Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Brazilian Football

Now as I have mentioned before, I like to watch A LOT of football. One of the most rewarding things about that is the new leagues, teams and players that I discover on the way. Now over the years I have followed several leagues, from European ones like Ligue Un in France, to some leagues farther afield like the J-League in Japan, and MLS in North America.

Recently I've came across a league I have enjoyed watching so much I feel I must share it with you, and it's the domestic league of the most successful footballing nation in the history of world football; Brazil.

Brazilian football doesn't have the quality of some European leagues, but the fundamental principles are there to see in every game. There are innovative tactics, fluid passing, and generally football which is very easy on the eye. On the opposite end of the spectrum, yes there is a lot of diving and simulation, and discipline is poor, with few games finishing with both teams having 11 men.

The schedule in Brazil is pretty different from most popular European leagues most of us will be familiar with; the season starts in January with the state championships, where every Brazilian state has a tournament of their own. These championships are held in high regard by every club, providing plenty opportunity for local bragging rights. The most popular championships are the Campeonato Paulista (championship for Sao Paulo state) and the Campeonato Carioca (Rio de Janeiro).

After the state championships wind up in May, 64 clubs take part in the national cup competition, the Copa do Brasil, a straight knockout competition where the winner gains a place in South America's equivalent of the Champions League, the Copa Libertadores. The Copa do Brasil is pretty highly regarded in Brazil also, the Libertadores place that is at stake is invaluable for some teams.

Then as the Copa do Brasil is coming up to a close, Brazilian football enters into the national championship, the Campeonato Brasileiro (or the Brasileirão as it is popularly known as). 20 teams take part in the top level, the Serie A, with the four teams finishing at the bottom of the table being relegated to the Serie B, and the top four sides qualifying for the aforementioned Copa Libertadores.

Now this schedule is much more of a hindrance to the success of the Brazilian league on a worldwide scale, because the transfer window in Europe is open while teams in Brazil are right in the middle of their league season. This ends up with teams losing key players to big clubs in Europe, and it's not abnormal to see a team streets ahead at the top of the Brasileirão halfway through, and then finish in a disappointing position come the end of the tournament.

However, this does leave the Brasileirão quite interesting to watch, as it is truly so unpredictable. As opposed to the "top four" in England, Brazil has around 9 or 10 big teams. These generally come from the more populous states like Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Palmeiras, Corinthians, Santos) and Rio de Janeiro (Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco, Botafogo), but also from other big cities like Belo Horizonte (Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro) and Porto Alegre (Inter and Gremio). This also makes for several clássicos with the majority of top-flight sides having a stiff adversary from their own city.

Let's take 2009's Brasileirao as an example. Nearing the half way point, Palmeiras (my adopted Brazilian team) managed to battle their way to the top of the league despite sacking their manager and replacing him with former Sao Paulo boss Muricy Ramalho. Meanwhile Flamengo (the eventual champions), were struggling in 12th place. Now as the season drew to a close, after some poor results from Palmeiras and many other sides really finding form, with one game remaining Palmeiras, Flamengo, Sao Paulo and Internacional were all in with a chance of winning the title.

Eventually Palmeiras managed to drop to fifth place, even losing out on a spot in the Copa Libertadores, while Flamengo took the title for the first time since 1992.

So expect more from me about Brazilian football, and I hope I can get a few of you guys interested in what is a very rewarding league to watch. If you would like to know more, check some of these links I've provided:

Tim Vickery's blog at BBC Sport - Living in Rio de Janeiro, Vickery provides a good insight of an Englishman's take on South American football.
SeeTheCup - Football blog, well written and informative, has some great reporting during the Brasileirao.
Futebol Brasileiro at ESPN Soccernet - Up to date standings, fixtures and results for Brazilian football. Includes Brasileirao, Copa do Brasil and also the state championships. - If you sign up you can use the Live Streaming feature, and they show most big games in the Brasileirao and Paulistao.

ps. If there is a game on and you can't find a way to watch it, drop me a line and I'll see what I can do...


chocoloate rainbow said...

very interesting read, especially since i know little about the domestic league in Brazil, or any of the South American countries for that matter.

Renato Mattos said...

Wow, what a great post for someone that don't live here!
So, you forget two teams in Rio de Janeiro, Botafogo and Vasco (this one wins Serie B last year) that always at the begin is better than the other teams with a low monetary capacity but as you said, at the League's middle the European's teams go shopping here ^^'
Andy retweet you and I could saw your blog, I'll visit it frequently, great job.

Renato Mattos said...

By the way, sorry for the bad english but I think you could understand xD

frago91 said...

it does actually sound like a pritty good league to watch, a woodnt mind seeing a few players getting sent off either haha. like the idea of 10 teams competing! now that would be exciting to watch.But how are the teams so close? is there a cap on how much money teams can spend??

Euan Marshall said...

Aye fraser, no word of a lie, folk get sent off ALL the time haha.

in regards to why it is so competitive, no there isn't a salary cap, but I think there is two main reasons for it;

Brasil is massive, in particular Sao Paulo is one of the biggest cities in the world, and then you've also got Rio, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and loads more big urban centres with a few football teams in each city. Compared to somewhere like England, which has London, Manchester and to an extent places like Liverpool and Birmingham.

The other reason seems to be everyone that grows up playing in the Brazilian leagues, sees Europe as their ideal destination to play. So basically 90% of the high quality goes over to Europe, which goes some way to explain why its so competitive.

andy said...

Yeah but you can't forget that the "rules" are kinda different here,

for example that move that got Roberto Carlos sent off in the game against Palmeiras.. if that was in Europe the max. he could get for that would be a yellow card.

basically almost every player that gets back from Europe to play here in Brasil has that kind of problems to adapt.. see Kleber from Cruzeiro, when he came to play in Palmeiras he was sent off all the time because the way they he used to play in Ukraine was not accepted here, too agressive although it was normal in his old team... that is changed now that he has been playing in Brazil for a while.

I mean it's not that all these players dont have discipline it's that football here in Brasil it's more about the running and stuff than the body contact, theres much about it that its not accepted, if that makes any sense.

But its true we have some simulations often, Domingos from Santos x Diego Souza was a great example of that, I'm still proud of Diego haha.

And excuse me Renato but Vasco was a big team once upon a time, now you can put it on Portuguesa's side = losers. heh x

Euan Marshall said...

Domingos-Diego Souza was amazing

Post a Comment