On Sunday afternoon the Campeonato Brasileiro, Brazilian National championship, kicked off in earnest following the conclusion of the circus show that is the regional championships. While it is a national championship most of the hype circulates around the sides from Brazil’s two biggest cities. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, the league is still quite young only being established in 1971, before this the regional championships of the Carioca (Rio) and Paulista (Sao Paolo) were considered far more prestigious competitions. Also this year Santos are making all of the pre-season noise with the short term acquisition of Robinho together with wonder kid Neymar.
In Rio we have Botafogo, Fluminense, current champions Flamengo and Vasco da Gama, who have been newly re-instated with their top flight status following the chaos and collapse of the last few seasons. Sao Paolo offers us Corinthians, Palmeiras and, of course, Sao Paolo. Also promoted from Serie B this season are Ceará, this club based close to the north-eastern tip of Brazil will have to travel the furthest this season and I expect this will contribute to poor away form. They will need to pick up plenty of points at home if they are to have a chance of survival.
As well as Robinho, European followers may be interested in the progress of some other former stars who have returned home after reaching the peaks of European competition. Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos are plying their trade for Corinthians while Flamengo have Adriano and Vagner Love on their books.
Corinthians are in their centenary year but have already been eliminated from the Libertadores, a competition they have never won, and so will have to concentrate on the league in order to crown their birthday with a trophy. They began the campaign in a steady fashion, Ronaldo scored the winner against Atletico Paranaense from the penalty spot. Meanwhile champions Flamengo were held to a 1-1 draw with Sao Paolo and Santos fought out a 3-3 draw with the once great Botafogo.
There are still four Brazilian sides left in the Libertadores at the Quarter final stage. Past form has told us that sides that progress in the continental tournament struggle tremendously to battle on two fronts and therefore we can expect these sides league form to take a hit.