It's been a funny old start to the season. Many of the putative title favourites have struggled in the opening two rounds - Cruzeiro, Santos, and Internacional have only accumulated three points between them - whilst Coritiba, a side who racked up 24 straight wins earlier in the year, are yet to get of the mark. The early pace-setters, meanwhile, are Atlético Mineiro, a side who spent last season battling against the drop...
Avaí 1-3 Atlético Mineiro
Hello, and welcome to the second (and hopefully final) edition of "Who Beat Avaí in Série A This Week?" Our loveable fall-guys hosted Atlético Mineiro on Saturday, hoping to banish the memory of last week's thrashing at the hands of Flamengo. They did exactly that, although hardly in the manner desired; a 3-1 defeat will only provoke a new set of nightmares this week.
It all started so well for the Leão da Ilha. With just seven minutes on the clock, they snatched the lead; Fábio Santos coolly slotting home after Rafael Coelho's cushioned header. The Ressacada burst into life, optimistic that the goal was a sign of things to come. It wasn't. Before the midway point of the half, Atlético were level; centreback Leonardo Silva profited from some lax marking to volley into the bottom corner. Things got even worse for the hosts after the break; Réver powered home a header, thereby instigating a game of "anything you can do..." with his defensive partner. Leonardo Silva, ever the competitor, responded in kind; nodding home his second, and his side's third. Avaí's backline was nowhere to be seen.
The result - their second win in two matches - puts Atlético joint top of Série A. Theirs is an impressive squad, boasting attacking riches - see Mancini, Guilherme, Magno Alves, Daniel Carvalho, Neto Berola - that must be the envy of many Brazilian clubs. Yet the Galo are often beset by instability; their revolving-door transfer policy has been a disrupting factor, one which makes life difficult for their coaches. Vanderlei Luxemburgo, for instance, one of the country's most respected técnicos, was unable to exert any great influence in Belo Horizonte last year. Early signs, however, suggest that Dorival Júnior is growing into the role, enlivened by the challenge it represents. If he can continue to coax performances like this from his side, Atlético could mount an unexpected title challenge.
Brasileirão Gameweek 2 Round-up
Corinthians and São Paulo, two sides from Brazil's largest city, also maintained their 100% records over the weekend. The former overcame Coritiba at the wonderfully-named Fonte Luminosa (Luminous Source) stadium, thanks to goals from midfielders Paulinho and Danilo. A stunning injury time goal from Lucas, meanwhile, gave the Tricolor all three points from their match against Figueirense.
The fourth side to have managed two victories thus far is Vasco da Gama; the Rio side dispatched América-MG with consummate ease, despite fielding a reserve side. Enrico scored the goal of the game for the Gigante da Colina, running onto Jéferson's impeccable through ball and finishing at the near post. Vasco's city rivals Botafogo also picked up a win on Sunday, beating a second-string Santos 1-0 thanks to Fábio Ferreira's strike.
Internacional continued their stuttering start to the Brasileirão, losing at home to unfancied Ceará. Ironically, the only goal of that match was scored by Iarley, a former idol at the Porto Alegre club. His muted celebration will have been appreciated at the Beira-Rio. Atlético Paranaense are another side without a win; the Furacão went down to Grêmio due in large part to a hilarious (or tragic, depending on your allegiances) own goal from Rafael Santos.
Reigning champions Fluminense got their first points of the season, beating Atlético Goianiense in a tightly-contested clash at the Serra Dourada. Leandro Euzébio, Flu's zagueiro artilheiro, was on target for Enderson Moreira's side. In Minas Gerais, Palmeiras picked up a useful point against Cruzeiro; a stunning strike from Luan put the Verdão into the lead, only for Anselmo Ramon to poach an equaliser at the death.
The most exciting tie of the weekend was arguably that between Bahia and Flamengo, at the former's Pituaçu ground. Lulinha (one of the many players in Série A who should be filed under "former wonderkid") and Jóbson both struck fine goals in the opening period, but Ronaldinho Gaúcho's tap-in kept the Rubro-Negro in contention. The visitors reacted well in the second period; Darío Bottinelli and Egídio both conjured up cultured finishes to put Fla in command. With the final seconds ticking down, Bahia looked to have run out of steam, but managed one final raid forward; Maranhão's delicate pass found the irrepressible Jóbson, who drilled past Felipe. A fine result for the Tricolor de Aço.
Série A results; Botafogo 1-0 Santos, Internacional 0-1 Ceará, Avaí 1-3 Atlético-MG, São Paulo 1-0 Figueirense, Corinthians 2-1 Coritiba, Bahia 3-3 Flamengo, Atlético-PR 0-1 Grêmio, Cruzeiro 1-1 Palmeiras, Vasco 3-0 América-MG.
(Photo credits; (1) Cristiano Andujar, (2) Miguel Schincariol, (3) Carlos Costa.)