Pitaco do gringo’s quick guide to the Campeonato Paulista 2011
São Paulo’s state Championship – The Campeonato Paulista – kicks off on 15th January. Big name clubs Santos, Corinthians, São Paulo and Palmeiras will once again take to the field to do battle in a competition that has been running since 1901. If you’re new to the Paulistão, you can get plenty of background information here and here
This year’s competition runs all the way to 15th May. In the first phase, the twenty clubs will play each other once and then the top eight will go in to sudden-death playoffs. This year penalties will decide the tie in the case of a draw. Teams that finish higher up the table will have home advantage in the knockout phase. In the semi-finals, the remaining four sides will also play one game to decide who makes it through.
The finals will be played on a home and away basis. The bottom four will drop down into Série B.
Also new this year is the introduction of additional referees’ assistants. As well as the usual three officials, there will be an extra assistant behind each goal.
While the Brazilian press has been focused on Ronaldinho Gaúcho’s arrival at Flamengo, in stark contrast the Paulistão has been marked by a lack of big name signings for the first time in years.
Last season’s champions, Santos, produced some scintillating football and on their way to the title put away a staggering 72 goals. Coach Adílson Batista has replaced Dorival junior and it will be interesting to see if the Vila Belmiro club take a more pragmatic approach this time round.
Santos once again have a decent first team but lack any real depth. Despite this, they’ll start as the favourites though the club has already said the Libertadores is the priority.
On the pitch, Batista will look to the likes of Zé Eduardo, Alan Patrick, (video) and Neymar in their efforts to retain the Paulista. However, the latter two will be on duty with Brazil’s U20s in Peru for the opening rounds of the tournament.
A major boost is the return of midfield maestro Paulo Henrique Lima (video)who will be back after a serious injury – though the classy midfielder may not be available until the end of February.
Old boy Elano has returned after five seasons in Europe. The 29 year old midfielder enjoyed great success during his first spell at Santos picking up the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2002 and 2004. The (former?) Brazil man will be joined by rightback Jonathan from Cruzeiro, midfielder Charles da Silva who’s on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow and keeper Aranha who signed from Atlético Mineiro.
Out are Madson, Roberto Brum, Zezinho, Breitner, Maranhão and Marcel.
Last season, São Paulo made it all the way to the semi-finals before going out to eventual winners Santos. The tricolor have not won the competition since 2005 and their strong squad will put them amongst the frontrunners. São Paulo, though, underperformed in 2010 finishing a very disappointing 9th in the Brasileiro and failed to get a spot in the Libertadores for the first time since 2004.
PC Carpegiani is the man in charge at the Morumbi. The experienced coach is slowly rebuilding his squad and youngsters such as Casemiro, Lucas Gaúcho and Lucas Moura (video) are expected to play a prominent role in this campaign. To-date though the only new signing has been leftback Juan who has joined from Flamengo. Marcelinho Paraíba (Sport), Henrique (Vitória) and Mazola (Guarani) have returned from loan spells. Leaving the club are Richarlyson, Jorge Vágner and Ricardo Oliveria.
After finishing fifth, Corinthians failed to make the playoffs in 2010. With 26 titles to their name, the Musketeers are the most successful club in the tournament. This season, Tite is the man guiding things from the bench. The 49 year old coach will have Ronaldo (his last state championship before retiring), Roberto Carlos, Dentinho, Jorge Henrique, Jucilei (video) and Bruno César at his disposal. Injuries dogged Corinthians last year. How much playing time Tite will get out of Ronaldo and Dentinho remains to be seen and the club could be short of attacking options. The Musketeers have been slow to freshen up their aging squad. Corinthians made a half-hearted bid for Ronaldinho Gaúcho and have offered Seville a paltry €7 million for Luis Fabiano (already rejected). Centreback Wallace from Vitória, ex Grêmio leftback Fábio Santos and Peruvian midfielder Luis Ramírez from Universitario are the only new faces. Marcelo Oliveira (Grêmio Prudente), Diego Sacoman (Ceará), Moradei (São Caetano), Morais (Bahia), Éverton Ribeiro (São Caetano) and Edno (Botafogo) are all back from loan spells but how many will feature in Tite’s plans is unclear. Out are influential midfielder Elias who’s left for Atlético Madrid. Also gone are Defederico who’s been loaned out to Independiente, Souza, Dodô and Boquita have been loaned to Bahia, former captain William has retired and ex Arsenal man, Edu, has been released.
2009 was a very disappointing year for Palmeiras. The Greens never really got their act together and finished the Paulista in a miserable eleventh place. Even the arrival of coach Luís Felipe Scolari in June, did little to improve the club’s fortunes and Palmeiras ended their national league campaign in 10th. The Palestra Itália fans are notoriously impatient and while they gave their backing to Scolari last year, things could turn ugly very quickly if there’s no radical improvement this time round. What is truly worrying the supporters is the lack of substantial reinforcements. The Greens have brought in just two players; centreback Thiago Heleno who had a torrid time at Corinthians in 2010, and forward Adriano Michael Jackson from Fluminense. Felipão has said that the club may have to rely on their youngsters. But if they fail to deliver, the heat will be on very quickly. Gone are striker Ewerthon and centreback Fabríco who were released. Lenny has been loaned to Figueirense and midfielder Edinho is expected to join Fluminense.
Outside the big four, it’s difficult to see anyone springing a surprise this time round.
Bragantino have coach Marcelo Veiga at the helm once again. In 2007, he led Braga to the semi-finals of the competition.
Minnows Mogi Mirim will be led by world cup winner Rivaldo. The 38 year old, who is club president, is also expected to appear on the pitch.
On a modest budget, Ponte Preta will be trying to repeat their runners up spot they achieved in 2008.
Last season, Santo André surprised everyone by finishing second in the Paulista. But the club’s best players were sold off and the Santo André ended the year in the third division of the Brasileirão.
Portuguesa’s hopes this season could rest on the fire-power of the experienced Dodô, and Héverton, who put away eleven goals in last year’s tournament.
The remaining teams in the Paulista are Americana, Botafogo, Linense, Noroeste, Grêmio Prudente, Ituano, Mirassol, Oeste, Paulista FC, São Bernardo and São Caetano.
We kick off our coverage of the Paulista 2011 on January 15th Palmeiras vs Botafogo Ribeiro and then a day later as Mogi Mirim take on São Paulo.
You can see the opening fixture list here.
Entry filed under: Campeonato Paulista 2011, Championship guides. Tags: Brazilian football, Corinthians, Defederico, Neymar, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Paulo Henrique Lima, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Ronaldo, Santos, São Paulo, Zezinho.