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Brazilian Leagues – A 2009 Review

Canuck Oranje

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Without getting into a lot of detail, I thought I would summarize some of the highlights, weird incidents, and add some of my curious observations in the end.

First of all, most who follow Brazilian futebol will know already that Flamengo won the title this year in what became a contest where three clubs (Flamengo, Sao Paulo, and Internacional) still had a possibility of winning the title going into the last round of games. At the same time, it can also be said that both Palmeiras and Sao Paulo reduced their title-winning chances by losing games to relegation-threatened clubs, Flumenense and Botafogo in the final four games of the season.

In the end, Copa Libertadores spots were taken by, Flamengo, Sao Paulo, Internacional, and Corinthians (winner – Copa do Brasil). Cruzeiro took the spot in qualifying rounds to the Copa Liberatores. Because of its failures in the final four rounds, Palmeiras has to satisfy itself in the Copa Sulamerica (South America’s equivalent to the UEFA Cup). Other Copa Sulamerica qualifiers are Avai, Atletico Mineiro, Gremio, Goias, Barueri, Santos and Vitoria

At the other end of the standings, Sport Recife (a Copa Liberatores participant in 2009), Nautico, Santo Andre, and Coritiba were relegated. For anyone that paid fairly close attention, this wouldn’t have been a huge surprise because, at least in my opinion, the weakest teams in 2009 were these four plus Botafogo. Flumenense, because of the run of bad form early on, were forced to make an unbeaten run in the final 11 rounds to avoid relegation. Only one of last year’s promoted teams (Corinthians, Avai, Santo Andre, and Barueri) was relegated. Promoted clubs are Vasco da Gama, Ceara, Atletico Clube Goianiense, and Guarani.

Most would say the biggest surprise teams would be Barueri (the Fernandinho video below gives a sense of this entertaining all-attack team) and Avai (a non- descript team that performed well to finish 6th overall). Biggest disappointments would likely be Santos (never got going even with Luxemburgo as coach at the end) and Flumenense (who needed a huge run at the end to avoid relegation).

2009 Individual Honours:

Player of the Year: Diego Souza (Palmeiras)

Best New Player: Fernandinho (Barueri)


Armando Nogueira Trophy (highest rated by journalists): Marcelinho Paraíba (Coritiba)


Leading Scorers: Adriano (Flamengo) and Diego Tardelli (Atletico–MG)

2009 All-Star team:

GK: Victor (Grêmio)

RB: Jonathan (Cruzeiro),

CB: André Dias (São Paulo),

CB: Miranda (São Paulo) e

LB: Júlio César (Goiás);

Mfd: Hernanes (São Paulo),

Mfd: Guiñazu (Internacional),

Mfd: Diego Souza (Palmeiras)

Mfd: Petkovic (Flamengo);

Fwd: Diego Tardelli (Atlético-MG)

Fwd: Adriano (Flamengo).

Now the reformulation begins with European teams taking their player selections (albeit fewer than in previous years due to the economy) and the big clubs filling their roster holes by grabbing players from the smaller clubs.

Weird Incidents

Diego Souza blowing a gasket against Santos

Goal by Pedrao against Sport


Flumenense’s run of 11 games undefeated at the end of the season to avoid relegation. During that run, it also reached the final of the Copa Sulamerica.

Ronaldo – or as some Corinthians fans now call him – Gordinho


Curious Observations

As a regular observer of the Brazilian scene, I thought some readers might be interested in some things that have raised my curiosity. While in no way exhaustive, these might be worth watching going forward.

Global Economic Paradigm Shift

With all the changes happening in the global economy this past year, it is not at all surprising that some of those changes are beginning to show up in Brazilian futebol. First, it has to be said that Brazil did not have a recession like we had here in North America or in Europe. Brazil was one of the first countries to grow again and is considered along with China to be one of the economic bright spots on the globe. While, like in Europe, the full impacts of economic changes haven’t been felt yet, the impact of the global economy on Brazilian futebol will likely be more positive than negative in Brazil.

With the wealth of consumers in Brazil rising rapidly, it is easy to see how this will likely lead to higher levels of attendance and increasing sponsorship and television revenues. At the same time, the financial troubles in Europe, while maybe not stopping the largest clubs from paying growing transfer fees, are already impacting the numbers of player transfers to and from Europe to Brazil. According to the CBF (Brazil’s national association), the number of transfers to Europe are down to about 80% of what they were in 2008 and transfers back to Brazil are marginally up.

The Shift of Season in 2011

It was announced earlier this year that the Brazilian national leagues with move their scheduled season to match the August – May season common in Europe. The impact of that move will likely mean that club rosters will stabilize. Today, the July-August transfer window, when combined with the finishing of the Copa Libertadores tournament in June, typically results in a mass exodus quality players from Brazilian clubs. As a result, the relative quality of teams can change drastically in mid-season. Secondly, this move should also improve Brazilian club performances in the Copa Libertadores because their teams will be more settled than they are under the current schedule.

Fall of the Northeast

Currently, only two teams (Vitoria & Ceara) remain in the top level from the Brazilian region commonly referred to as the Northeast (includes the cities of Recife, Fortaleza, and Salvadore). While the Northeast is one of the more impoverished regions of Brazil, the cause is equally the continued rise of economic fortunes of other Brazilian regions.

Dominance of Sao Paulo and Rio

While Santo Andre was not able to maintain its place in the top level, the return of a traditional powerhouse, Guarani, kept the number of Paulista teams to six. At the same time, the State of Rio de Janeiro used a little luck and a promotion to bring its number of clubs in the top level to four. That means half the teams in the top level come from just two States.

The Rise of Farm Country

Brazil’s Rapidly developing agricultural industry is centred in the southwestern area of the country and encompasses the States of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, and large parts of rural Sao Paulo. Up until 2008, the region was most often represented by the Serie A club called Goias playing out of the State’s capital city, Goiania. This year a second club from Goiania has qualified for the top level. That is Atletico Clube Goianiense.

While that by itself would not constitute much of a trend, there are two other events that suggest it may be worth watching as a developing trend. First, the CBF decided that Cuiabá, the Capital of the State of Mato Grosso, was chosen as a one of the locations for World Cup 2014. The State of Mato Grosso is not known as hotbed of futebol in Brazil. In fact, the CBF, itself, ranks Mato Grosso 21st out of 26 States in its ranking of the performance of clubs and the States from where they came.

And just this month, the city of Presidente Prudente, located in Sao Paulo’s cattle raising region, has made a bid to the owners of Gremio Barueri to have them relocate to that city’s relatively unused 40,000 seat stadium (less than 30 years old) after the club experienced a still-not-resolved dispute over facility use with city officials in the city of Barueri. Gremio Barueri is the only privately owned club in Serie A and as a result, it can move relatively easily. Time will tell if this will happen.

New club Ole Brazil from Ribeirao Preto (the heart of the sugar cane industry) wins the Sao Paulo U-17 league title. The youth leagues in the State of Sao Paulo are the toughest in Brazil. Interestingly, I understand at least one Canadian kid has trained there.

Debt Loads

Some of the biggest clubs in Serie A continue to be weighted down by enormous debt loads. It remains to be seen if Brazil’s growing economic strength will take the pressure off or simply lead to better-managed clubs surpassing these high-debt clubs. The clubs most often mentioned with high debt loads are Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro, Botafogo, Flumenense, Corinthians and Palmeiras. It is these debt loads that create a curious form of financing to acquire talent using investors and sponsors.

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The domestic Brasilian game is definitely on the upswing. If their economy continues to grow and the 6+5 rule gets implemented we might see them on par with the top European leagues by the end of the next decade.

Congrats to Flamengo, they pulled it out at the end! Is it me or does it seem like Petkovic has been around forever!? I used to catch Brasilian games on my DirecTv dish back in the early 2000's and i'm pretty sure Petkovic was already at Flamengo.

What the hell happened to Palmeiras? They were the GolTV golden child all year long sitting pretty at the top of the table and then choked it all away. They have themselves a very good player there in Diego Souza.

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On Petkovic, he is ancient (37 I think)but can still play.

On Palmeiras, I think it can be put to chemistry. They made some changes and never stopped changing (Vagner Love came in late). In fact, they even had an on field punch up late in the season between Obina and Mauricio which led to both being released. As for them being on GolTV a lot. I suspect it has to do with Grupo Traffic. I am guessing Traffic held the North American TV rights to the Brazilian leagues and sold the rights to GolTV. Palmeiras also has 10 players whose rights are primarily owned by Desportivo Brasil (a Traffic club). Add to that, Globo television which holds the original television rights tends to show only games with big clubs involved (meaning the biggest - Flamengo, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo are seen a lot) like US networks and baseball.

Also, there are reports today out of Brazil that Gremio Barueri will announce a move to Presidente Prudente, SP next week. I think there are still some things that are not being said. It appears that the club has been pushed out by the city which seems wierd to me because the city would have benefited from the exposure of having a top level club associated with the city. My thinking (not confirmed) is that Sao Paulo FC has a deal with city of Barueri to use the new stadium facility while their stadium, Morumbi, is being prepared for World Cup 2014. On the other hand, The club, Gremio Barueri, had not been getting high attendance while being lost living among the three Sao Paulo giants (Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Palmeiras).

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Ah, so that's why Barueri would have to move! I was thinking, didn't Canuck Oranje send me pictures of the new Barueri stadium back in the summer!? Why would a club move out of a brand new 40K seat stadium to move into a 30 year-old 40K seat stadium? Makes sense...Sao Paolo are bastards if that's true.

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I should clarify that these are my speculations based on a rumour I heard about Sao Paulo looking into the use of the stadium. I wouldn't be surprised that Corinthians may have done so as well because it does not have its own stadium.

In any case, it may be that the city of Barueri is feeling powerful in essentially evicting Gremio Barueri from its training centre (if what I have read is true). Apparently, the Copa Sao Paulo team for Gremio Barueri is currently training at a facility in Carapicuiba (a city next to Barueri) because apparently, the city chose this time to replace the the sod on all their playing fields and the city is also encouraging the development of a new team in the city which will begin playing next year but again starting at the lowest rung.

At the same time, I have no doubts that city of Presidente Prudente also is providing a sweetheart deal and I wouldn't be surprise if a financial partner in the city may also be hastening the move along. After all, there is a big sugar cane and renewable fuels firm (a licence to print money in Brazil) headquartered in the city. Again speculation.

The truth will be known soon. In the end, it all seems ridiculous.

quote:Originally posted by jpg75

Ah, so that's why Barueri would have to move! I was thinking, didn't Canuck Oranje send me pictures of the new Barueri stadium back in the summer!? Why would a club move out of a brand new 40K seat stadium to move into a 30 year-old 40K seat stadium? Makes sense...Sao Paolo are bastards if that's true.

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