Part two of Tim Vickery’s preview of the forthcoming Brazilian Serie A season
Goias fell away badly last year and have since parted company with striker Iarley and highly rated wing-backs Vitor and Julio Cesar, as well as coach Helio Dos Anjos. His replacement, ex-midfielder Jorginho, lacks experience and may struggle to carry out a rebuilding job. One player to watch is last year’s World Youth Cup centre-back Rafael Toloi.
In this their centenary year, Corinithians’ whole campaign will be based around winning the Libertadores for the first time. To cope with the pressure, coach Mano Meneses has assembled a squad of veterans, spearheaded by Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, ,and while this is probably a wise move, it might leave the team without the legs for a gruelling league campaign.
Having moved a few hundred miles instate, from the outskirts of Sao Paulo city to President Prudente following a row with the local council, Barueri have changed their name to Gremio Prudente after a highly successful debut season in the first division in which they played some pleasing football but had to survive on tiny gates.
While they should now attract bigger crowds, the squad is much changed, though the stand-out name in Toninho Cecilio’s line up is ex-international midfielder Marcos Assuncao.
Flavour of the month under Dorival Junior, Santos played some exuberant football in their state championship and piled up some huge scores with a bold 4-3-3 formation in which youngsters Neymar and Paulo Henrique enjoyed themselves hugely, along, of course, with Robinho.
It is hard to see how Robinho can stay after the World Cup, but it will be fascinating to observe how this latest crop of Santos wonderkids cope once the regional competitions come to an end and the level rises in the national championship.
Vitoria are a club that produce a lot of players, but one that have never won the title and not been in serious contention since a fourth-place finish in 1999. It is hard to see coach Ricardo Silva and his men putting in a consistent bid this year. First division survival would be acceptable; qualification for next year’s Libertadores a bonus.
Ambitious provincial club Atletico Paranaense, who were champions in 2001, have gone off the rails of late with four consecutive disappointing league campaigns. The surprise sacking of coach Antonio Lopes suggests that things might not get significantly better in 2010. Strong home form should avert disaster.
Champions in 1995, the once mighty Botafogo are currently more of a low-budget operation. In Joel Santana they have a coach well versed in a cautious, counter-attacking approach in which veteran Uruguayan centre forward Sebastian Abreu provides the target for an aerial assault. Flirted with relegation right up until the end of last year, survival will again be the aim.
Fluminense looked doomed to the second division until saved by an extraordinary run of form at the end of the campaign with coach Cuca settling on a 3-5-2 formation in which the wing-backs were thrown right forward.
If international striker Fred can stay fit, and graduates of the club’s youth system keep coming through, the 1984 champions should finish closer to the top than the bottom.
Back after a year’s absence after finishing top of the second division, four-times champions Vasco da Gama have lost coach Dorival Junior, and his replacement, Vagner Mancini, was sacked in late March after a disappointing run of results in the state championship.
Ex-Porto playmaker Carlos Alberto and Internazionale-bound youngster Philippe Coutinho will need to be at their best if the club are to enjoy a comfortable return to the top flight.
Guarani return to the first division after two consecutive promotions, but they are still in the second division of the Sao Paulo state championship and will surely feel the step up in quality when the national competition starts. Vadao will need all his coaching experience to keep them afloat.
Ceara are a north-eastern club with sizeable support but little national tradition and this will only be their second season in the first division in the last 23 years. Travelling time might be a problem for ambitious coach Paulo Cesar Gusmao and his men as there will be a sizeable journey for every away game.
Back in the top flight for the first time since the late 1980s, Atletico Goainiense are a club who have taken huge recent strides. Having spent time outside the three national divisions this decade, they now return to the first division after two successive promotions. Were a free-scoring side last year, but have since brought in coach Geninho, a specialist in the 3-5-2 system, to tighten up the defence.
May 8, 2010
June 7, 2010 to July 12, 2010
December 4, 2010