiro. Now, a little under six weeks later, professional football has returned to Brazil with the start of the 27 state championships. As ever, we on Brazilian football will be focusing on the oldest and most competitive tournament: São Paulo’s Campeonato Paulista. With names such as Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Iarley, and Marcelinho Paraiba on show, this year promises to be even better than ever.
Most of this next section (with a few exceptions) is taken from the 2009 guide. So, skip it if you’re already familiar with the Paulista and jump to this year’s contenders
From past experience, I know that many non-Brazilians find the domestic season in Brazil a little baffling. So, if you’re new to the Paulistão, read on.
The football year in Brazil Brazil’s rather packed footballing calendar includes the Campeonato Brasileiro, the Libertadores, the Copa do Brasil, the Copa Sul Americana, the Recopa and of course the state championships. To accommodate so many tournaments, football in the country runs from around the third week in January to the first week in December without a break. If you count the Copa São Paulo de Juniores (Brazil’s biggest junior side competition, which is televised nationwide) then football can be seen from the first week of January until the first week of December. There is a chance, however, that this congested timetable may change in 2011 if Brazil opts to follow the European timetable.
The state competitions have been around since the start of the 20th century. The Carioca, for example, was set up in 1906 and the Gaúcho in 1919. Arguably, the state tournaments had their heyday before the arrival of Brazil’s first truly national league – the Campeonato Brasileiro – in 1971. The reason it took so long to establish the Brasileiro was largely a matter of economics and distances. Brazil is a huge country. For example, Porto Alegre clubs, Grêmio and Internacional, have occasionally had to travel 3852 km (2393 miles) north to Belém for a fixture against Paysandu. Covering these distances by bus was never going to happen but cheaper air travel made the national league a viable proposition.
A brief history of the Campeonato Paulista When you take a look at the statistics, it’s easy to see why a championship such as the Paulista could thrive. The state of São Paulo has a land mass of approximately 248209 km2 and that’s larger than the UK. Of course, this is bad news for some of the teams. In this last year’s Paulista, poor old Guaratinguetá faced a midweek 1192 km (740 miles) round trip to Marilia. Quite a journey for a local fixture! Maybe the travelling too its toll as both sides went down in 2009.
An estimated 41 million people live within the state borders. The city of São Paulo itself has approximately 11 million citizens – a potential audience more than adequate to sustain the competition.
The Paulista was established in December 1901 and is Brazil’s oldest competition. São Paulo Athletic were the first winners in 1902. Charles Miller – the man credited with bringing football to Brazil – was top scorer with ten goals. The tournament was run by various organizations until it came under the control of the current administrators; the Federação Paulista de Futebol, in 1941.
It will come as no surprise that the big four have won the tournament more than any other sides. Corinthians have 26 titles to their name, Palmeiras 22, São Paulo 20 and Santos 17.
This year, twenty clubs will compete from 16th January to 2nd May. The first part of the competition is run on a league basis and then the top four sides go into the knockout phase. League position is based on points, number of wins and then goal difference.
There is also the somewhat farcical Campeão do Interior (a mini championship that features the sides that finish in 5th to 8th place but excludes the big four).
The current holders of the Paulista are Corinthians. Santos finished runner up. Guaratinguetá, Marília, Guarani, and Noroeste went down and were replaced by Monte Azul, Rio Branco, Rio Claro and Sertãozinho. Pedrão (ex Barueri now at the UAE’s Al Shabab) was top scorer with 16. Keirrison (ex Palmeiras bought by Barcelona but loaned out to Benfica) grabbed 13.
Background to the competition The state championships act as shop windows for players trying to make a name for themselves and many are picked up by the bigger teams in time for the Brasileiro. The tournaments are also important for the smaller sides as a good finish could earn them a place in the detestable Copa do Brasil.
Naturally, the local competitions have their detractors. In an age when so much football is played, many ask if these tournaments still deserve a place in the football calendar.
Brazil suffers from an excess of the sport. So much so, that there’s hardly a chance for the fans to have a proper break and then get really excited about upcoming fixtures. Many of the players from the big sides are not 100% match ready as clubs plan for their athletes to reach full fitness to coincide with the start of the more important national and international tournaments.
The state competitions are often far too long. 23 games are required to win the Paulista. The Brasileiro is 38 rounds. So, many teams are playing a championship and a half per year plus a possible involvement in the Copa do Brasil, Libertadores or the Copa Sul-Americana.
Critics also argue the local leagues are anachronistic now that a proper national league is in place. The Série A outfits are forced to compete against poor teams with poor facilities in empty, dilapidated grounds. Apart from local pride, the state championships have become meaningless. They do, however, offer the incompetent clubs that are never going to get near to winning a national title a way of appeasing their fans.
Another problem is the predictability. The big fish in the small ponds are expected to win – and nearly always do. The last time a club other than Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, and Botafogo won the Carioca was Bangu in 1966. Since Renner triumphed in the Gaúcho in 1954, only Juventude in 1998 and Caxias in 2000 have taken the honours. Every other year, the competition has been won by either Grêmio or Internacional. The Paulista has also been dominated by just four clubs as you’ll see below.
The favourites If you’re the betting type and are eyeing up a potential winner, then you should look no further than the big four: that’s Corinthians, São Paulo, Palmeiras and Santos as if you didn’t know. In 2009, these clubs all finished in the top four.
Since 1941 when the Federation Paulista de Futebol took control of the competition, there have only been five upsets. Portuguesa shared it with Santos in 1973, Inter de Limeira won it in 1986, then came Bragantino coached by Vanderlei Luxemburgo in 1990, Ituano were kings in 2002 (but the major sides were taking part in the Torneio Rio-São Paulo), and São Caetano who were than managed by Muricy Ramalho, were champions in 2004.
So, to this year’s contenders starting with 2009 winners Corinthians. The Parque São Jorge outfit have brought in some major reinforcements for 2010. The Musketeers’ priority in their centenary year will be the Libertadores as Corinthians remain the only big club in Brazil not to have won South America’s most prestigious tournament. This pursuit of the Libertadores has become an obsession. Expectations are very high this year and there will be a major fallout if Corinthians fail yet again. Despite this, we can also expect to see some of the recent arrivals turning out in the Paulista. Chief among the new boys is former Brazil leftback Roberto Carlos who returns to Brazil after an absence of 14 years. Corinthians have also drafted in the experienced Iarley from Goiás, Tcheco from Grêmio, Danilo ex São Paulo and Kashima Antlers, Ralf and Leandro Castán both ex Barueri, and Moacir ex Sport.
Corinthians also have their exceptional number nine Ronaldo who knocked in 23 goals (in all comps) last season without ever achieving full match fitness.
On paper, Corinthians have the most powerful team in the Paulista. But while the club has gone for experience, there are some aging legs in the squad and this could prove to be their downfall.
Last season, São Paulo failed to win a single trophy for the first time since 2005. Ricardo Gomes did little to change the team’s playing style when he took over from Muricy Ramalho during the Brasileiro. But following the lack of success in 2009, the coach has rebuilt his squad for this campaign and there are some exciting changes at the Morumbi. Marcelinho Paraíba and Carlinhos Paraiba are in from Coritiba. André Luis, Xandão and Fernandinho have arrived from Barueri. Léo Lima is also in from Goiás. Forward Roger is back from loan spells at Palmeiras, Sport and Vitória. The frontman is somewhat under-rated and can occasionally produce some fine finishes. But when he’s having an off-day, Roger is amongst the clumsiest players you’ll see in Brazil. With Washington in the ranks, the prospect that São Paulo could field two big strikers once again is frightening for all the wrong reasons – as this will also certainly mean a return to the dreaded long-ball tactics we’ve seen over the past few seasons.
Out are Borges and Hugo who were snapped up by Grêmio. But this may not be the end of the departures. São Paulo have always planned ahead. And the arrival of two central defenders plus three midfielders suggests that the likes of Miranda, André Dias and Hernanes could be on their way before too long. Like Corinthians, São Paulo will be focused on the Libertadores until or if, they reach the playoffs of the Paulista.
Palmeiras are still suffering from a severe hangover after throwing away last year’s Brasileiro title and failing to qualify for the Libertadores. A little surprisingly, Muricy Ramalho has been kept on. There was an unsuccessful move behind the scenes to get rid of him but the coach survived (and the club avoided a whopping compensation package). Unlike last season, Palmeiras have yet to make any significant signings. Rumour has it that backers Traffic have not stumped up any money this time round and that Palmeiras’ acquisitions this season have been funded by the club itself. Only Grêmio’s highly-rated centreback, Léo, and ex Atlético Mineiro midfielder Márcio Araújo, have checked in at the Palestra Itália. Former Internacional midfielder, Edinho, is expected to sign up soon. Edinho was with Italy’s Lecce and is an excellent player. But how typical of Ramalho to bring in another defensive midfielder, when what Palmeiras really need is more firepower up front. Expect to see Edinho playing at rightback before too long.
Out are Obina, Willians, Marcão, Maurício and Jumar. The fate of the unpopular Vágner Love was decided only this week as he signed for Flamengo. But Palmeiras also run the risk of losing the likes of Cleiton Xavier and Diego Souza before the end of the Paulista. To placate their volatile fans, Palmeiras will need to do well in the state tournament whilst juggling a run in the Copa do Brasil.
Santos were beaten finalists last year but none of their signings so far suggests that the Vila Belmiro club will repeat that feat in 2010. Dorival Júnior, who brought Vasco up from the Brasileiro Série B in 2009, has replaced Vanderlei Luxemburgo. The new coach will have ex Sport man Durval, former Avaí player Marquinhos, Bruno Aguiar from Guarani, and Bruno Rodrigo (ex Portuguesa) at his disposal. But a surprising signing has been the return of old boy Giovanni. The 37-year-old was thought to have retired after a less than distinguished spell with Mogi Mirim in the 2009 Paulista. Centreback Edu Dracena was bought in 2009 but missed most of the season through injury. His return to full fitness will be a boost for Santos.
Out is Kléber Pereira (currently without a club). Top scorer for the past few seasons, it will be interesting to see how Santos cope without the prolific forward. The coastal side were too reliant on the aging striker and often suffered when Pereira was not on top of his game. However, Pereira’s departure might just provide midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso and teenage forward, Neymar, the opportunity they need to really come into their own. In 2009, Neymar netted 14 goals in his first year as a pro and now the teenager (who turns 18 in February) is expected to improve on that this time round.
As for outsiders, well, three of the last four seasons have seen the likes of Ponte Preta, Guaratinguetá, São Caetano, Bragantino and Noroeste all finish in the top four. This year, though, it’s hard to see any of the so-called smaller clubs making a real impact. Barueri might have challenged had they retained some of their squad from 2009. But the team has been completely dismantled and Barueri will suffer for that this season.
We start our coverage of the Campeonato Paulista 2010 on Saturday 16th January as Palmeiras take on Mogi Mirim. Sunday we have new boys Monte Azul against Ronaldo’s Corinthians.
Our broadcast schedule (provisional) – all game times Brasília
16/01 – 17:00 – Palmeiras x Mogi Mirim – Palestra Itália (São Paulo)
17/01 – 17:00 – Monte Azul x Corinthians – Santa Cruz (Ribeirão Preto)
23/01 – 19:30 – São Paulo x Rio claro – Morumbi (São Paulo)
24/01 – 17:00 – Oeste x Corinthians – Fonte Luminosa (Araraquara)
30/01 – 19:30 – Santos x Oeste – Vila Belmiro (Santos)
31/01 – 17:00 – Corinthians x Palmeiras – Pacaembu (São Paulo)
The clubs – full names followed by cities
Associação Atlética Ponte Preta – Campinas
Associação Desportiva São Caetano – São Caetano do Sul
Associação Portuguesa de Desportos – São Paulo
Atlético Monte Azul – Monte Azul Paulista
Botafogo Futebol Clube – Ribeirão Preto
Clube Atlético Bragantino – Bragança Paulista
Esporte Clube Santo André – Santo André
Grêmio Barueri Futebol Ltda – Barueri
Ituano Futebol Clube – Itú
Mirassol Futebol Clube – Mirassol
Mogi Mirim Esporte Clube – Mogi Mirim
Oeste Futebol Clube – Itápolis
Paulista Futebol Clube Ltda. – Jundiaí
Rio Branco Esporte Clube – Americana
Rio Claro Futebol Clube – Rio Claro
Santos Futebol Clube – Santos
São Paulo Futebol Clube – São Paulo
Sertãozinho Futebol Clube – Sertãozinho
Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras – São Paulo
Sport Club Corinthians Paulista – São Paulo
Entry filed under: Campeonato Paulista 2010, Championship guides. Tags: Brazilian football, Brazilian football on TV and the net, Campeonato Paulista 2010 games on the internet and TV, Campeonato Paulista history, Cleiton Xavier, Corinthians, Diego Souza, Dorival Júnior, Hernanes, Iarley and Corinthians, Keirrison, Miranda, muricy ramalho, Neymar, Palmeiras, Paulo Henrique Lima, Ponte Preta, Ricardo Gomes, Roberto Carlos, Roberto Carlos and Corinthians, Ronaldo, Santos, São Paulo.