The Brazilian championship is notoriously difficult to bag. Perhaps even the most difficult in the world of football. Not in absolute terms: of course we see another level of play in countries like England, Spain and Germany, but in those leagues, the serious title contenders are normally restricted to a handful of usual suspects, or less. Not in Brazil. Year after year, no raised eyebrows should any of 8-10 teams lift the trophy by the end of the season.
Not since the current format of the Brasileirão was adopted in 2006 – a double round-robin system with 20 teams – have so many teams occupied the leadership position as in this year’s edition. Palmeiras yesterday became the seventh team to rise to the top; the previous ones, in order of rounds sustaining the feat, are Flamengo (13), São Paulo (8), Internacional (2), Corinthians (1) Atlético-MG (1) and Atlético-PR (1). Be sure to find a safe sportsbook when placing your bet on the next round.
The current top five – Palmeiras, Internacional, São Paulo, Grêmio and Flamengo – are four points apart and the most likely title contenders (sixth-placed Atlético-MG are eight points behind). Out of these, Internacional, São Paulo and Flamengo have no other competition to worry about, which gives them a certain advantage over Palmeiras and Grêmio, close to securing spots in the Libertadores Cup semi-finals after both having won the first leg 2-0, away, in the quarter-finals, against Colo-Colo and Atlético Tucumán, respectively.
Looking at recent performance, palmeirenses might feel optimistic. The last five rounds have seen Palmeiras bag 13 out of 15 points, after four victories and a draw. The other main contenders have fared not as well: Internacional (three victories, a draw and a defeat – 10 points), São Paulo (one victory, three draws and a defeat – 6 points), Grêmio (three victories, a draw and a defeat – 10 points) and Flamengo (two victories, two draws and a defeat – 8 points).
The coming four round of the Brasileirão will likely prove decisive, as Palmeiras face three direct contenders: São Paulo (away), Grêmio (home) and Flamengo (away). With the coming six rounds only taking place during weekends, Scolari and his men will have precious time to train and rest during the week – except for this week, as Palmeiras play Colo-Colo on Wednesday for that Libertadores semi-finals spot.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!