Friday, 5 August 2011

'Dedéckenbauer' Halts Santos; Brazil U20s Hit Stride at World Cup

The action continues to flow thick and fast in Brazil; another round this week brought the Série A season one step closer to its halfway point. Corinthians recovered from their two-match blip with victory over hapless América-MG, but Flamengo, São Paulo, and Vasco da Gama all remain hot on their heels. At the bottom, Avaí and Atlético Paranaense continue to show signs of life. Over in Colombia, meanwhile, the Brazil U20 side looks to be finding their rhythm; they picked up two convincing wins since my last post.

Brasileirão Gameweek 14 Round-up
Following two consecutive losses, Corinthians were keen to get their house back in order against América Mineiro on Wednesday night. They enjoyed the perfect start at the Pacaembu; Jorge Henrique put them ahead after just 22 seconds, before the visitors had even touched the ball. The Coelho reacted well with a goal from Kempes, but a second half Paulinho effort handed Tite's side a much-needed victory. Flamengo maintained the pressure at the top, beating Cruzeiro in Sete Lagoas. Ronaldinho was again instrumental for Fla; his pirouette and pass allowed Deivid to net the only goal of the game.

Jorge Henrique celebrates his early goal for Corinthians.

São Paulo finally turned in a decent performance at the Morumbi, beating Bahia 3-0 to remain in third position. The ageless Rogério Ceni broke the deadlock in the opening period with an emphatic penalty kick, before Dagoberto and Lucas sealed the win with breakaway goals. Palmeiras, however, dropped points on the leaders, managing only a 1-1 draw with Coritiba. In truth, the Verdão were likely happy with a point, having had Thiago Heleno dismissed in the second period.

"Dedérminator!" punned Globo. "Dedéckenbauer!" ventured a friend of SKP. Yes, Wednesday evening's clash between Vasco and Santos belonged to one man alone. Up against the considerable collective talent of Neymar, Borges, and Paulo Henrique Ganso, cruzmaltino centreback Dedé turned in a fantastic performance, halting everything the Peixe threw at him and popping up with a goal at the other other end. An honourable mention also goes to Diego Souza, whose glorious opener would have been headline material in any other match. The 2-0 win leaves the Gigante da Colina sitting pretty in fourth place. Santos, however, remain entrenched in the relegation zone.

Dedé cool; the Vasco defender was imperious against Santos.

Fluminense continued their climb up the table, beating Internacional on Thursday evening. With Fred mysteriously missing from the squad (it later emerged that he wasn't in the right state of mind to play... whatever that means), Rafael Moura took full advantage of his moment in the spotlight; contributing to Souza's opener, and tucking away a late penalty. Things are looking up for Abel Braga's side. The same cannot be said for Grêmio; their 2-2 draw at home to Atlético-MG cost coach Julinho Camargo his job, just 33 days after he took the reigns at the Olímpico. New boss Celso Roth, whose CV is already peppered with spells in charge of the Tricolor, has quite a job on his hands.

At the bottom of the Brasileirão, both Avaí and Atlético-PR followed their promising weekend victories in fine style, picking up 3-0 away wins against Ceará and Atlético-GO respectively. Those matches were marked by impressive long-range strikes from near-namesakes Cleverson (for Avaí) and Kléberson (for the Furacão). Things are starting to get very interesting at the foot of the table. One club that continues to defy expectations of a relegation battle, though, is Figueirense; they're back in the top half, following a comfortable victory over Botafogo.

U20 World Cup Round-up
Having started their campaign with a disappointing draw against Egypt, the Brazil U20 side were eager to stamp their mark on the second week of the U20 World Cup. They did just that, picking up two convincing wins over the last few days. Ney Franco's side made short work of Austria on Monday night, securing a 3-0 win in Barranquilla. São Paulo strikers Henrique and Willian José were both on target for the seleção, whilst Philippe Coutinho capped his impressive display with a goal from the penalty spot.

Back in the spotlight; Philippe Coutinho has impressed for Brazil U20s.

Things got even better on Thursday; Brazil produced an excellent performance to brush aside Panama, a result that ensured top spot in Group E. After dominating the early exchanges, the seleçao came up with a double salvo just before the break; Henrique tucked home following a good run from Oscar, before Philippe Coutinho hit a neat second. The Internazionale midfielder went on to bag his third of the tournament in the second half, curling a low shot in at the far post after some bewitching footwork. With the three points safe, Brazil relaxed in the latter stages, but were still able to grab a fourth; Cruzeiro youngster Dudu finished with aplomb in the dying minutes. Ney Franco's side will face either Nigeria or Saudi Arabia in the next round.

Results. Série A; Corinthians 1-0 América-MG, Grêmio 2-2 Atlético-MG, Figueirense 2-0 Botafogo, Ceará 0-3 Avaí, Vasco 2-0 Santos, Cruzeiro 0-1 Flamengo, Coritiba 1-1 Palmeiras, São Paulo 3-0 Bahia, Fluminense 2-0 Internacional, Atlético-GO 0-3 Atlético-PR. U20 World Cup; Brazil 3-0 Austria, Brazil 4-0 Panama.

(Photo credits; (1) Eduardo Viana, (2) Paulo Sergio, (3) Vanderlei Almeida.)

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