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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ronaldinho to Return to Brazil National Team for Argentina Friendly

Brazil coach Mano Menezes recalled Ronaldinho to the Brazil national team after an absence of 18 months for Brazil's November 17 friendly against Argentina in Doha, Qatar. While Mano's decision recognizes Ronaldinho's improvement of form at AC Milan under Leonardo and Massimiliano Allegri, his selection also highlights Brazil's need for an experienced midfielder given the absence of players such as Kaka and Ganso due to injury. In a surprise move, Mano’s selection omitted Carlos Eduardo, who currently plays for Russian champions Rubin Kazan. Eduardo had run the midfield for Brazil in the October friendlies against Iran and the Ukraine, but his omission in favor of Ronaldinho signifies Mano’s belief that a more creative midfielder will be required to unlock defensive formations featuring Argentine players such as Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Burdisso, Gabriel Heinze, Javier Mascherano and Angel di Maria. Ronaldinho's call-up to the Canarinha provides him with an opportunity to add to his 87 caps for the Brazil national team and 32 international goals. He last played for the Selecao in April 2009 in a World Cup qualifier against Peru. While Ronaldinho has enjoyed a return to form at the San Siro, the 30 year old attacking midfielder has yet to return to the peak of his form evinced at Barcelona from 2004 to 2006, during which time he brought the Bernabeu to its feet on November 19, 2005 in a 3-0 victory against Real Madrid after scoring two breathtaking goals.

Ronaldinho won the FIFA World Player Year of Award in 2004 and 2005 and defined a decade of creative football that sets him in a league apart from even the greatest modern players such as Brazilian ace Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Raul Gonzalez, Allessandro Del Piero, Jurgen Klinsmann and Roberto Carlos. Mano also called up Santos striker Neymar to the national team after disciplinary problems left him sidelined from the October friendlies against Iran and the Ukraine.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Victor (Gremio) Jeferson (Botafogo), Neto (Atletico-PR).

Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Rafael (Manchester United), Adriano Correa (Barcelona), Andre Santos (Fenerbahce), Thiago Silva (Milan), David Luiz (Benfica), Alex Costa (Chelsea), Rever (Atletico-MG).

Midfielders: Lucas (Liverpool), Ramires (Chelsea), Sandro (Tottenham), Jucilei (Corinthians), Douglas (Gremio), Philippe Coutinho (Inter), Ronaldinho (AC Milan), Elias (Corinthians).

Forwards: Robinho (AC Milan), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Andre (Dinamo Kiev), Neymar (Santos).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mano Menezes Quotes: A Selection

July 27, 2010

On Winning and the Beautiful Game


“There are several ways of winning and I respect all of them. I will try to choose the way that gives us the best chance of winning. If that can be done with the ‘beautiful game’ that everyone likes, it would be the best. We will try to get as close as possible to that.”

On Dunga and the 2014 World Cup

"Dunga's team was disciplined tactically and that was positive. That's what I want for Brazil, to be well-organised tactically. Because with the talented players that we have, we will always have the capacity to win."

"The World Cup in Brazil will make things harder in a way, but we also will have bigger support. We need to be ready to overcome the pressure and to be in position to win the title."

August 17, 2010

On Neymar’s Choice of Santos or Chelsea

"I might be the person who most wants them to stay in Brazil. In these cases I have a very similar opinion to Zagallo's. We still haven't found the formula for making our players stay longer here. But it is clear that I have to respect Neymar's interests. Thinking of Brazilian football, however, their staying would be beneficial.”

August 25, 2010

On Ronaldo

"With as much energy as he is giving now, Roanldo has the ability to play with the same ability and definition."

"In the beginning, he will run into hard times, but if his motivation increases, he will play very well."

October 9, 2010

On Brazil v. Iran

“The changes have come along well. We are developing new players. It means we have to play against good quality teams. With due respect to Iran and Ukraine, we have to look at the two games coming up against Argentina. It is important to play against different levels of teams. Tonight was a different level in a warm place. It was good for us to play against different levels and in different conditions.”

“Even if both teams are on different levels, tactically, Iran played really well. It was a good game. My expectations were less but I was happy with what I saw.”

“The responsibility is big. We have to give it back to the Brazilian fans and play the beautiful game again. The World Cup will be held in Brazil and we have to convince the fans. We have to give opportunities to new players, young players. We need to win games. Success is important. I have picked these young players and trust a lot in them and they are answering to the expectations. Brazil will always be Brazil. Spain have a different style of play and they played their style and won the World Cup. The main thing for us is to give it back to the fans."

October 13, 2010

On Robinho

"Robinho is mature now and, although not old, is one of the more experienced players. He is a joy and very important to us, therefore he is an example for any young players."

October 20, 2010

On Ronaldinho


"I think that I am going to recall Ronaldinho for the friendly match that we have to play against Argentina.He is adapting very well to his new position in his team. I saw him personally in the match that Milan defeated Chievo 3-0 and he played very well. In addition, I even saw him in a training session last Sunday, I spoke with him and I saw him very motivated for playing again for the Brazilian national team."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Robinho and Boateng Find Their Footing in Milan

Robinho and Kevin Prince Boateng are adapting well to the Rossoneri as demonstrated by AC Milan's 2-1 victory over Napoli on Monday. Robinho scored in his second consecutive league game by charging upfield, passing to Massimo Oddo on the right flank, receiving the pass back from Oddo and burying the ball in the back of the net with a left footed shot. After last Tuesday's debacle against Real Madrid, coach Massimiliano Allegri opted to play Kevin Prince Boateng in midfield as opposed to Clarence Seedorf and the move paid dividends. Boateng's consistent display of energy and passion added force to the Rossoneri midfield even though the young Ghanaian midfielder is still acclimating to football in Italy's Serie A. Robinho played behind Pato and Ibrahimovic as a result of a minor thigh injury that Ronaldinho had picked up during training. After Monday's victory, however, Allegri may well consider starting Robinho in favor of Ronaldinho more often given that Robinho is more likely to run at defenses and trek back when necessary, in comparison to his compatriot, who displays occasional flashes of brilliance on both wings but fails to consistently threaten on the attack. Robinho ran hard at the Napoli defense and could well have scored a second goal. Milan's victory against Napoli leaves them in second place behind Lazio and ahead of Inter. Allegri now has some serious thinking to do about how best to utilize his summer's acquisitions in order to have any chance of recovering from the 2-0 deficit against Real Madrid on November 3, in Milan. The Rossoneri now prepare to play Juventus on Saturday.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Flashback: The Magic of Ronaldo

Brazil 2-Germany 1. International Friendly. Gottlieb Daimler Stadium, Stuttgart, Germany. March 25, 1998.

Weeks before the first World Cup ever to be held in France, football superpowers Brazil and Germany squared off in a friendly at the Gottlieb Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart, Germany. Mario Zagallo fielded a star studded squad that epitomized yet another golden age in Brazilian football. Zagallo started Claudio Taffarel in goal, Cafu, Junior Baiano, Aldair, Roberto Carlos in defense, Dunga and Cesar Sampaio in central midfield, Denilson and Rivaldo as attacking midfielders, and Romario and Ronaldo near the mouth of goal. The veteran Brazil coach opted for a 4-2-2-2 formation given the ultra-attacking firepower at his disposal, with Bebeto on the bench and the up and coming prodigy, Denilson de Oliveira, wearing the number 10 jersey.

Berti Vogts's German team boasted their own share of household names including Jurgen Klinsmann, Andreas Moller, Oliver Bierhoff, Jurgen Kohler and Christian Ziege. The match against Germany marked one of Brazil’s final stops on their Nike Brazil World Tour of friendlies before France 1998, and the stadium was packed with fans anxious to see the home team clash with the boys in gold and blue despite near freezing temperatures. Fans all over the world, meanwhile, awaited with baited breath yet another rare glimpse of the "Ro Ro" strike partnership between Romario and Ronaldo, two of the most brilliant marksman in the history of football.

The game started scrappily at first. Both teams attacked down the center of the pitch, with direct end to end play and a go for goal attitude toward the game. The Germans didn’t hesitate to use the time honored strategy of fouling the Brazilians whenever they started to break in midfield. Dietmar Hamann repeatedly stopped Denilson in his tracks as he attempted to burst down the left side and Jurgen Kohler confirmed his reputation as one of the best man markers in Europe by shadowing Ronaldo deep into the center circle and fouling the 1996 and 1997 World Player of the year precisely as he received the ball and turned and darted toward the German goal. Klinsmann, Bierhoff and Moller threatened on the counter-attack and, on the whole, the Germans did a fantastic job of containing some highly skillful opponents by allowing Romario and Ronaldo only a handful of scant touches on the ball.

Against the run of play, Cesar Sampaio scored on a header from a corner kick in the 27th minute with what he later called the “shoulder of God”. But from here on, the rough play continued even though Brazil started to string together more passes as Ronaldo, Romario, Rivaldo and Denilson began to collectively swarm towards goal. Minutes before the half time whistle, Jurgen Kohler committed a studs up foul on Cafu and promptly earned a red card from referee David Elleray. Kohler’s ejection appeared to make it curtains for Germany, trailing 1-0 and down a man against the best ball possession team in the world. But Brazil captain Dunga made matters more interesting when he correspondingly received a red card for a late challenge on Ulf Kirsten. Within ten minutes of Dunga’s ejection, Germany displayed their hallowed tradition of coming from behind as Ulf Kirsten toe poked an equalizer in the 65th minute following some lax Brazilian defending.

Now, it was 10 versus 10 and anyone’s game. Germany pressed forward as the home team, but in the game’s dying minutes, Ronaldo’s magic sealed the game for Brazil. Roberto Carlos picked up Moller’s misplaced pass and burst down the left flank. Seeing the German team caught up field, he delivered a magnificent diagonal through ball to Ronaldo who had retreated to his team’s center circle arc and followed every inch of Moller’s misplaced play. Like a sprinter out of the blocks, Ronaldo exploded forward, eyeing the ball like a hawk, out-muscling a pair of defenders and using his speed and balance to power himself into the box. The Brazilian ace sidestepped goalkeeper Andreas Koepke and tucked the ball into the back of the net with his characteristic composure in front of goal. After appearing invisible for much of the game, Ronaldo finally displayed his trademark explosive pace and ability to power through defenses. His goal marked an extraordinary finish to an otherwise scrappy but hard fought game marked by 2 red cards and 6 yellows, with both Brazil and Germany anxious to send some messages to the global football community prior to France 1998.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Neymar's Uniqueness

He has a lanky build and spiky hair. At first glance, one might mistake him for a playground player with pace and the chutzpah to take shots on goal. He occasionally throws tantrums on the field that testify to the immaturity of an 18 year old boy. But this same petulant youth has been compared with Pele and Robinho and hailed as one of the brightest stars in the emerging generation of Brazilian football. His name is Neymar da Silva Santos Junior and he wears either the number 11 or 7 shirt for the Brazilian club Santos.

Although Neymar has scored 10 goals for Santos in Brazil's Serie A this season so far, and 10 in the preceding season as a whole, his international fame and attention from clubs such as Chelsea and Juventus have rested less on the raw statistics of his goals per game, and more on his unique style of play. For one, there is a boundless energy and exuberance about his movement on the pitch. He plays with the youthful energy of a teenager, bursting forward on the left and right wings and running at the center of defenses as well. The Brazilian press have compared him most frequently to Robinho because of their shared propensity to dribble and cut inward from the flanks without fear of swarms of defenders.

In a style reminiscent of his compatriot Ronaldo, Neymar roams all over the pitch and returns deep into midfield in order to run at defenses. But unlike Ronaldo, he brushes by defenders by relying almost exclusively on an exquisite sense of balance and ball control in contrast to Ronaldo's combination of power, strength and skill. Drawing throngs of defenders in his wake, he solicits the foul, scores from the penalty spot or orchestrates the ensuing free kick and instinctively locates the right place in the box for the killer header or deflection or shot on goal. More often than not, he carves his way out of a thicket of defenders by feigning a move right and then darting left, or employing a similar set of guileful tricks to fool defenders.

Like Ronaldo, Neymar shoots off both feet. Like Ronaldo, he treks back deep into midfield. Like Romario, his balance and goal scoring precision around the box are virtually unparalleled in the modern game. Like Rivaldo, he takes penalties with confidence and success. Like Kaka, he has a sixth sense for the placement of his team mates on the pitch at all moments. But in the final analysis, he is just Neymar, the lanky Santos striker who finds the back of the net from all corners of the pitch and applies himself to his trade with a limitless energy and adolescent disrespect for the positioning and rigidity of the modern game.

In recent months he has scored for Santos in Brazil's Serie A against Atletico Mineiro, Gremio, Avai, Corinthians, Cruzeiro, Internacional and Sao Paulo. And he scored Brazil's opening goal in their friendly against the USA on August 10, 2010 in New Jersey. Nevertheless, Selecao coach Mano Menezes opted to drop Neymar from Brazil's friendlies against Iran and the Ukraine because of his incidents of indiscipline at Santos. At the moment, it's anyone's guess as to whether the Santos sensation will be included in the Brazil roster for the November friendly against Argentina. As every coach knows, brilliance and indiscipline are often coextensive traits that take time for a gifted young athlete to juggle and balance. The question now on everyone's mind is whether Mano and Santos can enable Neymar's talent to blossom to reach its fullest potential and become a complete player that bears no comparison to Robinho, Pele, Ronaldo or Romario, but is just Neymar, the aggressive forward whose creativity marks the fullest embodiment of the beautiful game since Ronaldinho, Diego Maradona and Socrates.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

AC Milan's Attacking Quartet Begins to Fire

AC Milan's attacking quartet of Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, Pato and Robinho are starting to make their mark on Serie A as evinced by their 3-1 victory over Chievo on Saturday. Ibrahimovic set up two goals for Pato and Robinho scored the third as the Rossoneri took over the lead of Serie A with 14 points from 7 games. The in form Pato volleyed home a cross from Ibrahimovic in the 18th minute. Twelve minutes later, Pato received a magnificently disguised pass from an Ibrahimovic free kick which he dispatched with trademark clinical precision for a 2-0 lead. What had looked like an easy three points for Massimiliano Allegri's team became a mighty struggle after Ibrahimovic scored an own goal off a Chievo corner kick deflection in the 70th minute. Chievo continued to attack in search of a point as Milan stayed back and defended their lead on the counter-attack. But deep into injury time, Ronaldinho found Robinho via a through ball from the right flank that he held until his compatriot had timed his run to perfection. Robinho calmly sidestepped Chievo goalkeeper Sorrentino and then buried the ball in the far right corner from a narrow angle as Chievo defenders converged on the goal mouth. AC Milan's 3-1 victory sets the stage for a mouthwatering Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brazil 1982: 11 World Cup Goals Featuring Zico, Socrates and Falcao

The video below features a compilation of goals from Tele Santana's Brazil World Cup team of 1982, the most talented team to never win a trophy in the history of football. The footage should give the viewer chills when compared with the rigidity of modern football at the club level in Europe. Brazil 1982 didn't play football; they celebrated football. Zico, Socrates, Serginho, Eder, Junior and company burst forward in waves and displayed an uncanny awareness of each other via back heels, side heels, bicycle kicks, chest traps, flicks, one twos, and intuitive passing into open spaces. Yet despite their marvelous teamwork, Santana's players were not afraid to go for goal from long range and display their individual skill by sending some sublime rockets into the back of the net as evinced, for example, by Socrates's goal against the Soviet Union in goal 2 of this collection.

Today, in almost any discussion of the national team, someone inevitably mentions Pele and the Brazil team of 1970. But seeing these goals, fans of the Selecao would do well to return to 1982 and first understand the uniqueness of Tele Santana's team. Captained by Socrates, Brazil's 1982 World Cup team scored 15 goals in 5 matches. The goals in the video below represent the 11 most sublime goals from the most artful team in the history of football.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alves and Pato Seal Brazil's Victory Over the Ukraine

Brazil defeated the Ukraine 2-0 today in an international friendly that handed coach Mano Menezes an unbeatean 3-0 record and significant momentum going into November's clash against arch-rivals Argentina. For the second straight game, Dani Alves and Alexander Pato scored for Brazil with clinical finishing in a match largely played in Ukraine's half of the field. As promised, Mano opted to play 2 strikers instead of the usual 3 by adding an additional layer to midfield in the form of Elias, behind Carlos Eduardo. The new formation gave Carlos Eduardo more room to attack and support strikers Robinho and Pato. Ukraine sorely missed striker Andriy Shevchenko, who picked up an injury in Friday's 2-2 draw against Canada.

Dani Alves led the attack in the opening half with a shot on goal from long range followed by a free kick that mimicked the position from which he scored against Iran. The free kick narrowly missed the top right corner but the Barcelona defender kept coming forward, deftly combining with Robinho in the 9th minute only to scoop the ball over the bar. But Alves was not to be denied in the 25th minute as Robinho found the right full back near the net with an exquisite, long curling cross from the left flank that Alves volleyed into the back of the net to give Brazil a 1-0 lead. Brazil sealed the victory in the 63rd minute with a pacy attack down the right flank led by Carlos Eduardo. Eduardo crossed to Pato who turned and scored to give Brazil a 2-0 lead.

Brazil continued their dominance of possession in the second half with chances from Carlos Eduardo, Alves and Nilmar missing by inches. Mano, meanwhile, decided to substitute Carlos Eduardo, Ramires, Pato, Robinho and Elias with Giuliano, Sandro, Nilmar, Andre and Wesley respectively in an effort to give his young squad the feel of the yellow jersey that, as the legend goes, bears a tremendous amount of weight.

Overall, this was yet another great result for Mano and his young squad who are starting to gel in the space of just three friendly internationals and one dedicated training camp in Spain. The former Corinthians coach has captured the respect of his players and instilled an ethos marked by hard work and creativity on the pitch. Robinho is settling into his position as captain while Dani Alves's performances against Iran and Ukraine have injected new life into the debate over whether he or compatriot Maicon deserves the distinction of the best right back in the world. Finally, Carlos Eduardo has taken over the midfield and displayed the depth of Mano's Brazilian squad who have recently played without Ganso, Kaka, Elano or Ronaldinho in an attacking midfield position.

The Selecao will make their next stop in Doha, Qatar on November 17, where Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi, Javier Mascheroni and the rest of Sergio Batista's stars will be eager to make up for their October 8 1-0 loss to Alberto Zaccheroni's Japan in Saitama.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Brazil Defeats Iran 3-0: Samba Stars Shine in Abu Dhabi

Brazil defeated Iran 3-0 today in an international friendly at the Zayed Sports City stadium in Abu Dhabi in the first soccer match-up between the two nations. Goals from Dani Alves, Alexander Pato and Nilmar secured the victory for the Selecao and handed debutante coach Mano Menezes his second consecutive victory at the helm of the Brazilian national football team. Iran striker Mohammad Gholami appeared to open the scoring in the fifth minute but his goal was disallowed for a foul. Nine minutes later, Alexander Pato's sprint toward goal drew a foul that earned Brazil a direct free kick on goal 35 yards from the net. Dani Alves opened the scoring with a spectacular free kick, curling the ball into the upper left corner of the net with a wicked swerving ball that gave goalkeeper Seyed Mahdi Rahmati absolutely no chance. Minutes later, Robinho and Pato managed to collectively strike the post and shoot wide after some nifty combination work imposed pressure on the Iranian defense that should have doubled Brazil's lead by the 20th minute. Iran's Javad Nekounam had a shot cleared off the goal line by Ramires in the 46th minute but from then on, Brazil began to dominate play and impose their possession game on their less experienced opponents. Pato finally found the back of the net in the 69th minute after surging through the center of the defense in trademark fashion and burying the ball in the center of the roof of the net with clinical precision and power. Substitute Nilmar threatened goalkeeper Rahmati multiple times in the remaining 10 minutes of the game until a pass from Andre Santos on the left wing found the Villareal striker lurking at the right corner with perfect timing and balance to direct the ball into the top left corner for a well deserved 3-0 Brazil victory.

Overall, this was a great result for Mano, who played Carlos Eduardo in the attacking midfield position behind Robinho, Pato and Philippe Coutinho. We saw Alexander Pato surge forward from deep positions and assert his authority as the lone, pure striker in dramatic fashion that recalled the brilliance of his compatriot Ronaldo in his days at Barcelona. The match also marked the ascension of Dani Alves to the free kick throne formerly held by Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo. The Barcelona star's sublime 14th minute free kick focused the Brazilians after some scrappy play in the opening few minutes of the game and gave the Selecao the boost they needed to carve out a victory in the sweltering Abu Dhabi heat.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Romario scores big in Brazilian politics

"In politics I'm going to have less difficulty than I've had so far to do something for children and young people in the community and also for children with special needs. People, especially in the communities, respect me and see in me someone who came from where they are and that they can get to where I did."

--Romario, on how some voters identify with his own experience of poverty and hardship growing up in Jacarezinho, Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil soccer legend Romario scored his first goal in politics by being elected to Brazil's lower house of Congress as a member of the Brazilian Socialist Party, an ally of President Lula's outgoing Worker's Party. In amassing over 150,000 votes, Romario became the sixth most popular candidate in the state of Rio de Janeiro to enter Brazil's lower house of Congress. The 44 year old retired striker ran for office with a campaign that promised improved sports projects for impoverished communities and expanded services for special needs children. Romario's commitment to special needs children involves his experience raising his youngest daughter, Ivy, who has Down syndrome. On Monday, Romario pulled up to cast his ballot in an armored BMW before heading off to Jacarezinho, the shanty town where he was raised. Much of Romario's campaign stressed his own experience growing up in poverty in Brazil and the sincerity of his desire to improve the lives of the poor in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil more generally.

Romario scored 55 goals in 70 national appearances for Brazil and led the team to World Cup glory in 1994 after a 24 year old drought. He won the Golden Ball in World Cup 1994 and formed a lethal strike partnership with Bebeto, scoring 5 goals and providing several assists. Romario spearheaded Barcelona's clinching of the La Liga championship in 1994 by scoring 30 goals in 33 matches in the 1993-1994 season and proceeded to win the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994. In commenting on his political victory, the striker whose career spanned Vasco da Gama, Flamengo, Fluminense, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Valencia noted that he had achieved every goal he had set for himself in life and now wanted to focus on serving his 4 year term in Congress in the best possible way. By his own statistics, Romario claimed to have scored over 1000 goals in his career and he promised more "goals" for Brazil by entering politics.

Known for his proclivity to celebrate the nightlife, the retired striker played true to form on Monday evening by partying late into the night with friends and family after the election results were determined. Romario's strike partner from World Cup 1994, Bebeto, also scored a political victory by earning election to Rio de Janeiro's state legislature for the Democratic Workers Party. In a post-election conference, Romario noted how he hoped to relive his successful strike partnership with Bebeto in the political realm.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Flamengo Fire Silas Days After Zico's Resignation

As expected, Flamengo's President Patricia Amorin announced the club's decision to fire head coach Silas, just three days after the shock resignation of Zico, club legend and Executive Director of Football. In the 36 days that Silas occupied the position, he led Flamengo to only one victory in 10 matches. The defending champions now have a total of 30 points in Brazil's Serie A in contrast to Fluminense, Corinthians and Cruzeiro, who have 52, 49 and 48 respectively. Former Santos, Real Madrid and Brazil national team coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo is widely considered the leading candidate for the position after he was fired by Atletico Mineiro last month. Flamengo now flirt dangerously near the relegation zone in 15th place and will require a major overhaul of form in order to salvage their 2010-2011 season.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fluminense, Corinthians and Cruzeiro draw as battle for Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A heats up

The race for the championship of the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A remained tightly clustered around Fluminese, Corinthians and Cruzeiro, as the three leading teams drew over the October 2 weekend against opponents further down the table. Leaders Fluminense drew 1-1 with Gremio Prudente, second placed Corinthians fought back from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 with Ceara and third placed Cruzeiro drew 0-0 with Atletico Paranaense. Internacional are in fourth place while Botafogo, who drew 1-1 with arch-rivals Flamengo, are now in fifth.

Corinthians midfielder Paulinho and substitute Matias de Federico scored in the 70th and 82th minute respectively to salvage a point for Adilson Batista's team and avoid dropping further down the table into third place. In the case of Fluminense, striker Rodriguinho scored in the 34th minute to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, but Muricy Ramalho's team conceded a goal to Willian Jose 18 minutes before the whistle. The race for the title is now firmly on between the top four teams, though Corinthians and Internacional have a game in hand with 26 matches played in contrast to the 27 played by Fluminense and Cruzeiro.

Zico resigns as Executive Director of Flamengo

Brazil soccer legend Zico resigned from his position as Executive Director of the beleaguered team Flamengo on October 1, citing an inability to get along with the club's management after just four months in his position. Flamengo have had 3 coaches in the space of the year and occupy the 15th position out of 20 in the Campeonato Brasileiro da Série A (Brasileiro), just one spot away from the relegation zone reserved for the last 4 teams. In a statement posted on his website, Zico remarked: "It is not possible to do what I want to do with Flamengo." "I've noticed that my presence has not been favorable and has caused discontent among a lot of people." "It's not possible for me to continue." He also cited attacks on his sons by his rivals as an additional reason for his departure. Club President Patricia Amorin tearfully addressed the media by lamenting Zico's departure and suggesting that head coach Paulo Silas would be dismissed in an apparent concession to one of Zico's demands.

Flamengo's 1-1 draw with Botafogo in the Rio derby on Saturday October 2 leaves them in 15th place in Brazil's Serie A, and renders head coach Silas's position all the more precarious. Jorge Luis Andrade and Rogerio Laurenco occupied the position of Flamengo head coach prior to Silas.

The most illustrious player in the history of Flamengo, Zico was central to its success in Flamengo's golden age in the early 1980s. The former star of the 1982 Brazilian national team and 2006 World Cup coach of Japan led Flamengo to victory in the 1981 Copa Libertadores, the 1981 Intercontinental Cup, and three national titles in 1980, 1982 and 1983. After a highly successful spate in Italy with Udinese from 1983-1985, Zico returned to Brazil to lead Flamengo to their fourth national title in 1987.

Despite winning the Brasileiro championship in 2009-2010, Flamengo have had a horrendous run of form related to the departure of striker Adriano to AS Roma, goalkeeper Bruno's suspension and imprisonment for the alleged murder of actress Eliza Samudio, differences of opinion amongst management and its revolving door of coaches.