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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April 20, 2014
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October 09, 2013
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October 06, 2013
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October 04, 2013
23:52Internacional manager Dunga sacked
September 14, 2013
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September 11, 2013
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14:57Exeter City play down Brazil fears
September 07, 2013
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September 06, 2013
19:04Santos announce tour of South East Asia
18:42São Paulo slump to defeat as Rogerio Ceni misses penalty
September 05, 2013
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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
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19:43Ney Franco to replace Caio Júnior as Vitória coach
September 01, 2013
22:23Botafogo miss chance to go top after draw with São Paulo
August 31, 2013
11:20Liverpool interested in Vasco's Danilo - report
August 30, 2013
14:05Copa do Brasil: Fluminense crash out to Goiás
August 29, 2013
15:20São Paulo deny Wellington to Inter rumours
14:45Corinthians fans involved in 14-year-old's death identified in football unrest
13:15Freddy Adu earns first start for Bahia
August 28, 2013
12:15Botafogo fans express anger at Vitinho move
10:32Fluminense reject reports Deco was forced into retirement
April 20, 2014
22:31Cruzeiro midfielder Nilton believes retaining the Brasileirão will be difficult
22:17Milan midfielder Adel Taarabt praises link up with Robinho and Mario Balotelli in 3-0 win against Livorno
22:10Roma belong in the Champions League insists defender Maicon
22:00Cruzeiro midfielder Nilton plays down rumours linking him with a move to Europe
April 19, 2014
23:19Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva admits Chelsea defeat hurt
23:04Milan assistant manager Mauro Tassotti: “We expect quality” from Robinho
22:47Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood explains Sandro snub
22:41Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood unmoved by Sandro tweet
22:31Australia head coach Ange Postecoglou looking to use World Cup to help promote the next generation
April 17, 2014
22:45Former Fiorentina goalkeeper Sébastien Frey praises current incumbent Neto
21:59Report: Internazionale lead Liverpool in race to sign Cruzeiro midfielder Nilton
21:45Jonathan Moreira thankful that Internazionale head coach Walter Mazzarri showed faith in him
21:38Dodô aiming for Roma points record
21:29Dodô hails influence of Aurelio Andreazzoli and Rudi Garcia on his progression at Roma
April 16, 2014
23:04Atlético Madrid defender Filipe Luís can earn World Cup place insists former Seleção star Júnior
22:54Alex expects to sign contract renewal with Paris Saint-Germain
22:48Agent notes Hernanes is happy at Internazionale and targeting the Champions League
22:43Agent confirms talks with Internazionale for Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro
22:35Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto prefers to ignore critics
22:29Internazionale defender Juan Jesus set to be in a cast for a month
April 15, 2014
22:22Report: Milan to target Benfica loanee Guilherme Siqueira
22:11Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli explains Rômulo selection
22:01Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli explains why Jonathan is not in his World Cup plans
April 14, 2014
22:25Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella refuses to discuss Carlos Tevez’s chances of World Cup selection
22:10Diego: Diego Simone has built a winning team at Atlético Madrid
22:04Diego hails Atlético Madrid team mate Diego Costa
21:58Adriano insists he is almost back to his best despite Atlético Paranaense departure
21:47Adriano claims he has numerous offers from around the world as he looks to continue playing career
April 12, 2014
22:50Porto midfielder Héctor Herrera rues loss of Fernando for Europa League quarter-final second leg defeat to Sevilla
22:36Roma head coach Rudi Garcia refuses to discuss Rodrigo Taddei renewal
22:30Roma head coach Rudi Garcia praises defender Rafael Tolói after 3-1 win against Atalanta
22:23Robinho hoping for World Cup selection
22:15Hellas Verona head coach Andrea Mandorlini believes Rômulo can be useful for Italy
19:34Leandro Castán ready to lead all Brazilian Roma defence against Atalanta
April 10, 2014
23:19Veteran forward Alecsandro left disappointed as Flamengo exit the Copa Libertadores
23:12Porto forward Jackson Martínez labels Brazil as his favourites for the World Cup
23:02Daniel Alves bemoans Barcelona’s finishing in their Champions League defeat to Atlético Madrid
22:55Internazionale defender Juan Jesus insists he would not join Juventus or Milan
22:51Internazionale defender Juan Jesus hails Cristiano Ronaldo as his idol
April 09, 2014
22:18Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari “100 percent sure” he will win the World Cup
22:09VfL Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs expects interest in midfielder Luiz Gustavo
21:59Carlos Tevez deserves World Cup selection insists former Argentina international Ariel Ortega
21:50Leonardo hoping to have a managerial role in Europe next season
21:45Hernanes pleased to join Internazionale and hopes for a strong end to the season
April 08, 2014
23:27Ramires praises Chelsea team mates after Paris Saint-Germain victory
23:20José Mourinho hails David Luiz’s performance in Chelsea’s 2-0 victory against Paris Saint-Germain
23:13Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone insists Diego Costa and João Miranda must be 90 per cent fit to play against Barcelona
22:14Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fàbregas refuses to concentrate on Diego Costa ahead of Champions League showdown with Atlético Madrid
22:03Official 2014 FIFA World Cup album track list revealed
21:51Report: Real Madrid to target Chelsea midfielder Oscar as part of a double swoop
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