Brazilian Futebol

News and opinion about Brazilian football (soccer).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gremio and Parana win in the Libertadores

Gremio and Parana managed to get important away wins this Thursday, in their debut at the group stage of the 2007 Copa Libertadores.

Gremio went to Asuncion and left with a great 1-0 win over local Cerro Porteno, thanks to a goal scored by Lucas in the 52nd minute. Argentine goalkeeper Saja, playing for the Brazilian side, made several difficult saves during the game, including a penalty kick in the last minute of regulation, to guarantee the visitors the three points. The sad note about the game was left to the local fans, who threw stones and bottles at the bus that took Gremio to the stadium, and later even started throwing objects at the players themselves on the field. After the missed penalty kick, the referee had to end the match due to an increase in the number of dangerous objects thrown on the field.

Parana had a less troubled debut in Venezuela, where it beat local side Maracaibo 4-2. The first half ended on a 1-1 draw, with Parana opening the score with Josiel in the 39th minute and Arismendi tying the game six minutes later. The Brazilians came back stronger in the second half and scored twice in a two-minute span - in the 55th and 56th minutes - with Dinelson and Henrique. Casseres still scored for Maracaibo in the 67th minute, but Gerson made sure the local comeback would not take place with a goal two minutes later.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Favourites win in Brazilian Cup debut

The first games of the 2007 Brazilian Cup were played on Wednesday without too many major surprises. Most teams from the Brazilian First Division in general had no trouble beating their opponents from lower ranks.

The exception to the rule was Botafogo, from Rio de Janeiro, which went to Maceio and was held to a 1-1 draw with CSA. The other big clubs from Rio in the tournament, Vasco and Fluminense went to Manaus and Rio Branco in the North of the country to face Fast and ADESG, respectively, and got away with 2-1 wins.

Atletico Mineiro and Nautico, recently promoted from the Second Division, had away wins as well. Atletico beat Colo Colo 3-1, While Nautico got past Paranahyba 2-1. Palmeiras from Sao Paulo had no trouble at all with Operario in Cuiaba, posting a 5-0 win to avoid having to play the second leg at home (in the Brazilian Cup, away wins by more than one goal in the first stages of the tournament automatically qualify a team to the next stage).

In other results, Portuguesa beat SERC 2-0 away, while Noroeste gave ADAP a 4-1 pounding. Guarani lost 2-1 to Atletico Goianiense in Goiania, while Coritiba went to Caxias do Sul and lost to Caxias by the same score. Vitoria Espirito Santo beat Ipatinga 1-0, and Gama eliminated Araguaina with a 3-1 away win. America-RJ tied Coruripe 1-1 away from home, the same result achieved by Vitoria Bahia against Baraunas. Fortaleza also advanced with a 3-1 away win over Sampaio Correa, while Ulbra defeated Santa Cruz 2-0 at home and Bare had a 1-0 home win over America-RN.

As is traditionally the case, the teams that represent the country in the continental Copa Libertadores do not take part in the Brazilian Cup. Thus, this year the tournament does not have the participation of Internacional, Sao Paulo, Santos, Gremio, Flamengo (the 2006 Brazilian Cup winners) and Parana. The winner of the Brazilian Cup automatically qualifies to next year's Libertadores.


Flamengo vows not to play in high altitudes again

After a heroic 2-2 tie against Real Potosi in Bolivia on Wednesday, Flamengo vowed never to play another game in high altitudes again. Playing at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level, Flamengo had trouble keeping up with the locals during its debut at the 2007 Copa Libertadores. However, despite falling behind 2-0, the team was able to come back and tie the game 2-2 in the second half.

On Thursday, the team released an official statement where it highlighted the heroics of the match, but at the same time criticized the tournament officials for allowing a game to be played in such a high altitude. "We will officially let the Brazilian Soccer Confederation, as well as the South American Confederation and FIFA, that we will no longer show up for matches scheduled to be played in altitudes above those recommended by sports medical professionals," says the note. According to the club, "playing sports in conditions that are not approved by sports medicine turns physical effort into a barbarian act, which degrades human condition and puts the athletes life in risk. Allowing matches to be played in these conditions is the same as letting doping to be used in the sport." The team will play again for the Libertadores next week, at home against Maracaibo from Venezuela.

The other Brazilian team to play yesterday in the Libertadores Cup was current runner-up and 2005 winner Sao Paulo, which went to Santiago in Chile and was held to a scoreless draw by Audax Italiano. On Thursday, Parana travels to Venezuela to play Maracaibo, while Gremio Porto Alegre faces Cerro Porteno in Asuncion, Paraguay. Internacional and Santos, the other Brazilian teams in the Libertadores, play their first game of the group stage next week.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Brazil falls to second in FIFA rankings

After 55 months, Brazil finally left the top spot in the FIFA World rankings this Wednesday, as the top football authority in the world released the updated version of its monthly list. The new leaders are world champions Italy, who did not play this past month but benefitted from Brazil's 2-0 loss to eighth-ranked Portugal last week, in London. Italy now has 1562 points, 22 more than Brazil, with Argentina in third with 1535 and France in fourth with 1496. The Czech Republic climbed one position to ninth, while Spain jumped two to return to the top 10. Germany (5th), England (6th), the Netherlands (7th) and Portugal (8th) round up the top of the rankings.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dunga's unbeaten streak ends

Brazilian National coach Dunga finally suffered his first defeat at the helm of the squad this week, falling 2-0 to Portugal in a friendly match played in London. In his six previous matches, the coach had five wins and one tie.

Without Robinho, Ronaldinho and Alex, which were on his initial list of players selected for the match but had to be scratched to injuries, Dunga decided to play Rafael Sobis and Fred in attack, with Kaka and Elano in the midfield in front of Gilberto Silva and Edmilson. Brazil was able to create some chances in the first half, but missed all its scoring opportunities. In the second half Dunga decided to test new players, and the team's production fell. Portugal also made some changes, but still managed to create some dangerous scoring opportunities. Simao opened the score in the 83rd minute, being left alone inside the box to complete a pass from the right wing. Seven minutes later, another cross from the right found Ricardo Carvalho, who gave goalkeeper Helton no chance in his shot.

Portugal's coach, Brazilian Luis Felipe Scolari, won his second friendly in a row against Brazil (in their previous matchup, Scolari's Portugal defeated the Brazilians 2-1, in 2003). Meanwhile, Dunga had to deal with jokes and comments about his poor choice for a shirt, which featured black and white flowers. Prior to the game, the Brazilian media had revealed that some players had started referring to the coach - away from him, obviously - as the 'paint-display' coach, due to his dubious choice of colourful and stylish shirts for the matches.

Brazil now continues to focus on getting ready for the Copa America and 2010 World Cup qualifying, scheduled for later this year. Portugal, meanwhile, will try to build on the win to try to improve in the qualifying for Euro 2008. The team is currently in fourth in its group, behing Finland, Serbia and Poland.