Thursday, 28 May 2015

Vanderlei Luxemburgo the fall guy as the old world and new austerity collide at Flamengo

Vanderlei Luxemburgo is not a man who tends to mince his words. One of Brazilian football's truculent old guard, he has built a fine - if increasingly nomadic - career on a willingness to ruffle feathers. For example, a sample quote, delivered to an underperforming player in training: "You're a s***. You're poor. I own three aeroplanes."

It was no surprise, then, that Luxemburgo cut loose on Tuesday after his dismissal by early Brasileirão strugglers Flamengo on Monday night. "20 days ago, when São Paulo wanted to hire me, the president said I was a fundamental part of his plans," sighed the 63-year-old. "The board like to win prizes and appear in the New York Times, but they don't know anything about football."

Luxemburgo's outburst could be read as a lament for the big spending that characterised his last stint at the club. The kind of spending that Flamengo have phased out since former economist Eduardo Bandeira de Mello took the reins in 2013.

Read the rest of this post on the WhoScored blog.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Rotation the name of the game as the Brasileirão returns with a whimper

Before the football season, there is a break during which players rest, clubs dip into the transfer market and managers perfect tactics for the campaign ahead. It is something that European fans take for granted – a central tenet of the entire footballing calendar.

But there is no such off-season in Brazil. Many of the overblown, overlong state championships – which most right-minded players and supporters would love to see pruned back – end only a week before the national championship starts, meaning the majority of sides have only a few days to dust themselves off, say a few Hail Marys and go to work again.

As well as undermining preparations, this lack of a pause means anticipation levels never really hit the heights: without months of longing, fans tend to greet the opening rounds of Série A with a shrug. In Europe, absence makes the heart grow fonder; in Brazil, the big kick-off has all the romance of a fumble in a nightclub car park.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Brasileirão 2015 season preview

The major European leagues may be reaching their climax, but for those troubled souls who like their football blurrily streamed and late at night, there is only one show in town this weekend.

The Campeonato Brasileiro – Brazil’s top flight – returns on Saturday after a five-month hiatus, promising its usual blend of madcap stories, patchy action, young stars, bobbly pitches and aggro fans. And if that doesn’t sound like the recipe for a party, well son, best go running back to La Liga.

Read my preview for WhoScored here.