PREVIEW: 2021 São Paulo State Championship

This Wednesday, March 3rd, Palmeiras debut against Corinthians for the 2021 edition of the São Paulo State Championship, a.k.a. Campeonato Paulista, or simply the Paulistão.

Due to the Brazil Cup finals, Palmeiras start the São Paulo state Championship with one game already postponed. The derby against Corinthians, although being our first match in the competition, is valid for the second round.

Palmeiras haven’t truly started the 2021 season. No new players have been signed (although some are back from loan deals, like Papagaio and Victor Luis) and the second leg of the Brazil Cup final is yet to be played. The Paulistão is steadily becoming less relevant and with COVID-19 casing in Brazil going through the roof, there is a real possibility the tournament suffers a halt.

Palmeiras have (so far) enlisted the following players for the 2021 Campeonato Paulista:

Goalkeepers: Jailson and Vinícius
Centre-defenders: Luan, Emerson Santos, Renan* and Henri*
Fullbacks: Victor Luis, Lucas Esteves*, Garcia* and Vanderlan*
Defensive midfielders: Danilo*, Gabriel Menino*, Ramon Cesar* and Fabinho*
Offensive midfielders: Gustavo Scarpa, Lucas Lima and Vitinho*
Forwards: Breno Lopes, Willian, Papagaio, Marcelinho*, Gabriel Silva* and Giovani Henrique*

Palmeiras have not filled all the spots: most of the players considered for the starting-eleven in the second leg of the Brazil Cup final are not on the list. Players listed above with an asterisk compose the so-called B-list, with players born after 2000. There is no limit to this list, but only seven players from it can be fielded simultaneously.

Championship format
There are 16 teams in the top division of the São Paulo State Championship. These 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: Corinthians, Santo André, Botafogo and Inter de Limeira.
  • Group B: São Paulo, Ponte Preta, Ferroviária and São Bento.
  • Group C: Palmeiras, Bragantino, Novorizontino and Ituano.
  • Group D: Santos, Guarani, Mirassol and São Caetano.

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 home and away, with no away goal rule. The team with the overall best performance plays the return leg at home. A draw on the aggregated score, and a penalty shootout defines the champion.

Palmeiras have already bagged the Campeonato Paulista 23 times and is the current reigning champions of the tournament. Palmeiras’ five most recent Paulistão titles all (yes, all!) came with Vanderlei Luxemburgo at the helm. Since he’s unemployed, wouldn’t it be a smashing idea to call on him to lead a parallel squad only for this tournament? Yes, we’re joking. Sort of.

Luxemburgo with the Paulistão trophy

Since 2014, Palmeiras have consecutively reached at least the semifinal stage, reaching the final three times (2015 against Santos, 2018 and 2020 against Corinthians).

In spite of being the undeniably strongest State championship of them all, the Paulistão, as all the others, is losing weight. Not many would think it the end of the world should Palmeiras miss out, but on the other hand, as always, where there is Palmeiras, there is desire for victory.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

*Here at Anything Palmeiras, we love football. We love Palmeiras. We are always keen to see Palmeiras play, and keen to write about it for you. But we’re against the return of football in a country that still hasn’t controlled the coronavirus pandemic. We express our deepest sympathy to the families whose loved ones have been taken by the disease.  

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