The Brasileirão returned this weekend after a midweek set of Copa Libertadores fixtures, with six Brazilian teams fighting for continental glory, while in Argentina, the Superliga kicked off on the weekend, promising a season of excitement and drama.
In a battle important for the Libertadores race, Atlético Mineiro defeated Santos in Sunday’s early game, winning 3-1 thanks to a brilliant goal from Elias and another two from former Santos man Ricardo Oliveira. Santos’ goal was scored by Internazionale loanee Gabriel Barbosa, who’s having a tough time in the Paulista coast. Santos ‘situation in the table is not pretty, sitting 17th and in a two-month winless stretch.
Chapecoense defeated Corinthians playing in the Arena Condá, thanks to goals from Diego Rodrigues and Doffo, who were able to deny Corinthians a win, despite seeing their rivals go in front thanks to a Marquinhos Gabriel strike. The match was memorably marked by Corinthians forward Clayson splashing water in a Chapecoense fan in the stands.
In the title race, Flamengo got a very important win against Cruzeiro in the Maracanã, thanks to Henrique Dourado. An important win from the Mengão, which keeps the gap between them and league leaders São Paulo to one, and also keeps third-placed Internacional at bay.
It’s remarkable to see Flamengo’s improvement under manager Mauricio Barbieri, who managed to put a side featuring young talent in Lucas Paquetá, Léo Duarte and Vitinho, together with the experienced Réver and Everton Ribeiro. Barbieri also highlights a promising generation of young Brazilian coaches, considering he’s just 36.
Flamengo’s title rivals São Paulo got an away win against Sport in Recife. São Paulo kept their record as the best away team in the league by winning 3-1, thanks to goals scored by former Sport man Diego Souza, former PSG midfielder Nenê and forward Trellez. São Paulo stay at the top of the table, being one of the main surprises in this season’s Brasileirão.
São Paulo are another big surprise. After a couple of years of mediocrity and internal problems, the team has finally managed to settle under the guidance of Diego Aguirre. With the likes of Nenê and Everton playing great football, Aguirre’s attacking minded tactics are paying off.
Grêmio, the reigning South American champions, ran riot against Vitória in Porto Alegre, winning 4-0 thanks to goals from Douglas, Everton, Jailson and Pepê. The highlight was former Brazil international Douglas featuring after a long spell on the sidelines, and was gifted with a goal on his return.
In this game week’s last match, Internacional got an important and convincing away win over Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. Thanks to a double by Nico Lopez and Jonathan Alvez, Internacional were too much for Flu and keep themselves in the title race, with a gap of only three points between them and leaders São Paulo.
Internacional are another surprise that deserves a mention. The last couple of years hasn’t been great for the Tricolor, but they are reviving under Odair Hellmann, who saw the limitations on the squad and builds a team based on what they can do.
In the opening fixture, Velez Sarsfield — managed by former Real Madrid defender Gabriel Heinze — defeated Newell’s Old Boys 2-0, thanks to goals by young duo Luis Abram and Matias Vargas. Also on opening night, San Lorenzo were denied a win by Tigres in an entertaining 2-2 draw, after San Lorenzo recovered from a 2-goal deficit.
Title favourites Boca Juniors started their campaign with a 1-0 win over Talleres in La Bombonera. Boca’s only goal was scored by promising youngster Cristian Pavon, who took a blistering shot from outside the area, picking a deflection before going in.
This Boca Juniors team is filled with quality young talent, especially with Pavon and midfielder Wilmar Barrios. With both being recently linked with moves to Europe, this campaign is one to watch for Boca and see how their talents develop throughout the season.
In another Sunday match, Lanus only got a 2-2 with Defensa Y Justicia in their home debut. The Libertadores runners-up scored goals coming from Sebastian Ribas and a beautiful volley from Tomas Belmonte, who chested the ball down from outside the area and brilliantly scored, while Defensa got two goals late on with a double from Nicolas Fernandez in a space of three minutes.
In a game featuring one of the big boys, River Plate were held to a 0-0 draw against Huracan, in a very, very ugly match. Manager Marcelo Gallardo told the press after the game that they had to play ugly, justifying River’s bad performance. After a mediocre league campaign last season, it seems unlikely to see River improving.
Closing out the first week of Argentina league football, Racing got an entertaining draw against Tucuman playing away from home. Racing went in front with a brilliant curler by former Lyon forward Lisandro Lopez, before adding a second with Gustavo Bou. However, Tucuman fought back and lowered the deficit with Guillermo Acosta, with David Barbona scoring a brilliant volley late on.
One thing to notice is the character of teams to fight their way back into the games. Defensa got a 2-2 draw after coming from behind, and Tucuman did the same. Another noticeable thing is the lack of concentration from teams to defend a lead, considering that all the goals they conceded could’ve been avoided.
In other games:
- In Brazil, Atlético Paranaense got an away draw against relegation rivals Ceará, while Bahia got a hard-fought win against América.
- In another relegation battle, Paraná Clube salvaged a point thanks to a late goal by Alex Santana against Botafogo, although the result didn’t save the job of manager Roger Micale.
- Palmeiras got a home win against Vasco in Luis Felipe Scolari’s first home match since returning to the Alviverde.
- The Saturday in Argentina was filled with plenty of mediocre matches, with Gimnasia and Union de Santa Fé both getting a 1-0 win, while Patronato got a 0-0 draw against Colon, the same result as Belgrano x San Martin de San Juan.
Player of the week
Former Roma forward Nico Lopez scored two vital goals as Internacional ran riot against Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. It won’t be surprising to see Lopez in the European radar soon, considering Internacional’s campaign and Lopez’s individual season.
Goal of the week
The goal of the week came through courtesy of Lucas Menossi, who scored this beauty in Tigre’s 2-2 draw against San Lorenzo.
The way Menossi controls the ball and change the feet to hit the ball was brilliant. Also, the finishing was very cold-blooded.