Yesterday the 2013 edition of the Brasileirão ended. Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, founded in the city of Belo Horizonte in 1921 as “Palestra Italia”, were crowned champions with 76 points – 11 points ahead of runners up Grêmio – compiling 23 victories, 7 draws and 8 defeats. Congratulations to Cruzeiro for a job well done throughout the season.
Third and fourth places were occupied by Atlético Paranaense and Botafogo respectively. The teams making up the quartet have not all guaranteed their spot in next year’s Libertadores Cup: in case Ponte Preta beat Argentine Lanus in the upcoming second leg of the South America Cup final (first leg at home 1-1), Ponte Preta grab a spot in next years’ Libertadores at the expense of Botafogo’s. Expect many a botafoguense, not least a certain Clarence Seedorf, turn hardcore argentines overnight.
The relegated four are Náutico, Ponte Preta (yes, the same), Vasco da Gama and Fluminense. Thus, two out of four major Rio de Janeiro clubs will play in the second division next year, with Fluminense being the first club in the history of Brazilian football to be relegated the year after becoming national champions. In 2014, the state of Santa Catarina will have more clubs in the first division than Rio de Janeiro: Criciúma, Chapecoense and Figueirese. A disastrous year for carioca football? Well, let’s not forget Flamengo’s Brazil Cup title. A likely 2014 scenario would thus be two traditional cariocas in the second division, with other two competing in the Libertadores Cup.
Sunday’s Atlético Paranaense vs. Vasco da Gama was interrupted for more than an hour as supporters of both teams clashed violently in the stands. Disgraceful scenes unfolded, while helicopters landed on the pitch to pick up injured for transportation to hospital. As always, what followed were calls for more police, more control inside and outside of stadiums, the banning of organised supporters, heavy fines for the clubs, having clubs play behind locked gates, the list goes on and on. In the end, the solution is there and is strikingly simple: apply the law. How? By identifying the perpetrators – and God knows there’s plenty of footage to facilitate the task – taking them to court and locking them up. Stop treating crimes committed inside and around Brazilian football stadiums as something special. Just apply the law.
With the end of the season, the transfer market goes berserk. As earlier mentioned, this year Palmeiras seem to be very actively scanning a broad range of possibilities both inside and outside of Brazil. And with the clearly not-so-good relationship between Coritiba midfielder Alex and club president Vilson de Andrade, there might be room for just a little bit of expectations.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!