PREVIEW: São Paulo State Championship

This Wednesday, 22 January, Palmeiras debut against Ituano for the 2020 edition of the São Paulo State Championship, a.k.a. Campeonato Paulista, or simply the Paulistão.

Expectations
Ever since the scandalous finale of the 2018 edition against Corinthians, relations between Palmeiras and the São Paulo Football Federation have been ice cold. At the end of last year, the parties however returned to be on speaking terms, seeking a truce of sorts. And although Palmeiras are unlikely to call the competition Paulistinha anymore, no doubt it will be considered part of the pre-season, a way to get the new squad used to the ideas of recently arrived coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

Palmeiras are yet to sign players for the 2020 season, although several have departed (Prass, Deyverson, Borja, Artur, etc.) and some are possibly on their way out (Matheus Fernandes and Gustavo Scarpa). Only additions so far are the youngsters promoted from the youth divisions or returning from loan.

Palmeiras have listed the following players for the 2020 Campeonato Paulista:

Goalkeepers: Weverton, Jailson and Vinícius
Centre-defenders: Gustavo Gómez, Vitor Hugo, Felipe Melo, Luan and Emerson Santos
Fullbacks: Marcos Rocha, Mayke, Victor Luis, Diogo Barbosa and Lucas Esteves
Defensive midfielders: Bruno Henrique, Patrick de Paula, Gabriel Menino and Ramires
Offensive midfielders: Gustavo Scarpa, Raphael Veiga, Zé Rafael, Lucas Lima and Alan
Forwards: Dudu, Veron, Wesley, Willian and Luiz Adriano

Palmeiras have not filled all the spots: up to five more players can be added to the list before the deadline expires on 6 March – an indication the club is scanning the transfer market actively. 

Format
There are 16 teams in the top division of the São Paulo State Championship, which have been divided into four groups, with four teams in each. In the first stage, each team plays all other teams NOT in their group, totaling twelve games.

  • Group A: Água Santa, Oeste, Ponte Preta and Santos
  • Group B: Botafogo, Novorizontino, Palmeiras and Santo André
  • Group C: Inter de Limeira, Ituano, Mirassol and São Paulo
  • Group D: Bragantino, Corinthians, Ferroviária and Guarani

After the twelve rounds in the group phase, the two top contenders in each group face each other in the quarterfinals, in a single-match, hosted by the team with the better performance of the two from the group phase. A draw takes the match to penalty shootout.

The semifinals follow the rules of the previous stage: single-match, hosted by the team with better overall performance, and penalty shootout in case of a draw.

Only the final is disputed in two matches, home and away, with no away goal rule. The team with the best performance plays the return leg at home. A draw on the aggregated score, and a penalty shootout defines the champion.

History
Palmeiras have already bagged the Campeonato Paulista 22 times, most recently in 2008, with same Vanderlei Luxemburgo coaching, and São Marcos, Valdivia and Alex Mineiro leading the team.

Luxemburgo_2008
Luxemburgo, in 2008, with the Campeonato Paulista trophy

Since 2014, Palmeiras have consecutively reached at least the semifinal stage, twice reaching the final (2015 against Santos and 2018 against Corinthians/São Paulo Football Federation).

In spite of being the undeniably strongest State Championship of them all, the Paulistão, as all the others, is losing weight. That being said, lifting the trophy would certainly build momentum and set a good tone for the remainder of the season. 

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson

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