Brazilian Futebol

News and opinion about Brazilian football (soccer).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Parana gets last Libertadores spot

Parana only managed a scoreless draw at home against Sao Paulo's reserve team on Sunday, but that was enough to guarantee the team from Curitiba the last Brazilian spot in the 2007 Libertadores Cup. Despite not playing well against a team that clearly showed a general lack of match practice (all starters, with the exception of Souza, where out for Sao Paulo), Parana still controlled most of the action in the match. That did not translate into goal scoring opportunities though, not even after midfielder Rodrigo Fabri was sent off for the visitors at the start of the second half. After the final whistle, the locals still had to wait for the match between Figueirense and Vasco to finish to know for sure that the team had grabbed the last Libertadores spot.

In Florianopolis, Vasco missed many goals - including a ball hitting the crossbar in injury time of the second half - to lose its chance of playing in the Libertadores next year. Thanks to Parana's scoreless draw at home, Vasco only needed a win away at Figueirense to claim fifth place in the standings. Instead, the team coached by Renato Gaucho could not finish its own task and was left with a position at the second-tier continental competition Copa Sudamericana.

Sao Paulo closed the tournament with 78 points in first place, nine more than second place Internacional, which lost at home to Goias on Saturday, 4-1. The team was obviously more concerned about the upcoming World Club Championship, which takes place in Japan starting next week. Inter's rivals Gremio failed to take the second place in the standings after travelling to Fortaleza and losing 1-0 to the already relegated Fortaleza side.

Santos, on the other hand, had a more positive display at home against last place Santa Cruz, scoring a 3-1 win to confirm its fourth place finish. In other results, Flamengo beat Sao Caetano 4-1 at home, and Cruzeiro defeated Botafogo 3-1. Disappointing Palmeiras went to Rio and tied also disappointing Fluminense 1-1, leaving the two popular clubs in 16th and 15th place respectively, or the last spots before the relegation zone. Ponte Preta, relegated last week, looked pale in front of less than 1,000 local fans that showed up for a 1-1 draw with Atletico Paranaense. Finally, Corinthians had another win to close the year on a positive side, 5-3 over Juventude at home.

The Serie A season is now over for 2006. Teams return to action in January, with the State Championships starting. Internacional still has something to play for in 2006 though, getting ready to face the champions of the other continents in the Fifa World Club Championship in Japan. This year's Libertadores champions know they will only get full respect if they are able to win the title, joining crosstown rivals Gremio, as well as Flamengo, Santos and Sao Paulo, as Brazilian teams with a World Club Championship in their trophy halls.