Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior 2013 - Preview

The 44th edition of the Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior begins on January 4, 2013. One of the largest junior tournaments in the world, The competition will feature 100 clubs separated into 25 groups. Globally recognized clubs, such as Corinthians and Flamengo, are placed in with clubs few outside of their home state would know. Given the size and diversity of Brazil, both geographically and population-wise, it should not surprise anyone to know that upsets happen regularly. This year’s tournament should be no different.

Eligible players for the 2013 tournament are those with birth years, 1993-97. This will make this year's tournament an Under-19 (The Sao Paulo federation uses 2012 as the reference year for this tournament) competition rather than an Under-18 tournament like the previous few years. This change is likely to make this tournament even more unpredictable because many of the elite players born in 1993 will already be playing at the senior level and individual clubs will need to decide if those players will be involved or not. It is certain that decisions will vary.

Identifying the favourites in this tournament is especially difficult, but most lists would start with the teams representing the 15 or so biggest clubs in Brazil. Still, tournament history teaches us that winners are not always from this group of big clubs. In fact, eight of the last 20 winners do not sit among the CBF's current top 20 clubs.

The fact that some of Brazil's best recognized developers of talent have not been that successful shows how difficult this tournament is to win. Santos (1984) Cruzeiro (2007), and Vasco da Gama (1992) have only won this tournament once and Gremio-RS and Botafogo-RJ have yet to win.

In any year, the winner needs a combination of talent, depth, and luck. To win the tournament, the team must play eight games in three weeks where the last five games must be won. Any team making it out of the group phase to participate in the 32-team knock out phase has to be considered dangerous in a one game knock-out. Of these teams, half are likely capable of winning the tournament if things go their way.

While every group has a seeded favourite, there are some groups that could prove to be extremely dangerous for the seeded teams of big clubs. Among the more interesting are:

Group H – Audax, Bahia, Criciuma, Botafogo of Paraiba: Audax are one of best academies in the state of Sao Paulo and Bahia are regularly strong at the youth level. Add Criciuma into the mix and there could be some surprises. Botafogo are the unknown in this group. .

Group K – Vasco da Gama, Comercial, Botafogo of Ribeirao Preto, Paysandu: Vasco da Gama should have the strongest team in this group but could very easily get upset. With group based in Ribeirao Preto, both Botafogo and Comercial are in their home city and both have had strong teams in the past. Paysandu also cannot be taken lightly.

Group R - Desportivo Brasil, Avai, Atletico Goianiense, America Natal: This group is very evenly balanced but the slight favourite has to be Desportivo Brasil. Their striker, Bruno Gomes, should be one of the top players in the tournament. But any slip up could create upsets.

Group W – Internacional, Gremio Esportivo Osasco, Paulista, Nacional-AM: While Nacional are not likely to cause much trouble for Internacional, Gremio Osasco are a battle-tested academy club and Paulista are a former winner and a noted giant killer.

 

Other Storylines to Watch as They Develop:

 

Be Wary of the Academy Clubs

These are clubs that have over-sized academies relative to the performance of their senior team, there are a number of them in this tournament with the potential to surprise. The most recognized outside of Brazil would be Desportivo Brasil because of its partnership with Manchester United. There are also several others who could be dangerous. Some names to watch in this tournament would be Audax, Red Bull Brasil, Gremio Esportivo Osasco, and Comercial of Ribeirao Preto. While Comercial is a long established club in Ribeirao Preto, it is included here because of its merger with another academy club called Ole Brasil.

All of these clubs are capable of disrupting the hopes of the big clubs. Desportivo Brasil may not be a favourite to win; but, few who know the youth systems in the State of Sao Paulo would be surprised if they did.

Surprises out of the Interior

Most of the time, clubs from the western and interior States of Brazil tend to fall in the group stage. But every so often, there is one that shocks. Rondonopolis from Mato Groso surprised a few teams in 2012, for example.

Reinforced Sao Paulo clubs

It is very common for Sao Paulo clubs to sign a number of reinforcements just prior to September's deadline. Small and mid-sized Sao Paulo clubs normally have strong teams already. Adding five or six reinforcements specifically for the this tournament can result in some surprises. Those in the greater Sao Paulo area are most dangerous. Teams from clubs like Taubate, Santo Andre, Gremio Barueri, Flamengo-SP, Juventus, and Nacional are likely reinforced from their last appearances and can shock even the best clubs.

The emergence of unknown players

There is always an expectation of great things from players of the big Serie A clubs; but occasionally surprises appear. For example in 2000, Juventus of Sao Paulo defeated Santos and Internacional on their way to the final, only to lose to Sao Paulo FC. That team had two starting centre backs named Alex and Luisão.

Filipe (now with Atletico Madrid) and Andre Santos played together with Figueirense in the 2003 edition of the tournament. In 2007, Wellington Silva (now at Flamengo) played the right back position with Everton Pascoa (currently Santos) in the middle and Juninho (now with Palmeiras) as left back wearing the shirt of Juventus (the team was actually supplied by Pao de Acucar EC).

More recently, others who made their first appearances with lesser known clubs in this tournament include former Brazil Under 20 stars Danilo (with America-MG) and Willian Jose (with Gremio Barueri) in 2009.

Who will appear with lesser known teams in 2013?

The Canadian Coach

Possibly one of the most unusual stories of this year's Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior has to be the story of Desportivo Brasil coach, Marc dos Santos.

Marc dos Santos is a Canadian, born in Montreal. His soccer development as a player, like many Canadian players, led him to Europe and elsewhere. Early on, he understood that his future as a player would be difficult and moved into coaching. At 26, he began his studies to become a coach. His early coaching education included working in internships at Porto under coaches including Jose Mourinho and he completed his UEFA “A” License through the Irish Football Association prior to going to Brazil. His first success as a head coach came in 2007 with a lower level cup title with the Trois Rivieres Attak and he then won the USL league title (North American second division after MLS but no promotion system) in 2009 with the Montreal Impact.

Dos Santos resigned from the Montreal Impact in 2011 and came to Brazil after an introduction to Roque Junior by Cesar Sampaio and an invitation from Roque Junior to coach Primeira Camisa’s entry into the 2012 edition of the Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior. Primeira Camisa surprised many by making it to the final sixteen where they lost to the eventual champion, Corinthians.

With that success, Cesar Sampaio brought him to Palmeiras to coach their under-15 team in February. While at Palmeiras, its under-15 team succeeded in winning the Copa do Brasil Sub-15 championship in July. It was this success that prompted Desportivo Brasil to hire dos Santos to be their Technical Director and their coach for the 2013 edition of the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Junior.

At the young age of 35 and with trophies in two countries, he has already caught the attention of some in the press in Brazil. Some because of the novelty but, others, watching his success and emphasizing his Portuguese experiences, have suggested that he might be the next Andre Villas-Boas.

Should Desportivo Brasil exceed expectations in this tournament, this story will likely become more widely reported. If they should win, who knows?

 

Art Zantinge can be found on Twitter - @azantinge and get updates from the tournament via Sambafoot and our Facebook group.

 





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11:55Sambafoot Sunday: Cruzeiro cruising at the top of the Brasileirão
October 04, 2013
23:52Internacional manager Dunga sacked
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September 11, 2013
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18:42São Paulo slump to defeat as Rogerio Ceni misses penalty
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18:43Romário and Maradona fight against CONMEBOL corruption
September 03, 2013
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20:54Réver believes Atlético Mineiro can challenge for Brazilian title
September 02, 2013
23:21São Paulo to honour Brazil legend Leonidas da Silva
July 30, 2014
14:56Zlatan Ibrahimović expects David Luiz to settle quickly and succeed at Paris Saint-Germain
13:42Ronaldinho's agent and brother Roberto de Assis confirms his new club will be announced on Wednesday
12:21Report: Chelsea still pushing for Atlético de Madrid defender Miranda
11:12Report: Barcelona consider renewed approach for Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos
09:51Report: Robinho's future remains uncertain as Milan wait for an offer from the UAE
08:56Elche confirm the signing of forward Jonathas on a two-year loan deal from Pescara
July 28, 2014
18:06Report: Beşiktaş ready to bid €4 million for in demand Milan forward Robinho
15:14Forwards Luan and Wanderley excited to be working with Head Coach Paulo Bonamigo at Sharjah SC
13:33Report: Barcelona willing to let defender Daniel Alves leave for cut price fee
11:52Manchester United confirm defender Rafael will leave United States tour after suffering a groin injury
10:112014 Brasileirão Round 12 summary: Late Alex strike earns Coritiba dramatic win and Flamengo secure vital derby victory
July 27, 2014
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16:51Representative suggests Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fernando could join Fiorentina
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14:01Hellas Verona Sporting Director Sean Sogliano confirms negotiations with Juventus for midfielder Rômulo are at an "advanced stage"
12:31Hellas Verona Head Coach Andrea Mandorlini admits Juventus move would be a "chance of a lifetime" for midfielder Rômulo
July 26, 2014
22:33Report: Flamengo putting a plan in place to sign Robinho from Milan
13:04Hellas Verona confirm the signing of Nenê on a free transfer from Cagliari
July 25, 2014
22:58Report: Juventus close in on deal for Hellas Verona midfielder Romulo
18:33Napoli midfielder Jorginho admits he would "immediately accept" a call up to the Italy national team
15:20Report: Botafogo set to sign Shandong Luneng Taishan teenager Tang Shi after successful trial
12:20Report: Fiorentina make loan offer for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fernando
10:10Report: Juventus hold negotiations with Hellas Verona for midfielder Rômulo
08:44Report: Palermo to target Sampdoria forward Éder
July 23, 2014
21:19Flamengo reappoint Vanderlei Luxemburgo as Head Coach following Ney Franco sacking
19:42Santos Vice-President Odílio Rodrigues Filho admits Robinho deal will be "a difficult operation"
15:17Report: Werder Bremen set to sign Internacional defender Cláudio Winck
13:43President Enrique Cerezo believes Atlético de Madrid can cope with Diego Costa and Filipe Luís sales and refutes Miranda rumours
10:07Report: Roma in negotiations with São Paulo to re-sign defender Rafael Tolói
July 22, 2014
23:27Report: Cruzeiro set to hold talks with Milan over Robinho
23:16Former Internacional forward Ignacio Scocco set for Newell's Old Boys return
23:11Agent confirms Robinho offers amid interest from Cruzeiro and Orlando City
14:36Al-Wasl team manager Majed Obaidallah confirms loan signing of Fábio Lima from Atlético Goianiense
12:44Report: Juventus and Roma could move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Douglas Costa following refusal to return to Ukraine
July 21, 2014
23:53Report: Barcelona to target São Paulo defender Rodrigo Caio
23:47La Liga newcomers Córdoba confirm the loan signing of forward Ryder Matos from Fiorentina
23:42Serie B newcomers Perugia sign veteran midfielder Rodrigo Taddei on a free transfer from Roma
23:352014 Brasileirão Round 11 summary: Internacional thump struggling Flamengo
July 19, 2014
23:01Report: Hellas Verona to target Cagliari forward Nenê
09:30Report: Chelsea set to move for Atlético de Madrid defender Miranda after completing deal for Filipe Luís
July 18, 2014
22:42Udinese complete the signing of midfielder Guilherme from Corinthians
22:34Robinho representative suggests temporary switch to Brazil is likely
22:31Representative confirms negotiations between Milan and Orlando City over Robinho
22:27Report: Livorno striker Paulinho set to join Al Arabi
17:542014 Brasileirão Round 10 summary: Newly promoted Sport Recife shock Botafogo
10:51Report: Genoa set to sign defender Edenílson on loan from Udinese
July 17, 2014
22:58Report: Sunderland forward Ignacio Scocco can't return to Newell's Old Boys until payment is settled with Internacional
22:53Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale bemoans lack of a second goalkeeper for Fluminense test
22:49Exeter City Manager Paul Tisdale expecting stern test against Fluminense
22:42Santos Head Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira hopeful for Robinho return
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