Posted by jukkahoo
São Paulo FC has just won the Campeonato Brasileiro. It's their sixth in all (hence the hexa) and incredible third in a row. They now have the most Championships in the history of Brasilian football.
Which actually says a lot about Brasilian football. Only six championships and that's the most? And what's so incredicle about three in a row? There are countless other leagues, where three in a row, while not being commonplace, are still not that rare. Q: How many has Rosenborg won in Norway in a row? A: Thirteen, between 1992-2004.
But then again, Brasil is no Norway when it comes to football. Not only have A Seleção the only team to have played in every single World Cup, football is, to paraphrase Bill Shankly, "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. To Brasilians, it is much, much more important than that." Brasilians say, that Englishmen invented the beautiful game, but Brasilians perfected it. Brasil is "o país do futebol" (The Land of Football).
São Paulo FC today is not necessarily known for the beauty of their game. Under current coach, Muricy Ramalho, the team has found a defensively-minded style of play, which may sound un-Brasilian. However, Tricolor scored 66 goals this season (a feat they did previously in 2006), just one less than Flamengo, which scored the most in 2008 (in 2006 SPFC led the league with goals scored). Last year they were a bit more lacklustre with goal scoring ("only" 55), but then again, they let the opponent score mere 19, 20 less than the next best team (Fluminense).
However, São Paulo plays with just three defenders, with two back-playing midfielders in front of them. What makes this style so effective, is undoutably the single most important player of the team, goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni.
What makes him so special? Is it his lightning reflexes? Is it the perfect positioning? Is it the commitment to the team (He's played for SPFC since 1990, with 831 caps for the team!)? Or could it be his incredible skill with the ball?
Why, I think it the combination of all of the above, with special emphasis on the last one. Rogerio Ceni plays almost like a libero. He is the 4th defender and unlike so many (still) goalies, he is REALLY good with his feet. How good, I hear you ask?
He scored 20 goals in 2005 season. Ten goals alone in the league. THAT is a LOT. His career score? 83 goals. Eighty-three. Mindnumbing. Way more than any other goalie, ever.
Penalties, you say? Yes, penalties. 36 of them. Which makes it 47 NOT from penalties. THAT (again) is a LOT.
Thanks to Urheilukanava+, I've been able to watch Campeonato Brasileiro. The end of the season was a bit of a bummer personally, since I've been working a bit too much to have been able to enjoy the games (which are mainly televised here some time after midnight on Saturdays and Sundays) all that much. For a while it looked like Gremio was cruising to an easy title, but then they just... halted and crappy-beginning SPFC just cruised past them, not losing a single game of their last 18 (of the total number of 38 games).
But at this time Seleção can't seem to score on home soil. No goals scored in the last three matches in WC qualifiers. That includes 0-0 draw against Bolivia, a team which had not managed to win a single away point in 7 years. Not a promising streak for a country preparing to host the World Cup in six years.
"Gol do Uruguay?", a famous line repeated many times in disbelief 58 years ago in Maracaña by a Brazilian radio commentator. That ended the carnival in Rio that time, perhaps 2014 will be another story.
Posted by: Manu | December 09, 2008 at 23:00