Sambafoot Sunday: Surprise Packages in the 2013 Brasileirão
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
This year’s Brazilian league season has been unpredictable and unusual, and in many ways the table has been turned upside-down. Teams who are regulars in its upper reaches are wary of relegation, and newly promoted sides are competing for places in next season’s continental cups as they look for a top 4 finish.
Cruzeiro look set to take what will be their third league championship, having previously won the national competition in 1966, and ten years ago when they won it convincingly by 13 points in 2003. They’re similarly ahead this season, having opened up an unexpected 12 point lead with seven games to go.
The sides promoted from Série B in 2012 have been amongst the most surprising and impressive teams in the division this year. Apart from Criciúma who are second from bottom, these promoted sides currently sit in the top half of the table, with Vitória, Atletico Paranaense, and Goiás still in with a realistic chance of finishing in the top four.
Conversely, the traditionally more successful sides such as São Paulo, Santos, Corinthians, Flamengo, and last season’s champions Fluminense are looking over their shoulder at a possible relegation battle. Fluminense lie level on points with four times champions Vasco da Gama on the cusp of the relegation zone, and there’s a real chance that the 2013 champions could be relegated this season.
On top of this, one of the most successful clubs in the history of the Brazilian league, São Paulo club Palmeiras, spent the 2013 season in the second division of Brazilian football. They look set to bounce back up after their a season in Série B, a league which they have experienced before, as they currently enjoy a 9 point lead over second place Chapecoense. The club from Chapecó are another one of the surprise packages, in a Brazilian football season which seems to be full of them!
This type of shift in the make-up of domestic league football is rarer in European competitions, as you often get a cluster of clubs who dominate the top ends of the league season after season. In South America, however, the applecart can be upset. Last year the most successful club in Argentinian football, Buenos Aries giants River Plate, spent the season in the second division for the first time in their history.
This unpredictability has made for an exciting season in Brazil, with many fans revelling in the fact that the bigger clubs are experiencing some of the anguish that they have to endure on a more regular basis. There’s a real chance that one of the big Rio or São Paulo based clubs could be relegated, and this will make for an intriguing end to the season in the bottom half of the league.