Romarinho punishes Palmeiras. Again
Corinthians forward Romarinho is fast establishing himself as a big game player par excellence. The 22-year-old came off the bench to earn his side a point in the clássico against Palmeiras, slotting home from the edge of the area following Alexandre Pato's square pass. It was his fourth goal in three games against the Verdão – a record that, coupled with his crucial goal in the 2012 Copa Libertadores final, has already earnt him cult status among the Corinthians faithful.
Malandragem não tem fim
Atlético Mineiro's opener against São Paulo in the Libertadores last week appeared to be the result of sloppiness on the part of the Tricolor defence. Ronaldinho Gaúcho found himself in acres of space at a throw-in and took full advantage, biding his time before squaring for Jô to bundle home. But replays showed Ronaldinho surreptitiously wondering over to share a water bottle with Rogério Ceni in the build-up to the goal, prompting some to claim that this was a premeditated ploy.
Galo coach Cuca naturally denied the allegations ("It wasn't planned; it just happened. I'm just glad we made the most of it!") but either way, it was a potent example of malandragem from Ronaldinho, whose percussive passing was at the centre of a fine Atlético performance. The playmaker's seleção days may be numbered, but he is still more than capable of bossing matches at this level.
Fla flying high on a budget
Flamengo scrapped their way to a 1-0 win over Botafogo on Sunday – their sixth victory in seven matches since the turn of the year. The budgetary constraints imposed by new president Eduardo Bandeira de Mello seem to have engendered a greater sense of team spirit at Gávea, with none of the ego-massaging that defined previous regimes. Dorival Júnior's side looks robust at the back and peddles a nifty line in heart-stopping counter-attacks, utilising the pace of young Rafinha to full effect on the flanks. With striker Hernane continuing to plunder goals (his shinned effort at the Engenhão was his eighth of the season), Fla fans have plenty reasons to be cheerful.
Grêmio's last-minute pre-Libertadores shopping spree was as thrilling as it was surprising. The Porto Alegre side boasted a settled squad and an experienced coach in Vanderlei Luxemburgo, but few had earmarked them as continental contenders in 2013. But the signings of Hernán Barcos (Palmeiras), Edu Vargas (Napoli) and Welliton (Spartak Moscow) made everyone sit up and take notice; in a matter of days Grêmio had assembled one of South America's most fearsome attacks, and were suddenly being spoken of as major players in this season's competition.
But the Tricolor started their campaign with a whimper, falling to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Huachipato last week. The problem was immediately visible: Grêmio played like a bunch of strangers – which, of course, is exactly what they are. Things will doubtlessly improve over time, but time is in short supply: Luxa and his charges travel to Rio to face reigning Brazilian champions Fluminense this week. If they lose that, they might need every last bit of their newly-acquired firepower to reach the knockout stages.
A version of this article was published by The Guardian.