Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Paranaense's hurricane season
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
In 2012 Atlético Paranaense finished third in Série B and were promoted to the top division along with Goiás, Criciuma, and Vitória. This season the expectations would have been to stay in the division, but the side based in Curitiba have exceeded expectations by mounting a serious top four challenge in the league, and last week they also reached the final of the Copa do Brasil for the first time in their history.
On their way to the final they beat the likes of Grêmio, Internacional, and Palmeiras, who are all teams you might normally expect them to come unstuck against, but this season has been different. The club known as Furacão (Hurricane) have been living up to their name.
Part of their cup run has been down to the 39 (thirty-nine) year-old attacking midfielder Paulo Baier, who is the club’s joint top scorer in the competition having opened his account in the first round against Grêmio Esportivo Brasil. More importantly he scored in the first leg of the quarter final away to Internacional, with the game finishing 1-1. This saw Atlético advance to the semi-finals on away goals after a 0-0 stalemate in the home leg.
He’s joined at the top of the club’s goalscoring charts in the cup by Éderson, who also has their highest tally in the league by some distance, with 16 goals in total. This also puts him on top of the Série A scoring pile.
Whilst these two players have stood out in an attacking sense, you can’t mount a challenge in any competition without having some kind of solidity in defence. The mainstays at the back this season have been right back Léo, and the right sided centre back Manoel, who have also weighed in with five goals between them.
They’ve been ably assisted by the central midfield pair of João Paulo and Bruno Silva, who’ve played the midfield roles in front of the defence. Bruno Silva is the team’s top tackler with an average of just under 5 tackles per game, having been successful with 79 of his 94 attempted tackles this season.
These players will have to maintain their form for the next month if Atlético are to remain in the running at the business end of these competitions. With the Copa do Brasil final versus Flamengo coming up at the end of the month, and the league season coming down to the last five or six games, it will be important not to lose focus.
Atlético PR did taste success in the league in 2001, and finished runners up in 2004. These experiences could be vital in the final month as they try not to let the pressure get to them and look to clear those crucial final hurdles.
This is just one of the many stories unfolding as the 2013 Brazilian season comes to an end, and even though the title could be won by Cruzeiro tonight, there is still plenty left to play for and lots at stake for the teams involved.