Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Copa São Paulo 2011

As those of you who follow my Twitter feed will know, I have been closely following this year's edition of the Copa São Paulo de Juniores. Also known as the "Copinha" (the little cup), the Copa São Paulo is widely regarded as the most important domestic youth competition in Brazil with 92 of the country's best clubs sending their under-18 sides to compete in matches all over São Paulo state.

The competition always takes place in the month of January, and is set up in a fairly traditional group-knockout format. The 92 teams are split into 23 groups of four, with the winners and nine best-placed runners up in each group advancing to the knockout stage. The tournament is well publicised in Brazil, with several matches broadcasted live on national television, and the final taking place in the 38,000 capacity Estádio do Pacaembu in the heart of São Paulo city.

The competition has an excellent reputation for showing the real talents of the future, with such players as Rivaldo, Djalminha, Vagner Love, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso emerging into the public eye with impressive Copinha campaigns. 2010's edition saw São Paulo FC take the trophy, with impressive midfielders Lucas and Casemiro the players of the tournament.

This year's tournament came to a close only this afternoon, with Flamengo of Rio de Janeiro overcoming Bahia by two goals to one to take their 2nd Copa São Paulo title. There have been several good performances at every stage of the tournament, and we have seen quite a few players who may well become household names in years to come.

I am currently in the process of re-watching a few of the matches, taking another look at certain players who caught my eye in the past month. In the coming weeks I am planning to put together a few articles scouting some of the individuals that impressed me the most, and I hope they will be of some interest to all of you. Also if any of you watched any of this year's Copa São Paulo or have seen a few of Brasil's under 18 players, I'd love to hear from you so we can compare notes and opinions. Leave a comment, or alternatively you can reach me via e-mail through the Contact link at the top of the page.