The Brazilian football calendar is an infuriating beast. At the start of the year the state championships test the patience of even the most saintly fans, ambling on for five months despite dwindling interest levels, vast gulfs in quality between sides and pitches that make your local park look like Wembley. In an ideal world, shortened estaduais would be the perfect aperitif before the main meal of the Brasileirão, but in reality it's hard not to feel a touch jaded by the time things go national.
Things are even worse this year. Due to the Confederations Cup, Série A started with a gruelling Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday sprintathon, prompting some coaches to complain about fatigue after just five rounds of the season. And now the league goes on sabbatical until the start of July. Whirlwind romances are not commonly followed by enforced separation, but then Brazilian football rarely abides by the script.
This tumult has also allowed some lesser-known (to European audiences, at least) players to claw themselves to the top of the goal-scoring charts. In my latest WhoScored column, I say hello to the unlikely heroes of the opening weeks of the Série A season.