With the four big sides of the São Paulo region arbitrarily kept apart in separate groups in the new-fangled state championship (don’t ask), progress to the next round was expected to be a formality. After all, even under the old system – which admittedly only lasted four years – not once had any of the big guns failed to make the knockout stages.
But Corinthians have never been a team to shy away from an early-season crisis. They went into the weekend in danger of becoming the first high-profile side to come unstuck in this year’s truncated estaduais, sitting third in their section behind Botafogo-SP and Ituano.
Qualification was not out of reach, but it was out of their hands. To stay in contention heading into the final round of the group stage, the Timão needed to avoid defeat against Penapolense on Sunday and then hope for a favour from bitter rivals São Paulo, 3-2 winners in the clássico a week earlier.
Read the rest of this piece on Yahoo! Eurosport's Rio Report blog.